Notall is our first guest of TGU GLOBAL CONNECT, our Skype Video chat project that connects overseas fans and Japanese idols. Recently they collected over a million yen through charity activities and contributed to Taiwan and Tohoku region where big earthquakes occurred. We’ve got two members from the group here with us today, Haruka Sato and Chiko Watanabe. Last year they performed twice in Thailand, and many Thai fans, along with fans from other countries like the U.S. and Australia, joined in for a fun conversation!


Now that the event is over, we’d like to ask both of you about your thoughts on today’s chat, as well as on your overseas concert and your future activity.

−How was the chat today?

Haruka: It was fun! Our Thai fans that often come to our shows in Japan even participated!

Chiko: I really had a great time! I wish we could have talked more… The time went by so fast~! (laugh)

−I’m glad to hear that! On that note, do you feel like there’s anything different when you’re performing overseas compared to performing in Japan?

Haruka: I thought it’d have that “away” feeling, but everyone knew our names and I was surprised at how well everyone knew the mix and calls. I really felt their energy. As far as differences went, everyone greeted us at the airport and more than with our Japanese fans, we felt uncertain about when we would be able to meet again.

Chiko: About a month before we left for Thailand, we started getting a lot of replies from people there. They tweeted us daily so we could remember their names, but when we actually met them they’d go, “It’s me! It’s me!” and then after many fans made the picture we took together their Twitter avatar. We were really happy to see how assertive they were. Our Taiwanese fans also would tweet us daily saying, “We’re waiting for you!”, “We want to see you!”, or “So cute!”, and would often retweet us in Chinese.


−Did anything change after you went abroad?

Chiko: Ever since we came back to Thailand I’ve been tweeting “Good morning!” every day in Japanese, English, Thai, and Taiwanese. I especially want to learn Thai! I really want to be able to speak it well so I downloaded a Thai language app that I use in my spare time. Thai is a cute language. I’ve even got it on my keyboard. It’s difficult, but just like our Thai fans that have learned Japanese, I think Japanese people can learn Thai if they really want to, and I want to be able to improve my skills enough to be able to communicate with people next time we go!

−You’ve been to Thailand twice and Taiwan once, but are there any other countries you’d like to visit?

Haruka: Personally I’d like to visit an English-speaking country, like Australia or the U.S.

Chiko: I want to go to Singapore! People speak English there, too.

Haruka:I think it might be easy to go there from Thailand or Indonesia, too!


−Are you trying to promote Japan to people overseas as a “social idol”?

Chiko:This is from an anime, but there’s a phrase “Hoayo Gaimasu!” that means “Good morning!” If I tweet it, our Thai fans will reply back, “Hoayo, hoayo!” I wasn’t trying to make it a thing or anything, but I’m glad that so many people have picked it up. (laugh) I also use emoticons, although they’re kind of weird. (laugh) Like this one, “Homa homa (^^ ω)” is called Marutasunimu ha segawa, though it’s not that famous. Marutasunimu Hasegawa’s catchphrase is “Homa homa” (“Really, really.”), and if I say “homa homa” everyone writes it back.

−It’s kind of a unique genre, isn’t it? (laugh) Moving on, I’d like to ask about your recent activity. On March 8th you released “Thanks a million ~Arigato~”. This time I felt your group picture was quite different from previous ones.

Haruka: The cameraman took the shot with film, but because it was film we couldn’t check how it looked, and the first time we saw it was after it had been printed.

Chiko: On top of that, he didn’t take that many pictures.

Haruka: You’re right, he didn’t!

Chiko: The shoot ended an hour earlier than planned so it made me wonder if everything was okay or not, but everyone was pleasantly surprised when it was done. He made all of us look really natural!


−Does the artwork have anything to do with the song?

Haruka: All of us members talked about how important it was for people to feel connected to one another. We wanted to stress the importance of the single’s theme, “arigato” (“thank you”), and I think with the image being non-digital it really fits well with it.

−To begin with, did the “arigato” theme have anything to do with this time of year?

Haruka: That’s right, this summer it’ll be our second anniversary since our debut.

Chiko: Last year after our first anniversary solo concert ended, our mindset toward the future changed; when we were first trying to come up with something to convey our feelings to our fans, naturally the words “thank you” were among them, in order to show our appreciation.

Haruka: This time we also took words and phrases from SNS and put them into lyrics together, and those we took lines from are featured in the MV holding up a panel with the lyrics on them, and among them one person said they’d like to show our Thai fans, too, so we went to them and asked, and they sent us a really nice picture.


−That the lyrics came from your fans really reaffirms that it wasn’t just the product of an individual, but of a group effort.

Haruka: This was the first time we’d ever taken lyrics from elsewhere. We divided the song into the A intro, B intro, and chorus, and then little by little picked out the lyrics. So there were a lot of lyrics. From there, our voice training teacher and us put them all together, and we were really moved with the finished product. We felt a real sense of accomplishment from making the song with everyone. Picking this line or that one because we wanted to sing about that feeling and fitting them together took quite a bit of time. When we were finished we felt like crying…! We really felt like the lyrics that represented our state of mind, and besides a sense of accomplishment, we were thrilled at how great the song turned out.

−How did the audience react at the release event?

Haruka: A lot of people cried out as if they were really moved. There were fans that said they’d really wanted to hear all those things from us. There were even many people at the release event who said they bought one of our CDs for the first time because the song was so good.

Chiko: Everyone was listening to it so seriously and smiled whenever I made eye contact. From the stage I wondered what each person was thinking as I watched them, and felt just how much people were listening to our music.

Chiko: When we first started I was honestly like, “What’s this “social idol” thing?!” (laugh)

Haruka: Even though we’ve said that everyone could take pictures and that we would put them on the back of the jacket, there weren’t many people that did, so it was really like we relied a lot on the people who took pictures and uploaded them. But then our fans increased in number, like those who could take professional pictures, and at first we thought maybe they weren’t happy about theirs being chosen, but recently we see tweets saying “I’m glad you picked mine!” or “Please add this to your social production stash!”, and it makes us really glad that we did. I think finally after two years since our we began as a group, we’ve finally built things up.


−What do you think people should listen for during the song?

Chiko: Number one is that we made it while thinking about the time of our debut. But the second would be that it wasn’t all sparkles after we debuted, and there were many hard times, but because everyone was there for us we could over come them, and that this is the story of our group. Also, all four of our names are mentioned in the lyrics!

Haruka: You can find them in what I think is the line of the lyrics. (laugh) “Kirei na haruka naru michi koko wo” has our names Reina, Haruka, Narumi, and Chiko in it. Our names are connected without any separations. We put a lot of thought into that part. Also, we put together each line as if people would want to sing it at graduation ceremonies. I think if it were put into schools and the like that it would really touch people.

Chiko: I really like the part that says, “kanaeru yo, anata no mirai”. (“Your future will come true.”) Not just notall’s dreams, but we wanted the people cheering us on to know to feel how others were working to cheer them on as well.

Haruka: We want to really cherish the people that are part of making our costumes and our music, and we’d like it if they could become famous because of their work with us, so because of that I think we have to support them as much as we can with the small amount of fame we have. I hope that we can bring our project to the big stage, together with everyone involved.


Manager:I don’t think they would be able to do this if they weren’t social idols, since there are many parts to the production process. (laugh) I think because they’re so focused on “creating things together”, they were able to collect all of these lyrics and really create something.

Chiko: Once again I was reminded of how glad I am to be a social idol.

Haruka: Chiko talked that She was glad to be a social idol when the lyrics were done.

Haruka: If I was just a plain idol I wouldn’t be able to experience this, and it’s a good thing to learn from, so I’m really glad I’m the member of a social idol group. I want to do something that none of us have done before yet. I want to get a lot of people involved.

−What’s something you’d like to challenge?

Haruka: This summer we’ll be doing a second solo concert tour in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Taiwan, so first of all I’d like to do my best on it.

Chiko: We’ve leveled up not only our concept, but our singing and dance skills this past year, so I’d like for everyone to realize how much we’ve grown and for our first solo concert your, most of all I’d really like to sell out our shows in Nagoya, Taiwan, and Tokyo. Then because that would mean not everyone could come, I’d like to do a tour in Thailand!


Haruka: Chiko-chan says this so much it’s like she wants to perform regularly there. (laugh)

Chiko: I’ve been saying how I want to perform regularly there forever! Call us over to Thailand! We’re all bright, friendly, good girls! (laugh) Everyone treats us so nicely! You won’t find better idols than us! So that’s why my dream is to perform regularly in Thailand.

Sato: Our first solo concert abroad is in Taiwan! We want to put everything we’ve got into using our social influence to not only expand domestically, but abroad as well!


Translated By Jamie K

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