Hi! I’m Manatsu (Manatsu Hayashi). Den-chan is here (Erika Denya)! I’m Naosuke (Nao Takami)! Here is Rikopin (Rikako Oya)! And I’m Rioton (Rio Watanabe)!

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We are Babyraids JAPAN. Nice to meet you!

-So let me ask you about JAPAN Expo first. Did you find any differences between Japanese fans and French fans?

Takami: I would say the reaction was different. Even though they don’t know our songs well, they got really excited. We performed “Baby Step” which is a medium tempo song, but they called out “Hoooo!” after the chorus.

Denya: Yeah, they got really pumped up saying “Hoooo!” between the first and the second verse.

Oya/Hayashi: “Baby Step” is kind of a mellow song so everyone listens to it calmly in Japan, but in France everyone draws “∞ infinity sign” with both hands during the chorus. I thought like, “Oh really? Did we have such choreography for this song?” (laugh)

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-Haven’t you had such things happen before?

Denya: No, it was kind of new for us.

-Did you have other similar experiences?

Denya: Yes. When we performed “Koyomi no Ue de wa December”, people were holding up red and green lights and were swinging them limply. In Japan the light is usually used like bracelet so it looked kind of awkward (laugh), but I really liked it because the Christmas colors red and green matches the song tile “December”.

—Do you speak any French?

Denya: I introduced myself in French, and also replaced some lyrics with French. But when we had a “Chekikai” (an instant camera session) and an autograph session, I would say “Bonjour” but fans replied “KONNICHIWA” in Japanese (laugh).

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-I guess French fans also learned some Japanese for you.

Oya: I heard that they picked up some Japanese expressions from anime and also they have learnt through self-study, so we had sort of good communication. I introduced myself in Japanese and asked the fan’s name in French but they replied to me in Japanese saying like “Kyou wa arigatou “ (Thank you very much for today), “Kyou wa tanoshikatta desu” (I really had a good time today), or “Babyraids JAPAN suki!” (I love Babyraids JAPAN!). I was really happy to hear them saying that.

-Did you prepare your French introductions when you were in Japan?

ALL: Yes, we have.

-Do you still remember them? (Please say it again here)

Hayashi: We all remembered “Bonjour. Je m’appelle Manatsu Hayashi. Enchante. Appelez-moi Manatsu. Un deux trios Manatsu.”

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-I think French pronunciation is not so easy. Were you able to make yourself understood in French?

Takami: The nasal sound was difficult.

Denya: I kind of stumbled on the French lyrics while singing…. There is a cute line in “Baby Kiss” and when I tried it in French, people shouted “Whoooo!” so I was really happy like, “Yes! I could get thorough it (laugh)”.

Oya: I know. I am always embarrassed saying that line in Japan, but this time I was kind of moved saying that without hesitation, You know, it’s like “Yeah! I could say that!” (laugh)

-I believe Babyraids JAPAN, for an idol, has a kind of cool impression rather than cute one. What was the reaction in France?

Hayashi: Actually, we performed a wide range of songs this time; such as a cute song where Den-chan (denya) has “moe” lines and “Yoake Brand new Days” which is rather hard. So I was a little bit nervous about people’s reactions, but they seemed to be enjoying each song and even jumped together with us. When we sang a cute song, they made “heart marks” with their hands, and calling out “Kawaii ne!” (Cute!). I was so happy!

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-What the feel of the audience?

Denya/Oya: We had an impression that there were more women. A lot of students and young people.

Hayashi: It was JAPAN Expo so people were cosplaying. We could see them from the stage. I saw very high quality coplays while walking around the site. Some were awfully real.

Takami: Yes, it was. Some of them had really nice figures that really fit the anime (laugh).

-Speaking personally, what was interesting at JAPAN Expo?

Oya: Since I love manga, many booths caught my eye. I dropped by some booths (laugh).

Watanabe: I was kind of surprised like, “Oh this is popular overseas, I didn’t know that”. There were many booths where I could find popular manga in Japan. I know I can’t read it in French but I really wanted to buy them. Anyway it was sensational to me.

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-Did you enjoy the streetscapes in France during your free time?

Denya: Yeah, we had a photo shoot on the first day so we went to sightseeing spots wearing our stage costumes and also regular clothes. We got to visit the Eiffel Tower, Seine River, Pont Alexandre III and more.

Oya: We stayed in a hotel near the opera house so we enjoyed the scenery form the bus every day like tourists.

-To my surprise, it was your first overseas performance, wasn’t it?

Takami: I know what you mean. We have “JAPAN” in our name (laugh). I was kind of nervous because it was our first overseas live.

Oya: We prepared a video in Japan for this Expo because most people in France might not know us very well. The video includes the history of Babyraids and Babyraids JAPAN and also self introduction for each member. The live started after showing this video and the reaction was very welcoming, and people even applauded while watching the video. I was almost crying with excitement.

Denya: Really, everyone welcomed us warmly… Each venue was really big and there were distances between each one so I was very nervous at first and worried that there would be no audience for us. But I was relieved to hear the loud cheers.

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-Is there anything you liked eating there? Or memorable experiences?

All: So many things (laugh)!

Denya: Everything was delicious!

Oya/Takami: Yes, bread was awesome (laugh). The bread we ate at the hotel during our stay was No.1 (laugh).

Denya: Butter was also yummy.

Takami: Croissants were super good!

Watanabe: Bread was really hard for me (laugh). I found it hard to bite (laugh). My jaws were wobbly.

-What impressed you the most? Any impressive scenery?

All: Montmartre.

Denya: Overlooking Paris from Montmartre was so impressive!

Takami: There was a piano and it was available for anyone. So Denchan played “Japanse Tsunami” (laugh).

-You mean “Tsunami”, the song by the Southern All Stars? (laugh)

Takami: Yes. She introduced the song and played it for the tourists there (laugh).

-Wow, your fans should be interested to hear it.

Denya: The piano was placed toward the top of Montmartre. It felt really good to play the piano looking at Sacré-Cœur, Paris.

-Did you take the pictures there? I can’t wait for you to upload the photos. So now, please tell me your schedules back in Japan.

Hayashi: The second album will be released on September 21st. It’s been two years since the first album. Actually it is the first album since becoming Babyraids JAPAN.

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Denya: The new song “Cinderella ja Irarenai”(I cannot be a Cinderella anymore) is really energetic. It is definitely something of a new type of a song. When I first heard the title, I thought like “It’s not like idols, is it?”; however soon after I read the lyrics, I found it very “Babyraids-ish”. Now I can’t wait to perform this song and I’m very positive that everyone will like it.

Hayashi: This song was made after having decided to be used as a theme song for a Japanese womens’ softball games live on BS TV program. So we got an interview according to theme and some of them were quoted as lyrics. This song omitted softness, warmth, kindness and such things, which have been always included in Babyraids’ songs; however, this song expresses girls’ “fighting spirit” instead. It also touches on the strength, effort and regret of female athletes, which, I am sure, listeners will be able to identify with. We are idols but not much different than athletes in that we are fighting, so we’d like to deliver the same feeling to our fans, without softness (laugh).

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-It sounds like the song matches Babyraids.

Hayashi: It really features “fighting spirit”, which kind of scares me (laugh)

-I think Babyraids JAPAN has got more “cool rock taste” than Babyraids. You know, less hardness…. What do you think about it? Also, Denya-san and Hayashi-san have become 20 years old. Has anything changed?

Hayashi: Well, in private, the fact that I am an adult definitely braces me up. As far as Babyraids goes, the concept has been changed since we became Babyraids JAPAN but I think we should have a dignified attitude as a group which strives for representing Japan. But at the same time, I know we shouldn’t act distant…. because I am really grateful to our fans for always supporting us and I don’t want to forget our regrets and fighting spirit. It doesn’t bother me to struggle the same as before to reach to the top.

Denya: Of course I have had turning points and goals so far. But after becoming 20 years old, I get to appreciate what I have now more than ever. I really care about the people I’ve met at work including our staff. And the people who have accepted us as Babyraids JAPAN are something significant for us. I mean there was some negative feedback or stuff like that soon after we became Babyraids JAPAN, but the fans have continued to give us support. Their love is our energy source. We still keep the energetic feelings with us and are trying to express it on the stage, so please check it out.

-Oya-san and Takami-san will be 20 following them right? And Watanabe-san will turn 20 at the 2020 Olympic year. How do you feel about it?

Watanabe: Well, actually I will not be 20 yet at a time of Olympics so I will toast with orange juice (laugh). I guess it will come like a blink of an eye. I mean the other 4 members were as old as I am now when they started Babyraids.

-Come to think of it, you are really into being Babyraids, aren’t’ you?

Denya: Yeah, I am dedicating my youth to Babyraids.

-And Hayashi-san and Oya-san are on Instagram, right? I found Hyashi-san’s Instagram very interesting because it is in English. Do you get English comments often?

Hayashi: Well, Babyraids JAPAN has so many tools to communicate such as Ameba Blog, Twitter, Line, Instagram and DNA. So we should be careful not to send out the same messages on all of them because we don’t want our fans to be bored. I send messages in English on the Instagram for overseas users to let them know about Babyraids JAPAN because I’d like to get chances to visit other countries like we did this time. Also, sending messages in English helps me improve my English!

-French fans may be coming to Japan to see Babyraids JAPAN; you know “let’s check it out Babyraids in Japan”.

Hayashi: I really want them to come, I mean it!


Related links
Babyraids JAPAN Official website : https://babyraids.lespros.co.jp/
Babyraids JAPAN Official Twitter : https://twitter.com/babyraids_JAPAN

Author
Toshiro Arai
Toshiro Arai

A producer of website "TOKYO IDOL NET", which "photography" and "idol" is its concept. He also writes for Tokyo Idol Project, and so on.

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