Saturday, 29 October 2016

Passpo☆ no FunFunFun。 Interview 006 - Tsugunaga Momoko



Tsugunaga Momoko-san
(Country Girls)

A series of interviews by American-style girl rock unit PASSPO☆! Our 6th guest is Country Girls' 'Momochi' Tsugunaga Momoko-san, who is flourishing in the very same idol world. Momochi-san is 'The Idol' through and through, and yet she was unexpectedly frank......? This interview is chock full with behind-the-scenes stories that surprised even PASSPO☆!


NegishiMomochi-san, firstly, I'd like to ask about what led you to becoming an idol.

TsugunagaMy path was via the auditions for the 'Hello! Project Kids', protegees of Morning Musume。 This was in my 5th year of primary school.

FujimotoI watched those.

TsugunagaReally? But while the auditions were my path in, I'd always been quite the idol among my relatives before that. My grandad was a really passionate Momochi fan. So I felt that it was obvious that I was bound to be an idol.

PASSPO☆: How wonderful

AnzaiAn answer worth a hundred marks.

TsugunagaWhile it's not like I felt like I wanted to be an idol ever since I became aware of my surroundings......

IwamuraBut it was like, you were an idol?

TsugunagaI was.

PASSPO☆: Awesome!!

IwamuraBesides being an idol, did you not have any other dreams for the future?

TsugunagaWhen I was in  kindergarten, I wrote 'I want to become Sailor Moon' on a Tanabata strip. But in the end, just like how Sailor Moon is admired by girls, being an idol is the same thing.

NegishiWhen you actually did start singing and dancing for real, did you face any hardships?

TsugunagaI really couldn't perform well. Fifteen people passed the auditions, the oldest being in their fifth year of primary school, and the youngest was in their first. But there was a time when all of us had to rehearse in front of the mirror, and those who couldn't perform well had to stay behind.

PASSPO☆: Eh-! That's scary!!

TsugunagaAnd then, remaining at the end were a first year primary schooler, a girl in her second year, and myself in my fifth year. It was embarrassing that I couldn't perform well. I was in the upper years, yet why couldn't I pull it off?

NegishiBut, you were still in your fifth year of primary school.

Tsugunaga But we all started at roughly the same time, so it wasn't like any of us got left behind after that. All of us did it together, we did our hardest together!

AnzaiAmazing. You were primary schoolers.

Fujimoto Did you have lessons every day?

Tsugunaga Almost every day. For about three hours, after school ended.

AnzaiBut, it was three hours a day. Could you remember all the songs?

Tsugunaga There were solo concerts. Every year, in summer and winter, there are concerts with the whole Hello! Project. The rehearsals throughout those concerts would have us doing dance lessons for the songs in those concerts. But when we made our debut, I was really fortunate. We passed the auditions on the 30th of June, and during the summer break, we filmed a movie. I got the lead role.

AnzaiAmazing!

TsugunagaI got it despite being at a novice level. I had to memorise really long lines, which I don't think I could do now. I've been blessed with good experiences from the time I started.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Berryz Kobo x ℃-ute Cross Talk 12: Shimizu Saki x Tsugunaga Momoko

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hello! Project Kids in 2012, a book entitled Rival - 12 shoujo no 10-nen monogatari - (The 10-year legend of the 12 girls) was released. The book contains 2-page discussions between various pairings of the girls, covering all 66 possible combinations. In the process of reading this book, I'll be putting up some highlights as I read through the interviews.


Special Crosstalk Book "RIVAL 12 shoujyo no 10 nen monogatari (10 years stories of 12 girls)" / Berrz Kobo / Cute

Shimizu Saki X Tsugunaga Momoko

♥♥♥

Momochi, have you never thought about becoming the captain?

Tsugunaga: Honestly, there was a point in time when I was aiming to be the captain (laughs). At the time, I did all sorts of things, thinking that I, rather than Saki-chan, should bring the group together. But a manager-san pulled me aside and told me 'Tsugunaga, you don't need to do that. It'll be better to just stir up the group'. I was like, 'Ah, is that so? I see~' (laughs).

Shimizu: But compared to when we made our debut, there's been a drastic drop in the number of scoldings we've been getting. I hate to get scolded, so I'm pleased with our current state, where we can do what we want. But without getting told off at all, we'll end up just stuck in our current state, and I'd hate that as well. I guess that I need something to brace myself.

Tsugunaga: As we got older, people stopped telling us off. While it's intimidating to get told off, maybe because they're heaping expectations upon us, the scolding makes us blossom. Scoldings are magnificent.

Shimizu: We're entering our 10th year this year, which means we're pretty senior within Hello! Project as well. Our perspective has really changed.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Berryz Kobo x ℃-ute Cross Talk 16: Sudo Maasa x Kumai Yurina

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hello! Project Kids in 2012, a book entitled Rival - 12 shoujo no 10-nen monogatari - (The 10-year legend of the 12 girls) was released. The book contains 2-page discussions between various pairings of the girls, covering all 66 possible combinations. In the process of reading this book, I'll be putting up some highlights as I read through the interviews.


Special Crosstalk Book "RIVAL 12 shoujyo no 10 nen monogatari (10 years stories of 12 girls)" / Berrz Kobo / Cute

Sudo Maasa X Kumai Yurina

🐻🐻🐻

It's very well known that the two of you are close, to the point that you have a pairing name, 'Kumaazu'. Were things always like this from 10 years back?

Sudo: It started roughly from our second year in Berryz Kobo. Things got rolling when I found out that Kumai-chan liked Mickey, which led me to send her a message mentioning that I like Minnie.

Kumai: Since then, we'd have matching Mickey and Minnie items, right? Whenever we go around here and there, we'll make sure to buy matching things.

What did you think of one another before you became close?

Sudo: At the 'Hello! Project Kids Audition', Kumai-chan sang in really high spirits, so I thought that she was an energetic girl.

Kumai: At the auditions, I kept on singing the same song, even up to the 4th stage of auditions. There were lots of girls who switched songs throughout the auditions, but since I was going through with one song, I thought about how I could switch things up. And so, my tactic was to sing energetically along with the rhythm (laughs). So I definitely did emphasise on rhythm and smiling. At first, Maa-san had dyed hair, so I thought that she was such a grown-up.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Kobushi Factory in Me magazine

Excerpts from Kobushi Factory's 27th July 2016 interview with Me magazine, where Kobushi Factory members Fujii Rio, Ogawa Rena, and Hamaura Ayano promote their single Samba! Kobushi Janeiro / Bacchikoi Seishun! / Ora wa Ninkimono.


⚾⚾⚾

Firstly, let's have you introduce one another! How do the two of you see Fujii Rio-san?

Hamaura: Fujii-chan is our subleader, the oldest in the group! She keeps making puns, and she doesn't tire of it (laughs). The other members may give her the cold shoulder, but she doesn't get discouraged, so she's got a strong heart.

Ogawa: I personally like her face! Besides that, she's smart, and she's got good reflexes! Even though she's the oldest, she often plays around, but that contrast makes her cute.

Fujii-san, please give us your current favourite gag!

Fujii: My current number one is 'Kono isho, iissho~!' (This outfit is great)! I highly recommend it!! (laughs)

Hamaura: I like Ogawa Rena-chan's singing, just listening to her singing calms me down. Also, when she gives me a tsukkomi with a 'What is it~', she's really strong! While she possesses girlishness, she also got this boyishness to her... (laughs).

Fujii: She looks like a cool-headed beauty, up until she opens her mouth (laughs). The things she says are truly miraculous! While we're doing a talk, she'll be the only person talking nonsense. It's funny how she'll deviate from the rest. Hamaura Ayano-chan is stoic, a real perfectionist! However, she becomes useless when she loses steam, it's really cute~.

Ogawa: With her good figure and skilful dancing, she doesn't have a single flaw! What's more, she's recently been saying that I'm cute, so you know, I think she's fallen for me~. She looks at me a lot.

Hamaura: The heck are you talking about? (laughs)

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Berryz Kobo x ℃-ute Cross Talk 58: Yajima Maimi x Suzuki Airi

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hello! Project Kids in 2012, a book entitled Rival - 12 shoujo no 10-nen monogatari - (The 10-year legend of the 12 girls) was released. The book contains 2-page discussions between various pairings of the girls, covering all 66 possible combinations. In the process of reading this book, I'll be putting up some highlights as I read through the interviews.


Special Crosstalk Book "RIVAL 12 shoujyo no 10 nen monogatari (10 years stories of 12 girls)" / Berrz Kobo / Cute

Yajima Maimi X Suzuki Airi

The two of them have come out with numerous solo photobooks.
Suzuki with her producer's perspective, and Yajima who's still trying to get a grip on things.
That relationship between the two of them comes to light.


Five books from Yajima-san, and eight from Suzuki-san. Given your ages, it suggests a fairly frequent run of publications, so we would like to have a discussion focused on photobooks. Firstly, your very first photobooks came out at roughly the same time.


Yajima: They were about a month apart. Airi's had a shot of her in front of sakura blossoms for the front cover.

Suzuki: That photobook was taken roughly just after my primary school graduation ceremony, and I was so slim. I was nothing but skin and bones (laughs). Maimi-chan, yours was before you entered your first year of senior high, and you were really cute. Like you would just be drinking juice, and yet you looked so cute! (laughs). I wanted it, so my mum bought it for me.

Yajima: No way (blushes). Airi, you're really good at expressing yourself, and whatever the look on your face, it's always at its best. Your idol-like winking face is really cute, and you can also pull off sad faces, where you look like an abandoned dog. It makes me want to pick you up and take care of you. I find it fascinating.

Do both of you get themes for when the photos are being taken?

Yajima: From the very start, I've always been bad at being shot in photos, I'd get too aware of my photo being taken that the shots would end up looking really unphotogenic. But themes are relaxing, and recently I've felt that the variation in my facial expressions is lacking. When I mentioned it to my manager, that manager suggested that I try acting it out. So now I think that I'll use that as my theme.

Suzuki: That's good. For me, ever since I entered my first year of senior high, I've been given a story for the shooting of the photobook. It was a change from how things had been up to then, where I'd get instructions like 'Laugh', 'Be sad', 'Try eating something'. But as there was a story, I would go through the shooting as the girl in that story, so we'd get shots of all sorts of natural expressions.

Yajima: That's true. When I look at your photos, I can really tell how you're acting. Like what's happening, or based on how you look, you'd just said something like this. It's amazing how it's possible to read the situation or the background through your expressions.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Berryz Kobo x ℃-ute Cross Talk 29: Nakajima Saki x Okai Chisato

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hello! Project Kids in 2012, a book entitled Rival - 12 shoujo no 10-nen monogatari - (The 10-year legend of the 12 girls) was released. The book contains 2-page discussions between various pairings of the girls, covering all 66 possible combinations. In the process of reading this book, I'll be putting up some highlights as I read through the interviews.


Special Crosstalk Book "RIVAL 12 shoujyo no 10 nen monogatari (10 years stories of 12 girls)" / Berrz Kobo / Cute

Nakajima Saki X Okai Chisato

ÇÇÇ

When ℃-ute started off in your 5-person configuration, compared to how things had been before, I believe that many changes happened to you as a group. And it seems that Saki-chan changed a lot at the same time...

Nakajima: It wasn't just me, I think that everyone changed.

[...]

Okai: Because our numbers had decreased, the sense of distance between the members got closer. Our average age fell in one stroke.

ÇÇÇ

When did Saki-chan herself start changing?

Nakajima: When we made our debut, I thought that I had to firm up. But when we entered our 5-person structure, I ended up in the position of being the second oldest. It hit me that I was in a position where I should be giving advice. Everyone told me that they were scared of me since I was so firm at first (laughs)!

ÇÇÇ

For better or for worse, Maimi-chan hasn't changed (laughs).

Okai: You know, age-wise, there was no need for Nacky to force herself to become grown-up. It should have been Maimi-chan (laughs)! But now, Maimi-chan has filled those holes in a different way, she supports everyone. I feel that it's great that Maimi-chan's that sort of leader.

Nakajima: But when we became a 5-person group, it felt like Leader started to become more playful (laughs).

Okai: Ahahaha. That's right.

Nakajima: We became 5 people, there was a time where Chisato and (Hagiwara) Mai would take the lead in teasing her, but now she teases Chisato and the rest herself. She's become a really cheerful person ever since then (laughs).

Okai: Honestly, lots of things happened, but now we're comfortable with one another.

But Saki-chan, from your eyes, has Chisato-chan changed?

Nakajima: Eh, Chisato, well... (laughs).

Okai: What is it~ (laughs)! What, what?

Nakajima: You've changed recently.

Okai: Eh? I haven't noticed anything at all though!?

Nakajima: But you know, Chisato, you've become serious and flustered (laughs). Recently, at dance lessons, there are times when we members double-check our formations without a dance teacher, and you get really flustered, like 'Wait up! What do you mean!? So you know, let's do it once again!!' (laughs). Before that, I felt that you'd only say 'Got it~', but I feel that you're now taking the initiative.

ÇÇÇ

Looking at one another once again, what's changed the most since your time as the Hello! Project Kids?

Okai: Nacky started talking, I guess (laughs). At first I was really confused, but I was really happy. However, as far as that went, I thought you were in two minds over it. I'm sure that you must have worried over whether to keep quiet or to be lively. Honestly speaking, I think that there are lots of guys who like quiet and meek girls (laughs).

Nakajima: Honestly, I was worried over it. However, rather than saying that I worried over than whether I should be quiet or lively, I worried over whether I should wrap things up seriously, or whether I should say nothing. But I think I'm good with how I am now. If I was quiet, I'd get really worried (laughs). The less I speak, the more things grow unexpectedly in my heart. It's much more comfortable to comment on something I think isn't right. How Chisato's changed..... You've changed in all sorts of ways, but number one is looks!?

Okai: Everyone says that it's my looks (laughs).

Nakajima: Since you became fashionable and came to like makeup, it hit me that you actually were a girl (laughs).

Okai: I've always been a girl from the start though (laughs).

Special Crosstalk Book "RIVAL 12 shoujyo no 10 nen monogatari (10 years stories of 12 girls)" / Berrz Kobo / Cute

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Country Girls discourse: Are manju sweets?


As you may or may not know, Country Girls enforces a no sweets rule - no sweets, no ice cream after nine, no carbonated drinks. After much discussion, an exception was made earlier this year for days that had a four in them. This allowed a certain PM to celebrate a special day with cake, as she does every year.

Anyway, at a release event, Yamaki proposed that they add an exception to their banlist: manju, a type of Japanese confectionary. The following is based on reports by Twitter user @asami_konno (No relation to the idol Konno Asami).

Sweet-lover Maimi with momiji manju, a maple-leaf shaped manju normally associated with Canada Hiroshima
Yamaki: There's something that I'd like to ask your opinions about!!!
On the 24th of September, Ozeki Mai-chan had an event at Hiroshima, and she bought some momiji manju 🍁 since they were delicious. But she bought so many that she couldn't finish eating them up within the 24th itself. [1]

Yamaki: Country Girls has this rule that bans sweets, so we can only eat sweets on days that have a '4' in them. So when I met Mai-chan on the 25th, she asked me if momiji manju were sweets. I was like, 'Obviously', so she got moody [2]

Yamaki: But when I went back and looked it up, they're made using koshian. And koshian is made from adzuki, and you know what adzuki are? They're beans. And beans aren't sweets, right? There's just a smidgen of sugar added, but they're more than 90% beans! [3]

Yamaki: What's more, adzuki are rich in vitamin C, so they're good for health. And they contain minerals as well, so they're good for swelling. And what more! They have good anti-aging effects!

Tsugunaga: Wait a minute, why are you looking at Momochi with that gleam in your eyes? [4]

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Yajima Maimi: Hitori no Kisetsu - A season to myself (UTB October 2016)



As Hello! Project Leader, Maimi-san exudes an air of dignity. After one year, another photobook of hers will go on sale! For this photobook, we ventured off to a different location for the first time - Taiwan. With its unique streets and temperature... We discover a new Maimi-san!!


I'd like to have a special event for my 10th photobook!!

We've finally hit photobook number nine!

'Thank you very much!! I've been putting one out every year since I was fifteen...... I'm grateful to the fans and the members of staff'

How was your first shoot in Taiwan?

'I remember enjoying myself and laughing all the time. While the other members went back after our concerts in Hong Kong and Taiwan, I was the only one remaining in Taiwan, shooting the photobook. Thanks to that, I was able to have my fill of good grub, and completely enjoy Taiwan! I feel like I should apologise to the members (laughs)'

You had that much free time despite the photobook shooting!?