Part Eleven: “Onda Riku! Kaedy! w-inds.! Wooow!”
Writers Yuzuki Asako and Asai Ryo
profile the lyrics of Hello! Project songs!
Song #1: Tsubaki Factory – “Just Try!”
Asai: Thinking about recent things that have moved me, the first thing that pops to my mind has to be “Just Try!“
Yuzuki: Amazing song. It made me laugh when I heard it.
Asai: “Samui samui iitatte atsuku mo naranu” (“doesn’t matter how much you complain about how cold it is — it’s not going to get any warmer“) — I must’ve told that to myself a hundred times this winter.
Yuzuki: “Shiranu ga hotoke na no ni yo no naka jouhou darake” (“ignorance is bliss, yet the world is full of information“) — did she see something unpleasant online or something? “Tanoshii toki wo sugosu houhou kimochi wo kirikaeru shika nai” (“the only way to have a good time is to change your attitude“). ♪ Hoooraaa hoooraaa… ♪
Asai: ♪ Fuuushiiigiii deeeshooo~ ♪
Yuzuki: That’s such a scary part of the song. (laughs) It sounds like the beginning of a nightmare.
Asai: “Gaseneta yori yakkai na no wa jijitsu ariki no moribanashi” (“exaggerations based on truth are more dangerous than pure lies“). “Sekinin dake ga noshikakatte kengen nakute nani mo kimaran” (“burdened with responsibility but unable to decide on anything because you have no authority“)… It feels like these two lines alone are from the perspective of a company employee. Furthermore, the first one feels like it’s from the viewpoint of a woman and the second one from the viewpoint of a man. Also, I don’t know of any other J-pop song where the word “kengen” (“authority“) makes an appearance.
Yuzuki: They also sing “happy happy itteitara tanoshiku naru yo” (“just keep saying “happy happy” and you’ll feel happy in no time“)… but I wonder if that’s really the case…?
Asai: It must be! Let’s try it ourselves! Happy happy happy happy happy happy!
Yuzuki: We’d always been told in the lyrics to “Keep doing your best! If you just keep doing your best, there are surely good things that await!” Which I used to believe. But then after Hillary lost to Trump, I was already doubting that message… and when this song came out, that was the fatal blow for me.
Asai: “Damemoto demo ii jan!” (“maybe you will lose — but you could still give it a shot!“) It’s only a reminder of the very real possibility of failure.
Yuzuki: But for me that line was like… “oh, so he assumes failure.” It must mean that Tsunku♂ has learned to think in moderation… and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or if it’s the beginning of the end.
Asai: Depends on how you think about it, I suppose. Tsunku♂ himself often says that if you look at ten different people, you’re going to get ten different opinions. He’s started making references to the haters in his recent lyrics, too.
Yuzuki: “Seken nya motto ganbariya mo iru” (“there are people out there in society who work harder than you“). That line in “Brainstorming” really caught me off-guard.
Asai: Them singing that line with their hair all disheveled and stuff, I was going “you girls are working hard enough — someone save them from having to sing that!“
Yuzuki: Don’t you just love the “hora hora fushigi deshou” (“see, isn’t it strange?“) line?
Asai: This is an honest question: why do they sing that line when they do? I’m asking because it feels like it comes in at such a strange place in context of the rest of the lyrics.
Yuzuki: I’ve seen that kind of thing only in like the works of Umezu Kazuo.
Asai: Right. That progression really is like something out of a spooky story. It completely changes the mood of the song before it goes into the chorus.
Yuzuki: It’s cool. It really is cool, and I do like it for what it is, but I just don’t get from the song that “sense of urgency” of having to do one’s best. Has Tsunku♂ come to think that there’s no longer any point in working hard towards something?
Asai: Come on. That’s not what Tsunku♂’s message is.
Yuzuki: I don’t know. Maybe it’s actually for the best that he came to that realization.
Asai: That’s not what he’s saying! Don’t put words in his mouth.
Yuzuki: “There’s nothing to be gained from working hard…”
Asai: He’s not saying that! He’s just saying that even though you might lose, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to give it a try!
Yuzuki: I guess you’re right. But me, personally, I’ve gradually come to think that way.
Asai: Think what way? That there’s nothing to be gained even if you keep diligently working hard at something…?
Yuzuki: Right. But don’t get me wrong. It’s not like thinking that way has made me feel hopeless or anything.
Asai: Well, that’s good. I’d hate to think that all those years of like Ongaku Gatas doing their best with futsal had been all for nothing!
Yuzuki: It’s like… I’m not sure anymore if the victories that they had up until now were actually victories at all…
Asai: Sheesh. What’s with you today?
Yuzuki: Up until now, my thinking had always been that if only they got to appear on Kouhaku, that would’ve made them winners…
Asai: Ah. No no, you’re right on that point. Appearing on Kouhaku is not some be-all, end-all victory for an artist.
Yuzuki: Yes. Now I tend to think that maybe that’s a fair way of looking at it, too.
Asai: Sure. Speaking as a writer, my thinking used to be that if your book is made into a movie, that’s a huge victory for you… When really it’s not.
Yuzuki: Yeah. Getting to appear in large venues, or receiving big awards or something… But then things like Kaedy finally becoming a member of a group or — in the world of novels — Onda Riku receiving critical acclaim for “Mitsubachi to Enrai,” those are the kinds of things that in my mind sent a powerful message. Things like that give me a sense of relief!
Asai: It almost sounds like a thing of legends, the whole thing with Onda Riku being nominated six times before finally actually winning the Naoki Prize for “Mitsubachi to Enrai.” When it happened, it felt like things were finally right in the world. I also felt something similar with the amazing reception that w-inds. received for “We Don’t Need To Talk Anymore.”
Yuzuki: Tachibana Keita has gotten really fit just as of late…
Asai: It’s important for people to work out when they can. Losing your health can be fatal to one’s career.
Yuzuki: That’s true. Whether you win or lose is not determined by what happens with each particular hand you’re dealt; it’s about the accumulation of all those individual experiences and what awaits at the end. Or, no… Rather, what’s important is enjoying the journey of getting there. I really do feel this to be the case as of late.
Asai: … If anything, though, you and me have never been the types who could see things in the “long run” like that.
Yuzuki: Right, and I think that’s something we’ve been mistaken about all along. Like, I’d be going, “Oh no! It’s already been five years since I debuted! I haven’t produced enough results! Even though Asai is super popular already! Why?! When am I going to get a win over Asai?!“
Asai: Meanwhile, as you were busy worrying about things like that, people like Onda have simply continued doing their stretches and their core training.
Yuzuki: You’re not one to talk, either! You actually won the Naoki Prize, and yet you’ve been silently resentful over the fact that you’ve never been nominated for the Japan Booksellers’ Award. (laughs) We’ve been so foolish! We’ve been much too short-sighted!
Asai: It’s like this constant cycle of, “Okay, this’ll get me that nomination! … Oh, it was no good! I’m going to die! Okay, then what about this?! … Still no good! I’m going to die!“
Yuzuki: We’ve been out of our minds up until now. Maybe we will lose, but it’s still worth it to try. We don’t have to produce results right away.
Asai: Somewhere down the line we just lost that ability to stay far-sighted, didn’t we?
Yuzuki: To me it felt kind of like I was trying to do something instantly, like heating food in the microwave. “Okay, two minutes ought to do. Huh? Wait, that’s strange. My writing’s still not any better.” (laughs) I’d wake up in the morning and think, “Why am I no better than I was yesterday? Wait, what am I going to do today? Oh, that’s right. I have work from 1 PM. Alright, let’s do this! … WHY AM I NOT IMPROVING?!” Argh! I’ve been such an IDIOT!
Asai: “I have to release another book! I have to win another award! People are going to forget about me! I’ll lose my place in the world!”
Yuzuki: “I want to be the best,” we would say. So stupid! Who are we trying to impress?!
Asai: And while we’re driving ourselves crazy with those thoughts, there are other writers who’ve only released like two books in the past seven years and yet those same writers are now releasing well-written, genuine masterpieces.
Yuzuki: I’m sure those people had some days where they didn’t write anything at all. Some days, they probably only did a bunch of stretches.
Asai: You and me have been trying to write at least something, every single day.
Yuzuki: We have. I was afraid my writing would get worse if I didn’t. And I’d be reading ridiculous amounts of new books, thinking of it as research. Even though it did me no good at all whatsoever! Meanwhile, you’ll see people who took 20 years to write something great, and they’ll say they will read only the books that they actually like, going all “uh, sorry, I don’t really know much about currently popular books…“
Asai: With Onda and “Mitsubachi to Enrai,” it took her 12 years to plot it out, 11 years to do research for it, and 7 years to write it. She went to loads of piano competitions just to study for it. The end result is her undisputed masterpiece.
Yuzuki: Meanwhile, I’d be going to toy stores or cake shops and feeling sorry for myself when I overheard people praising some other writer than me. (laughs) But the message of “Just Try!” is not wrong! There is meaning to be found in keeping at it!
Asai: Yes. Let’s all take a more far-sighted view with a song like “Just Try!“
Yuzuki: Yes, far-sightedness! Tsubaki also doesn’t need to hurry to become a huge success right away. That’s the wrong way to think about it. They should just keep going at it. There is meaning to be found in continuing to do something. Japan puts too much emphasis on immediate results! Oh… we really have been so foolish.
Asai: Right. It’s that short-sightedness of Japan — and of us.
Yuzuki: Feeling pissed off every time I visited a bookstore…
Asai: Looking at the shelves and seeing how much more space books by other writers would take up compared to mine, and feeling so upset about it that I could cry…
Yuzuki: Restlessly reading through books written by others when really I should’ve been deepening the worlds in my own writing instead…
Asai: Feeling that it was somehow necessary to have to read and know all the currently popular literature…
Yuzuki: Thinking that others would make fun of us if we didn’t do so… But it was seeing Kaedy’s tears that made me realize how stupid I’d been all this time.
Asai: Those tears of hers fell upon us two, purifying us in a way.
Yuzuki: It was like this demon that was clinging on to us in a really ugly way. “Nothing good ever happens to me… I hate this person… I’m jealous of that person…“
Asai: When those first tears of Kaedy’s fell, it felt like the world suddenly becoming alive again like in the final scene of Princess Mononoke.
Yuzuki: To make a Tarantino film comparison… While it doesn’t get talked about much, the music for the film The Hateful Eight — which I really like — was composed by Ennio Morricone for which he won an Academy Award last year. It was actually his first — even though I always mistakenly believed he must’ve won several already. By the way, the Japanese promotional representatives for the film were Shinagawa Shoji and Yagucchan.
Asai: They must’ve been chosen for the job just for the “hateful” bit. You’ve got to love the creativity they have in advertising Western films in Japan…
Yuzuki: But really: Ennio Morricone won his first Academy Award at 88 years of age, and there was like zero sense that he was at all thinking “about damn time.” Similarly, when Julianne Moore received the Best Actress Award for the first time the year before last, at age 55, she looked so composed and dignified. Meanwhile, someone like Leonardo DiCaprio, who comes across as very short-sighted in that he tries to appear only in movies that seem like they might win him awards, is made fun of to the point where they even made a game about whether he can grab that Oscar or not (“Leo’s Red Carpet Rampage“).
Asai: That’s terrible. But the film that actually did win him that Oscar (The Revenant), I’m honestly not at all curious to see that one…
Yuzuki: It’s been praised as a great film and I used to love Leo, but for some reason or the other, me and no one around me actually went to see it… The only thing I know about it is that it’s set in like the snowy mountains or something. But then take someone like Matthew McConaughey. He was perfectly happy playing himself in Sex and the City, and yet, he went ahead to win the Best Actor Award for Dallar Buyers Club. And right after that he went on to appear in a TV drama. That kind of thing is way cooler to me now. That lack of self-consciousness. Flexibility. Amplitude. Going one’s own way.
Asai: We were much too focused on individual things.
Yuzuki: We were. “Results… Results… I have to show results…” But I’m going to be honest now. I blame H!P for me making me become that way!
Asai: Oh, come on. You’re exaggerating!
Yuzuki: H!P has gotten to me on a DNA-level. Whenever I was unable to produce results, I always assumed it was because I wasn’t working hard enough.
Asai: But just considering the fact that we have people like Kaedy, Onda, and w-inds… It really is a great country.
Yuzuki: You have to think about things in the long-term. Life isn’t only about those one-off moments. You’re going to run out of steam if you concentrate solely on things like that.
Asai: All those people I just listed who deserved some recognition, they all got theirs — and pretty much all of them at the same time, too.
Yuzuki: How did Tsunku♂ arrive to the same conclusion as us?
Asai: He had been busy writing all these years at a breakneck speed… But just as of late, he must’ve settled down a little and similarly realized how life isn’t about those one-off achievements.
Yuzuki: It isn’t, no. Not for Tsunku♂, and not for us.
Asai: While his output in terms of the number of songs he writes has gone down, it’s not like Tsunku♂ is ever going to be forgotten. But if you do have a tendency of seeing things the opposite way, that fear of being forgotten becomes real.
Yuzuki: It was just awful for me this time last year. I was terrified of being forgotten. I’d be screaming each time some new writer appeared on the scene.
Asai: “I have to put out a new book! I have to put out a new book!” That’s a tough mental state to be in.
Yuzuki: So like… Complaining about how cold it is isn’t going to make it any warmer (“samui samui iitetatte atsuku mo naranu“), but… maybe you could still give it a shot (“damemoto demo ii jan“). You don’t have to make life any more complicated than that. With that said, maybe people can only reach that mental state once they’ve first experienced a time of driving themselves crazy chasing after something. Maybe that’s an important part of it, too.
Asai: There are things that we, too, gained from being in that spot.
Yuzuki: If I was Julianne Moore when she kept appearing in all those Paul Thomas Anderson films, I would’ve been constantly grinding my teeth in anger and thinking “Why did I not get the award?! I’m part of the PTA crew!” But then when Julianne Moore actually won the award at 55 years old for her completely believable portrayal of an early onset Alzheimer’s patient, she just looked so cool to me when she got it. I’m glad she received it that way. If she was the kind of short-sighted person who was constantly grinding her teeth like I would have, she could’ve never shown the kind of gentle aura and genuine spirit that she did. And I could say the same about Onda Riku and her view of the world that she portrays in her work.
Song #2: Morning Musume – “Sou da! We’re ALIVE”
Yuzuki: When I saw “Morning Misoshiru,” I started thinking about the group in their debut days when they were singing in their white sweaters and checkered skirts about wanting to “drink morning coffee with you.” When did this prototypical idol group become the idol group that sings about striving hard towards something? When was the turning point? The conclusion I reached is that it must’ve been “Sou da! We’re ALIVE.” “Douryoku, mirai, A BEAUTIFUL STAR” (“hard work, the future, A BEAUTIFUL STAR“) — that was it.
Asai: It’s already been 15 years, huh?
Yuzuki: It comes across as a refreshing song on first listen, but there’s actually a roughness to it that’s similar to “THE Manpower!!!“
Asai: I was shocked the first time I heard it. “Doryoku, mirai, A BEAUTIFUL STAR“… like, is that in reference to our planet?!
Yuzuki: Idols are supposed to be something fun. And yet, here was this group suddenly going on about hard work. I think I was taken aback by it at first. I mean, there may have been previous instances of it, but I would think this was the first time for a group to be singing about it so assertively. Work hard as you proceed towards the future and you shall create a beautiful star. They’re reciting those lines as if they were a sutra.
Asai: It repeats so many times. It’s like “okay, we get it already!“
Yuzuki: ♪ Shi, awase ni nari, tai ♪ (“I want to be happy“)
Asai: It changes into a whole different song there.
Yuzuki: You keep getting played by the song’s progression. In that part you think it finally turns into an “ordinary” song, but after that it’s right back to “doryoku.” That was when I started thinking of the group as weird. Then, three years later, they released “THE Manpower!!!“
Asai: “THE Manpower!!!” was so obviously weird — in a good sense of the word. When I first heard it on POP JAM, I was still young and it was just too much for me. I actually turned down the volume on my TV.
Yuzuki: But now you love it, right? Odasaku’s “mysterious ♪” and all.
Asai: Oh, absolutely. Now I couldn’t live without that song. It’s a drug.
Yuzuki: This must’ve been a time when Tsunku♂, too, became focused more on the short-term goals. What with Gomaki who was going to leave the group and all, he must’ve been thinking “I have to produce results. I have to make the Golden Era last.“
Asai: CD sales in general were starting to decline, too.
Yuzuki: He must’ve felt so pressured after “LOVE Machine.” Who knows, maybe even Tsunku♂ was looking at his contemporaries and going “damn this guy…” (laughs) That was right in the midst of the Komuro Family Golden Era, too.
Asai: You know how there are certain books that you and me look down upon and think “hmmm, I guess shitty books like this is what’s popular nowadays…“? Maybe Tsunku♂ was similarly thinking “I guess this is an era when even songs like this will sell. Oh, well. My songs are the ones people will keep listening to in the long-term.“
Yuzuki: Just thinking about that makes me feel tickly inside…
Asai: It may have been a very emotionally unstable time for him.
Yuzuki: Everyone has times like that in their life.
Asai: Oh, they so do. Everyone who wants to express something will have times like that.
Yuzuki: True. Maybe even a perfect human like Asada Mao has had times like that.
Asai: You know, I’d never really given much thought to these human-like aspects of Tsunku♂ before. It was a blind spot for me.
Yuzuki: We only saw him as this genius. But he was always a person who wanted to sing himself, so even after he became a producer and his old bandmates perhaps teased him, “Really, man? Minimoni Telephone! Rin Rin Rin?,” he might’ve secretly been thinking “dammit, I wanted to sing about those telephones myself.“
Asai: Yeah, or something like “hinamachuri” (“Minimoni Hinamatsuri“). He’d think of the marketing side of things by writing topical songs like that, but he always kept writing off-the-wall songs like “Oshaberi Suki ya nen,” too.
Yuzuki: What’s that?
Asai: It’s this song that makes a bunch of claims about women and then forcibly sums it up in one line: “onna dashi” (“because we’re women“). I love it.
Yuzuki: I think it wasn’t long after that he opened his restaurant Karifuwa-dou in Shimokitazawa, right? Tsunku♂ had his own era of that kind of craziness.
Asai: Maybe he thought he wouldn’t be able to make it on music alone and so he started spreading out to other enterprises. There might have been that sort of a very real, human concern behind that move. This is obviously just pure conjecture on my part though.
Yuzuki: “Kono yo no naka ni kurasu onnanoko de watashi no ranking nani darou ka?” (“out of all the girls living in the world, what would my ranking be?“) “Hito ga shinken ni hanashiteru no ni dengen kitte yo” (“I’m talking to you — turn that thing off!“) (“Shabondama“) A worried protagonist, finding fault with everyone but herself.
Asai: Life is one long, continuous line. It’s okay to have times when you feel low. As long as you keep going, those dots will eventually connect, leading to things you might not have ever expected. Just look at Kaedy. All that time when she kept singing like, “Kanojo ni Naritai!!!“… it might’ve felt to her that she wasn’t moving forward in life, but that all ended up becoming important training for her. Even Nagano Mayumi was a writer for 26 years before just receiving her first award the year before last.
Yuzuki: I’m pretty sure I was already reading her works in junior high school.
Asai: Yeah. She’s kept writing through all this time.
Song #3: Berryz Koubou – “Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni”
Yuzuki: Next up is a song whose melody sounds similar to “Just Try!” — that is, “Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni.” Now this is a fun one. “Bijin yori mo moteru hito ga iru no mo jijitsu / kyoudai demo tokuibunya chigau mo jijitsu” (“it’s a fact that some people are more popular than even the beauties, and it’s a fact that even siblings have different strong suits“).
Asai: Listening to the song again, the lines I found interesting were the one you just mentioned, as well as: “gakureki yori kasegu yatsu ga iru no mo jijitsu” (“it’s a fact that some people will earn way beyond their credentials“)… all these “X is greater than Y” comparisons, until it finally wraps up with: “yuisho aru kakei no yatsu ga iru no mo jijitsu” (“and it’s a fact that some people simply come from esteemed families“). Suddenly it declares that the fortunate person who comes from a good family has all those previously mentioned fortunate people beat.
Yuzuki: “Yatsu no sei ni suru koto tte totemo tayasui / mou hitori sundeiru akuma sasayaku” (“it’s so easy to put the blame on others / the devil within, whispering in your ear“).
Asai: That devil is something that surely lives within us, too.
Yuzuki: “Kuyashisa kanjiru koto sae wasurechau no kai” (“are you going to forget even your ability to feel frustrated?“) What can the protagonist do? These lyrics have made me worried.
Asai: This must’ve been a difficult time for Tsunku♂.
Yuzuki: Right? And to think that even the flip-side of this single was a song like “Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai desho?!“
Asai: I love the punchline: “ishi no ue de sae sannen da yo” — I bet if that was a rap lyric, other rappers would start using it, too. (Henkka: “ishi no ue ni mo sannen” is a proverb which literally means that you could warm up even a stone if you kept sitting on it for three years straight. What it actually means, less literally, is that perseverance will ultimately prevail. The intended meaning of “idol juunen yatterannai desho!? / ishi no ue de sae sannen da yo” is thus along the lines of: “Who in their right mind could keep doing this (being an idol) for ten years?! Hell, even the stone only took three!”)
Yuzuki: “Donichi mo zenbu sasagete kita yo / suki na koto datte shigoto to narya betsubara da yo” (“I sacrificed even all my Saturdays and Sundays for this / but even when it’s something I happen to like, it’s not the same if I’m doing it for work“). (laughs) That’s a line that must’ve given pause to all the freelancers listening.
Asai: I like how it’s not “weekends” or “holidays” but rather “Saturdays and Sundays” — I like how heavy that word (“donichi“) sounds.
Yuzuki: They’re both such painful songs. But thinking about how it went from “if you work hard you’ll create a BEAUTIFUL STAR,” to “Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni,” to “Just Try!“…
Asai: All’s well that ends well, right?
Yuzuki: Yeah. The protagonist, seeing life only in the short-term in “We’re ALIVE,” until it just became too painful in “Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni“…
Asai: It all got to be too much for her to be able to see things in those passing moments anymore.
Yuzuki: But you know, I actually like this song’s sense of urgency, and of things being bad. As they sing in Morning Musume’s “DANCE Suru no da!,” what’s important is reaching the goal no matter what (“zettai ni goal suru koto“)… but isn’t the journey towards the goal quite lovely, too?
Asai: Well, it does require some strength of mind to be able to enjoy the journey… But yeah, it is important. But even within that song, we already get: “tara mo reba mo nai” (“no what-ifs“). She’s quick to figure it out!
Yuzuki: She’s Tokyo tarareba musume all of a sudden! “So what even if your hard work isn’t rewarded?” Didn’t they also have a song that was about like short vs. long-sightedness?
Asai: They might have one in the future.
Yuzuki: What would you say if Tsunku♂ went like, “alright, the next song’s going to be about just that“?
Asai: If that happened, we might rename this column to like “Tsunku♂ Forecast” or something.
Yuzuki: I’m not sure if this is really related or not, but… My favorite film from last year was Zoolander 2 — which was actually nominated for several Raspberry Awards. (laughs) And to think that it moved me so deeply I actually watched it twice! All the people I like are disparaged, all the films I like are criticized… What am I supposed to do? I don’t even know why they get lambasted so much.
Asai: It’s important to have some opinions that are different from the masses.
Yuzuki: But see, I used to think I was totally a part of the masses. My favorite movies and TV shows have always been those mainstream ones. And yet… I’ve been shocked to discover that no one else ever actually talks about or praises the stuff that I like.
Asai: If you’re off-the-mark even with mainstream movies, you must be really off-the-mark.
Yuzuki: That’s why I stopped receiving film-related work. I’d been watching and learning quite a bit about all kinds of movies, you know, but they must’ve found out that deep down my taste in movies is apparently quite terrible… Maybe I’ve been talking too much about Kaiji: Jinsei Gyakuten Game. (laughs) But that’s like the only movie that has made me cry. Ahh… but really, I could talk for like four hours about how awesome Zoolander 2 is. And you know, there’s some common ground between that film and the lyrics of Tsunku♂! (laughs)
Asai: So finally you’ve found a connection between H!P and that film! No, but really, I do get what you mean by that.
Yuzuki: Right? It’s such a great movie.
Asai: I appeared at this event where I was asked the question: “seeing as in your writing you portray people in an unkind way, does that mean you hate people?” I answered them that it’s actually because I love people that I can see things about them that might generally be perceived as being faults. Fans point out the good things about the member of their liking, whereas wota point out bad things about the member of their liking — but even so, it’s like they’re saying, “… but I like this member exactly because of that bad thing!” That’s their way of showing affection.
Yuzuki: Their thinking is like, “I don’t want someone else to point out this negative thing about my favorite member, so I’m going to them to the punch!“
Asai: Taking the good with the bad — that’s selfless love. Big love. Tsunku♂’s lyrics, too, portray people in a multifaceted way like that.
Yuzuki: I get that. It’s a strange thing being into something mainstream and not having anyone or anywhere to talk about it. At least if it was something more obscure, you could be going like “there’s this great movie I saw, but I bet none of you guys know it…!” But of course then you’ll have people saying, “yeah, I know that one — I just don’t feel like watching it.” Going off-topic again: the other day I was talking to these Negicco fans… and I just want to say that Negi-wota are all really cool people! Seeing as the group is from Niigata, I tried asking them about NGT to see if I could elicit an unseemly reaction or something from them, but instead they just went like, “we see them as something different from Negicco” or “their songs are okay.” Isn’t it cool how level-headed and cool they are in their responses?
Asai: I guess so, yeah. But you asking them about that just to see if you could get an “unseemly reaction” out of them leaves something to be desired…
Yuzuki: I bet if I was a Negi-wota, don’t you think I’d be like crazy biased against NGT? I feel embarrassed just thinking about it…
Asai: Okay. You’ve convinced me that I need to stop badmouthing books even if they were obviously written with the aim of just making them big sellers.
Yuzuki: I see H!P as being like the most mainstream thing ever, and that’s led to my opinions getting warped and me badmouthing everyone outside of H!P. But I’ve realized that that’s such an uncool thing for one to do.
Asai: Like, “our thing (H!P) is the real deal!“
Yuzuki: “Hmph. I bet your group can’t dance like these H!P girls.” But the Negi-wota are all like, “I can appreciate this other group for what they are.” They’re not like me when I go “look at this member — she’s so cute, right?” and then when the other person says “no she isn’t,” I’ll just double-down and go, “What? You’re crazy! She is cute!” (laughs) The Negi-wota just take it easy. I kind of feel envious of them for being able to do that. I really should do something about my nature of doubting and feeling pointlessly jealous of others. As someone who likes Negicco as well, I ought to learn from them and their maturity.
Asai: So no hating on Sashiningu Musume?
Yuzuki: Oh, when that happened, everything that’s bad about you and me became exposed.
Asai: It really was embarrassing.
Yuzuki: We were going all, “we don’t need your charity!” And yet we absolutely lapped it up. It’d be like going to a restaurant and eating until you’re full… and then only at the end going “nope, it was no good — it didn’t taste right.” (laughs)
Asai: Sasshii (Sashihara Rino) handled it like an adult.
Yuzuki: If it was like those Negi-wota I was talking about, they’d either say “sure, I’d love some” or “I’m full, thank you” or something. But with me, it’s like I was stuffing my mouth.
Asai: “*Munch munch munch* I mean, I guess it doesn’t taste terrible, but… *munch munch munch*“
Yuzuki: “But there’s just something off about it.” Saying so in a loud voice so everyone can hear, of course. God, we were acting so lame. (laughs) But whether it’s “Just Try!“‘s “damemoto demo ii jan!” line or Sashiningu Musume, there’s been so many things lately that have forced me to take a hard look at all the shameful parts of myself. Only being able to see things in the short-term — that’s something I’d like to fix about myself this year. I need to start looking at the big picture more.
Asai: Onda Riku, Kaedy, w-inds…
Yuzuki: Whenever I feel like I’m about to lose my cool, I’ll remind myself of those three names. I’m sure there have been times when even Kaedy has felt impatient.
Asai: I wonder if Onda has…?
Yuzuki: I’m sure they all know how we feel, whether it’s Julianne Moore, or Kaedy, or Onda Riku. The only difference is, they didn’t make a big deal out of it like we did. (laughs)
Asai: You and me, being consoled by the 17-year-old Kaedy going “I know the feeling“…
Yuzuki: Oh god. That’s so embarrassing.
Asai: Let’s do our best. We’ll aim for the level of Tachibana Keita.
Interview & text: Takaoka Hiroshi
Photography: Katano Tomohiro
English translation: Henkka
Asai Ryo on the web: Twitter
Yuzuki Asako on the web: blog, Twitter
This particular interview seemed all over the place, but I loved it xD
Among some other semi-related issues that I’ve let hold me back for the last 6-7 years, looking at things in less of a short-term manner is something I’m trying to adjust about myself too. It’s extremely slow going – or at least feels as such because I’m so used to that shortened way of thinking. Either way, this one felt extra relatable thanks to it.
Wow thanks for cluing us in. Link to your gay blog?
did they react to the sashi/musume cllab in a between the lines!? or just publicly?
I may be wrong, but I sort of got the idea from their discussion that they only reacted to the collaboration privately amongst themselves.
Sometimes I see other people posting more than me and I wonder if I am lazy.