In summer of 2016, 9nine regrouped and resumed activities as a new, four-member unit. Then, it was revealed in L.A. the unit would be collaborating in a big way on Stan Lee’s animation, THE REFLECTION. Seeing as they’re back in full force, today we’re sitting down to catch up with them about their thoughts on the new collaboration project, everything that went down in L.A., and what to expect now that they’re back together!


-When this collaboration project was announced, fans of the group were so shocked about what a big opportunity it was that they were at a loss for words. I know you kept the information a secret until the day of the big reveal at Comic-Con L.A., so what was going through your minds beforehand, and how did you feel after Stan Lee made the announcement?

Sayaka: Actually, this was something that wasn’t decided recently, but something Mr. Nagahama (Note: The director working with Stan Lee on THE REFLECTION) had approached us about two years ago. So for the past two years, Mr. Nagahama had been work with our staff in secret, and for this we feel very grateful.


When it came time for the event, Mr. Nagahama was backstage, his face beet red and he was shaking, and seeing someone so respected shaken up like that, it was like, “Okay, we’re going to nail this!” So it didn’t feel as much like a dream, but was more like I’m going to do my part to help our team get it done! It was like, as we walked out on stage, what Mr. Nagahama felt was part of us.

-Director Nagahama was originally an acquaintance of Uki, right?

Uki: I appeared on a program with Director Nagahama and Hisanori Yoshida, where he listened to me gush about how much I love Detroit Metal City and Aku no Hana, and from there they got to know our group and came to see our concert at Nakano Sun Plaza. (9nine Wonder Live in Sun Plaza)

He’d always told us, “I’ve had this dream since I was a little kid, and when I finally make it come true, I want 9nine to come help out,” and THE REFLECTION is that dream he’d had since he was a little kid, which was making an anime with Stan Lee.

I still can’t believe that this is the product of that; it still feels like a dream. When he approached us about it, it was after Budokan when our group was going through a lot of changes, and so now the four of us want to put everything we’ve got into it.

Sayaka: If Ukky (Uki) wasn’t here with us, none of this would have happened. I think many times, if there’s an exchange like, “Let’s work together!” and “I’d love that!” it doesn’t really end up happening. This was a good opportunity for us, and I feel glad that our group was able to continue, like there is a meaning for us continuing on, and because of that we were able to make it happen.

-I believe this was the first time you’ve ever taken the stage in the U.S. How was it?

Hirona: We sang our song, “Re:”, but since many wouldn’t understand Japanese, we had to figure out how to appeal to the audience as a girl group from Japan, and so we rehearsed a lot. But in the end we were just trying to match Director Nagahama’s feelings, and even if nobody understood what we were saying, we wanted to convey our enthusiasm. For our performance, we wanted to put on a show that would really get people excited for animation’s release. I don’t think anyone knew who we were beforehand, but everyone was really watching us, and during the concert some more people even came over to see us. Afterward, while we were walking through the halls of the venue, people stopped us to say, “That was a great performance! GOOD!” and so I think we were able to convey what we wanted, and I’m really thankful for that.


Kanae: To be honest, I felt under a lot of pressure. The director and our staff had been preparing years for that day, and during our last meal before we went on, the director was like, “Tomorrow’s the day.” All I could think about was how we really needed to perform our absolute best. I was also nervous to sing in front of Stan Lee himself, and I got so worked up that afterwards I had a breakdown and cried my eyes out from all that nervousness and emotions I felt getting the chance to sing in the U.S. Getting interview opportunities like this and hearing people say they saw us in the news makes me really want to stay positive and work hard. It still feels like a dream, and looking back on that day, I feel like it was a kind of miracle.


Hirona: We made it so that people in America could see our Twitter, but even in Japan our ranking rose, which made me happy.

-I heard that you got to have dinner with Trevor Horn. What did you all talk about?

Sayaka: He was really friendly and smelled so good! He was sooo sexy, and a lot different than I had imagined. He was just really cool.

Uki: We couldn’t stop making “Handsome! Handsome” remarks.

Sayaka: He showed us a picture of his son and his manager and dog in London, and just talked to us normally.

Uki: He wanted a picture together, so he took one with Snow! (Camera app)

-He took it with Snow?!


Uki: Yeah, he put us in the koala one!

-That’s the one where you’re eating leaves, right? (laugh)

Uki: Yeah! He seemed to be having a really good time with it. (laugh) Also, Trevor loves sushi so that’s what we had together, but he doesn’t seem to care for shrimp or crab, so I ate the sushi he didn’t want.

Sayaka: When he asked us who ate the most out of all of us, it was like “Oh… Ukky!” (laugh) She ate a ton in the U.S. During our stay, I gave her some sweet potato (which she doesn’t normally care for) fries, and she scarfed them down and said they were delicious, not evening noticing a thing. On our last trip to the U.S. I figured she’d be able to eat them like that so I tried giving them to her.

Uki: Yeah, I had no idea they were sweet potatoes. In L.A. I turned into a girl who could eat anything!

-Uki told me that while you were there you ran out of underwear, but did anything else interesting happen while you were in L.A.?

Sayaka: Well, even though Ukky had the biggest suitcase out of all of us this time, she brought the least amount of stuff with her. When we opened it, all she had in there was her costume… “She was like, it’s OK, I’ll buy some stuff when I’m there.” This time, when we went shopping during our off time, Ukky bought all of her clothes and underwear to last her during our stay in L.A. there. (laugh)


-Did you go anywhere else while you were there?

Sayaka: We got to go to most of the places we wanted to visit during our photo shoot.

Hirona: We were even able to go to Universal Studios in private!

Uki: For this year’s Halloween, the four of us were going to dress up and go to Disney, but we weren’t able to go, so we decided to experience a real American Halloween! We all brought matching costumes with us from Japan.

Sayaka: So Ukky only went to the U.S. with her Halloween costume and her work costume. (laugh)


Hirona: We spent three days in L.A., but they took us to more spots than we’d normally be able to hit in just three days.

Sayaka: We visited downtown, Hollywood, the Hollywood sign, Disney’s Theater, saw the handprints and signatures of Hollywood’s stars, visited Madame Tussauds and the museum nearby, shopped at Melrose Avenue and Rodeo Drive, and went to Santa Monica, too. We also went to Whole Foods Supermarket and to GROVE, the famous, new shopping mall.

Uki: What? We went to GROVE?

Hirona: We did! We took pics there! There was the water fountain.

Uki: That was GROVE? The whole time I was like… Where are we? (laugh)

Sayaka, Hirona, and Kanae: But we told you, “This is GROVE!”

Sayaka: Ukky kept saying that she wanted to go there, but I guess she couldn’t put two and two together. (laugh) We also rode the pirate ship at Santa Monica Pier.

Supi Yutaka Sugiyama, one of TGU’s writers who knows quite a bit about American comics, left a comment for you all in light of your interview with us today. “I think having you all become a part of the world in THE REFLECTION is really the best news of all. Getting to meet a comic legend like Stan Lee is a treasure in itself. I think if this project were to spark an interest and respect of American culture, you’d be welcomed by many American comic fans.”

He also added, “When Uki made an appearance at the Dark Knight Rises event, it left a great impression on me, and it’s what moved me to check out your Jiangshi MV. Over and over again you see Japanese talent and idol tie-ins with American comics, which American comic fans and fans of the original works tend to despise, and although 9nine is an idol group, I think they’re more like Perfume and Puffy, groups with personalities that American comic fans like, so please do your best!”

Everyone: Thank you. We really appreciate hearing that (from you)!


Uki: He remembered me! Wow, thanks!

Kanae: Before we went to L.A., we were sure to read up on American comics.

Sayaka: So when we met Stan Lee that day we were filled with so much emotion it didn’t feel real. (laugh)

Uki: I was like, “It’s really him! The guy that appears at the end of Big Hero 6!”

Hirona: Even before we were approached with the offer, everyone had been looking at American comics. I really love Iron Man. We went to see Captain America: Civil War in 4DX, and the other members would ask each other stuff like, “Have you seen the new Avengers?”


Uki: For Halloween I looked for an American comic character costume, but I couldn’t find one.

Hirona: At Comic-Con there were people cosplaying who looked like the real deal, which was amazing. There were around 20 Spidermans. (laugh)

-This time your costumes were uniform-themed rather than using lots of print, and you invited a producer from overseas to come up with the song. I believe you had quite a few new challenges to face, so could you tell us your thoughts on the new song?

Sayaka: THE REFLECTION is a heroine-style anime, and because of certain circumstances some people wake up with extraordinary powers, and at first some use those powers for evil, but as the story unfolds, others use them to help people out. We imagined the anime’s key phrase as “Using your power to help others”, and singing it as a character theme song, when we thought about what our powers would be, it would definitely have to be singing and dancing. Director Nagahama came to our concert and after seeing us sing and dance said it made him so happy, and then he made us the offer. Our singing and dancing may not be anything super powerful, but we want to use our power anyway. Our new song is a powerful one, so we want to convey that power.


Kanae: (To our fans) Please go out and give it a listen ASAP!

Sayaka: At first we thought the new costumes were really gaudy. (laugh)

Hirona: It was like, “Um? Are you sure about this?” (laugh)

Sayaka: Because we were going all the way to L.A. and bcause we’re idols and doing the character theme song to an anime, in order to tie all of that together we decided on wearing Sailor Moon-like, powerful girl costumes. This is how they came out. We thought they’d really stick out, but they didn’t seem to come across as too showy there. (laugh)

Uki: Everyone at the venue was so dressed up, but there were some people who called out to us saying “Japanese idols!” or “Sailor Moon!”

Kanae: People would stop us and ask us for a photo. I was glad (we wore these costumes).

Hirona: We also wore them during our photo shoot at Santa Monica, and people gathered all around us like, “What’s going on?” and took our pictures. We had a Japanese cameraman on location, but h was really good-humored and upbeat so it was a fun shoot!


Sayaka: We were a little worried (after we landed in the U.S.), but we really enjoyed the shoot.

-On our TGU article about the announcement at Comic-Con L.A., we got a comment expressing disappointment about not knowing about it beforehand, and not being able to meet you. (see below)

Joseph Luna: Still disappointed that no announcement was made prior to them appearing for the panel at this convention. I only knew they were there after Charpon tweeted about it after they were already done with the panel presentation.

I think you have quite a number of 9nine fans overseas, who are highly anticipating this collaboration project, so please give us a message for them.

Sayaka: You’re watching us. Even from overseas. I’m so grateful. This time for this piece and song we really want to give it all we’ve got, but we’re still a little worried about how everyone overseas will receive us, and it still feels like a dream. But I think from now on we’ll have more opportunities to meet you all. This time in L.A. we were able to get better feedback and hear more from you… Along with many other things to consider, so next time when we go we’ll prepare a little more first. Next time we see you we definitely want to be able to communicate with you all, so please keep supporting us! We’ll do our best!

Uki: While I was working previously on Space Dandy, I went to L.A. by myself, and found out just how many fans I had, along with new fans, and felt that that even bigger possibilities would be in store by going all together as 9nine, so I’m so so happy that this time we got the opportunity to work together in L.A. like this. I know the announcement was rather sudden, but if this project does well and we’re asked to come back, I definitely want to meet all of you.

Hirona: Since the announcement was just made, I think there are probably a lot of people who still haven’t heard (the news) yet, and I believe that once the anime starts, more people will get to know who we are. At Comic-Con in L.A., there were a lot of people who said they wanted to see us, so without forgetting about all of you overseas, we want to do our best as we focus on our activities in Japan. The next time we’re able to go to L.A. or abroad, we want to be able to take pride in 9nine as a Japanese girls’ group, so we’ll keep doing our best in Japan and preparing for that. I hope you’ll keep supporting us!

Kanae: I’ve always loved English, and going to the U.S. was a dream of mine, so the thought of having more chances to connect with people overseas is really exciting. More than anything, we want to meet you all you (overseas fans). In order to do that, we have to study harder and do our best to prepare. The next time we go abroad, please bring all of your friends and tell everyone about us! And most of all, come out to see us!

-On January 1st, 2017, you’ve got your 9nine New Year Solo Concert -Saki- , so tell us what you’re looking forward to about it. Also, as the newly-formed 9nine, how are you expecting the new year to go?


Sayaka: Originally we were offered work on THE REFLECTION from Mr. Nagahama, who enjoyed our concert, so we all consider our concerts to be very important. Our concerts are a way of spending time and having fun with our fans, so they’re very precious to us. In order to gain more confidence and really put ourselves out there while singing a character theme song aimed at those overseas, the thing we’d like to do most is completely sell out this special solo concert, and advance to the next stage. I think the four of us can do it.

In 2017, we want to become an artist that achieves big things (our goals) and everything already in front of us, and work hard to become well-known as Japanese idols, even abroad.

So we definitely want to have a good time (at our January 1st concert), and we plan on putting on a jam-packed, New Years Day-style show, so be sure to come and see us! We’ll be waiting for you!

Concert Information
Title: 9nine New Year Solo Concert -Saki- ~Hatsumode Ikitai yo ne? Oide Oide ~ 9nine ga Jinja ni Nacchau kara sa! E? Miko-san? …Omikuji? Mochiron Goyoi Itashimasu♡ 9nine o’clock mo Utau yo! Koe Dasu Junbi OK? Kyo wa Ii Yume Misete Ageru!~

Venue: Zepp Tokyo
〒135-0064 Tokyo, Edo-ku, Aomi 1-3-11 (

Date: January 1, 2017 (Sun.)
Time: Opens at 16:00 / Starts at 17:00

Ticket price: 5,000 yen + separate drink fee
※ No entry numbers
For more information: Zepp Live 03-5575-5170(Weekdays 13:00~17:00)
Reserve your ticket in advance at Fanclub no 9nine

Related links
9nine official site :
9nine Twitter :

Photos by kobadog
Translated by Jamie Koide


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