Saturday, 31 December 2016

They can no longer be sworn allies... BeriKyuu arch-rival interview (Shimizu x Natsuyaki x Suzuki x Okai) - Top Yell Sept 2013

Berryz Kobo x ℃-ute
A 12-person human drama

It's been 11 years since they met one another - a conflict where neither will yield

Top Yell September 2013 opening blurb:
These bunch of primary school girls were assembled because of their admiration of Morning Musume。 11 years have passed since they started activities, and before anyone knew it, they've become groups who shoulder the burden of being the central pillars of Japan's idol scene.
Berryz Kobo and ℃-ute are called Hello! Project's Minister of the Right and Minister of the Left. With ℃-ute announcing that they would be advancing upon the Budokan, their rivalry heated up beyond anything that had been seen before, but what's really happening inside? The gong has finally rung on this extremely stinging round-table discussion that could only be pulled off by this magazine!

Top Yell + H!P Compilation 2014 version:
The story of the rivalry between BeriKyuu that started with the announcement that ℃-ute would be advancing to Budokan became a staggeringly huge topic in 2013. Being overtaken by a group from their own generation, Berryz Kobo's Captain Shimizu Saki expressed her determination through her blog posts. Three weeks after that, Berryz Kobo's Budokan was announced......
In the midst of all sorts of speculations happening amongst the fans, in the September edition of Top Yell, we pressed ahead with a hard-hitting interview with the members of both groups caught up in the maelstrom.

Looking back, they were partners who were always there. Now both groups motivate one another, but that doesn't imply that they had a rivalry from the very start. In 2002, when they were assembled as the Hello! Project Kids, they were a group of people who were united in the goal of making their debut. The four of them look back on those times.


You weren't broken into groups at first, and there wasn't any sense of hostility. When did you start thinking of one another as rivals?

Okai: It somehow came up naturally...... I guess. At the start of the Kids, just remembering the choreography had me grasping at straws, so I think that I couldn't look beyond myself.

Shimizu: That's true, there wasn't any rivalry between us before the formation of Berryz. We were just friends, playing tag together..... If I had to say, it felt like being with my usual friends.

I think that the formation of Berryz Kobo in 2004 had a huge effect on how your relationship changed. At the time, there was talk that there would be a rotational system, with 8 names being nominated as Berryz Kobo's starting members.

Shimizu: Yup, so at the time, I probably might have felt a stronger sense of rivalry towards those who were in Berryz. I remember thinking that I might get dropped if I were to lose to another girl. Just that thought was terrifying to me!

Natsuyaki: I didn't think much of it...... I didn't really feel it in particular. Even with talk of the rotational system, I felt that it would be a group that would change according to Tsunku♂-san's moods, so I didn't feel a sense of tension. Even if someone were to drop out or someone were to come in, there would probably still be a chance for people to make a comeback. I guess I kind of accepted it..... In the end, it felt more like a club activity back then.

You weren't concerned about the danger of being dropped?

Natsuyaki: ... I wasn't (laughs).

Shimizu: Well, that's Miya (laughs). The ones who felt it the most were the girls who were on the edge.

Natsuyaki: Eh~! But back then, there wasn't an established centre or an ace, right?

Shimizu: Nope! I may have been Captain, but it wouldn't have been strange for that to change. I was constantly in fear. Whenever the staff would call us, that's when I got the most nervous. I thought that the time had finally come..... (laughs).

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Inaba Manaka's 'Member I'd like to have as a boyfriend if they were a guy' ranking

More from this ranking series:

――Please go ahead! What order should we go in?

Inaba Well, let's set aside the person at sixth... 'If this member was a guy, I'd want them as a boyfriend'. From 5th place! Yanagawa Nanami-chan.

――Yanagawa-san is fifth.

Inaba Yes. It's not that there's anything wrong with Yanagawa-chan. I just don't know her that well since she's a new member... Also, she's got a very courteous way of expressing herself, which makes her seem girly. Because of that, I can't imagine how she'd be like if she were a guy... So it's more that I can't imagine her being a guy, rather than not thinking of her as boyfriend material.

――She is so girly, isn't she? Well then, let's go on to fourth place.

Inaba  Funaki Musubu-chan. Funaki-chan's younger than me as well, right? Just like Yanagawa-chan, I'm still not that familiar with the new members. However, in Funaki-chan's case, she's got her husky voice and candid personality. With those, it's easy for me to imagine her as a guy. So she's 4th!

――By the way, the two that you just picked are younger than you, but what would you like to do if one of those two were your boyfriend?

Inaba Umm, let's see... But since they're younger, I'd have to take the lead, right? Most of the other members are younger than me, but the two of them in particular have the largest age difference with me, so I'd have to teach them what they don't know. So I kind of think that I'll have to be the one who'll bring them along if we wanted to go somewhere.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Miyazaki Yuka looks back on 2014 (Idol Frontline 2015)

You gave us five memorable incidents from 2014, so we'd like to ask you to talk about them in order. Firstly, on the 24th and 25th of May, Juice=Juice held your first bus tour.

Miyazaki: We've always wanted to hold a bus tour, so our dream had come true at last. Though I'd been on a Satoyama bus bus tour before, as part of the unit Green Fields. It was a lot of fun since we got to talk a lot and get closer to the fans, whom we'd normally only talk with at events like handshakes. We call everyone who's been involved with Juice=Juice as part of the 'Juice=Juice Family', and we members thought of it more like a family excursion rather than a bus tour. It was also before we went on our live tour, where we got to perform our senpai's songs for the first time at the bus tour.

What songs got picked?

Miyazaki: We performed 'Please Miniskirt Postwoman!', 'Suki Sugite Baka Mitai', 'Kimagure Princess', 'Suppecial Generation', 'Kiss Me Aishiteru', and also the H!P Kenshuusei's 'Kanojo ni Naritai!!!'. We practised at home, and then we'd meet up and get things in order, but I'm really bad at remembering them...

Is it any different from remembering a new Juice=Juice song?

Miyazaki: For new songs, the sensei would teach us how it's done. I hadn't danced up until I entered Hello! Project, so I would remember by watching. But honestly, I had no idea about how to move. At the time, I could only remember the general flow of the dance, so the members would help me out with the detailed parts.

How did the fans respond when you performed covers of your senpais?

Miyazaki: It seems that they thought that we'd only be performing Juice=Juice songs, so every time a song would end, they give us huge cheers of 'Ohhh!' It was so pumped up, I don't think I've ever seen people so excited before.

Is there anything that left an impression besides the live performances?

Miyazaki: We also saw them off with a 'good night', dressed in pyjamas, but since it was immediately after our live performance, we were all sweating (laughs).

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Yamabe Miyu and Shoji Mei's LoGiRL interviews

As part of LoGiRL's 2016 feature on Tokyo Joshiryu, they had solo interviews with each of the girls. The interviews have the girls looking back on their tumultuous 2015 - in which they declared that they were 'artistes', and lost member Konishi Ayano - as well as touching on their thoughts about the future.

Here are some translated excerpts from Yamabe Miyu and Shoji Mei's solo interviews.

Yamabe Miyu: We'll do what we want to do


Konishi-san announced her graduation on the 28th of December 2015. When did the members find out about it?

Ayano met with the staff during the later half of November, which was when Ayano expressed her desire to graduate. However, she met with us the following week as it was only proper for her to inform the members herself. Then she herself informed us that she wanted to graduate.

When you found out about how Konishi-san felt, how did you feel?

I'd always thought that we'd go on as a five person group, so I couldn't believe it immediately. It was like something unthinkable was happening.

When you met with Konishi-san, what did you talk about?

I really didn't want her to quit, so I asked her not to. But the decision to graduate was Ayano's, and it wasn't my problem, it was TGS' problem, so I felt that it might be wrong for me to push on with my opinion... And then, the 5 of us discussed it together, and reached the conclusion that she would graduate. In the end, we agreed that despite going down different paths, we'd each go on doing our best.

And Konishi-san announced her graduation about a month later.

Up until the announcement, my emotions were a bit mixed. We were doing live performances, and the fans were expecting Ayano to come back someday... It was the toughest when we held a fan club event just a couple of hours before the announcement of Ayano's graduation. Since we did an introduction touching on the memories of the five of us.

Once Konishi-san's graduation was set in stone, were there any changes to your mental state?

As for my mental state, I couldn't really accept the graduation up until it happened. Even when I laughed, my smiles would end up being stiff somehow... But after some time had passed, my feelings changed completely. I started to think that the four of us had to do our best.


Shoji Mei: I don't want to lose to our past selves


Konishi-san announced her graduation in December last year. What did you think when you first found out about it?

We were a group that had been going on for five years since our debut without a change in members, which is something that's pretty rare. It was like our forte, our source of confidence. But when Ayano said that she wanted to graduate, it was a huge shock, I really hated it, and I was also worried about how things would turn out beyond that.

How did you feel towards Konishi-san?

I felt that a lot of the fans would prefer Tokyo Girls' Style as a five person group, and I too would like to have activities with the five of us. So I hoped that she would somehow reconsider the graduation. I actually did mention those feelings to Ayano, but her heart was set.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

New Season - Suzuki Airi (UTB Nov 2016)

℃-ute have announced their breakup, which will happen in June next year along with the celebration of their 12th anniversary.
Having made her major debut at the age of 12, in recent years, Suzuki Airi has broadened her range of work beyond singing.
For this girl who has turned 22, what sort of vision does she have for the future?

I'd like to relay my feelings of gratitude towards everyone

Good job on the final ℃-ute no Hi!

'I can't believe that it really was the last...... In the two weeks after we announced the breakup,  there was the Buono! concert, the Hello! concerts, the 5th September Budokan ℃ Fes, and finally the ℃-ute no Hi. It feels like time passed in the blink of an eye'

OGs often mention that once they've announced their graduation or breakup, it's pretty sad that everything becomes 'the last'......

'That's true. The breakup was something that we decided on, so we've got no regrets. But at the final Hello! Con, even from the opening of the concert, I couldn't keep myself in check'

You cried buckets.

'The first song I danced to was "Good Bye Natsuo", in the back. Opening with that led to all sorts of memories bubbling up'

Since you started, you've achieved a perfect attendance record for 386 Hello! Cons. That's amazing!

'When we entered, we had many great senpais. Even if I got just a tiny singing part at a Hello! Con, I'd be jumping in joy. That's how I've I've always felt throughout these 11 years. It may have been one concert out of 386 for me, but for those who come to watch the concerts, it might be their first and their last. And so, I can't just simply take a break! After all, concerts happen because of the fans'

Your words carry weight because you've continued on being an idol for such a long time!

'However, even after we break up, I have no intentions of quitting "being an idol"!'

Which means?

'For me, an idol is someone who gives people courage, who brings smiles to their faces. Among the ways we do that is through our activities, like through singing songs, or coming into contact with people through events. And so, in the future, just like an 'idol', I hope to be someone who, in my own way, can bring smiles to the faces of many people'

You'll also be graduating from university next year. You really will be starting from zero.

'I'll be an entry-level employee, just like my classmates (laughs). Hopefully I'll be able to try out new things as well'

But before that... You'll get psyched up as ℃-ute in these remaining 9 months.

'There are lots of things that I want to do with the members...... we'd like to meet fans from all over the country. They've been watching us from when we were tiny up to now, so we'd like to get across our gratitude to all of them'

Watashi no Key wo Shittemasuka / Airi SuzukiSuzuki Airi Style Book "Airi-sT" / Airi Suzuki

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Nakajima Saki in Idol Frontline 2015

In 2014, H!P experienced several upheavals. Michishige Sayumi-san's graduation, Berryz Kobo's indefinite hiatus, various new units......

Nakajima: Amongst those, Berryz Kobo's was the biggest. On the day that they announced their hiatus, the Berryz members suddenly came to our dressing room with serious looks on their faces, telling us that there was something they wanted to inform us about...... I had no idea what to do. (Natsuyaki) Miyabi-chan was saying things like 'So, we'll be counting on you', 'We trust that ℃-ute can do it'...... Berryz are really like older sisters to us. They've always been like older sisters to us. Since they made their debut before us. Berryz are our rivals, but as our older sisters, we had always been chasing after them. Even with the hiatus, Berryz are once again was moving ahead of us.

Did you not think about yourselves? It's not an issue that you can afford to ignore.

Nakajima: Not in particular...... Just that ℃-ute would now have to work hard to make up for the loss of Berryz. Since we'd have to inherit what Berryz had left us.

Michishige Sayumi-san's graduation was big as well, wasn't it. Age-wise, ℃-ute will become the oldest.

Nakajima: Michishige-san's presence was huge. Since she was a senpai who showed things by example. In the winter Hello! Project tour that we're currently doing, the very last to appear on-stage and introduce themselves are Berryz Kobo. Up until now, it had always been Morning Musume。who would wrap things up at the end. Once Berryz aren't around, it'll probably be ℃-ute. Morning Musume。´15 is the brand of Hello! Project, so I've got mixed feelings. Will it be okay for us to be above them? Honestly, it's complicated.


Is there anything that's been popular with ℃-ute recently?

Nakajima: Let's see...... Recently, ℃-ute have been into playing Werewolf. Amongst us, (Okai) Chisato is the worst, she can tell a lie without batting an eyelid (laughs).

Leader seems like she'd be bad at Werewolf (laughs). She's so truthful.

Nakajima: Well, that's true, she was stiff at first. But I guess she's gotten used to it? When it comes to lying in the game (laughs).

What a frightening game (laughs).

Nakajima: While we say that it's a game, it's a huge thing for ℃-ute (laughs). And that Leader has now replaced Michishige-san as H!P Leader, so we'd like grasp on to our responsibilities and do our best!

Idol Saizensen 2015 / Yosensha

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Momochi talks about her unexpected breakthrough as an entertainer

[Note: This interview was published a month before Tsugunaga announced her graduation and retirement]

With ℃-ute having announced their breakup, Hello! Project is going to change in a huge way. In the midst of that, 'Momochi' Tsugunaga Momoko who is attached to Country Girls will become by far and away the most senior. Should we expect Momochi to become the Hello! Project leader? We take a direct strike at the lady herself.

- Isn't ℃-ute breaking up? Momochi-san, doesn't this mean that you're going to be the oldest in age?

That's right. But I think that everyone's misunderstanding things. You might think that since ℃-ute has H!P's leader, that means that ℃-ute's the top dog in H!P... But if you look at the order for things like outfits, I actually hold the seat of honour.

- Is that so? So even with ℃-ute already there, rank-wise, you're at the top?

There's Momochi, then there's ℃-ute... That's roughly how it is, so even though lots of people are telling me that I'm finally going to be at the top, they're mistaken (angry look on her face).

- So you've already been number one for quite a while.

That's right. Well, setting that aside, ℃-ute are my contemporaries, a group with whom I've been in friendly competition with for about almost 15 years, so I'm obviously sad as well. But Berryz Kobo have entered a hiatus and are going down our individual paths, doing what we want to do. I think that ℃-ute have things that they individually want to do, or things that they can't do through their group activities, so they'll be going on to those individually. Thus, I feel like I'd like to support them with everything I've got.

-Once that happens, there's one problem. Yajima Maimi-san is Hello! Project's leader, so Momochi-san, aren't you next in line?

Me? That's true, it's not impossible. But I honestly really love myself, so I'm not really interested in things that don't concern me. That said, I'm not really sure what the job of H!P leader entails in general, and it's not like I particularly want or don't want to be the leader... I've never really given much thought to being the leader (laughs).

-Have you not been watching Yajima-san?

No, I have been keeping a proper eye on Maimi. However, I still don't fully grasp what she does (laughs). At first, I saw the fans making a lot of fuss about who it'd be, but personally, I wonder if it's really that important?

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Maruwakari Summer 2016: Miyazaki Yuka

Wily and cute, she's the 22 year old who asks you to call her Yukanya...
Yet she's a reliable leader!
Q1. Who is your favourite H!P member (including OGs)?
℃-ute's Yajima Maimi-san is whom I like and admire. I love how she's serious and sweet!
℃-ute's Nakajima Saki-san is whom I like as an idol. I like how flexible she is at expressing herself.
No matter what, I couldn't pick a single person. Sorry...

Q2. What H!P song would you like to sing solo?
'Tasogare Kousaten' (Mano Erina)
I like Mano-san's songs, so I'd recommend it to Juice=Juice's Takagi Sayuki-chan!

Q3. Among the (current) H!P members, who would you like to go to the sea with, and what would you do?
Juice=Juice's Uemura Akari-chan.
I'd like to bury her in sand.

Q4. Who is the 'summer girl' amongst the (current) H!P members?
Kobushi Factory's Taguchi Natsumi-chan. I feel that she'd go well with festivals!!! I'd like us to go goldfish-scooping together... (*^^*)

Q5. If you were to come out with a photobook, please tell us where you'd like to go and what you'd like to do.
I'd like to have a shoot at my hometown of Ishikawa prefecture!!
I'd like to walk around Higashi Chaya District wearing a yukata ♪

Q6. What is your treasure?
A necklace with my birthstones on it, which I received from both my parents on my twentieth birthday.

Q7. Is there anything that you'd like to make a start on?
I'd like to get a Nihoncha (Japanese Tea) Instructor Certification!! I love Japanese tea, so I'd like to know more about it.

Q8. Please make a new unit by picking a person from each group.
℃-ute's Suzuki Airi-san
Morning Musume。´16's Fukumura Mizuki-san
ANGERME's Nakanishi Kana-chan
Country Girls' Tsugunaga Momoko-san
Kobushi Factory's Hamaura Ayano-chan
Tsubaki Factory's  Asakura Kiki-chan.
And, if you include Morning Musume。´16's Makino Maria-chan, who's set herself up as Marian LOVErin, it'll be the pink members (*^^*)

Q9. Please tell us what's the best thing about your own group.
The frequency of our blog updates.
Since there are people who will be waiting for updates, there are people who will feel sad after going to all the trouble of opening our blog and seeing that there are no updates!!!

Finally, please give a message to all the fans
Thank you very much for your constant support
[Can't make out this part] ♫

Miyazaki Yuka

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Miyamoto Karin - Sunflower (UTB Dec 2016)

Karin's third photobook is currently selling well!
This third volume was the first time we experienced good weather, which seems to have exposed her current sunny state (laughs)!! And just like the title, it's packed with sunflower-like smiles!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Miyamoto Karin loves 80s idol songs and ballads!! (Top Yell Sept 2016)

Miyamoto Karin has talked passionately about her own perspective and thoughts on 80s idols at events and on radio shows, and frequently makes blog posts spelling out the 80s idols songs that she loves to listen to, particularly focusing on Matsuda Seiko whom she respects. Why is a girl born in the 10th year of the Heisei era captivated by 80s idols? And how has she herself been influenced by 80s idols?

Matsuda Seiko-san was where I started
At her first Budokan concert experience
She let out a Seiko-chan call

Miyamoto-san, I heard that your respect towards Matsuda Seiko-san stemmed from your mother's influence, but roughly how old were you when you started to consciously listen to her?

Miyamoto: It was pretty much when I was in my second year of primary school, as my mother would always play Seiko-san's albums. That's why I like a lot of her album songs. When I was in my third year, using a karaoke machine that could record my voice, I made a CD of 'Jikan no Kuni no Alice' (laughs).

Have you been to any of Matsuda Seiko-san's concerts?

Miyamoto: I have. The very first time I started hearing 'Seiko-chan Kawaii!' was when I was brought along to a Nippon Budokan concert, which was also my very first concert. I still go to her concerts now, but as it's also work, I watch calmly. But back then, I genuinely went to Seiko-chan's concerts because she was cute, and the cheers of the guys next to me were so amazing that I got pulled in and I'd really scream out (laughs). When I asked my mother about it, I apparently even did the calls, what a truly wonderful memory.

Well, that was a story of how you got an early peek into the trappings of an idol. We'll ask you plenty about your stories of Matsuda Seiko-san after this, but when did your itch for 80s idols begin?

Miyamoto: Since I was in middle school. At that point in time, I was also starting to perform, and I watched lots of Seiko-san's videos for research, and I also ended up watching a lot of 80s idols as well. The idols of that age were wonderful, they were exceptionally brilliant, so I gradually came to like them. But Seiko-san was definitely where I started, so she's my favourite.

At an event (1) and a radio show (2), you've announced your top ten 80s idol songs, but you seem to concentrate on songs from the early-to-mid eighties.

Miyamoto: That's partly due to me starting off with Seiko-san, and I also like Hana no 82 Nen Gumi (3).