Friday, June 24, 2011

[translation] MM "Only You" hotexpress article (full)

 I shall note Takahashi Ai's "Not quite lovers, not quite something..."
what do you mean by that~?! Why term "LOVERS" be used when asked about 5th-6th gen relation ?
leader-san not spilling much,isn't she? XD

anyways, for people who really love to know more about Morning Musume, reading interviews is one of the best reference. It isn't just something instant and basic infos that most of us obviously know, but something that really came out of their own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes, you'll be surprised of facts they'll say out of nowhere. Or be delighted/overwhelmed of being able to know more than what we already see. And we're grateful that our fellow fans are willing to translate these precious articles.

credits to kurikaesu.haru of Hello!Online
Tokyohive very kindly translated parts of the hotexpress MM interview. Part 1 and Part 2 are available. They only did about half of it, though, so I thought I'd translate the whole thing in case anyone's interested. (The parts they left out are spread throughout the article, so to avoid confusion I don't wanna highlight them...and also because I'm too lazy. Please don't get me wrong, I really appreciate Tokyohive's translation and the more people that are exposed to MM, the better. I just found the left-out parts interesting as well, and I thought there might be others like me~)


--First, let's talk about the graduation of Kamei Eri, Junjun, and Linlin in Dec 15, 2010.  In a way for Morning Musume since Takahashi Ai became leader, it was a day that you faced a demise.  How did you feel?

Takahashi: It's only been half a year, but it feels like such a long time ago.....Their graduation was different from all the other graduations before then.  There was the fact that we were losing 3 of them at once.  We had also worked together for a long time.  Personally, a part of me thought, “We're gonna keep going with these members,” so despite the triple graduation announcement, it didn't feel real until the very day.  But for the first time, we did a lot of things like parties, right?

Michishige: We did!

Takahashi: Before the graduation, we held things like birthday parties and wrap-up parties.  We were do you put it?

Michishige: Close.  We were very close.

Takahashi: Yeah.  A graduation is impressive every time, but [this time] there was a sense of accomplishment.  The graduation concert at Yokohama Arena was a one-time thing, a concert done at the very end, so it was filled with a great sense of accomplishment.  It's impossible to repeat.  We performed treasuring each and every song. 

Michishige: In Morning Musume, even when a graduation is announced, everyone holds back tears--the graduating member, and everyone around her as well.  But in Eri, Junjun, and Linlin's case, before [the concert in] Yokohama Arena, we were crying since the tour rehearsals.  It was as sad as the love between the members is deep, but those three looked amazing doing all they could with their best.  I thought we did everything we could with the 8 of us.  That's why it felt good.  Eri had facial expressions that were different from any she'd had up to that point, and I thought she was very elegant.  It's almost unthinkable that we've come along having done things together for 8 years, being in the same generation.  It's like, we've been just walking ahead (laughs). 

Takahashi: I also felt like I was being led by Eri.  Because Eri was desperately holding back her tears, I was like, “We have to do that, too.  It's no good to cry like this.”  She was very cool. 

--That same Kamei Eri, Junjun, and Linlin--to the two of you, what kind of members were they?
Takahashi:  For Sayu, Eri was like a partner, so I was worried about her, too.  Like, “Will Sayu be ok when Eri's gone?” 

Michishige:  For Aichan, too, Linlin was like a sister, right?  You were super close.

Takahashi:  That's why I felt like there was a hole in my heart.  I've been watching Junjun and Linlin since they came to Japan, right?  Starting from having to learn Japanese and being in a completely different culture, of course, there were times when they got angry.  When talking to them, saying things like, “This is how it's done in Japan, so you have to adjust to it,” they'd listen while crying...well...I myself was crying, too, but they would follow me without frowning.  Both of them are stubborn, so it was hard for them to swallow being told that they're wrong.  However, they followed along properly and said, “I'm glad I joined Morning Musume,” so I was very happy. 

--That would make one happy, huh?

Takahashi: Being away from your family and living your daily life without being able to use your native language at all for 4 years is discouraging, right? That's why I think those two overcame so much.  That they said, “I'm glad I joined Morning Musume,” with a smile despite all that, and that they cried, made me really happy.  [Note: It sounds a little awkward in English, especially the crying part, but the way Takahashi phrased it, it's as though she had received a favor.]

--Then two weeks after their graduation, the 4 members of the 9th generation joined.  Thanks for waiting--it's Sayashi-san's turn!  First, how did you feel when you got accepted into Morning Musume?

Sayashi: I admired Morning Musume, wanted to join, applied, and got accepted, but even when I passed, I couldn't really comprehend that I had passed.  My mind went completely blank.  It felt like being in a strange place.

--What was Morning Musume to you?

Sayashi: I was studying dance, and that was because of Morning Musume.  They had a lot of impressive dances and I thought, “I want to try dancing like this,” so I started dancing.  I've been admiring and aiming for MM for 6 years.

--Since 6 years when you were about 6.....?

Sayashi: When I was in kindergarten, I told my mom, “I want to dance,” so I got to learn.  Then, together with dancing, I also learned to sing.  It's because I loved “Go Girl~Koi no Victory~” so much that I wanted to be able to sing.

--Can you tell us the story of how you went from there to passing the audition?

Sayashi: I was learning to sing and dance, all the while thinking, “I want to join MM quickly,” but there was an age limit.  However, I auditioned to appear with MM in a stage play.  I passed that and got to stand on stage with them and got to talk to them backstage.  But since I'm very shy around strangers, I couldn't really start up a conversation myself...

Takahashi: You didn't talk at all huh?

:  I thought maybe she hated us (laughs).

Takahashi:  That's why hearing her say, “I wanted to join MM,” now makes me so happy!  There were a lot of innocent girls in that play who were like, “Michishige-san! Please take a picture with me!” or like “Amazing--!”  Only she seemed grown-up, like, “hu---n.”


Takahashi: Only she had a different feel to her, and conversely, that piqued my interest, like, “What is that girl thinking about?”  That's why what she said just now makes me happy.

--By the way, from the two senpais' point of view, what kind of member is Sayashi Riho?

Takahashi:  She's serious.  There's Suzuki Kanon, who's the same age, and the word “innocent” really suits her.  But Sayashi is the exact opposite, to the point that I think, “You don't have to be that careful.”  It's like maybe she's still hiding her true self.

--But all the members of the preceding generations were the same, you know. 

:  Well, yeah, that's true (laughs).  But I want to see her innocence~.  She's still cute, though, right?

Michishige:  Yeah.  She's cute.  Super cute!

Takahashi: Sayu, you know, she's no longer being affectionate as one would be to a kohai.  She's fawning over her as a child would.  [Riho] is like a pet to her (laughs).

Michishige:  Her cuteness makes me want to hug her.  She's super cute.  Amazing.  I expect her to be the new ace.  Soooo cute.  Really, she's just cute.

--Sayashi-san, you're completely silent, though.  How about the other members?

Takahashi: They really have great individuality.  Also, we're separated by more than 10 years, so I'm very much an older sister to them.  There are also members who have the same Chinese zodiac sign as me.  That's why when the 4 of them passed, like Sayu, I was all “Uwa---!” and wanted to hug them.

--When Takahashi-san joined MM, Sayashi-san was just 2 or 3 years old, right? 

Takahashi: Yeah, that's right.  That's why although most kids like “Love Machine“ or “ The Peace,“ kids like Sayashi don't really know those well.  They like the more recent songs. 

--By any chance,  was she born yet around the time “Love Machine“ came out? 

Takahashi:  She was born around that time.  They're around the same age (laughs).

--Then a week after the announcementof 9th gen was Takahashi Ai-san's graduation announcement.  Why are you graduating?

Takahashi: You're straightforward, huh (laughs).  When Eri, Junjun, and Linlin's graduations were decided, Tsunku-san told me something like, “You should also start thinking about it soon.“  Having been in MM for 10 years,  I've found things that I want to do, such as acting, and told Tsunku-san.  Then, [my participation in] a musical at the Imperial Theater was decided, so I consulted people in the agency and the timing of my graduation was set.  But as the graduation gets closer and closer, I'm becoming very lonely.  Today at the recording of “MBS Youngtown,“ Akashiya Sanma-san said, “What if you just say that you won't graduate after all?“  (laughs).  I love MM.  I've come to love it even more after deciding to graduate.  That's why as lonely as it is, I'm able to think, “I'm glad I got to be in MM.“

--Takahashi-san has been the longest-serving leader and member, right?  So I think you must be emotionally attached to MM more than others.  As one would expect, did you cry when you decided to graduate? 

Takahashi:  I was on the verge of tears, but I thought, “I can't cry at this.“  It's because I made the decision myself.  I thought that, too, when it was announced.  I had to tell everyone myself, so I thought I must be able to talk properly.  Plus, graduation is something that comes for everyone at some point.  To the person graduating and to MM, it's connected to stepping up to the next thing, and the baton must be passed to the next generation.  The 10th generation will also enter. 

--What did the two of you think when hearing the graduation announcement?

Sayashi:  I admired my senpais who sing and dance songs that I like, such as “Kimagure Princess,“ and then joined MM, so when I heard about it, I cried.  When we joined, I was thinking, “From now on, we'll have activities together, let's do our best,“ so I'm really sad and lonely that she'll be graduating this fall.  But now I want to learn more and more things from her. 

Michishige:  I was like, “Eh! Again?“  It hasn't even been a month since Junjun, Linlin, and Eri graduated, so of course, I won't expect another person to graduate with such timing.  That's why I was like, “Everyone's graduating! Why?“  Frankly, it's lonely.  But I think 9th gen is lucky that they could join MM while Ai-chan is leader.  Their time with her is short, but I think they can learn a lot from her.  That's why I also want 10th gen to enter while she's still here.  At Eri's graduation, I also thought, “I wish 9th gen could've seen a senpai called Kamei Eri.“  It's because her way of life and such are really worthy of respect.  Now, I want 9th gen to observe Ai-chan more and more. 

--How would Takahashi-san describe the past 10 years?

Takahashi:  They were 10 years of leaps and bounds.  I was always running forward swiftly, so it went by in the blink of an eye.  There were times when I was like Sayashi, there were a lot of new experiences, painful things, difficult things.  But I'm here now because of all those, so I consider them my life's fortune.

--We're approaching summer, and when fall comes, you'll graduate.  In what mode are you facing MM now? 

Takahashi:  Right now, I'm a little conflicted.  I'm thinking that I have to teach them in a hurry.  But I also think, “Maybe it's better not to tell these girls, yet.“  People may want to see 9th gen's freshness, but there's something that concerns me.  I'm troubled over when I should talk to them about it.  That's why I'm consulting Gaki-san.  But I'm happy to see them grow up.  It's not just 9th gen, but everyone that's growing up.  (Mitsui) Aika and (Tanaka) Reina have also changed a lot.  Watching that, I think, “Morning Musume is growing in this way.“ 

--I saw the concert at Nakano Sun Plaza on May 8th, and I thought your bursting style is really all-out.  Like in “Resonant Blue“ you belt out the song while shaking your head and lowering your knees, right? 

Michishige:  I love that~

Takahashi:  Before, I was singing while thinking, “I want to sing this way,“ ignoring the fixed ideas and emotions contained in the song.  But doing it that way, the song's message is not conveyed.  That's why now, for each song, I capture the image of the girl that Tsunku-san is imagining and have fun with it.  Or rather, I play with it (laughs). 

--At that same concert, I thought Michishige-san brought about a really kind mood.  When you were performing with the new members and also when you were doing the MC with your fellow 6th gen Tanaka Reina.  Rather than going, “Me! Me!“ you would follow-up kindly.  That's the impression I got. 

Michishige: Really?  Won't my character die?  (laughs)  But I stay more or less conscious of the 9th gen.  I myself am the type to bring myself forward so it's fine, but I think that the 9th gen are reserved and probably think, “It's not good to come out here.“  So even on days when I want to talk a lot, I'm like, “I'll hold myself back a little here.“  Conversely, Junjun and Linlin and them are the type to just come forward, so I was like, “I can't lose!“  (laughs). 

--Then on that day, the 10th gen “Genki Jirushi" audition was announced.  Not much time has passed, but Sayashi-san, are you ready to be a senpai?

Sayashi:  I still feel like I don't understand much, so I'm all confused (laughs).  I'm doing my best to learn from my senpais, so I think when the 10th gen join, there'll be a lot of things that we need to convey to them.  But right now, I don't know what would be good to tell them.  I'm still not completely used to this environment, so I don't know what I should do. 

--Given Sayashi-san's age, it's possible that you'll have a kohai who's older, right?

Takahashi:  When I joined, my senpais Tsuji (Nozomi)-san and Kago (Ai)-san were younger than me. That's also possible.

--There was also an incident at that same Nakano Sun Plaza concert, Mitsui Aika's stress fracture. Despite that, she'll continue to participate in the tour. What was the actual situation?

Takahashi: Our concerts continued during Golden Week, during which she was saying that it was painful, but was probably enduring it while on stage. Then, when she went to the hospital, she was diagnosed with a stress fracture, and knowing that, she decided to still perform. Despite all that, she was doing her best to perform with her upper body. At a recent concert, Sayu also had leg cramps.

--At the Osaka concert, Mitsui Aika had a fracture, Tanaka Reina had a cold, Sayashi Riho had taping on both of her legs, and Michishige-san had leg cramps. It sounds like a live where everyone was all banged up.

Takahashi: The concert itself was fun, but it seems we can't lie to our bodies, so the number of ill or injured people increased. Because of that, we had a doctor tell us what to eat, like small fish and calcium supplements. We had to take care of our health, too. Of course, we're pros, so beyond holding a concert in front of the guests, I thought once again that we have to be careful as well.

Michishige: But it was a super great live performance, though! Once again, I thought, “I love MM!” When I first joined as a 6th gen member, I wondered, “When will I be able to become a true Morning Musume?” and “When will the fans see me as an official member?” rather than as just a new member. I think the 9th gen also feel that way, but at that Osaka performance, I felt, “The reborn Morning Musume is here!” Of course,, I think there are people somewhere that stopped being fans when Kamei Eri, Junjun, and Linlin graduated. But I think that the people who watched that Osaka performance definitely understand what's good about the current 9-person MM.

Takahashi: There were really so many things that happened, huh? During the performance. Even when there was trouble, because the performance had already started, using eye contact we were like, “Who'll sing here?” “Got it, I'll sing!” When Sayu had leg cramps and was missing, Reina took her place without a moment's delay. Wasn't that quickness amazing!?

Michishige: Her fondness for karaoke came in handy, huh?

--(Everyone laughs)

Takahashi: She was like “I'll go!” right?

: It was really helpful. Amazing.

Takahashi: To add to that, I was really moved by how 9th gen followed us. I cried so much. It was like, “Is someone graduating today? What's up with this concert!?” (laughs).

Michishige: The 4 senior members gathered around Aika. Then, when I thought it would end there with 9th gen doing the usual, they also came to gather by us. Since when did they become able to ad lib like that? I thought, “They've grown, huh?” Even though my leg was in pain.

Takahashi: It was awesome. When 9th gen came over, I thought, “Aren't we Morning Musume the best!!” I'm tooting our own horn, though (laughs).

Michishige: Ai-chan, at the end you said “Thank you!” all worn-out from crying, right?

Takahashi: I couldn't even say “Thank you!” though (laughs). I was so worn out.

--I want that Osaka performance to be released on DVD.

Takahashi: Aika said that, too. We'd like that, too!

--Same goes for the Nakano performance. I really think MM is amazing. Watching your figures dancing, singing, and smiling with all your power despite being all worn out moves me to tears. Why do you work that hard?

Takahashi: I wonder why? Right now, I feel like everyone is headed in the same direction. Together, everyone wants to make a unified MM. We can work hard because we become one with that kind of feeling. It's not like we expect to receive anything from working hard, but everyone's there supporting us, and when we smile, they smile for us, too. I think that's really amazing. This time, there were places we couldn't go to because of the earthquake disaster and we had to change plans. Because such things happened, it might be late, but I once again thought, “Being able to sing brings such happiness.” With Japan's present condition, there are also people who tell us that our singing cheered them up. Because of that, we can work hard with all we've got. I think, “I want to give them courage,” even if just a little.

--”Only You” is a cool new song from such a cool MM. What are your thoughts and impressions of the completed song?

: I like it. When I first got the recording, Sayu and I listened to it together and were gushing, “Isn't it amazing?” It's a song made to have a huge effect, but because it's catchy, it gets to you little by little. The hook is also easy to understand. The sound is cool, too, and has a punch, but for the choreography we were told, “Do it with a smile.” I thought that a serious facial expression suited the tune, but the part in the lyrics that says “To you my beloved” is not just directed to a lover, but also to many people. Because it can apply to anyone, we have to do it with a smile so that our yell can reach them.

Michishige: “Many people,” it's the first time I've heard that phrase. [Note: Ai-chan used the 5-kanji word 不特定多数 which isn't too common, I guess. It literally means “a large number of unspecified people.”]

--What are you reacting to?  (laughs)  And saying you're hearing it for the first time.....

Michishige:  I'll keep it in mind.  I wanna use it!  Also, Ai-chan's smile at the end of the PV, isn't it super great?  Her smile after “kimi wo mamoru [I'll protect you]“! 

:  Sayu mentioned something about that on her blog.  It was super embarrassing.

Michishige:  It's because I really love that part.  I thought, “Thanks for using that part!“ 

--You're a total fan, huh?  Sayashi-san, what's your impression of “Only You“? 

Sayashi:  I also thought it was a cool song when I first got it, but I was confused when we were told to “do it with a smile“ during the dance rehearsals.  But it's a song that has the message “I want to give out energy,“ so I thought I'd express it with that. 

Takahashi:  You're doing your best to smile, huh?

--“You're doing your best to smile“ (laughs).

Takahashi:  (laughs)  No, I mean she's doing her best to make the facial expression. 

Sayashi:  It wasn't a sparkly kind of smile, so it was hard, though.

--Again, in the music video, Takahashi-san and Tanaka-san are the two-top center.  I get the impression that you two are senpai-kohai, friends, rivals, but what is Tanaka Reina to Takahashi Ai? 

Takahashi:  The 5th and 6th gen are senpai and kohai, but I don't really see Reina and Sayu as kohai.  We've been together for too long, and they're closer to me than just kohai.  Not quite lovers, not quite something.....

--They've become nothing but “not quite“ huh? (laughs)

:  You understand, right?  Somehow.

Michishige:  Ye---ah.  I do, I do. (laughs)

Takahashi:  It's because I can consult them even if they're my kohai.  It's a relationship in which we can say things like, “How's this part?“  Also with Reina, we can talk about various things like singing.  Even though our voices are different, I think, “Ah, they match.“  I think that's why we've sung together as a duet quite often.

Michishige:  Reina said that, too.  She depends a lot on Ai-chan, so she was like, “Ai-chan's graduating.  I don't like it.“  She was saying that when Ai-chan wasn't there, so I think that's how she really feels. 

--The 10th generation will soon join MM.  What kind of group do you want to be?  Please tell us one by one. 

Sayashi:  I'm still only being taught right now, but from now on, I'd like to discover things on my own.  Things like how I can dance better, or what I should do about my own singing.  I want to notice those kinds of things before someone else tells me.  And then, from now on, it's not just the 10th gen, it's possible that a lot of members will join, so without going all out about just myself, I want to consider teamwork and raise our power as one. 

:  What I think is that once Ai-chan graduates, we must do our best to be worthy [of our name], we must stand firm.  As expected, a leader's graduation is a huge thing for a group.  And right now, Ai-chan and Reina are the two main vocals, so I think it will be hard for the remaining members to compensate for that.  It's because the things that we were able to do precisely because Ai-chan was there, we'll still have to do them even when she's gone.  Even in “Only You“ there are the lyrics “don't give up, ok?“  We, too, are working hard without giving up so that the current Morning Musume can be known more and more. 

Takahashi:  I really think that MM is loved by various kinds of people.  We ourselves have worked hard, too, but MM has been able to continue for 14 years because of the support of other people.  That's why we've been able to do concerts and release albums and singles. So if we don't forget that, MM can always continue from now on, too. That's why even if I graduate, I'll definitely support them. As the members keep changing, I think there'll be people who say, “I can't follow them,” or “What kind of members are there now?” However, we continue with our activities, thinking, “Right now, we have faith in this MM.” So like Sayu just said, I want us to be known by a lot of people. We get a lot of comments from abroad on our blogs and radio shows, so I want our presence to become more worldwide. We can't lose to such a thing as K-pop!

--Oh~~~! We got a great comment!

Michishige: From someone who loves K-pop!

--(Everyone laughs)

: I love it (laughs), but it's all the rage all over Japan right now, right? They're gradually taking over the top spot. I think that's unacceptable, as a Japanese person.

Michishige: You're super blond, though!

--That's a good point.....

Takahashi: Ok, then, I'll dye it today!

--(Everyone laughs)

☆Takahashi Ai who said “goodbye~” to her blond hair.

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