It's thanks to the support from the fans that we're able to celebrate our 7th anniversary. Some of you have been cheering us on from when we made our debut, and some of you have just recently become our fans. These seven years have really been long. Tsunku♂-san has mentioned it as well. 'It's amazing for idols to continue on for so long'. I'd like to do my best from now on as well, without forgetting these feelings of gratitude.
Looking back, there really were a lot of things that happened. But it was pure bliss to have achieved the record for youngest girl group to perform at the Saitama Super Arena ('2007 Sakura Mankai Berryz Kobo Live ~Kono Kandou ha Nidoto to nai Shunkan de aru!~'). It was so emotionally moving that I cried. A former manager of ours who came to watch us told me that I shouldn't cry, there were bigger goals in store for us. (laughs) But that was how it was.
Whereas for concerts where I remember having a tough time, I'd pick the time when we were in a huge panic because the members were missing concerts due to feeling unwell. During 'Berryz Kobo Concert Tour 2009 Autumn ~Medachitai!!~', there was a point when (Tokunaga) Chinami and Kumai (Yurina)-chan were absent due to illness, so we had to perform with five people. That was a reminder about how important each and every one of us is.
It's my seventh year as captain, but I really had completely no idea what to do when we were first starting out. Even though I was the oldest in the group, at home, I was a younger sister with an older brother. So I thought that it would be impossible to bring everyone together as a group! I was already so busy with our packed schedule of activities, I honestly didn't have any leeway to even watch the other members. At the beginning, none of us really talked about what we thought. But, we held discussions called Berryz meetings, and since then, we've all been able to say what we want to say.
We made decisions in order to stop fights from happening, and we wrote those in a notebook that we called the Berryz Note. Even now, that notebook's still with me, in a drawer of my desk. I haven't looked at it recently, but I have a relook at it whenever I'm worried about something. It calms me down, it reminds me of how childish we were, and makes me realise how much we've grown up now. (laughs) Everything in there's just silly little things. Things like 'If you receive sweets, give something in return' or 'When riding in a car, fill up the insides'. I find it strange. (laughs) There are about 130 entries in there. There's even the same thing repeated twice, which really shows how childish we were. (laughs) I wonder what we'd add to those notes now? Maybe something like 'Don't forget the spirit that you started with!'?
That I'm Captain is also thanks to the members. I think that in my position, I'm a captain who gets supported by everyone. Personality-wise, I immediately get pessimistic, so I worry about lots of things. When I was small, it was really tough to figure out what the grown-ups were saying, and I had no idea how to best inform the members about what I'd been told. And if something happened after that, I'd receive a talking-to by the grown-ups. (laughs) I didn't want to be hated for telling off the others either. Even when I was worried, there wasn't anyone that I could discuss things with...
In these seven years, there have been times when I've thought about quitting the group. But honestly, there was no one that I could discuss things with. Both my parents don't talk about work, so I wasn't comfortable with bringing it up with them. At the time, I ultimately ended up talking to the members. That's when they gave me their honest opinions. It left me feeling like I was really getting support.
Nowadays, I'm glad that I became the captain. If I hadn't, I wouldn't be able to understand the many things I feel, and I wouldn't have been able to try out certain things. So I think of it as a valuable experience. What if I had picked a path that wasn't being the captain seven years ago? Who would have turned out to be the captain or the leader? (laughs) Even to this day, (Sudo) Maasa's level-headed and reliable, so I guess it'd be Maasa?
I did want to try out a different position in the group. I may appear to be serious, but that actually isn't the case. So if I hadn't been the captain, I might have been one of those high energy personas, happily doing whatever I pleased. But even if we went back 7 years in the past, I feel that I'd still be nominated as the captain. (laughs)
There were times when I worried about the direction of Berryz Kobo. We don't switch members, and I couldn't see what sort of goals we should aim for. I've also had one-to-one discussions with Tsunku♂-san about that. He told me 'Morning Musume。 are cool. S/mileage are youthful and energetic. Berryz Kobo are somewhere in between. But since you can do cool things as much as you like when you've grown up, go and do fun stuff'. When I mentioned it to the members, everyone agreed that it was just as Tsunku♂-san said.
For Berryz, everyone enjoys themselves freely, and our personalities are all over the place. I guess the biggest thing is that we get together at times when it counts, and the good thing about Berryz is that in the end, we'll do things while enjoying ourselves. Once I arrived at that conclusion, I started to enjoy things even more. The members have already gone beyond friends... they're like family. (Sugaya) Risako is really like my little sister. Just being next to any of them brings me a sense of security. So when I'm suddenly all by myself, I get really lonely. (laughs)
Lots of things have changed in these past 7 years. We've broadened the depth of our expressions, and our way of thinking has changed as well. It was huge when I started thinking about how we're constantly supported by those around us. I was able to appreciate our situation, that we were able to stand on-stage like we could because of the support of all sorts of people. We were fortunate, blessed. When we were small, we only felt the joy, and weren't able at the point where we were able to feel grateful, not to that extent. Having grown up, we've come to understand that we've receiving a lot of support from behind-the-scenes. Having picked up on that, I too changed greatly.
We'll be celebrating our 10th anniversary in 3 years time, but I'd like the group to be just as we are now - Letting everyone enjoy themselves, and enjoying ourselves as well. We're not thinking at all about heading in a mature direction. Or rather than saying that we aren't thinking about it, we can't pull off that image. (laughs) I've turned 22, but I haven't changed. Though it's often said that people change when they're able to drink alcohol. (laughs) That playful 'feel' is one part of us, so I'd like to be cool and high-spirited while letting that part of us show a little (laughs).
On our 10th anniversary, I'd like to bring back the outfits we had during our debut, and dance at a concert in them. Trying to do my best! That's very Berryz, isn't it? (laughs) Even now, we members have fun discussing how crazy those outfits were. The other day, I saw photos of us dressed up like monkey for 'Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance', and I was like 'How silly~'. It was embarrassing back then, but we all enjoyed it, reminiscing over this and that, so I think that it was good that we did it. (laughs)
Others in this series: Tsugunaga Momoko