Rika: Well actually, the youngest member (Asakawa Misaki) turned 20 recently, so everyone now is in their 20’s, and I’m the oldest, since I’m 26, but actually, everyone is kind of noisy! They always chit-chat, but there also are a lot of very quiet moments all together. We never fight… About being the leader though… honestly there isn’t anything I’m really good at…
Akina: But that’s the best kind of leader!
Ami: She’s really good at talking when we greet people and fans, but actually, backstage… she’s the biggest child of us all! (laughs)
Marino: Yes, she’s the kind who gets really high tension at night, just like kids!
Rika: Actually, Marino is the second oldest, and on the train back from Nagoya after 24H TV, everyone was really tired and fell asleep… except us two! We were really high tension and couldn’t calm down after our first performances, so we kept chatting while eating… I don’t know why I’m so energetic all the time (laugh)
Marino: When we took the plane back from Aomori, she was also super loud! She wouldn’t stop talking in a very loud voice!
Rika: It’s because I’m afraid of heights! Well, actually, I like high places, but planes make me nervous…
Kotomi: When we took off, she kept repeating “It’s so scary!!!”
Marino: She just squeezed our hands the whole time! There was this time when we all went to Disneyland together too… she looked like she was having fun and just said we needed to hold her hand in scary rides, but as soon as she sat down in the car, she started crying!
Rika: The staff lady actually asked if I was alright and if I wanted to get off… (laugh)
-Do you say anything to everyone before going on stage?
Rika: Not really… except before our one-man live! Everyone was so nervous, and I was too, but I kept saying “it’s going to be okay!” and they kept repeating it… It calmed me down for a while but right before going on stage, I started crying!
Marino: I was the last one to go on stage and I could see her having a panic attack… (imitates Rika crying) So I thought “Is she really going to be alright?” (laugh)
Rika: I don’t even know why I was crying… my eyes are just too weak and cry easily, just like Kotomi’s! During our one-man live, when the overture music started playing, I could hear the fans, I realized that people really came to see us… I was really thankful, and my spirits got up! Also, before every live performance, we always do our special call… I start by saying “Chubbiness…” and then everyone goes “Be Happy!” together!
Akina: Our leader’s voice is always the loudest, as expected!
Rika: But I’m such a crybaby…
-Do you all cry a lot during live?
Kotomi: Oh yes, I’m the weakest when it comes to birthday shows! Even when it’s not for me, during other members’ birthday shows, I always end up crying…
Marino: You don’t even know why you’re crying! Rika cried a lot during her own birthday show, it was actually funny!
Akina: It was the good kind of funny (laugh)
-Horikawa Ami-san, you’re the one in charge of designing some Chubbiness goods, like the tee-shirts, or the towel. How do you work on these designs?
Ami: I really like fashion and fashion design, and I really like drawing too, so I draw clothes design a lot! My priority when designing the tee-shirt was to make it cute, so girls who are interested in our concept can wear it just like we do, but I also wanted it to be simple enough so male fans could wear it easily too! I wanted it to look cool, like other popular artists’ goods, but also cute, and I thought theses round shapes suit our concept well, so this is why it turned out like this!
Marino: You really did think about it a lot!
Ami: I did! I drew a lot of draft concepts, then showed them to everyone and hear their opinions… I wanted it to be simple to understand as well. I also helped designing the one-man live costumes! We chose white because we are bright girls, and silver gives a sparkly cute but cool image too. The jacket shape makes our figure look like we lost weight too!
Kotomi: When we wear them after wearing the Manmadeiya costumes, we always get asked if we lost weight!
Rika: White is a color that does not really make you look thinner though… so maybe we really did (laugh)
-Is there something else you want to design next?
Ami: As for other goods… fans always bring glowsticks to lives, and it would be really nice to have custom glowsticks, but recently, I have been seeing other idol groups selling custom little flags! I thought it looked really cute, so I’d really like us to have something like this someday.
-Yaegashi Kotomi-san, how long have you been taking dance lessons? What kind of dance do you do?
Kotomi: I started when I was 3 so… (counts on her fingers)… 18 years! I did modern ballet, pointes (ballet tips) too… I used to participate some national ballet contests, I was actually quite serious about it. I also did jazz dance… I only started hip-hop in university, right before taking the audition for Chubbiness. I really like K-Pop singers and dancers, and I also like Beyoncé! I like a lot of different styles… when I was a child, I used to look up to Disney dancers a lot and ended up participating in some musicals. I got to be Aladdin’s Genie once!
Ami: She’s Chubbiness’ Watanabe Naomi!
Kotomi: I actually get a lot of inspiration from her! I always watch her when she comes on TV.
Rika: Kotomi’s expressions when she dances are actually quite impressive, they’re very energetic!
Kotomi: I practice a lot in front of a mirror… I try to make cool faces for when I dance!
-You seem to be the dance leader, do you help the other members with their dancing?
Kotomi: I’m… not very good at using words actually, so Akina mostly helps with giving everyone the key points of a dance. Everyone dances as back dancers most of the time though, but Sonoko… has trouble coordinating her moves and is not very good with rhythm, but she does her best and I try to help her as much as I can!
Akina: She’s really strong-willed though, her efforts are impressive, she really does her best.
Ami: That really is her charmpoint!
Rika: Everyone has their weird charmpoints… (laugh)
Ami: Except maybe Morimoto-san… She is a university student, so she’s probably the one who looks the most like a normal girl! There is really nothing weird about her.
Marino: That’s probably her charmpoint, actually!
Kotomi: But… I’m actually not the dance leader at all, I just happen to stand in the center position (laugh) I’m kind of “my pace”, I’m slow when it comes to clean up and going home so everyone always waits for me…
Rika: But everyone gets along so it’s fine!
-Saihara Marino-san is quite popular among foreign fans! You’re the action member, what kind of martial arts do you do?
Marino: Ever since I was little, I have always been doing a lot of different things! I did ballet, piano, but my dad did judo and kendo… so when I started elementary school, I started wanting to try more dangerous things (laughs) I did judo for 3 years, then I did karate with my little brother… I did a lot of things during middle and high school, if there was something I liked and I wanted to try, then I would just go ahead and try! When I started university, I found a job in character shows. I did four years of staged fighting. I also did kendo…
Ami: And sword fighting (tate)?
Marino: Yes, sword fighting! Also a bit of taekwondo…
Rika: Isn’t it better to list the things you didn’t do? (laugh)
-You also like american comics… who’s your favorite superhero?
Marino: My favorite is Marvel’s Ironfist! But I almost like Deadpool equally… Also, he does not really have any superpower, but I really like Ironman! He did everything by himself and got really strong by his own efforts, I really like it!
-So, if everyone from the group here was a superhero, what kind of powers would they have?
Akina: Oh yes, I want to know!
Marino: Let me think… Ami’s eyes are really wide set, so she’d have like a super-sight! She could see things from very far, and have a wider field of view too.
Ami: That makes sense.
Marino: Akina would be…
Akina: Sailor Moon! Thank you!
Marino: That’s not a comics hero! Akina has a very muscular body, and her face always looks like she’s wearing a mask, but she can get really mad sometimes… so she’d be… like Hulk?
Marino: The female version of Hulk! She’s really sexy~
Akina: Ah, then it’s fine!
Marino: Rika would totally fit the magical girl image (laugh) for her birthday, fans gave her a magic wand, and even up until now, she does not stop playing around with it! She’d be a little like Doctor Strange? Also since she’s really small, she could also be Wasp! She kind of looks like a magic fairy, and she’s very small, so I think it fits!
Rika: It’s cute!
Marino: Kotomi’s a dancer, her moves are really smooth too, her body’s soft… There’s no snake-like character but… someone like Black Widow would suit her! She’s a spy in the special forces~
Kotomi: That’s so cool! I want to do that!
-Kawai Akina-san is known in the group for loving bread, it makes sense you have some french fans too then! What kind of bread do you like?
Akina: I like literally every kind of bread! But if I had to choose within french bread… I’d say baguette is my favorite. I really like italian style bread too, I went to an italian restaurant and they had italian-style baguette! Although I really cannot pick a favorite among all types of bread, I think baguette is my favorite french bread.
-Other than bread then, what kind of food do you like?
Akina: I really like nabe! I also like gyoza… I don’t really like vegetables, but if they’re in a nabe, I can eat them! I like healthy food…
Everyone: What?! No you don’t!
Rika: Yes, you only eat healthy food with salt and sauce on it!
Akina: Well, that’s true (laugh) I also really like chicken!
Rika: This is exactly why everyone got surprised when you said you liked healthy food (laugh)
Ami: Chubbiness’ unhealthy food trio is me, Akina and Kotomi… we’re chubby but there are many members who like vegetables and healthy food… but us three, we just love junkfood too much.
Rika: As for me, I love sweets too much… for breakfast, I usually have chocolate bread, and condensed milk… And I eat french toasts as an afternoon snack…
Marino: They love vegetables but they all love sweet things and unhealthy food more, this is why we’re chubby! Actually, I think I’m the one who eats the healthiest…
-Could you tell us interesting stories about the members who are not here today?
Akina: Well… since they’re not here, we don’t really want to tell things they would not want us to say in public?
Ami: If we say something too embarrassing, they’ll never forgive us…
-I see! Everyone is really close to each other after all, that’s what friends do!
Marino: But we can tell stories about ourselves right?
Ami: Oh I have something I always wanted to tell, actually! I love buying new clothes, and usually, when I see something cute, I want to try it on… then I get disappointed because it really doesn’t look cute on me. Akina and I have very similar fashion taste… Sometimes, we accidentally wear the exact same things! So when I see something she’s wearing that I like, I ask her “This is cute, where did you buy it?”. We kind of use each other as mannequins (laugh)
Akina: It’s probably not very interesting but I have a story to tell too… everytime someone goes to eat with me, they get fat…
Kotomi: When we were taking lessons together in Osaka when the group started, we would go eat lunch together… and she ended up taking me to three different restaurants!
Akina: It’s because the more I eat, the more hungry I get… My dad is exactly the same! Even when we have guests over, they get fat too…
Kotomi: It’s not even because you’re eating unhealthy food! You just eat way too much!
Rika: From now on, if people want to gain weight, just ask for advice from Kawai-san! (laugh)
-Your first one-man live was a success. How did you feel when it ended?
Ami: We practiced everyday for weeks before the live, so when it ended, it felt a little lonely…
Akina: We didn’t think that many people would show up for us! We were so happy… we’re really thankful.
Ami: We realised how different it was from all the other live performances we did before. We got to do many different things in the Tokyo Chubbiness Show corner, like covering songs, dancing, and even slaughtering people…
Marino: Slaughtering?! Its was sword fighiting! (laugh)
Ami: Yeah, sword fighting (laugh) by doing so many things like these, we were able to level up our performing skills. It was like a stepping stone for us. So we felt really excited for the whole night!
Akina: It was so much fun, but it was also a very big challenge for us so we were dead tired after!
Marino: This live was also announced in July and we only started performing in live venues around May, so it was a big surprise. Also, when it was announced, we only had two original songs so we were wondering if it would be okay (laugh)
Rika: But we got new songs! It was like magic!
Marino: We’re really thankful. A lot of people came to see us for the first time, there were also many foreign fans… they really wanted to come for this live. We want them to see us again and not let them forget about us… so we’d love to hold a second one-man live soon. Maybe next year?
-So that will be the next goal for Chubbiness?
Ami: When the right time comes, we really want to take the group to a new step!
Marino: Yes, like taking the elevator, not by taking the stairs! We want also to participate in bigger things! Like, making it on the news…
Ami: We released our mini-album on a music card too, but we still don’t have any physical CD… I’d really want a CD debut, it would mean that we got more popular.
Akina: I want to appear on TV too…
Rika: It would be a great thing for more people to know about us, even people who are not into idols to begin with, and people from many different places! We want to perform in more different places around Japan…
Ami: Like, not only performing in livehouses, but being guests for various events is also great!
Marino: We not only want people to like us, but even having more people saying that they have heard about Chubbiness before would be really good!
-You all seem to have quite a lot of foreign fans too. How would you explain that?
Ami: …is it because we’re chubby? (laugh)
Marino: Maybe it’s not really because of the body type, but more about our cheerful image? I’ve seen people comparing us to American cheerleaders… our dances are very energetic, they kind of look like cheerdancing. Also, maybe because our body type is seen as average abroad…
Akina: Yes, I’ve read many comments saying “But you aren’t fat at all!”
Rika: We’re kind of like mascots!
Ami: This is also probably why Zukki is so popular abroad?
Everyone: Ah, we want to perform abroad!
Ami: Foreign fans always look like they give such a warm welcome to idols!
-So… to conclude… please leave a message for TGU readers and foreign idol fans!
Ami: We will do our best and work very hard in order to have the opportunity to perform abroad one day! Please cheer for this marshmallow girl group! We want everyone to come to see us and dance with us the day we come! Please wait for us!
We then had a special request for the girls! As the Chubbiness International Facebook fanpage was planning a Christmas giveaway, we asked them to draw Christmas-themed pictures on boards!
They put a lot of effort in it: some have natural talent in arts (as expected from anime and american comics otaku Saihara Marino, as an example), and some were struggling a little bit more, but did they very best to convey their feelings. It ended the interview with a relaxed activity while listening to some Christmas songs. Take a look at how they turned out!
Chubbiness official site: http://avex.jp/chubbiness
Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/Chubbinessstaff
Official Blog: http://ameblo.jp/chubbiness
Chubbiness International Fans page: https://www.facebook.com/chubbiness.intl
Photos by Nathan Gey