As we published a full report with pictures of their very first one-man live before, we had the chance to meet marshmallow-soft idol group Chubbiness for an interview about their concept and next goals. While Chubbiness has a total of 10 members, only five of them were here to answer our questions, speaking on behalf of them all, in a very friendly atmosphere.
-Hello! So, first, could you introduce Chubbiness’ concept and introduce yourselves as well for our readers?
Shima Rika (hereafter, Rika): In June 2014, avex and CanCam magazine had a joint audition called National Puniko (marshmallow girl) Audition. Ten girls were chosen from 3500 candidates to create Chubbiness. The concept is “marshmallow girls making Japan happy”. All members of Chubbiness keep a BMI (body mass indicator) that is between 22 and 24, to maintain the marshmallow idols image! I am Chubbiness’ oldest member and leader, 150cm tall for 51kg, my name is Shima Rika. I love sweet things. I am the mini-sized member of the group!
Saihara Marino (hereafter, Marino): My name is Saihara Marino, and I’m Chubbiness’ action girl! I’m 155cm tall and weight 57 kilograms.
Horikawa Ami (hereafter, Ami) : I am Chubbiness’ Horikawa Ami, 159cm tall and I weight 59kgs. I love singing and fashion! Nice to meet you.
Kawai Akina (hereafter, Akina): 161cm tall for 59kgs, my name is Kawai Akina. I have the worst endurance of everyone and I love bread! Nice to meet you.
Yaegashi Kotomi (hereafter, Kotomi): 156cm tall for 57kgs, I am one of the group’s dancers, my name is Yaegashi Kotomi. I love dancing but I also love meat and oily food… my favorite is tonkatsu!
-Thank you! So, Chubbiness celebrated their 2nd anniversary on November 29th, congratulations! Why did you girls take this audition to begin with? Did you want to be idols or did you have other dreams to pursue?
Marino: Ever since I was a kid, I have always dreamed about becoming a super-hero! I actually took a lot of auditions, but every time, I was told “If you don’t lose weight, you cannot pass”… Honestly, I have always felt that I do not need to lose weight and I do not want to. So when I saw this audition, I thought “Well, if I don’t pass this one, I will just give up” and decided to try! I like my body as it is now, and I think it’s one of the most important things about myself.
Ami: I have been a big fan of Morning Musume since I was a kid, and have always dreamed about becoming a singer… I was always the chubbiest candidate whenever I would take auditions…
-You kind of have the same body type as Zukki! (Suzuki Kanon, from Morning Musume ’15)
Ami: Yes, I actually am a Zukki-oshi! We actually took the same audition and met there… so when the audition for Chubbiness was announced, I was a first year university student, and I thought “If I don’t pass, I will give up on auditions and go back to studying… this is my last chance”. So I applied…
Akina: As for me, I have always been doing dance lessons since I was young, I actually went to a professional dance school. I also worked part-time as a dancer for Universal Studios theme park in Osaka. I really wanted to be a professional theme park dancer, but everytime I would send in photos of myself for auditions, I was rejected because of my body type. But I have always looked up to entertainers and artists who sing and dance too, so when the audition was announced, I decided to quit to apply.
Rika: Ever since I was a kid, I have always wanted to work in the entertainment business and become an actress, so I worked very hard in order to make this dream come true. But at some point, just like everyone else, I thought maybe I should give up… It was right when the marshmallow girls audition was announced, the timing was perfect! I saw the Chubbiness audition as a challenge, so I decided to give it a try as a last chance too. I did not have any experience in singing or dancing before, but now that I’m performing with everyone, I really enjoy it.
Kotomi: Up until my first year in university, I actually wasn’t really chubby… I had a very average figure. I actually moved on my own from Tohoku to Osaka for university, and ended up having a very busy schedule. I was really stressed out, kept eating and I gained weight in a very short amount of time. I went from 52 kilos to 58 in like, a week or two… I found out about the audition online, and when I saw it was avex, because I took an avex audition in the past and was rejected, I thought it would be my revenge!
– The group released a MV right away for your debut song, “Manmadeiya”. What do the lyrics mean?
Rika: “Manmadeiya” is a short way to say “Sono mama de ii ya”, “It’s fine as it is”, and the song is more of a support song for chubby girls. More than thinking that being a little chubby is a bad thing, we want them to think that if they want to eat, then it’s fine! The dance also has this “exercise” feel. We auditioned for Chubbiness because we were this kind of girls, and at this time we all thought about giving up at some point. The message is that even if you’re a little chubby, you can be cute and beautiful, and that if eating makes you happy, then go ahead and eat!
-How did it feel to film that MV?
Rika: As for the MV filming, it was the first time for most of us and everyone was really worried… it was such a strange feeling. But it turned out to be really fun very quickly! The scenes were everyone is eating sweets around a table were high-speed, so even if we didn’t eat that much, it makes us look like we ate a lot… but in the end it really shows how happy everyone was to get to film such a MV, where we could eat as much sweets as we wanted (laugh)
Akina: I really felt happy…
Rika: These sweets were also very colorful so we were wondering how they would taste… but they turned out to be delicious! That was the happy point of that MV (laugh)
-The title of your second single, “Motto, HOTTO ga motto!”, is a little mysterious! What does it mean?
Rika: It’s more about giving people a warm feeling? Actually we really do get really hot when we dance to this song! The arms movements make us look like we’re flying too…
Marino: It’s not really a support song, but more of a song that wants to help people to go forward step by step? It says that it’s alright to fall as long as you stand up again and rise. Well, it also says that we cannot achieve anything with our stomach empty…
Akina: Oh I definitely cannot (laugh)
Ami: Yes, it’s more of a song to lift up the spirits and push people forward. We also usually perform it last during live and we put all our strength in it. It’s a bit like “even if we’re getting hot from performing and dancing, we can do this!”.
-Also the MV has not only dance scenes and close-ups, but drama-like scenes… how was it to film such scenes for the first time?
Akina: We were really nervous for Manmadeiya, but we were equally as nervous for MottoHotto (note: short version of the title)… The theme is about “Little things about chubby girls”, all these things that happened to us before…
Rika: We actually did a brainstorming session all together to pick the situations we encountered the most!
Akina: We want chubby girls to watch the MV and think “Oh, right, that happens to me too!”
Rika: We also shot all these drama-like scenes in a place that looked like a university, with student-looking casual clothes! We then switched from these to the dance scenes costumes and had different make-up and hairstyles, and I think it gives a very fashionable image!
-Nagoya’s 24H TV marathon, Tokyo Ramen Show, RAB Matsuri in Aomori, TIF… you sure participated in quite a lot of events in the past two years! Do you have any interesting story to tell about these events?
Everyone: Nagoya’s 2014 24H TV charity marathon was our very first live performance actually…
Ami: It was our first time actually talking for a MC in front of an audience, we actually practiced the MC part more than the song…
Rika: We practiced soooo much!
Kotomi: I was actually pretty silent during this MC… I’m really not good at talking. I had trouble remembering what to say… but everyone helped me!
Rika: It was also really hot! We performed for the charity marathon… 8 times in different places? It was the very first time for us and everyone was really worried, but after the second or third time, we started getting used to it and enjoying it a lot!
Akina: But we were still worried! On the first day, during lunch time, we went to a yakiniku restaurant and we just couldn’t stop eating…
Marino: Also since we performed 8 times in different places, we got to perform on both big stages but also very small venues, and I think it was a very good experience for all of us!
Akina: Also, we actually performed two songs for the first time at Ramen Show! MottoHotto in 2014, and DRY YOUR TOWEL ~Kawakase Taoru~ in 2015…
Ami: We had 4 original songs this year, and our time slots were 20 minutes long, so it was nice we were able to perform them all. With DRY YOUR TOWEL, we tried to show everyone that even if we’re really tired, we do not stop!
Marino: We also ended up eating a lot… I think everyone of us actually ate two times more than what other normal idols did…
Ami: But we all lost weight!
Rika: Yes! Actually… even our fans did (laugh) Everyone danced along to Manmadeiya and MottoHotto a lot, it makes everyone exercise!
Ami: Talking about this, some fans showed me chekis we took 3 months ago and compared them with the chekis we took recently… that’s how I realized I lost weight too.
Marino: Maybe from now on people who think they ate too much can just come to Chubbiness’ lives to they can lose the weight they gained?
-But isn’t your concept about not losing weight?
Rika: It’s more about not trying! We definitely not try to lose weight…
Marino: It just goes away from performing (laughs)
Ami: Yes, we really think we do not need to worry about dieting.
-What about Tokyo Idol Festival?
Ami: We got a really warm welcome there! We really thought we had to do our very best for our performance there… We got to meet so many people there. It was in August and it was also very hot… Akina’s shoe sole actually started to peel off there, in the middle of the song!
Akina: Oh yes… I ended up falling… and I almost sprained my ankle!
Rika: Since TIF is an event for people who like idols, having that many people who were interested in what we do gathered in one place was great. 24H TV and Ramen Show were more about meeting people who do not really pay attention to idols, like families, so we thought about the kind of performance to give to TIF audience a lot.
Marino: And we ate a lot there too (laugh)
Rika: Oh yes! TIF had amazing catering! There was a lot of different types of donburi!
Akina: I ended up queuing a second time to eat more…
-What did you like best among the food you had at TIF?
Ami: I think I ate way too much oyakodon…
Marino: I ate yakisoba there too…
-You all really remember!
Rika: It’s more that we have great memories of the place!
Ami: Also about the performance, everything was recorded for TV and some videos were uploaded online later on, right? I took the time to watch our performance, and all the other groups’ videos too… I realized then it was such a huge opportunity for us! I watched the TV recording, then the video, and I compared it to what we do now. Even if I know we gave all our strength back then, I still cannot help but think that we could have done better… If we get to perform to TIF next year, we will sure do better!
-A question to Shima Rika-san… How is it to be the leader of a group where everyone is an adult? Do you all spend time together in private?