Interview: Sakura Gakukuin ‘s Shirai Saki and Otomeshintou’s Ogata Mayu
A dream come true talk between two ‘Idols who love Idols’
This is the realization of a talk between Sakura Gakuin’s Shirai Saki and Otomeshintou’s Ogata Mayu.
This is a talk with 2 girls who love Idols concerning their hope to talk about wanting to ‘wanting to talk about Idols’ taking place between this summer’s ‘Tokyo Idol Festival 2015’ and the ‘@Jam Expo 2015′.
This is set up to talk frankly about the Tokyo Idol as we have heard concerning the idea of ‘Lets talk about Idols as we have heard about them’. We will begin with their respective heart felt talk about Idols including Ogata Mayu’s talk about her handshake events continuing on to talking about Idols!
-Lets start the conversation. You both seem so nervous…
Ogata: Well, yes… I am really nervous.
Shirai: This is the first time I have spoken with an Idol-san like this and so I am nervous. But, that said, I am really looking forward to today’s talk.
-To begin with, what led you each to each other?
Shirai: I learned about Mayu-chan from a video of the first 6-member formation of Otomeshintou-san at their first stage performance at the TIF 2014 sky stage performance. At first I felt that since they loved Idols they were in line with my feelings and because of this they were able to perform to their full potential and I came to love them more and more as I watched their cuteness.
Ogata: That really floors me. (laughs) The first time I knew of Shirai-chan I realized that she was performing as an MC like I was assigned to do.
-The first time you both talked with each other was the TIF 2015 show.
Shirai: When I was able to greet them on the rehearsal day of the TIF 2015 show I was totally unable to talk with her….That was a Doll Factory location, right?
Ogata: That is true. I was only able to say, ‘Please look upon us favorably’.
-It was after that that you started to communicate with each other….the Jam EXPO 2015.
Ogata: Really just about 30 minutes before our show Shirai-chan came to our dressing room and we were able to talk about Idols before the show.
Shirai: I thought that this would be the last time we could meet and so I plowed ahead with what we could talk about. (laughs) And so I am soooo happy that we could meet again!
-Celebrating your reunion, we hope you will talk as Idols to your heart’s content (laughs). Please tell us about your most favored Idol Fan history talk.
Shirai: I began originally with Sakura Gakuin. This was the same agency and I became aware of Sakura Gakuin and this led me to become interested in Idols. At first I thought AKB48-san was really good, and then I was able to watch many other Idol-san after becoming a member of Sakura Gakuin and I became a fan of upupgirls-san, Otomeshintou-san, Passpo-san and from Passpo-san this led to Palet-san.
-Even though you have become a member of Sakura Gakuin you are a big fan, right?
Shirai: I know them from before they started performing, right from the beginning (laughs). I really liked them all, the whole unit. I would look upon them with their differing ages and think, ‘this girl will go on to high school and become a star, and I hope this girl will polish her ability…’ and I watched them like this.
-It would be interesting to continue this talk along these line (laughs)
Ogata: I would love to do so.
Shirai: I think I got excited and spoke too much (laughs). Since becoming a member I continue to give advice to as a Senpai, and from my view point as a Fukei I talk to them like, ‘This girl has this good point and so she should perform like this, right?’ and still see them from this angle as a producer. The same Jr. High school 2nd grade members Kurashima Sara and Kurosawa Mirena really make me think about how they will perform this year. I wonder how they will be with both of them being fans of deep sea creatures. (laughs.)
-Don’t you Shira Saki-san get involved in their talk?
Shirai: I love to look upon their conversations.
Ogata: Your love is amazing!
-As we continue to talk about this from the very beginning (laughs), please tell us your history as being both hard core Idol fans.
Ogata: At the very beginning I was influenced to watch AKB48 from a fan who loved Idols and I felt wow, Idols are really amazing. And it was from that that I became a big Idol fan (laughs). I really began to like SKE48-san, NMB48-san and HKT48-san and also Star dust-san. At first I really liked Momoiro Clover and then watched Ebichuu-san, Shachi-san, Takoyaki Rainbow-san and then on to what I like now, 3B Junior-san.
Shirai: The age of the groups you like keeps getting younger and younger (laughs)
Ogatga: Wow! You have seen through me! Now, I like groups that are between 12 and 15 years old!
Ogata: The age of artists in Sakura Gakuin is the perfect age zone. The time that the girls change from ribbons to neckties really changes the atmosphere of the group (Note: the time when the girls go from elementary school to jr. High). When they wear ribbons they are cute but then they change to neckties and immediately become adult in feeling. I really like this feeling of them growing into adulthood!
-Who do you really support and like in Sakura Gakuin?
Ogata: Of course, Saki-chan!!
Shirai: Thank you very much!
Ogata: Her cleverness spills out into everything she does.
Shirai: I may actually be clever within the confines of Sakura Gakuin (laughs). Since the other members are so child-like I am often said to be mature. That may lead to this feeling of me being adult-like, maybe?
Ogata: My mother said to me that she is more mature than me. (Note: Ogata is 1 year older than Shirai)
-What is it again that they call you in Sakura Gakuin? Was it not, aunt Shirai?
Shirai: No, they called me Office lady! They did not say I was Aunt Shirai! (laughs)
-Sorry about that! So they do not call you Aunt Shirai (laughs).
Shirai: I may appear to be so (laughs), but I think they say that because what I say is more adult-like. I like reading and studying.
-What influence have you gotten from your friends?
Shirai: My friends are all really smart. But as for the members of Sakura Gakuin…welll…(laughs)
Ogata: I wonder also about the intelligence of the members of Otomeshintou. In our group we have the problem child of Tajime Ayame <yellow> (laughs).
-What do the two groups think of each other?
Shirai: When Otomeshintou was a 4 member group they had a very clean, innocent feeling about them and now they are really cute. Their title songs are really bright and fun while their new song ‘Do you believe in Tsuchinoko?’s coupling song ‘Lets go with our chests held high’ shows a feeling of a gap with that sense of innocence. I really like this song.
Ogata: I am so happy that you listened to our coupling song!
-So, you know Otomeshintou from the time they were a 4 member unit?
Shirai: Yes, I do not know about them in detail but I learned about them after getting a CD from someone. After that I got interested and since they are of the same age group I really have paid attention to them.
-What is your impression of Sakura Gakuin, Ogata-san?
Ogata: There was an attached Sakura Gakuin PV DVD with a copy of ‘Chao’, and that is how I knew of them. I was a big fan of Miyoshi Ayaka by reading ‘Nikopuchi’ and I felt that they were a group overflowing with a feeing of cleanliness and innocence. Also, I love school uniforms and wished that I too could wear a Sakura Gakuin uniform.
-How do you feel with a member sitting right in front of you?
Ogata: Perfect! She looks wonderful in the uniform. The perfect color of the jacket and the feeling of wool is really nice. I really like that combination. I think it is really beautiful and while know that they are asked to wear it I get the feeling that it requires one to do their best until they graduate when they are 3rd graduate.
Shirai: Hmm… Actually the uniforms are all newly issued uniforms for Sakura Gakuin (laughs). The ones that have a sense of wool are ones that have been handed down from the Senpai. The jackets and the vests are used for 3 years and are embedded with sweat in the neckties (laughs), and I really like knowing that the thoughts and feelings of the Senpai are imprinted in what we wear.
Ogata: So, you get the uniforms from you Senpai. That is really cool.
Shirai: I like the brown colored uniforms of Otomeshintou-san. This time’s uniform is really cute and it has the face of a Tsuchinoko. (looking upon Ogata’s uniform), ‘Is this a fang?’ It is really cute….. I wonder about your hair decorations as well…wow! I can see Tsuchinoko1
Ogata: Ahhh… I am embarrassed and happy at the same time. What should I do? (laughs)
-By the way, how have you taken your experiences of being an Idol fan up until now and applied them to your own life as an Idol?
Ogata: Since I often used to go to AKB-san’s handshake events I would often talk about how ‘I would be happy if they talked about this or that’ and I knew that myself included many Idol fans do not approach the Idols aggressively. And so, I think it is a good idea for Idols to put themselves in the place of their fans and to speak about lots of things.
-OK, so right here and now lets have you do a sudden handshake event with Shirai-san.
Ogata: Eh? My hands may be perspiring…. (laughs)
~The first handshake event for Shirai Saki and Ogata Mayu!
(Shirai gingerly takes Ogata’s hand from the aisle.)
Ogata: Ah…Thank you…. How was today’s event for you?
Shirai: You were very cute!
Ogata: Thank you so much! I am waiting for you so please come again (Super smiling face).
-Wow, Thank you so much for that.
Shirai: So cute!!
Ogata: This can’t be good.
Shirai: I have come to like her even more!
Ogata: I am glad we did that!
Shirai: I had heard that the response to all the fans for a Otomeshintou handshake event was fantastic and so I had always wanted to go to one. I am so happy I could shake her hand!!
-Amazing that Ogata-san has the handshake magic to make a real life Idol fall in love with her (laughs). Changing the subject, what would you think about you two mutually changing places in your respective groups?
Ogata: I am sure that all the fans would flow to Saki-chan…
Shirai: No, no way.
Ogata: I am sure that the Talk chairperson, Saki-chan could neutralize the sharp, biting style of MC talk that I use. In Otomeshintou there is not a single girl with such straight black hair as she. She is so pure and clean!
-The uniform could be playing a big part of that. She might look different wearing a Tsuchinoko costume.
Shirai: Ah, yes I would love to exchange costumes with her. And I would love to dance and sing, ‘Tokimeki Paradox’….’Me, too’. (laughs)
Ogata: I am sure you would be cute!
-How would it be if Ogata-san joined Sakura Gakuin?
Ogata: In Otomeshintou everyone calls me their ‘younger sister’, but there is absolutely no way that anyone would say that in Sakura Gakuin. There are so many girls who feel like younger sisters that I would come across as a real full blown older lady. If Saki-chan plays the part of an office worker, I would play the part of a middle aged woman (laughs).
-That is too bad (laughs). And in Sakura Gakuin there are club activities as well.
Ogata: Speaking of their club activities, I would love to try my hand at the really cute, Mini Pati!
Shirai: Absolutely! I think it would be cute. Also I think Otomeshintou-san would be great performing ‘Verishubittsu’.
Ogata: It would be great if we can actually do that someday.
-This may be a rather big topic, but do you have an image of your ideal Idol?
Ogata: There are so many cute Idols out there already that I hope to become an All Mightly Idol along the lines of Sashihara Rino-san. Looking at things in the long term I feel that that way I could continue on in my career after finishing as an Idol. (laughs)
Shirai: I hope to be myself as I am without damaging the image of Sakura Gakuin and then going on to be a cool woman as other graduates have already done. I have not decided anything about my future yet, but there are many things I would like to try. I have been getting a lot of advance about future plans from the Sakura Gakuin graduates.
Ogata: That is wonderful that you can get advice. I am a new member and although I have with me the Senpai of Ayame-chan and Yurika-chan, when I try to consult with them it usually turns around to me giving them advice. So, I think I will just try things out on my own. (laughs)
-In the future is there something you would like to try with your two groups?
Ogata: A group battle would of course be interesting, but first of all I want to see a live Sakura Gakuin performance. I would love to go to Saki-chan’s graduation ceremony.
Shirai: Please, by all means! The graduation ceremony has a very unique atmosphere to it. The Fukei-san also come dressed in suits as opposed to the normal event and women Fukei-san come dressed in Kimono. It is just like a real school graduation ceremony with our names written on the graduation diplomas and everything. By the way, we sell diplomas in their case with a picture, please check it out. (laughs)
-Two girls posing happily together in the Purchasing club pose!-
-That sounds like something a member of the Purchasing club would say (laughs). The two of you really talked about a lot of things today.
Ogata: I learned a lot. Especially I learned to ‘make anything into a product for sale’.
Shirai: If you make whatever the members use at live shows into goods the fans will make them into their own possessions.
Ogata: I too hope to take possession of things that my favorite Idols have.
-Is that the concluding point of today’s talk? (laughs) OK, in conclusion could you both give us
your impression of today?
Ogata: I am a shy person. And so I was quite nervous from this morning. But I feel I have never talked so frankly as I did today and I fell ever more in love with the cuteness of Saki-chan and so when I go home I will gaze into pictures of Saki-chan on my Smart phone (laughs)
Shirai: Thank you (laughs). I thought I would never get to meet her and even planned to go to a handshake event if I couldn’t. I am so fulfilled being able to talk about so many things, and I came to love Otomeshintou-san even more and I was even able to really shake her hand! I hope in the future we can perform together, exchange music together and as a member of the Purchasing club I hope we an come up with some collaboration goods (laughs)!