20 comments on “Tsunku♂ B.L.T. interview (2017)

  1. Interesting article, also quite a surprising reasoning why idols shouldn’t date. Tsunku seems to be of the opinion that they can’t put their feeling into their songs anymore when they start dating someone.

    • I didn’t take from it that Tsunku was saying idols should or shouldn’t date, only that dating changes their priorities — suddenly, getting the most lines in a song or the most screen time on a TV appearance is no longer the only thing of concern in life.

      • Right, but the surprising thing to me was that I always saw this argument of not dating as something that had to do with moral standards. I never made the connection how it would impact their performance at work.

        • Hmmmm, the only time I’ve seen the issue couched in morality it came from Western sources. Most Asian/Japanese explanations are either it’s necessary for quality idol training (as Tsunku hints at here) or from the economic standpoint of it being what the idol fanbase in Japan demands.

          • Tsunku’s own answer implies that it’s the latter case, right? The members did get boyfriends while they were still idols, but they didn’t get fired unless they got caught by the public, not by the company.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for translating this. I especially loved the discussion about Tsunku’s youth as a shotengai kid. It’s a detail of his life I hadn’t seen talked about before, but it’s clear that it had a huge effect on the way he approaches entertainment.

    The differences we see in Hello Project since Tsunku stepped back make a lot of sense now, when I think about it. Tsunku’s successors seem to be looking at what their desired target audience thinks is cool and working to create a product in that vein. It’s a more analytical approach, like you might take if you went to business school. Tsunku’s approach is/was very grassroots. He built H!P by trying to get people’s attention by whatever means possible, utilizing multiple strategies back to back or simultaneously, like his family and the other families on the shopping street would have. It worked exceptionally well at the beginning of Morning Musume because the 50,000 CD challenge likely reinforced for the members and staff at the time what it meant to have that ethos.

    Both methods have their merits. I personally prefer the romance of the grassroots approach.

  3. “I think it could be said that Morning Musume became like role models for current idols in their way of doing member additions and graduations. A lot of idols today follow the example set by Morning Musume and Hello! Project in how they operate. They really were pioneers in that sense”

    I’ve always felt this way, that morning musume created the formula for the modern idol group.. The audition process which used to be a behind the scenes type of deal is know highly publicized and promoted.. We get to see from prospective idols fight for a chance to live their dreams in various organizations across the JPOP field and that one of my favorite parts of the idol world… Then watch their careers all the way up the the final graduation performance, pay our last tributes and watch the next prospective idols journey all over again

  4. Thanks so much Henkka, I truly enjoyed this read.

    In regards to the dating comment, maybe I’m misunderstanding, but it seemed to me more or less like Tsunku didn’t personally care whether or not the girls dated… I didn’t read it as he was saying them having other interests was a bad thing. The point was made that the girls can’t possibly express emotion in performances about something they can’t empathize with and it’s unrealistic to expect them not to have experiences like that themselves, and that maybe even having those experiences can make them better performers (as H!P really emphasizes facial expressions and all that when performing). I wonder if Tsunku agrees with the no dating rule for idols? Has he ever said so? Though I know, like with most people, his feelings have possibly changed over time, so maybe things he’s said in the past wouldn’t be much use now. I feel like the idol industry as a whole is slowly moving away from it, but as long as there’s enough people supporting it, or at least making enough of a fuss when another girl is caught, companies will continue to enforce it. I suppose because keeping those types of fans happy is what puts the most money in their pockets, as they’re the ones bulk buying and going to multiple shows a tour and throwing every dime they’ve got at the “product”. It saddens me sometimes that these often young girls have to be put in that position for the sake of money… when all they wanted to do was sing and dance, like the H!P girls they so admire. And in a way, that’s what they were lead to believe they were doing.

    • Hey M,

      Thanks for the comment. I was going to reply to you directly, but it got a bit long. I think I’m going to make a new post about this entirely. I’ll try to publish it this evening.

  5. Thanks a lot for this translation! This was such an interesting read. I would love to comment on each and every topic discussed in this interview because I just can’t pick just one or two that I felt were important or surprising. But since this would be over the top I’m not commenting on anything in particular.

    I definitely have to come back and re-read this interview.

    Are you by chance also planning to translate the Hashimoto Shin interview of this series?

    • Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not going to translate that one. I read it, but I just found it a bit “meh.” I don’t know, maybe it was just me. It could be worth a read.

      For anyone that’s curious, the Hashimoto interview was published in B.L.T.’s June 2016 issue.

  6. Tsunku being a total analytical wonk is always a wonderful read. Thanks so much for making that accessible to us, Henkka!

    I so much agree with Koide’s assessment of some overseas music, how the arrangements are junk or the lyrics are meaningless. Like, that can be an aesthetic for some people, but I definitely appreciate how much more lush and maximalist my favorite Jpop is. (Although Jpop, too, has cases of shit arrangements and empty content)

    And then their insights into how Pikotaro precisely calculated his big meme were super enlightening. There are many things that go viral organically, but we also have professional shitposters and meme channels. People can go viral with a good work ethic. And internet celebrities are very much following and beholden to the same models of popularity as idols, in ways our western music and actor celebrities are not.

  7. “It’s very easy to tell. No girl would be able to hide it when she falls in love for the first time. There’s that sparkle in her eyes. You can see it in their eyes: they’re thinking about how, rather than doing their best to receive whatever line they’re singing right now, they’re more eager to just get home as soon as possible.”

    EXACTLY. this is one great reason why I support the Love Ban. There are others.

    Tsunku is a gift. Thank you for this translation so very much!!

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