February 19, 2000 — Tochigi
Morito: It feels like I just made it in time for the 20th anniversary. I was already a member of another Hello! Project group, so I could’ve never imagined any of this happening…
The First Ever “Concurrent Member”
— One thing that’s interesting about you is how the way you came to join Morning Musume is different from all the other members. In fact, you’re a first in the group’s entire 20-year history.
Morito: Yes. I was a member of Country Girls first, and I joined Morning Musume while being a concurrent member of my first group. I had initially applied for the 12th generation auditions because of my admiration for Sayashi Riho, so I was very happy about getting to do this.
— Being a concurrent member, I would think you have a different perspective about many things compared to the other members…
Morito: After I failed the 12th generation auditions and joined Country Girls, I think after that point I only saw Morning Musume as our senior group.
— Did it feel wrong for you to be a member of a different group even though you had so hoped to join Morning Musume?
Morito: For the first month or so, I did feel sad about how I had failed the audition. But when the rehearsals for Hello! Con started, that sadness changed to me feeling so glad about how I was now in Hello! Project. Simply just being able to hold a mic in my hands and sing and dance was so much fun. I think it was in that moment when I gave up on my dream of getting into Morning Musume.
— But then last year, you suddenly became a concurrent member of Morning Musume.
Morito: By that time I had already spent some time in Country Girls, so when they first told me I couldn’t immediately feel happy about it — I’d already become so attached to Country Girls.
— They’re two very different groups.
Morito: You could say they’re complete opposites. The theme of Country Girls is cuteness; the songs and the outfits are all cute and girly. But in Morning Musume, the dancing is so intense, we wear these really chic outfits, and everyone is so cool. But the members of both groups have the same stance towards performing… it’s just that the ways each group expresses themselves is so different. I was looking forward to being able to show a new side of myself to the fans.
— You must have felt very anxious about joining this group with an established history — and doing so all by yourself, too.
Morito: I’ve always been an extremely shy person so it was very difficult at first. On top of that, Morning Musume has so many songs that new members have to learn…
— All the lessons you took last year must have been tough. You really did well learning everything in such a short period of time.
Morito: I was constantly causing so much trouble for everyone at the time. I always felt so sorry. I wasn’t even able to learn everything in time for the rehearsals — there were days when I was literally only learning things on the actual day of the rehearsal. I was in way over my head and I just couldn’t keep up. I wasn’t even trying to do everything perfectly; I was only trying to learn everything up to a somewhat passable level. I guess I somehow managed to do it, and pretty soon the tour was over… It feels like such a distant memory now.
— And then on that fall tour you had a lot of constant changes with the songs you were performing.
Morito: Yes. Even the other members were all saying how that was a first for them. Even they were surprised by how difficult it was learning all those setlists. So it’s like I could never relax. Even after the tour started, it was a constant learning process for me. But then again, even 13th generation’s Yokoyama Reina had only just joined the group not even a year before… So I got through it by telling myself how it was equally tough for everyone.
— You’d managed to get into Morning Musume, the group you so admired. And yet, I assume you weren’t even able to enjoy your first tour with the group.
Morito: It doesn’t sound good when I put it like this… but I was just trying to cope. The worst thing you can do is not be able to do it at all, so I just… did it. When we performed at the Nippon Budokan, even by that point it didn’t yet feel like I’d managed to do my best. I think I’ll be able to evolve and enjoy myself more if I think more about the ways of showing and expressing myself, so that’s what I want to do going forward — perfecting myself. Also, I’m looking forward to performing songs I haven’t done before.
The Morning Musume Style
— Aside from the concert performances, have you had any other moments that have made you strongly feel like you are now a member of Morning Musume?
Morito: The senior who taught me everything I know about being an idol was Momochi. I used to concentrate too much only on the singing and the dancing — it was Momochi who taught me about the need to also think about my MC’s. She taught me to be conscious of the fact that I’m an idol. Momochi is the kind of person who would never complain about how tough anything was… so we decided that we wouldn’t either. She really is the basis of me as an idol.
— Those three years you spent in Country Girls alongside Tsugunaga weren’t all for nothing.
Morito: I mean, other seniors of mine have taught me about manners, too… But Momochi would teach me about that and so much more. So when somebody tells me something that’s different from what Momochi has previously taught me, it makes me so confused as to the truth. Because everyone tends to believe that whatever they were taught first is the correct answer, right? Like, the things that your parents taught you.
— You’ve inherited that spirit of Tsugunaga — the playing manager of another group — while now also carrying the legacy of Morning Musume. This is definitely a new development in the 20-year story of the group.
Morito: But it’s something that can leave me at a loss sometimes. In Country, none of the members would ever cry in public, just because Momochi herself would never show her tears. But in Morning Musume, there are members who can become emotional — or rather, they just show themselves for who they are. Even now, I sometimes don’t know how to react at times like that. But recently, I try not to think about what’s right and what’s not — I just live in the moment, trying to cherish my own feelings and just keep all the good bits.
— You have only been in Morning Musume for a year — there’s no need for you to get so impatient. I firmly believe you’re going to become a “proper” member of Morning Musume just fine.
Morito: I hope so. Right now, I don’t know if it’s even okay for me to be saying things like how I’m, as you put it, “carrying the legacy of Morning Musume” or such. I’m just trying my best to get a sense of the feelings of all our OG seniors and our fans.
— Have you been able to discover anything about yourself that you would like to be more proactive about as a member of Morning Musume?
Morito: That’s definitely something I think about when it comes to talking. I was just saying this a minute ago, but in Country we really put a lot of effort and thought into our MC’s. Things like… if one of us says something funny that everyone in the audience gets a kick out of, it’s always best to bring it up again. I’m very conscious of things like that. I have ideas as to how we could be doing better in that respect, but I’m still unable to suggest a lot of those ideas to the others… That just goes to show how I still have ways to go. Going forward, I want to keep improving my talking skills and becoming more involved with things like that.
Feeling the History of Morning Musume
— It’s too bad how you haven’t gotten a lot of opportunities to interact with Tsunku♂.
Morito: I pretty much just got to say hello to him during my time in Country Girls.
— Most of Morning Musume’s songs are the work of Tsunku♂.
Morito: I love Tsunku♂’s songs. When it comes to Morning Musume, you can’t not talk about Tsunku♂. The melodies themselves all have such wildly different developments that it’s hard to believe they could’ve been written by the same person. It can be difficult to express them well. Like, the same song can be both really high and really low, or it can go from falsetto to normal voice in an instant. It makes me realize again how great all my seniors were for having been able to properly sing those songs.
— Thanks to it being the group’s 20th anniversary, you’ve gotten more opportunities to interact with those OG members.
Morito: When I first joined Hello! Project, I would’ve never thought I would one day get to collaborate with the original members — people who were members before I was even born. I got to collaborate with them and even release songs together even though I’ve only just barely joined the group. I’m just so, so lucky. There have been all kinds of super happy things happening for me.
— It was perfect timing. Or rather, fate.
Morito: And what’s more is that the original members all just shine so much, even now after 20 years. No matter when I look at them, they’re always so cool. I just can’t imagine us looking equally cool 20 years from now. The OG’s really are incredible.
— It sounds like you understand how touching it has been for us to see those original members together, even if you weren’t there to see them in real time back then.
Morito: I’ve been watching lots of old videos and stuff to try and feel even a little bit of what the fans back then must have felt. Abe Natsumi’s radiance is just so out of this world. It hasn’t changed in the least from back then. Even though honestly it felt like I was constantly just overwhelmed by her beauty, I’m so glad and so honored I got to do activities with her.
— I know you were a big admirer especially of Sayashi, but are you also able to appreciate Morning Musume of the old days?
Morito: Of course! When you go back and watch those old videos, you realize, “Oh, this was such a great era! And so was this one!” I really can’t choose my favorite era of the group. It’s amazing how every era of the group was so fun. The songs, the dances, and the aura of the members might always be changing, but then there are some things that don’t change.
— What do you feel those things are?
Morito: Maybe it’s that “awareness.” When it’s a group with such a long history, there’s a different kind of awareness.
— Have there been any other moments where you’ve really felt that history?
Morito: All that history created by our seniors is one of the reasons why Morning Musume gets to perform on all these big stages even today, so I feel that’s something we have to do our best to maintain. I was a part of another group so I know from experience how there are people who, no matter how hard they may try, never get to stand on stages like that. Being able to perform on big stages is something I want to really cherish, more so than any of the other members of Morning Musume.
— What kind of a group do you feel that Morning Musume is?
Morito: Right now, it’s a group that can sing and dance; it’s a cool and cute group. In the past, it was a cool group who would also have these funny choreographies — it had the image of being a fun group. One single group combining all these elements must be the reason why people don’t get bored of it; why the group has been so loved by people for all this time.
— You being the newest member, how do you plan to challenge the group and the other members in the future?
Morito: Right now, the group has many members who the description of “intense” would suit perfectly… So first I just need to do my best to not get buried under them. And then of course my performances. The fact is that right now I’m the one who knows the lowest number of songs. So while it’s not really “like me” to say this… (laughs) I’m going to give it my all to try and catch up!
— I’m sure it must be difficult being in two groups at the same time, but there’s definitely merit in trying your hardest to catch up to the other members.
Morito: Ultimately, I just don’t yet have confidence in myself as a member of Morning Musume. This could be something that time will fix. After some more time has passed, I want to be more conscious about everything. I want to discover my own limits.
— It feels like Morning Musume is going to keep changing you more and more.
Morito: Even having just barely stepped inside, I can already recognize how it’s a place that’s going to help me grow. I can tell how it’s a place that will keep changing me.
— It does have that mysterious power.
Morito: It has something that has charmed so many people to it. This power called “Morning Musume” has allowed its members and its fans to grow. We must all be able to feel in it that true ability, and the feelings that have helped tie together the group together for its entire history.
— What is Morning Musume to you?
Morito: It’s something I enjoy. Back when I was only a fan of Morning Musume, I loved them and I was watching their videos every single day. I just loved them so, so much. That’s something I never want to forget. While I may find my activities in the group to be difficult, I don’t ever want to just run away from them.
— Just as you received happiness from the group before, it’s now your time to spread it to others.
Morito: I want it to be a group where, when you see a live show or a concert of ours, it’ll make you want to do your best tomorrow. I want Morning Musume to be surrounded by happiness. That’s how I want it to be.
Morito: I have memories of constantly listening to this song at my auditions. It has this very sparkly sound starting all the way from the intro and I think it’s just a very Morning Musume-like song. The lyrics, too, are very easy to understand for everyone out there, so I hope lots of people listen to it.
not to mince words but wouldn’t Miki Fujimoto be the first “concurrent” member technically? Meaning she was already an established H!P soloist…and then was added to the group to boost the groups popularity during a time when it had started to wane.
Miki, Konno Asami, and Rika were also “concurrent” members of Country Musume, not officially but they did record with them and to PV’s.
Miki stopped her solo activities after getting into Morning Musume. Also Ishikawa, Konno and Fujimoto were Country Musume’s concurrent members (or borrowed, if we’re specific). If they were in the same situation as Morito, MM wouldve been called Morning Musume ni Morito Chisaki (Country Girls).
Hm. Chisaki is a nice girl, but… that’s it. There’s literally nothing that makes her stand out. Nothing she aces. Nothing that she is really bad at either – except maybe that she’s not extroverted but that doesn’t count.
This all translates into this interview (not your translation Henkka, thanks for your work! Your translations are great and I love reading them, especially to see how differently the girls think!):
Chisaki is not confident. That’s fine. But the whole interview is about how many things MM members have to learn, how hard their dances are (they are quite hard but they’re not the hardest in the industry, let’s not kid ourselves), how great their singing is (debatable.), how everybody is so “cool”. The history of MM which has been repeated to the max for the last few months. This doesn’t even feel like an interview, it’s more like a mashup of last year’s interviews for the anniversary.
The only interesting part was the one with Momochi.
>called that “”””””””””””guy”””””””””
Sure, sweetie. Just admit you hate girls that are cute.
I actually do like cute girls. I just think she doesn’t add anything to the group and wonder why she has been chosen for a line-up that already has too many girls to begin with.
90% of the girls in MM are boring, ugly, and untalented. Leftovers from Tsunku’s hubris when he thought could make the most potato girls into idols. Only recently have they started to repair the damage by putting actual good girls into the group. Too bad these potato girls are such bad examples and bad senpai for the new girls to follow. Worthless and lazy, but luckily their time is coming to an end in the next few years.
Who are you specifically talking about???
If you actually followed idols and didn’t just use them as a fashion accessory you’d already know which ones I’m talking about.
What the fuck are you even talking about? In what part of the world is liking idols ever considered some hip, fashionable thing?
/jp/ is really starting to leak.
Forgive me for feeding into this, but some thoughts:
There are 11 members of MM. By your math, whether it was meant precisely or approximately, 10 of those members are “boring, ugly and untalented.” Yet is this actually true?
FUKUMURA has a commanding voice, with more than enough power to pull off the more vocally demanding songs in MM’s catalogue. She has a matronly beauty which many people find appealing. Perhaps she is a little boring, but doesn’t that come from being MM’s leader?
IKUTA has always tried her damnedest to be better at what she isn’t good at, and is brilliant at what she is (physical power and precision of movement). From a western POV Ikuta is beautiful like an old 50’s movie star. Perhaps she was a bit annoying at the beginning of her time in MM, but doesn’t that come from having to establish herself against better than half of the Platinum era when she joined?
ISHIDA is a brilliant dancer. She’s also gorgeous. Perhaps she is a little calculating (stories about how different she is when she’s “on” vs. “off”), but isn’t that a fair trade given how she had to carry MM from one stage of its development as a group to another (re: formation dances)?
SATO confounds expression. She’s likely taken over at least a small part of MM’s musical direction (as a producer without credit) and will likely be the first member who, upon graduation, moves into that position officially. The grace in her dancing is sometimes breathtaking. She is also gorgeous. Perhaps her idiosyncracies were/are a bit much for some people to take, but can you really call that boring?
ODA is another of MM’s most capable and musically diverse voices. She is also unusually pretty, in the sense that in looking at the proportions and architecture of her face and body one cannot help but stare at her. Perhaps she is/was a bit shy in establishing herself as a visible presence in the group, but how is modesty, when it comes from purity, ever boring?
NONAKA follows Ikuta’s lead as another member who tries her best to contribute her best to a group she loves. I think she’s simply extremely cute but some people think she’s quite pretty. Like Sayu, perhaps she cannot sing as well as she should, but doesn’t her determination to contribute and try make up for that?
MAKINO is MM’s hidden ace. She is a committed and capable dancer. She is also unquestionably beautiful. As with Oda, perhaps her “good girl” character inhibits her from being more present in the group, but how is modesty, when it comes from purity, ever boring?
AKANE reminds me of a combination of Nacchi and Tsuji. As young as she is she knows who she is and where she stands in MM. She is another matronly beauty that some find quite appealing. Perhaps she is a bit undefined as a member, but could that not be a form of appropriate respect for her place?
KAGA is MM’s hidden beauty. Like Ikuta and Nonaka, she earrnestly tries her best to contribute her best. She’s doubly enchaning inasmuch as she is just as lovely inside (determination is a beautiful thing in a young woman) as she is outside. She is a capable dancer whose strength of movement could easly become masculine but does not. Perhaps her approach to thinking about MM might seem detached or cold, but isn’t it helpful to have members who understand their role in MM’s bigger picture?
YOKOYAMA is enchanting. In spite of all the darkness she’s faced she still finds pure, cute joy to put in her dancing and her voice. Perhaps she hasn’t established herself enough as a presence in MM, but given her newness to the group and everything besides, can you blame her?
MORITO is another hidden beauty. She is a capable singer and extremely capable dancer who seems to have taken Riho’s place as Ishida’s go-to partner. She’s the only person who has ever been essentially drafted into MM, and in spite of the fact that she didn’t like it (consider what it meant that Fukumura CRIED after telling Chi she’d be placed in MM, and not out of joy) she’s found a place for herself in the group. Perhaps she’s calculating, but again, given her newness and everything besides, can you blame her?
For some, “Tsunku’s hubris” is exactly what makes MM such an endearing and appealing group to follow. Idols by definition risk becoming vapid, plastic illusions and parodies of femininity when they’re overproduced. Those 11 imo-poi who call themselves Morning Musume are for some lovely because they are so imo-poi–perfect because of, not in spite of, all of ther imperfections and humanity.
Perhaps there’s some merit to all this?
I think you’re overestimating Masaki’s power a bit…
And actually, all those “hidden beauties” are exactly what I meant. There’s too many girls at the moment so that only maybe 3-5 can shine the way they’re capable of. Ikuta, Akane, Kaede… they’re all great girls but they vanish behind the front girls, without a chance to ever get the spotlight – see Ikuta, who has been a back girl with not a single lead for herself for 8 years now.
Otome-Gumi and Sakura-Gumi return! Problem solved!
I’m not a Chisaki fan and still, I think she adds more to the group than other recent girls. She might not be the best in any aspect, but she is competent in everything.
Also, she was very popular in CG and now that she is in MM she has even more fans, that alone is more than enough to justify her been part of the group.
Pssst, while you feel nothing stand out from her, he backstabbing everyone oh her way up as MM’s #1 Her current only rival is that Maachan.
Up until now I haven’t been very interested in Morito but she seems like a nice girl and this interview has made me want to pay closer attention to her going forward.
Looking at Chii now, I kind of wonder how she failed that 12th gen audition, she’s got potential to be a complete idol package, like the type to me that can be able to do anything. But failing that audition was probably a blessing cause she got to spend some time with one of the greatest idols of all time. Those few years with Momo did so much for not only her, but Funaki and Yanagawa as well. They learned not only how to be an idol but how to be entertaining and unique which is probably the most important thing, those 3 are so good at drawing attention their way and that’s key to surviving in the competitive idol world. To bad Yanamin is graduating but Funaki and Chii are going to become key pillars in H!P’s future, they’re 2 i’m keeping tabs on
Seeing the success that Chisaki and Manaka have had with their “second groups” I wonder if there are other H!P girls whose profile could skyrocket if they were traded to a different group?
This comment section is so ugly
>I hate being BTFO
You’ll get over it.
Chii is such a cognitive type. I think that being the bottom of the hierarchy is suppressing a lot of her strengths, some by her own choice, having to defer to seniority. And in turn, having to catch up on all of the MM discography is making her too tired to think of much else, even outside of MM.
Once she’s higher up, has more kouhai than senpai, then I think she’ll really bloom.
At her age she won’t have that many kouhai, honestly.
Chii-chan is so cute. Suddenly joining MM like that must be pretty tough.
Still, for me the most interesting parts of this for me were the bits about Momochi. She really gave it her all to mold the members of her group into proper idols. I hope Chii-chan will also keep carrying some Momochiism into MM.