For those of you who have made it this far into the book, I’m sure you’re by now well aware of just how much I love women and how much I think about them. But was I also able to convey to you my even greater passion for this thing called “music”?
Well, in any case. I feel like I still haven’t said all I have to say. That’s why I’m now writing this afterword.
To be honest with you, when I first took on the job of producing Morning Musume I never expected society to accept the group to the extent that they now have. Getting to appear on Kouhaku, creating new units using the members of Morning Musume… to say nothing of getting to write this very book. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine these things to happen. Ha ha ha.
Why did people take such an interest in Morning Musume and Taiyou to Ciscomoon? When I think about it now, it must’ve been because of the individual charms of each and every member.
When they’d only just debuted, me and the staff around me would be giving them all sorts of advice in an attempt to draw out those charms. When the cameraman said he was going to take close-up shots, some members would take that as a sign that they themselves needed to physically walk closer to the camera — that was the extent to which they knew nothing at all. Other members, we’d literally have to teach them how to hold a microphone. But now that they’re popular and they’ve become confident, they’ve also become better performers than I could’ve ever imagined.
This might sound weird, but I feel like a father who is looking at his daughters and thinking, “you’ve gotten so big…” It’s almost to the extent where it makes me tear up just thinking about it. (Man, have I gotten old…)
The gradual appeal of a highly self-conscious woman
You probably know this already, but I happen to like women who are exceptional.
Even when I was in kindergarten, I would spare no effort in trying to attract the attention of girls around me. I would be challenging all types of different girls. But even for someone like me there’s one type of girl who I’m not very good at dealing with, and that’s someone who comes across as being highly self-conscious. That’s not to say I dislike girls like that; it’s simply that I’ll find myself arbitrarily deciding, “someone like her probably wants nothing to do with someone like me.“
I feel that Abe is most likely that type of a girl.
What sorts of things would make me think that a girl was highly self-conscious? First of all, one characteristic of girls like that is that most of the time they’re very serious in nature. Even when they’re with their male friends they never get too crazy — they never forget to remain at least somewhat graceful and mild-mannered.
Also, they have an air about them that makes it feel like it wouldn’t be okay to lightly whack them on the head if they were being silly. If the members were all just ordinary friends of mine, I could easily picture myself giving a head whack to girls like Yaguchi or Iida for example. But with Abe, I just don’t think I could. Someone like Moritaka Chisato is like that, too — no matter which way you look at it, doesn’t it just feel strange to even think about giving a whack to someone like Moritaka Chisato? To give another example: I could see myself whacking Utada Hikaru’s head, but the bar would be set much higher with Amuro Namie’s head. I could probably give Hamasaki Ayumi a poke — not an especially strong one, just something to convey that she was being silly.
I wonder where these individual differences between girls come from?
Time to give up the straightforward approach!
One of the great things about Morning Musume I’ve discovered through working with them is how there’s no sense of anyone in the group ever fishing for attention. It’s a group of young girls so there’s obviously a strong sense of rivalry and of everyone always trying their hardest to learn, but none of them will ever come up to me and go “look how hard I practiced!” or something.
You know how there are some kids who will only try and look good in front of the teachers? “Hey, you were being lazy a minute ago! Why are you suddenly pretending like you’re helping with the cleaning?!” Kids like that — the same ones who will then go up to the teacher and ask, “teacher, what should I clean up next?” There’s no one like that in Morning Musume. They’re lovable, they’re earnest, they’re constantly trying their hardest, but there’s no feeling whatsoever of them trying to get others to notice. They’re always prepared for what might come, but they’ll show no signs of it during the day. That’s something that makes them so lovable for me.
For example, imagine that your girlfriend came up to you and she didn’t say something like “I did some cleaning,” or “I prepared your lunch box for you.” Instead… say you asked her, “could you prepare me my lunch box for tomorrow?,” and she’d just answer you “sure thing” like it was nothing. And then while she was preparing it for you, she wouldn’t be making a big deal out of it — she’d simply get it done, just like that. That’s how the atmosphere is within Morning Musume. They’re truly doing their best, but they deliberately make it a point to not show it. They do it all in a nonchalant manner, making it so that no one around them has to be concerned about them either.
Careful not to fall into a trap of your own making
“Watashi, dekichattan desu yo.”
Those were the words spoken to me by Shinoda Miho at the Taiyou to Ciscomoon auditions. Of course, by “dekichatta” she did not mean to say that she had gotten pregnant.
Shinoda’s words were the answer to a question I had posed to her. “How were you able to so completely devote yourself to gymnastics? How on earth were you able to work that hard?” She answered: “When I was told to do something, I found that somehow I was just… able to do it (dekichatta). And when I could do it, I was told to try things that were more and more challenging. And somehow, I could simply do those things as well.” That’s how she explained it to me.
All the members of Taiyou to Ciscomoon have this aspect about them to some extent. You might know someone like this from school or work — the type who’s seemingly capable of anything. They possess something that just stands out about them; they’re playing a whole different ball game compared to the average person. It’s a talent on a level where, if an ordinary person tried to challenge them on it, they would simply never reach their level no matter how hard they tried.
When the average girl thinks about things like that, they might go “ah, it must be nice to be someone with a talent like that.” Hey, even I’m envious of people like that. But what you need to realize is that capable people have plenty of their own hardships and pitfalls in life as well.
The delinquent woman’s energy is her path to opportunity!
By “energetic” woman, I don’t mean someone who simply works hard — I’m talking about the type that is commonly known as the “delinquent” or “yankee” woman.
Today they’ve all but disappeared from the scene, but in my childhood it was the Golden Age of yankees. Yankees were, in a word, unruly people. Everything from their fashion to the language they used to the way they had fun… It’s like they had an entire culture of their own.
“Yankee” was a way of life.
There are many different kinds of yankees, but the tougher ones would have something resembling the traditional masculine aesthetic values. By that, I mean to say that their “weapons” were chivalry, fighting skill, and leadership. It felt like they were constantly living life at full throttle, trying to see which one of them could make the biggest name for themselves.
Of course, there were also lots of yankees who couldn’t have cared less about aesthetics like that. They cared only about putting down everyone who was weaker than them. I knew guys like that, too. Whenever I saw someone like that walking towards me on the street, I’d be thinking “oh crap, how much money do I have on me today…?” They’d force you to hand them your money for even something as minor as having your eyes meet theirs. The only thing I could do at times like that was think “ah man, they spotted me” before quietly handing them my wallet. It’s no secret that there were yankees like that around, too.