Tsugunaga-san, this might be the last time you'll be appearing in this magazine.
Tsugunaga: Oh my! So, about that front cover......
And with that, I think it would be nice if things moved along as usual.
So when you go out for meals, it's normally Tsugunaga-san who extends the invitation? Is it difficult to ask her out without some sort of underlying reason?
Yamaki: Actually, there isn't a problem with inviting her out without any reasons. But I find it difficult. I can't just ask a great-senpai out for a meal without a reason. The other day, the two of us went for mushroom nabe. I felt like having some, but it turned out that the others weren't big fans of mushrooms when I asked them. I didn't want to drag along people who weren't really fond of mushrooms, so I asked Momochi-senpai whether she'd like to have mushroom nabe. She was okay with that, and she was fine with me asking her out. I was actually really shocked by the fact that there weren't any problems with me asking her out for a meal on a private basis. And though we happily headed to the store, (looks at Tsugunaga) she turned peevish.
Tsugunaga: I was really happy that Risa-chan extended an invitation to me. It's not uncommon for me to have a meal with the kouhai, but the invitation would generally come from me. That was the first time that Risa-chan had asked me out, so I was on cloud nine as we headed to the store, with a spring to my step. I was even having fun picking things out from the menu. But then I got embarrassed at how excited I was. Could it be that perhaps Risa-chan had something to discuss with me? Now that my graduation's set in stone, she'll become the oldest in the group, so I wondered if there was some sort of problem concerning the group.
Like she may have wanted to ask you something.
Tsugunaga: That's right. I was wondering if there was something she wanted to bring up. To find out if she wanted to talk with about something, I asked her why she'd invited me out. And so it turned out that it was because none of the other members liked mushrooms that much. I was like 'Huh?' (laughs) I'd been chosen via the process of elimination. And what's more, she added that nabe isn't something she could order without at least 2 people.
Yamaki: I couldn't go alone. (laughs)
Tsugunaga: Isn't that horrible!
I'd have thought that Tsugunaga-san would have been the first person to ask. (laughs)
Yamaki: And that's where we differ. I didn't think that it would be all right to ask Momochi-senpai out without a reason. If I'd told her that I just invited her for some vague reason or the other, it'd be awkward.
Tsugunaga: You could've just said that you wanted to have a meal with me.
All: That's right!
Tsugunaga: You just happened to want mushroom nabe, and I happened to be the only person who was convenient, right?
Yamaki: ...Well, that's true, you happened to fit the bill. That is a fact. (laughs) The big takeaway I got from this huge incident was that it's fine to invite Momochi-senpai out just because I want to have a meal with her. So I'd like to ask her out for more meals until her graduation.
Have the other members invited Tsugunaga-san out for a meal?
Morito: Never. Risa-chan was the first.
She broke through the wall. It's common for Tsugunaga-san to be the one extending the invitation, isn't it?
Tsugunaga: I once went to a ramen store with Risa-chan, Chisaki-chan, and Mai-chan. We just had a normal meal, but when the time came for the bill to be settled, the store didn't accept cards. And what's more, I had just topped up my Suica on that day, so I was seriously in a pinch.
You were in a sticky situation because you didn't have cash in hand.
Tsugunaga: Yup. When I opened my purse, I somehow had just enough, and ended up with only 300 yen left in my purse. (laughs)
Tsugunaga: I was in a cold sweat. The store attendant had noticed that I was Momochi, and it would have been a prickly situation if I hadn't had enough cash. I took out two 500 yen coins and paid with those. (laughs) Ever since then, I've made sure to have enough cash on hand whenever I go out.
Morito: So that's what happened. (laughs)
Yamaki: We didn't think that it'd be her treat, so we passed along our share of the bill to this senpai of ours. And then she was like 'It's fine. I'll be paying.' We started to insist on paying for ourselves, but she was like 'It's fine' and briskly went off to the cash register.
Unexpectedly, she wasn't fine. (laughs)
Yamaki: After that, Momochi-senpai seemed a bit out of sorts when I handed her bag to her.
Morito: Now that you mention it, she did seem quite startled. She was like 'Ah, bag, my bag'!
Tsugunaga: I'd just taken a quick glance at what was in my purse. (laughs) I'd hate to be thought of as someone who doesn't have any cash. (laughs) What's more, it was just ramen, you know? If it was something more expensive, I could have excused myself to go and withdraw some cash. It was really nerve-wracking.
It was do or die, wasn't it. Funaki-san, how about asking her out?
: Ehh~. We've eaten out before for work and in between jobs. She'll ask me what my favourite restaurant chain is, but I get so nervous that I can't maintain a conversation. I think Risa-chan's pretty handy at holding conversations.
I suspect that Yanagawa-san would keep on talking the whole time though.
Yanagawa: Actually, we were working together yesterday, and I went out for a meal with Momochi-senpai in between jobs.
Tsugunaga: We were at the restaurant for about two and a half hours.
Yamaki: That's quite the toughie!
Tsugunaga: And after we had spent about 2 hours there, Yanamin said that she was nervous.
Tsugunaga: I was like 'No way'. (laughs) Despite having yakked on and on for so long, she was suddenly acting as if she was nervous. How sly.
Yanagawa: No no no. I was nervous.
Tsugunaga: We wrapped up our tour in Fukushima. Looking back on the year's hot trends, there were things like PPAP and 'Your Name'. But for Country Girls, sexiness showdowns were the in-thing. At first, we would each show our sexiness in our performances. Then a sense of rivalry started to blossom. Friendly rivalry would be fine, but it wouldn't be good for things to end up in a fight. The mood was getting bad, with everyone feeling that they were the sexiest. We took the opportunity to have a year-end showdown since it would be best to settle things once and for all.
Tsugunaga: We split it into a 2-person A-block and 3-person B-block. I was the moderator.
Tsugunaga-san, was there a reason why you weren't participating?
Tsugunaga: I'm already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. And, with Fukushima's local delicacy... Those cream box toasts that have recently become famous. The preliminaries were those and mamador cakes.
They had to say those foods in a sexy way?
Tsugunaga: Yes. The finals were decided by walnut yubeshi. (laughs) And the victor was Ozeki Mai-chan.
Ozeki: Yes. Thank you very much..
An unexpected win by Ozeki-san.
Ozeki: Excuse me. but it wasn't unexpected. It's truly an honour to shine as the first queen, and I'd like to convey it across the generations.
Ozeki: And what are you laughing about?
That's pretty aggressive. (laughs) Why do you pursue sexiness?
Yamaki: In Country Girls, there really is quite a heavy emphasis on cuteness. We're happy about that, but we've also got coolness. And I think that we were able to prove that with our current single. However, sexiness is one aspect that we've got no outlets for. So our sexiness would remain hidden. And so, how do we show it to everyone? We just took our own initiative and mobilised.
Tsugunaga: Well put.
Yamaki: Thank you all. Through things like our blog photos and the making-of videos, we were constantly able to show our sexiness for the S-1 Grand Prix, and someday it'll be of use for something.
Yamaki: It might be a song. It might be a commercial. Our hard efforts will bear some results.
: It's been a year since I joined, but I'm the one who's grown the most in sexiness.
Yamaki: Her growth has been staggering.
: Looking at my photos from a year back, I have no idea what I was trying to do.
Ozeki: That's how it is at the start.
: I received all sorts of advice, and was able to grow. Next, I'm aiming for the crown of the sexy queen.
Tsugunaga: Well, shall we talk about the songs?
Yamaki: Firstly, we've got 'Good Boy Bad Girl'.
Morito: What a quick turn of events! (laughs)
You just moved the interview forwards by yourselves. (laughs) It's marvellous how quickly you can change pace! As we talked about before, 'Good Boy Bad Girl' is a cool song.
Tsugunaga: It's a really cool song, and the dance has some crispness to it as well. It focuses on the romance between a quarrelling boy and girl.
Yamaki: Quite a lot of Country Girls' songs are about fights. (laughs)
Tsugunaga: We're always saying 'You don't get it!'
Is the dance split between girls and guys?
Tsugunaga: It is. And we switch gender roles in the first and second parts.
Morito: I've dressed as a guy before, but this is my first time in a male role. It's common for Mai-chan to play the guy while I take the role of the girl, but this time, the roles were reversed. At the intro, there's a scene where we're facing off, and then we seem to kiss. That's refreshing. I was told to sing like a guy when we were recording, which was quite a challenge.
Ozeki: It's Country Girls' coolest song.
In 'Peanut Butter Jelly Love', there's a highlight of Tsugunaga-san that comes out of nowhere.
All: Yo! PM!
Tsugunaga: It's like something out of a dream. But if pushed to say, I'd say that it's more of a bad dream. A nightmare. (laughs) The whole song encompasses a wide singing register, so it's extremely difficult to sing. It's tough. It was so tough, I don't think I've been through such a challenge for quite a while.
Yamaki: Momochi-senpai was so nervous that she was blinking so much more, it was abnormal. Her facial expressions were on-point, but she was blinking with surprise and mirth in her eyes. There's also a part of the choreography where Momochi-senpai looks at all of us, and we can tell that she's nervous. (laughs) We witnessed an unexpected side of her.
Tsugunaga: The opening lines really give me this sense of nervousness. I feel this sense of responsibility - if I mess up there, it'll mess up the whole song. So if you can, please watch over me with a forgiving eye. I myself am doing my best to sing it well, but I would be truly blessed if you cam to see us perform live while watching over us with a fond heart. (laughs) The whole song seems to come out of a fairy tale, and it's also a sweet song that's being released close to Valentine's.