Determined women have what it takes to make men get serious
When a person becomes truly determined about something, whether it be a sport or whatever else you can imagine, they reach a sort of place of enlightenment. People like that are easily able to go beyond what others might deem commonly accepted. I often unconsciously find myself greatly admiring people like that.
One example of such a person might be Taiyou to Ciscomoon’s Shinoda. I have no qualms about calling her a determined woman — hell, she’s an Olympic athlete! I’m sure even Utaban’s Taka-san and Nakai-kun would agree: Olympic athletes are a huge object of admiration for all people doing sports. Sure, even kids who can make it big in high school level baseball are already amazing, but the amazingness of these people is on a whole other level altogether. I have some sports experience myself: I did swimming and track-and-field. But even if I was the best of my school, becoming the no. 1 of the entire Osaka prefecture would’ve been completely unrealistic for me — to say nothing of being the no. 1 in Japan. That’s something too amazing for me to even properly visualize.
And when you’re representing an entire country in the Olympics, like Shinoda was, it isn’t enough for you to take part in the nationwide tournament or something and win once. You have to have maintained that average for years, and you have to remain in your peak condition for the Olympics, which only happen once every four years. In other words, you can’t be an Olympic athlete if you are unable to keep constantly working hard, constantly bringing in the results, and constantly being lucky. Not only was Shinoda able to do all that and become a representative of Japan, but she was also the ace of their team — she went even higher.
I got to hear about many noteworthy achievements and episodes from all kinds of women at the ASAYAN auditions that Shinoda took part in. There was a female pro wrestler, an enka singer who had been swindled for hundreds of thousands of yen because they “needed it to make her record“… But even among those many participants, Shinoda was by far the person who stood out to me the most. An ex-Olympic athlete who wanted to show us her gymnastics.
Back then, gymnastics was a sport that even Japan had a shot at winning an Olympic medal in, so as you might expect, the country expected a lot from people like her. Girls especially trained very hard from a very young age and there was a lot of competition. Thus, it seemed funny to me that someone who had reached the top in an arena like that would take part in our auditions, and I remember Shinoda having the most interesting things to tell us in her interview.
The first thing I wanted to know about her was: what had she been doing in the ten years since she was the no. 1 of Japan? In Shinoda’s case, she’d worked as a cheerleader for the Giants, as a lottery girl, as a part-timer at a tonkatsu place — she’d done all kinds of fun things. But Shinoda listed all those past experiences in a very matter-of-fact way — she wasn’t bragging about it, nor was she trying to humor us. It seemed obvious to me that she felt that as someone who had been to the Olympics, other things didn’t even begin to compare.
When she answered my question about how she had found the strength to keep training so hard and how difficult it had been for her, I came to realize: Shinoda had been working unbelievably hard, all alone — she had led a life that was very taxing on her, both physically as well as mentally.
Lastly, I had a question about willpower. “How much willpower would you say you have? How far will it take you? Sports is all about points — whether you win or lose is determined by your ability. But being a singer or working in the talent business, there are times when it doesn’t matter how cute you are or how skilled you may be — you still won’t become popular.“
When I said that to her, she simply answered: “I’m well aware.” And she wasn’t just saying it, like a half-hearted “I’ll do my best.” I felt that she really did know. She must’ve been able to say those words because she’d lived an intense life and she’d succeeded.
I continued seeing in her the many things one can see in people who have built up that kind of willpower in themselves — people who are determined.
That time was no different. I delivered a message to the members through the ASAYAN staff: “the theme is going to be “funk,” so come back to me once you’ve made yourself funkier in whatever way you most see fit.” While everyone else was going “huuuuuh?!,” I had no idea what Shinoda was thinking — she remained quiet. The only thing I told them was: “I don’t know, maybe get a tan or something — I don’t care if you come back tanned black! It’s up to you to figure out what to do.“
She came back with ridiculously golden brown skin and blond hair. It was so funny, she almost looked like someone had forced her into doing it. She’s generally not a very fashionable person, so she came in wearing these weird clothes, her hair in this huge perm, and with sunglasses on her face — she looked like Hayashiya Pee or something! The other members had done minor tanning or something else within the limits of reason, so I appreciated how all-out Shinoda had gone; how quickly she had accepted what she had to do.
In any case: when they all came back, she was the one who stood out the most. I bet Shinoda must’ve thought, “alright, I’ll try giving this group my all.” That’s what I sensed from her when I saw her standing there, looking like Hayashiya Pee. But I also sensed in her a kind of pressure directed towards me: “I’ve gone this far for you, Tsunku. Now it’s time for you to do your part, and do it well.“
And yet, from Shinoda’s point-of-view as someone who had experienced so much hardship in her time doing gymnastics, it must’ve felt like nothing at all. Her threshold for challenge must be way beyond that of the average person. Furthermore, Shinoda had made the decision to start completely from scratch in a field that was new to her. Her redesigning herself as something like the second coming of Hayashiya Pee might have been one way of settings things straight within herself, like she was saying “okay, this is me now.“
When Shinoda was chosen as one of the group’s members, she was the person that caused the people watching the most disbelief. “Why that person?” But she broke away from those preconceptions in no time. I’m sure the other members, too, were thinking “Shinoda is no. 4 — I only have to compete with the other two and see who’s no. 1, 2, and 3.” But before long, Shinoda had started to stand out. This might have made the other members feel quite under pressure.
Since then, Shinoda has continued to show her toughness and her resolution in many different settings, in a way only a determined woman could. For instance, when the staff tell the members how “Tsunku wants to see you,” their first thought is apparently “oh no, what did we do to make him angry this time?” At times like that, the first person to come see me is always Shinoda. The way she thinks of it? “Alright, if he’s going to get mad at us, let me be the first one he’s mad at.“
Shinoda might also be the member who cries out of regret the most. There are times when the people on the production side will approve of her performance, and yet she’ll start pleading with us. “I’m not satisfied with this. Please let me try again.” When I see her doing things like that, I just think to myself: “this girl’s going to be alright no matter what life might throw at her.“
“You can do it if you try.” Anyone can think that. But when it’s a determined person thinking it, they know from experience just how much effort it takes to actually bring results. Thus, their resolve is stronger than in average people. It is something that will always be of great help to them regardless of what they may be doing. Moreover, one has to have gone through all kinds of painful experiences in order to have become truly determined in the first place, which is something that also shapes them into well-balanced individuals.
To give you an example of the opposite thing…
Imagine you have someone who is a technological genius. That’s amazing in and of itself. But you’ll sometimes see people like that who are in no way balanced. If you’re trying to do business; if you’re trying to make something with other people, you have to be able to see things from their perspective and adjust accordingly in order to make whatever it is you’re trying to make. That means you’re required to have qualities besides your technical proficiency; qualities like cooperativeness and flexibility. And yet, there are some people out there who have no idea how to deal with people above them, people beneath them, or even people on the same level as them.
Now, if it’s an artistic genius, you might be able to get away with that. “Please just concentrate on cultivating your talent. We can do business with that alone. It doesn’t matter if you’re not very socially adept — you just keep producing your works and we’ll take care of the rest.” There are professionals like that, but there are also some professionals who are able to take everyone else’s opinions into consideration and produce their works as balanced individuals.
But when it comes to the groups that I produce, with members discovered basically straight from their living rooms, I feel that it’s essential for them to have that sense of balance as people. There have been lots of girls taking part in our auditions with nothing but ego going for them. “I can sing.” “I can dance.” They’ve been going to some training school and made to practice very, very hard. They can put on a fake smile at the snap of a finger. They can strike a cool pose just like that. However, so often it’s the case that it’s the people like that who are missing that sense of balance.
But the people who are truly determined about something, they know. They understand what it is to be a loser, they understand what it is to be a winner, they even understand the feelings of the people who support them. When I think about it now, perhaps what Shinoda and people like her actually struggle towards is that place of enlightenment.
Psychologically, it may be that the “determined woman” is immeasurably stronger than I.