Matsui Jurina and Takayanagi Akane interview from Bubka, March 2013 (out January 31st)
In which we learn how the kid and the bird got close, how they regret they could perform so little in 2012, what they hope to accomplish in 2013 and where they finally give their impressions about their performance in Kouhaku.
note : enlightening to read it after the shuffle and with Budokan right around the corner. It somehow feels like those two events, which should have been major in SKE’s history have lost a lot of their impact being turn into nothing more than another “whole 48 thing” (with NMB shuffle happening a mere 5 days after SKE’s one and Budokan granted to all the groups at once). Shame…
Still! Cool Churi and Ju inside and some Nyaa~awesome inside!
ChuriJuri’s secret story
Q - I’m looking forward to work with you today! Did you already pose only the two of you in the past?
Matsui - We did. But not many times.
Q - I don’t remember having seen a cover with only the two of you before, am I right?
Takayanagi - I think it’s a first indeed.
Matsui - Yeah! for our first cover together!
Takayanagi - Wasshoi!
Q - For the sake of our readers who might not all be well acquainted with SKE, could you tell us about your relation?
Matsui - We’re pretty much a couple ( literally “boyfriend and girlfriend”). We get along extremely well..
Takayanagi - Hmm, we are close. I’ve total confidence in her.
Matsui - Same here. We talk about a lot of things together. Remember when we went to this okonomiyaki restaurant?
Takayanagi - How could I forget?!
Matsui - We had some serious talk there.
Takayanagi - Regarding SKE.
Matsui - Like 「We have to open a path for everyone, show them the way.」.
Takayanagi - Or how make new members more noticeable…
Q - Sounds totally like a summit meeting (laugh).
Takayanagi - One year has pass since then already. We don’t usually have much work in common. Even though we are both in SKE senbatsu.
Matsui - Our teams are different too.
Takayanagi - So our free time rarely matches.
Q - But if you were to have some time off, what would you like to do?
Matsui - We would go to 109. We’ve been planning it for a long time now.
Takayanagi - Earlier again we were mentioning it. During the day we would go to the game center and play our hearts content. See, we both like crane games.
Matsui - I just LOVE crane games! I want to play!
Takayanagi - And then in the evening we would talk in front of a dinner.
Q - In the end you’d still end up talking, right?
Takayanagi – That would be the point of our date, yes.
Q - Takayanagi-san, when you passed the auditions, you said Jurina-san was the member you looked up to the most, is that correct?
Takayanagi – Indeed.
Matsui – Are you kidding?!
Q - Where was your admiration for her coming from?
Takayanagi – To tell the truth… Jurina-san was the only member I knew, so to say I admired her is a bit…
Q - Could it be you simply thought you’d have better chances to be accepted if you filled in any member name?
Takayanagi – Trying my luck at the audition without having made any research on the group, I thought I would pass for someone impertinent… I did watch a lot of videos but when I auditioned I had not remember names yet, and then Jurina-san and Yagami (Kumi)-san came to visit auditioning members. That’s when I remembered their names
Q - To say I was wrong all this time! I thought you joined out of admiration for Jurina-san…
Takayanagi – Actually I didn’t know a single member even among AKB-san…
Matsui – I was the same when I joined. I even told them directly 「I have never heard of you.」…
Takayanagi – Now that’s impressive ! Still, I’m sorry…
Q - For you Jurina-san, she was your first junior. Do you remember the very first impression you had when you met her?
Matsui – After the final judging, Churi appeared as the one who caught everyone’s attention you know. With Kumin we kept commenting to each other 「She was cute right ? Right ?!」.
Takayanagi – There is no such thing.
Q - And you Takayanagi-san, what was your initial impression?
Takayanagi – It was at the training venue. While we were practicing for 「Hajimete no Kagai Jugyou」where the 2nd generation would be presented to the public for the first time. Since the first generation members were to practice next, we were told to go home. But I wanted to see our sempai dance and learn from it, so Airi-chan and myself stayed to watch them. Seeing all the energy they delivered on stage, even though it was just a rehearsal, I thought they were amazing. And once the lesson ended, Jurina-san turn over to where I was sitting and throw a wink at me.
Matsui – Ahahahahah !
Takayanagi – Something screamed in my head 「Oooooohhhh ! What just happened ?!」(laugh). I still remember vividly how cool I thought it was to give that much passion and energy in what was just a lesson.
Q - What happened that made you two closer?
Takayanagi – I collapsed during「Hajimete no Kagai Jugyou」. There was no air conditioning in the 2nd generations’ dressing room so I was brought to the 1st generations’ one. There some sempai covered me with a jacket but then Jurina came over and told me 「Are you alright ? Damn, I really want to hug you !」.
Matsui – Stop! !
Takayanagi – I told her it was fine 「I don’t mind.」, so she hugged me. That was our first embrace.
Matsui – I honestly thought she was cute. (Oya) Masana and myself often went to see 2nd generations’ lessons. If we ever had juniors, we had decided we would go watch their lessons no matter what. There Masana also shared my views 「Churi is the curtest of the group isn’t she ?」. Maybe that’s because Masana told me she thought too that she was cute that I got that fired up.
Q - You didn’t want to lose to her, did you? (laugh)
Matsui – Something like 「I’ll make you see how I’m still the cutest !」
Takayanagi – *fufufu* I didn’t know that.
Matsui – That’s following this pattern that I ended up hugging you in this pressing manner.
Q - I always found it slightly odd but, for Takayanagi-san Jurina-san is a “younger senior”, right? Doesn’t it feel weird to use keigo toward someone 5 years younger than yourself?
Takayanagi – I’m used to it now. I allow myself to let go some 「 « –,right ? » 」. It’s not like there was any barrier in language between us. It can sound particularly polite (keigo), but I don’t mean to be con descendant like I would if I was using formula like 「 “—, am I right ?”」.
Q - No matter how you look at it, it’s a polite way to address someone (laugh)
Takayanagi – Well, even though we are close friends let say I observe some manners (laugh).
Q - You don’t intend to ever cross this barrier?
Takayanagi - In my mind, there is no barrier between us anymore.
Q - I see. So for you, you’ve put down all the barriers which could have existed between you. In AKB, the hierarchical order seems to have crumbled, at least in this aspect, but SKE is more strict in the regard right?
Matsui - We are.
Takayanagi - When I was working with AKB as undergirl, I surprised everyone when I nonchalantly mentioned 「Jurina-san did —-」. They asked me 「….”san”?!」. I was all the same surprised by their reaction. It tends to be thought that I’m required by someone to address Jurina-san this way, but that’s not the case.
Q - To resume, you use “-san” out of respect and admiration. Is that correct?
Takayanagi - Exactly.
The long awaited exclusive theater
Q - Speaking of SKE latest hot news, one can’t ignore the opening of your long awaited exclusive theater. Congratulations!
Together - Thank you!
Q - I was given the honor to watch the opening performance and I’ve to say it’s a very pleasant theater for it’s easy to see the stage no matter the seat. Thanks to the leveling, even from the back seats you have a clear view.
Matsui - That’s exactly what I thought too. From the stage too we have a really good view of the audience. We can even clearly see standing guests.
Q - The seri system is a big change from before the renovation. It also helps seeing members individually better from the audience.
Takayanagi - It certainly does. But the thing is, during 「Ramune no Nomikata」 we only use the seri three times.
Matsui - In S too we barely use it.
Q - Oh I see. Since formations were decided for a theater without seri, it doesn’t adapt too well.
Takayanagi - The problem is that when you use the seri, you can’t move as freely anymore.
Q - Did the backstage changed too?
Matsui - There are tons of logo in our dressing room. There is 「SKE48」written on top of every mirrors.
Takayanagi - Isn’t it super cute? Walls are orangish with white stripes and even the doorknobs have changed and are now shaped like feathers.
Q - Did the atmosphere of the theater was affected by the renovation?
Matsui - I’ve the feeling the theater has become more “one” since it re-opened. Certainly because we can now properly see the face of everyone. the sound is also a lot better isn’t it?
Takayanagi - It’s easier to hear everyone, yes. In a middle of a song when I get excited, if I shout 「Yeah～!」even if I don’t have the mic to my lips I think it’s heard. The acoustic has improved too.
Matsui - True, true, the rendering is much better now. The video quality of the monitor has considerably been upgraded too.
Takayanagi - And what’s more the monitor splits in two by the middle.
Q - I heard it from your manager earlier and I couldn’t believe it but it seems like you still have only 60 cm of space width-wise per member.
Matsui - It’s true. Even if it’s said that 「90 cm is the ideal width for 48 groups」.
Takayanagi - Who knows, maybe when we receive new stages the space for each of us will get larger then. For now the width is adapted for our own stages.
Q - It’s because SKE stages were created for a theater originally allowing only 60 cm per members right?
Takayanagi - It is. We could really just barely move all together.
The significance of appearing in Kouhaku
Q - On December 9th, you received the visit of Akimoto-sensei…
Matsui - Yes. He praised us a lot.
Takayanagi - Akimoto sensei also told us 「You’re a group which has what it takes to perform in 「Kouhaku」.」.
Matsui - You can imagine how happy we were to hear that.
Q - And then it was decided you would appear in 「Kouhaku Utagasen」for the first time. Congratulations.
Together - Thank you very much.
Q - You were informed by Akimoto-sensei first hand?
Takayanagi - We did. But they made it a total surprise.
Matsui - We were told we were going to shoot the bonus for our next single.
Takayanagi - Something like Akimoto sensei talking about the future of SKE.
Matsui - So we were totally amazed when he delivered the news to us. I was brushing my teeth when suddenly a staff summoned me 「Jurina, come!」. Just when I arrived Akimoto-san broke the news 「Eeeehhhhhー?!」 (laugh).
Q - You didn’t have a hunch of what was going on?
Matsui - Nothing on my side. But (Matsui) Rena-chan told me she had an idea of what was going on.
Takayanagi - Waoo!
Matsui - In her own words 「I thought it might be that.」.
Takayanagi - As expected from Rena.
Q - It must feel different to know you are going to appear on your own and not only with AKB, no?
Matsui - It’s a chance to be seen as SKE that we’re receiving. Even if we have appeared with AKB before, it was impossible there to say which group every member was from. Thanks to Kouhaku I hope to set SKE and AKB apart. To make clear that our songs and dances are different.
Takayanagi - We didn’t have the chance to perform much in 2012, I want to turn the tables in 2013.
Matsui - Something like an open air live. What do you think?
Takayanagi - I want that!
Q - I see you want to hold more concerts…
Matsui - We want to. In Tokyo too.
Q - What about performing a set-list members themselves would have selected? Sounds good no?
Matsui - We should try that.
Takayanagi - 「And the next song is…」(laugh).
Q - It was a “what if” discussion but Matsui Rena-san said in our magazine in January that she wanted to implement it too.
Matsui - Ah, I read that.
Takayanagi - Me too.
Q - To quote her words 「Even without going as far as a shuffle, it would probably be interesting to change SKE with a *bang*」
Takayanagi - For the opening stage of our new theater, we performed units of a new kind, differently composed from the usual ones. We thought it would be boring for fans if we didn’t bring some novelty to our performances.
Q - Did that involve all the members?
Takayanagi - Because of the relative short time we had to prepare it didn’t concern all members but it was still very interesting. So much it even surprised us. Like when we performed all three teams together on the theater stage, with the same movements. It was the first time being able to do it for us. What about we make each team follow a new and distinct pattern then?
Matsui - What do you mean by “pattern”?
Takayanagi - While we would keep S, KII and E, we could perform stages with new S+, KII+ and E+.
Q - While preserving original teams?
Takayanagi - I want to keep and treat preciously out original teams but in the meanwhile create those 「+」.
Q - A system of two teams in one?
Matsui - How many positions do you intend to make me hold at once?!
Takayanagi - Oh, right (laugh). It’s true that Jurina-san and (Ishida) Anna have it hard already with AKB concurrent position. Let me think of something else then.
Q - Just for the sake of argument, but if KII was to be dissolved, could you accept it?
Takayanagi - It would be a sad thing to go through, but I think the most important is to give everyone the opportunity to grow. There is a chance that, precisely because we’re such good friends, it becomes difficult for us to grow. If in 2012 KII has progressed considerably, I think our real fight is only going to start. It’s important that the seniors feel pressured, that our juniors close range with us and aim higher.
Q - In 2012 SKE held a concert at Gaishi Hall, in its own province.
Takayanagi - We did. But apart from Gaishi Hall we only performed our stages outside. That and the 4th anniversary live and 「Request Hour」 .
Q - Though the first half of the year was promising…
Takayanagi - It was. Gaishi in April was a major event for us.
Q - Even though Jurina-san could only perform for a small part Gaishi Hall turn out to be a great concert.
Matsui - It confirmed that things are alright even without me.
Takayanagi - No way! No way! No way! We were going with the strength of despair out there.
Matsui - I was watching the whole time on a monitor backstage, I realized how Team E had progressed, so I’m worrying a lot less about them now. Though it did open my eyes on the fact that even if I wasn’t around things were alright.
Q - If they are given the chance to, everyone proves very capable don’t they?
Matsui - I think they need to be in charge more often. I’ve thought so for the past two years but you probably noticed how I’m still at the center of our dance routines no? But if this responsibility isn’t given to others they won’t be able to grow. So it happened that when I was asked by a staff 「Please lead this song.」, I answered 「I think it would be better for another member to do it instead」and temporarily leave my position to her.
Q - Now about SKE’s goal for 2013?
Matsui - I wish for all the members to be more proactive and step forward more voluntarily. Like when we are asked 「What about you SKE?」or 「What do you, SKE members, think of it?」you’ll always have only 3 members at best giving an answer. I think it’s a real shame. I hope every member could express what they have in mind. Stage MCs are great training for this purpose. There won’t be anyone to come to our rescue when we have a solo work outside, so it’s necessary for members to be able to express themselves properly.
Takayanagi - …. that’s exactly what we were talking about together before the interview.
Q - In this regard, NMB are very assertive, aren’t they?
Matsui - They are incredible! They wowed me during our last recording together. When they were making this cake.
Takayanagi - Ah!! There is no script for this program so people are free to talk as they please, right.
Matsui - Their vigor and life were overwhelming, right?
Q - The other day you appeared in SmapxSmap’s 「Bistro」but it was arranged especially for SKE no?
Matsui - Ah, this one time…
Takayanagi - It made us reflect on ourselves.
Q - Takayanagi-san, what do you think SKE should tend toward next year?
Takayanagi - I think in the year to come NMB and HKT will gain in popularity. We can clearly see how more and more people in Nagoya are aware of their existence. That’s one of the reasons why I want to take proper action.
Q - When you say “action”…
Takayanagi - In 2012, for good and bad, general audience didn’t say 「Oh, “that” did happen to SKE」. I want to appear in news and become a topic of conversation among ordinary people 「What? Something like this happened to SKE?!」.
Q - I see, actions as to mark the public more.
Takayanagi - That may sound crazy but something like 「You heard? SKE is going to perform solo in Budokan!」. Well, just for the sake of giving an example.
Q - There is no such thing as “impossible” in this world.
Takayanagi - Or 「They all jumped in the arena from the ceiling! 」, something which would left an impact. It would be great to pull this kind of trick.
Q - On this topic, I can’t think of anything else than Nagoya Dome.
Takayanagi - There is Nagoya Dome too indeed. Of course I want to set it as our goal. But what’s more, I want to achieve something that will take everyone by surprise. The fact that we entered the Guinness earlier this year was something big in my opinion.
Q - SKE entered the Guinness World Records with its first album for 「the album containing the most music video ever」. But I think appearing in Kouhaku will enhance your popularity way more.
Matsui - It’s hard to manage to check everyone…
Q - What about a tour across the country?
Matsui - I want to do it. I want to perform from Okinawa to Hokkaido.
Takayanagi - I want to do it too.
Q - You really want to sow SKE seeds don’t you?
Takayanagi - I think we are far from having reach a sufficient popularity, yet.
Matsui - But we managed to be recognized by fans as 「The group which won’t lose to anyone when it comes to the powerfulness of their dance.」.
Takayanagi - Is that true?
Matsui - But don’t they say that 「We can hear your footstep on stage from our seats.」? Or that 「There is a breeze blowing from the stage」. No?
Q - “You can feel the wind blowing from stage” (laugh), that’s something we wrote in our magazine (laugh)
Matsui - I think that’s what SKE is about, where lies its uniqueness.
Takayanagi - Rather than “winning” or “losing”, what I seek and makes me the happiest is when people, fans or not, realize 「SKE is different.」. Because it means we’ve brought out our own colors. To be given to perform in 「Kouhaku」this year means we have been accepted and are valued as a group, but it will also be the chance to set ourselves as one group, unique, among 48 groups. That’s why, at any rate, I want to charm everyone by bringing out SKE-ness.
Q - I see. I’m looking forward to see what 2013 will bring us!
(Interview completed on December 13th, Tokyo area)
The 1st part of this interview dates from December, but as we were then given the privilege to watch the New Year stage in Nagoya, we seize this chance to interview a second time Takayanagi-san and Matsui-san to hear their impression right after performing in Kouhaku.
Q - Congratulations on performing in Kouhaku! We decided to witness your 1st apparition in Kouhaku from Nagoya, so we cheered for you from here.
Together - Ohー! You really did? Awesome! (laugh)
Q - I think you did leave a strong impression. Was it also different for you compared to when you performed with AKB?
Matsui - It certainly was. We performed 「Pareo wa Emerald」but I’m very glad we were given the authorization to perform all together. We changed the usual formation, arranged ourselves in one row and displayed the line dance, that’s something we could only accomplish if our hearts were at unison. I think that more than ever we are united. And through the back-flip and the ballet, personal talents were also shown. Thanks to this I think SKE’s charm was properly conveyed.
Q - From what I perceived, you successfully conveyed it. The whole hall resonated with exclamations when Fujimoto Mitsuki-san’s performed her back-flip right?
Takayanagi - We could distinctly hear it, yes.
Q - Takayanagi’s expression was great. Your 「satisfied look」was blatant on screen at the end.
Takayanagi - Noooo way! I had no idea it had been filmed (laugh). But I really had a great time and once we were done I thought the applause was great. Our theme this time was 「For SKE to leave the strongest impact possible」. I think the back-flip the ballet and the line dance, put together with SKE’s song made a strong impression, and certainly people who saw us for the first time will remember 「Oh that’s the girls who did the back-flip that time」when they listen to us in the future. Even if it was New Year’s Eve and technically still 2012, it was a great way to start 2013.
Q - I heard Anna sensei coached your choreography after a long time.
Matsui - It was the first time since「Kataomoi Finally」.
Q - How did it go?
Matsui - Rena-chan and myself struggled to memorize all our moves.
Q - You also took part in the Disney medley…
Matsui - Yes. We didn’t have time to look at what was going on around at all. Seeing us like this, Anna sensei told us 「I know you must be tired, but you two have to show the way to others and lead them.」… I knew I had to be strong for everyone. But how could I take on such responsibility when I wasn’t able to do my own share properly? I was mad at myself for not being quick enough and ended crying out of frustration.
Q - I see. But in the end, did you speak up to motivate and show the way to everyone?
Matsui - I conveyed my feelings without putting them into words, but by dancing and singing with all my might during practice.
Takayanagi - Anna sensei told us 「SKE has changed since the time I was looking over it, but I want that everyone bring out the same strength I felt coming from original S members.」. That’s really SKE’s signature. I felt, again, that we had to inherit and keep alive this spirit and force, no matter what.
Q - Could it be you appeared in stage without being fully synchronized yet?
Takayanagi - The day before the actual performance was the worst. We then all get in circle and had a meeting. We confessed and exchanged our feelings, we decided we needed to be united, and finally it felt as if we managed to find cohesion. But then, even the D day, we couldn’t make it perfect. We felt that we wouldn’t be able to pull it correctly if we kept it like this so we trained until the very last minute. 「That’s our last shot, let’s do it!」 and then, only then, did we manage to perform it properly. Our regular dance supervisor simply commented 「With this you can make it!」while crying, and we started crying too (laugh).
Matsui - Like 「It’s too early for that!」(laugh).
Takayanagi - It changed everything, I think, that we were able to walk confidently toward the stage.
Q - Until recently Hirata (Rikako)-san played a crucial role in the group as your leader, this time around who assumed this role?
Takayanagi - This time it was Yagami (Kumi)-san.
Q - You mean THE Yagami-san?! I have a hard time picturing her as someone leading others…
Takayanagi - She did speak up though, telling everyone 「For me it is the last chance (to perform in Kouhaku). Let me put it in an impertinent way if it must be so, but I want to leave something splendid behind me. So everyone, let’s pour our souls into it! 」.
Matsui - Nakanishi (Yuka) too said something like that.
Takayanagi - We all did feel the same. And in the end I think we really did convey SKE-ness.
Q - You did! We couldn’t hold our tears in front of the monitor (laugh).
Matsui - Ehhh? (laugh). Well, we did cry too once the performance was over. I watched the video of our performance 3 times after and couldn’t stop crying. I was really moved to see how well the line dance had turn out.
Q - I’m sure it will lead to something positive for 2013.
Matsui - We were told by so many people 「It was great! Incredible!」… Following our first performance, I expected to hear 「It was good.」or 「Good for you you could perform.」, but that’s different. I’m extremely glad we managed to make an impression with our performance.
Takayanagi - I hope this year we will be able to create our own delightness and to hand it down to everyone. I want SKE to become a group who gives a lot (to its fans).
Q - I’m looking forward to it! I’ll be praying for you to reach Nagoya Dome this year.
Matsui - I want to make it happen! We will give our best to make this wish reality!
Good evening everyone
Recently,I received hand-made cookies from Jurina-san y’know ♪♪(*ノ▽ノ)
She secretly gave it to me (lol)
Seems like Jurina-san had often been baking cookies recently,
She often brings some over when we have work together♪
Recently, during Magical Radio 3 recording too,she brought the Sata Andagi that she made(*´∀｀*)
Thank you very much Jurina-san＼＾o＾／
Me too… *I have to do my best little by little(*-ω-*) (lol)