Tsugunaga Momoko will be graduating from Country Girls as well as Hello! Project on the 30th of June.
We held an interview with her to look back on her 15 years of life as an idol.
Tsugunaga Momoko x ZYX
[On 'ZYX', her first unit after joining the Hello! Project Kids]
The members of ZYX were picked out from the older members of the Hello! Project Kids.
Well, while I was older, I was completely inexperienced in both dancing and singing.
I was completely left behind.
I worked hard at the practices, but I couldn't get to the required level.
So that spurred me on to work even harder.
More than anything, I got to work with Yaguchi Mari-san.
That was when I knew how great our senpai were.
Time has run its course, and several years have passed since then.
Now the roles are reversed - In Country Girls, I'm now in the position that Yaguchi Mari-san was in back then.
With the passage of time, I realise that she must have had a lot of deep thoughts about it.
I'm truly grateful to Yaguchi Mari-san, the senpai who taught me so much things back then.
Tsugunaga Momoko x Buono!
[Being picked as a member of Buono!]
I got called to the lesson studio and was told that Suzuki Airi-chan and Natsuyaki Miyabi-chan and I would be put in a group...
Well, both Airi and Miya are well known for their singing.
So I was like, 'Why me?'
But since we were told at the same time that it would be an anime tie-up, given my naturally high-pitched voice, I thought that I had been picked for my anime voice.
But when things unfolded, we were singing nothing but these hard rock songs...
I really... was concerned if I could sing them well.
But that made me like singing even more.
And a lot of Buono! songs made people like my singing as well.
So it's really... hmm, hmm... Huge to me.
Tsugunaga Momoko x Berryz Kobo
[In your activities as Berryz Kobo, what did you find to be the hardest? What did you find to be the most fun?]
In my 15 years of being an idol, I've never thought of activities, Berryz Kobo's or otherwise, as being hard...
But balancing that with studies was tough.
At graduation ceremonies, it's a general life experience for a senpai to receive flowers from their kouhai with a word of thanks.
But I never joined a club, so that's never happened to me even once.
So I sometimes do feel envious when I see people around me experiencing things like those.
But besides that, nothing was particularly hard.
As for the most fun?
Let's see, I can't really pick just one thing though...
But Berryz' concerts were really fun... Whichever live show we did...
They were unique ☺
Tsugunaga Momoko x Variety shows
[You've appeared on many variety shows, but what was on your mind when you made your appearances?]
Well, I felt like I wanted to be known by more people.
And actually, once I started getting on TV, lots of people would notice me when I walked in the streets.
I really feel like my life changed.
Tsugunaga Momoko x Lasts
The other day, it was Buono!'s last live.
A lot of the staff members asked me if I lacked emotions.
That's not it. (hits table)
I do feel sadness, and all sorts of other emotions.
However, I'd personally feel really frustrated if crying would stop me from singing.
So, since there are a lot of songs which I don't have much opportunities to sing, I'd reflect on each and every song thoroughly, and so I'm able to sing them with a smile.
Please don't be mistaken. (laughs)
Tsugunaga Momoko x Last Album
Firstly, to have a solo album to go with my graduation, there's no precedent...
Has that happened before?
You know... To be given such an honour... (laughs)
That's how I felt.
I was driven to give this album my very best.
I was full of zeal at the recordings and so on.
There are three discs.
The first one has songs picked by me, which I would self-cover, singing them solo.
The second one is a compilation of Country Girls songs.
The third one was based on votes by the fans, the songs they thought were good.
As it's my fifteenth anniversary, there were fifteen songs recorded.
I did the solo recordings for the first disc at the very start.
I'd made my selection after narrowing down the selection of songs in my own way, considering things like how deeply I felt about the songs.
And then, the fan-voted third disc turned out to be more-or-less a mirror image of the first one.
Which means, which means you see.. (laughs)
The songs that I think represent my fifteen years and the songs that the fans think are most representative were in agreement.
This made me really happy, to have them together.
In that sense, it's a really satisfying album.
[The album has a song that's directed to you. How did you feel like when you heard the song?]
'Idol Sotsugyou Chuui Jikou' was first performed at our Nakano Sunplaza show during the 'Momochi-ism' tour.
I hadn't heard it up until then, and so I was in the same boat as the fans when I heard it.
And while at it pokes some fun at me, I really felt the love.
It's a song with many twists and turns, with laughter mixed with tears.
With the member set-up of Country Girls...
There's the Playing Manager, and the kouhai who are following along...
It's a song that could only be done with this structure.
And it works with a character like mine.
In other words, it's a song that can only be expressed by the Country Girls of the present.
Well, it does talk about the vestiges left for tomorrow.
However, I'm really happy that they made this song and performed it at this point in time.
Tsugunaga Momoko x Country Girls
[In regards to the Country Girls members, the new structure was announced the other day]
Well, the form of Country Girls is changing, but it's not like Country Girls will be no longer.
Watching them from close by, seeing them getting songs for the summer Hello! Cons, the five of them having a ball as they learn the songs...
It's a huge change, but in some sense, it isn't changing.
For Country Girls, they each...
Well, two of them are focusing more on studies, and there are members who are transferring to other groups and being concurrent members.
I'd like all of them to absorb all sorts of things from where they are, and hopefully make Country Girls even more fascinating.