Monday, 6 March 2017

Tsugunaga Momoko: Her thoughts just before the hiatus (Berryz Kobo 2004-2015)

In the run-up to their hiatus, Berryz Kobo released one final photo book, 'Berryz Kobo 2004-2015'.
The contents include two page essays by each member, penning their thoughts on the hiatus.
Below is a translation of Berryz Kobo member Tsugunaga Momoko's thoughts on reaching an end.

Berryz Kobo Photo Book "Berryz Kobo 2004-2015" / Wani Books

For me, Berryz Kobo was where everything started. If it wasn't for Berryz Kobo, I wouldn't be who I am today. I think that the Momochi that you see on the variety circuit exists because Berryz Kobo existed. The 7 of us truly are special ♥ You could say that we have the same tastes, that things amuse us in similar ways.

Our final recording, our final cover shooting, our final music video, our final tour...... Now, we're in a state where the things that Berryz have continued to do for over 10 years are ending, one by one. While the thoughts are overwhelming me, I'm definitely feeling sadness at the same time.

It's sad to say goodbye due to our hiatus, and I'm sure that the fans feel the same way as well. But it wouldn't be very Berryz to be in the dumps because of that reason, and since there's so little time left, it would be such a waste to finish things with sadness. We definitely want to be earnestly fooling around until the very end!

Currently we're in the midst of deciding the setlist for the 3rd of March. Even for that Budokan performance, as much as possible, I'd like to end it with a fun mood. When it comes to setlists, we've recently been taking the lead more often in making the choices for them. It's not like we've become the people in charge of it, but often, the pattern would be that I'd point out to (Shimizu) Saki-chan, 'How about this?', and the 2 of us would discuss it. The other day, the two of us were discussing it in our hotel room, and we were like 'yup yup yup', until 5 in the morning. (laughs) A night with Saki-chan, just the two of us ♥ It was really fun to snack in the midst of it ♥ We couldn't make up our minds.

Deciding on setlists is unexpectedly troublesome. We've got the autumn tour, we've got our bus tour, we've got a dinner show... and in the midst of that, the first thing on our minds is, as much as possible, to not let the songs overlap. And while thinking about it, we'd be like 'We haven't done this song recently. But isn't it a bit too ancient?' or 'Would it be too much of a leap to go from a mature song to this one?' There are an infinite number of things to keep in mind.

In the first place, the way we first started getting involved with deciding setlists was by holding events which didn't really involve the production staff. From that, we branched out to bus tours, and since those got well received, we got enthusiastic about it and even gave our opinions for the Budokan...... That was the flow. The sense of achievement is completely different!! Of course, we do listen to the opinions of the staff as well ♥ For example, we personally didn't want the intro video for our autumn tour to feel that sad... (laughs) But that's fine. As concerts are something that are crafted by everyone ♥

Recently we've often been told, 'It's the end, and yet you're in a pretty good mood'. Actually, it's something that we feel too. The 7 of us often feel connected. At this autumn tour, there are times when we're singing 'Towa no Uta' and I really feel like crying. Rather than it happening at every performance, there are some performances where my heart gets deeply moved.

The strange thing is that the seven of us feel it at the same time. Perhaps it's because the seven of us were sharing the same atmosphere, or perhaps because we were all heading in the same direction...... I feel that our emotions were completely united ♥

This time, Berryz will be entering a hiatus, but for me, I don't think that we've wrapped everything up! Honestly speaking,  there are still things that I want to do as Berryz. Or rather, being in Berryz, the things I want to do just keep popping up.

Well, you could say that if there are still things that I want to do but I can't, couldn't I just carry them over to Country Girls? That's not the case. Since I've got lots of ideas that have been popping up because of the 7 Berryz. Like the sight of the big Berryz members in the midst of cute H!P Kenshuusei. I feel that if it wasn't for these members, it wouldn't have any appeal.....

As you know, I'll become the Playing Manager for Country Girls in the future. Talk about it came along once Berryz had decided on entering a hiatus, as I had been saying that I would still like to continue on as an idol.

I'll probably be going around a lot in Country Girls, teaching them a lot, but I wonder how it'll be like... Wouldn't it be bad for me to impose my thoughts on what an idol is? I think that if there were 6 people like Momochi, it'd feel pretty draining on those who'd watch us. (laughs)

Of course I'm not thinking about making it a group like Berryz. First of all, Berryz isn't something that you can aim to make. It's just that, I'd like to fully enforce the thoughts in my head from the very start. That said, in Berryz' case, we were primary schoolers at the start, so we'd memorise the script and just read it out at MCs. That wouldn't be good in the long term, so I'd be glad if from the very start, they could convey their own feelings, and polish their ability to self-produce themselves ♥

Currently I've started doing rehearsals together with the members of Country Girls. I've thought a little about it, but I think that if I throw everything at them, their heads would blow up, so I'll do it little by little ♥ I don't want them them to start thinking things like 'I don't want to listen to what Momochi-senpai's telling me!' (laughs)

Of course, the matter with Country Girls wasn't lightly decided. Upon having decided on going on a hiatus, there were lots of paths I could have chosen, right? I could have been active just by myself, and as I currently possess a teaching certificate, I could have become a teacher. And honestly, I feel that it's not like being out of the entertainment industry would be something that would be completely against my preferences......

But in the end, I realised that I want to be an idol! Momochi can only be an idol! While I may be getting solo work in the variety circuit at the moment, I didn't start doing those jobs with some inflated sense of wanting to spend less time in the group. I was just desperately struggling with whatever jobs were put in front of me, which resulted in a series of fortunate developments... But it truly makes me happy to hear when someone comes to like Berryz by searching for Momochi on variety in YouTube. It makes me glad that I went through with it. At times, the members chide me for not promoting our CDs, but all I can say is that I do promote our stuff, it just gets edited out!...... (laughs)

Our appearance on 'MechaIke (Mechax2 Iketeru!)' played a large part in bringing me to this current situation. I think that our appearance back then was life-changing for me! I had a slight fever on that day, about 36.8 degrees Celsius. That might actually have been for the better. (laughs)

After Berryz' hiatus, should I go on to be a variety talent on my own? No~, I didn't think that at all. I know best that I lack that sort of capability, and with the current idol boom, I'd still be invited to programmes as an idol. If I wasn't in that idol framework, I'd be ranked among general female talents, right? It's complicated~ Since Momochi's roots are that of an idol ♥

Being an idol is my calling!
I'll continue with it from now on as well ♥

The other members may have mentioned this, but for this hiatus, talk about it came about roughly when we were doing summer events in 2013.

The topic on everyone's lips was 'What'll we do, heading towards our 10th anniversary?' On that note, the 3rd of March last year was the exact day of Berryz' 10th anniversary. And so, one opinion that floated about was 'Isn't there a possibility that we could end things cleanly at exactly 10 years?' In truth, all of us including myself were in our twenties. We each had things we wanted to do, we each had our own vision of the future. Since the time when Berryz Kobo would separate would eventually come, that would be the cleanest time to separate. That is, upon our 10th anniversary on the 3rd of March. The 7 of us held that same opinion.

But due to various circumstances, in the end, we couldn't finish at the end of March 2014. That said, since we started our discussions in summer, realistically, we had started way too late. So with that, the topic itself got dropped. My thoughts were that if we couldn't end it on our 10th anniversary, wouldn't it be fine to continue on for longer? It would be a beautiful legend for us to finish exactly on our 10th anniversary, but since we'd missed the boat, I'd like to continue on. It wasn't like the other members found Berryz to be so bad that they were rushing to immediately quit. But from that, it led to the question of the paths we individually wanted to move on, and things built up to a momentous conclusion. And the conclusion, as we announced on the 2nd of August of 2014, was that we would enter a hiatus in the 3rd of March, 2015.

In the first place, I myself didn't feel like quitting as an idol. Now, going on as Country Girls, I can imagine it, somehow or the other... But even beyond our group activities, all seven of us members have our own lives, so I can't just push on my own opinions. But while I understood that......

Meanwhile, a final opportunity to discuss our hiatus was set up, and we concluded that we would enter an indefinite hiatus on the 3rd of March, 2015. At the time, I didn't want to be there at all... I left my seat, as if I was running away. You could say that I was escaping reality. (laughs) I left the room, sat by myself in a partitioned-off area. I remember the people in the store being very considerate and giving me tea. And it's only at times like these when I'll get LINE messages from (Tokunaga) Chinami. (laughs) She asked where I was. Numerous calls came. I was really feeling depressed, but my mind was telling me that I couldn't not be there, and I returned to my seat after about 40 minutes. Apologising to them, I made an un-idol-like statement, telling them that my stomach had been upset... And they were all kind to me when I got back, with slightly more than my fair share of eel nabe left over. That made me happy. And the eel was delicious too (laughs)

Within that 40 minutes break, my feelings had shifted slightly. 'Right! Let's keep on building up our legend until the very end!' I guess that I had prepared myself for the worst, in the best sense of the word, and I felt like I would made a fresh start. That's why I don't feel any regret at all now.

Something that I think is great about being an idol is that I'm able to do all sorts of things. Singing, dancing, having our photos being taken, magazine work... I'm not good at keeping on doing just one thing. Being able to do so many things, being an idol is the best. (laughs) Since being a part of Berryz Kobo's activities is what led me to think like that.

As for how things will develop in the future, there are things that I still can't foresee now. At any rate, I strongly feel like focusing on the 3rd of March. However, Momochi will continue on being 100% an idol, so I'm counting on you for the future as well ♥

Berryz Kobo Photo Book "Berryz Kobo 2004-2015" / Wani Books

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