Shinshi Okajima’s GIRL’S NEWSING Vol.2: “I’m Drawn to the Things Girls My Age are Making” – I wanna be…

岡島紳士のGIRL'S NEWSING 第2回 ZINE作りで注目 「同世代の女の子が作るものにすごく惹かれるんです」 愛わなび
Shinshi Okajima’s GIRL’S NEWSING Vol.2: “I’m Drawn to the Things Girls My Age are Making” – I wanna be…

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GIRL’S NEWSING is a series which will introduce noteworthy GIRLS, regardless of the genre, working as actresses, models, artists, idols, gravure models, and so on. In this second volume, I’m sitting down with I wanna be… (Ai Wanabi), who appears in the stage play “Negima! Magister Negi Magi” as Konoka Konoe, alongiside ex-Nogizaka46 Rina Ikoma. I wanna be… produces her own, self-directed zines (booklets fused with self-penned writings, pictures, and photographs). Her zines in particular, which she’s been making since she was an idol herself, are so conceptual that you wouldn’t think they were the personal work of an idol. Each one gives off a consistent feel for design, photography, and writing, showing her clearly personality in the idol scene.
In this volume, I asked I wanna be… about zines, how they’re made and what makes them interesting, as well as about her participation in E TICKET PRODUCTION’S second mini album, “E TICKET RAP SHOW 2”, plus more.

She likes that zines give her the freedom to do whatever she likes

– Could you tell me how you first got into the entertainment industry?

I first entered the industry when I landed an audition for an idol group called Summer Rocket. Manatsu Nagahara and Airi Kudo from SEBASTIAN X (a four-member band without guitars) were producing it, so I applied. I’d been doing ballet for 10 years, and I liked dancing a lot as well as doing song choreography. However, I wasn’t very good at singing so I had to work really hard! I graduated from the group in March, 2018. I was an active member for about a year and eight months. I learned so much.

– All right, so let me ask you about zine-making. Well, before that, according to your explanation of zines…
・Basically they’re something made by individuals that consist of photos, illustrations, and writings, etc.
・There’s no set edition type or appearance. There are zines that are just copied and stapled together with a stapler.
・Simply put, they’re independently produced magazines, but there’s no clear difference between zines, doujinshi, minikomi (mini comics), and little presses (light publishings), so the definition seems somewhat ambiguous.
・Apparently they first originated from the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s. Since around 2015, they’ve been popular among creative girls.
…isn’t that right? In fact, aren’t they popular among those around you?

That’s right. My friends also make their own zines. That’s what got me into it in the first place!

– Where do you sell them?

You can sell them in Knickknack shops, bookstores, online, and elsewhere… I like being able to sell them myself. If we’re talking physical locations, I sell mine at ON READING in Nagoya, and at Commune Press in Tokyo, and Keibunsha, Hohoho-za both in Kyoto. ON READING has a shelf just for zines. When I saw it, I thought it was something that I wanted to do myself one day.

– What attracted you to making them?

The fact that you’re free to do whatever you want. You can include any pictures you’ve taken, photos taken by someone else, writings, and so on. Even those made from handwritten papers copied at a convenience store and stapled together are still called zines.
In the beginning, I didn’t want it to include pictures of me. So I would carry around a camera daily in order to build my photography skills. Because I had a number of friends who were creators, I would take pictures of their stuff. Whenever I took an interesting photo, it wasn’t enough for me to just uploading it somewhere on SNS; I wanted to print it on paper.

Even though she’s an idol, she’s very much against using my own face as a cover

– When did you make first start making zines?

It was around June 2017. The title was “I wanna be issue.1”, and I asked Sorami Yanagi to do a photo shoot with a film camera. It was about 12 pages with no text. I’d only made 30 copies, but I sold out immediately after I put them up for sale at an event. People had asked me to make some more, so I decided that next time I’d spend more time making it. I thought that the next time, I’d focus on the paper and the layout.

– Before you said that you never thought that you wanted it to include your pictures, but why was that?

I didn’t have enough visual appeal to become the subject. I was much fatter than I am now! I prefered thinking about how to make the people in front of me look cute.

– Did you gain weight?

I did. During the period where I’d gained weight, if I showed a picture of myself to a friend they’d say things like, “You’re like a monster here,” or, “Your face is different now.” I tried dieting, but I wasn’t really able to lose much weight.

– I see. I suppose if you had then you could have probably written a book on dieting. When did you make your second zine?

It was in October of 2017. It was called “I wanna be issue.2 kyoto” and it had 28 pages in all. I took photos around my hometown of Kyoto, introducing café or gyoza shop recommendations, concert photos and a diary, and included a report on a night pool event I attended in double leaf binding, cramming whatever I wanted to into it. I bound it by hand using a sewing machine, but the length of thread used for each copy was different. I spent time searching for a beautiful color of paper for the film camera photos. I used gold leaves on the cover. I wanted to do a lot more with it, but I had a budget to stick to, so I had to narrow things down considerably. (laughs)

– Was there anything else you paid special attention to?

I think there were many people who thought I should use a picture of my face for the cover, but that’s something I was completely against. I didn’t want it to be idol-like or anything; I wanted to make something unique. I held a lottery on the first day it went on sale. Because the cover design was a soft-serve ice cream cone, I made the lucky item an ice cream spoon. Anyone who found a spoon in their copy won a tea time with me for 15 minutes as a prize, but nobody ended up winning. (laughs)
I decided on doing ice cream spoons because I liked the packaging and design. I bought them at a business specialty store at Kappabashi (a supply shop located in Tokyo’s Taito Ward, with rows of various utensils and dishes). To be honest, they’re somewhat difficult to obtain!

She’s interested about what girls the same age as her are making.

– Why did the zine specifically feature Kyoto?

I sold this particular zine at my birthday event. I made the title of the event “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE ~Summer Rocket I wanna be…’s Birthday~”, after The Beatles song. Because it was my birthday event, I decided to incorporate Kyoto, where my roots are. By the way, the event ticket was also designed under my direction. The front and back of each ticket was made in the style of a movie ticket and a record obi. Because I didn’t want to feel like there was anything I should have done differently after, I also invited some guests myself. I sang covers of PUFFY’S “Ai no Shirushi” and LovelySummer-Chan’s “Anata wa Tobacco, Watashi wa Shabon”.

– What were the reasons behind this particular composition, design, and layout?

I thought that some people that couldn’t make it out to the concert would buy it, so I wanted to make something better. I thought if I could make something considered good on its own, I thought it would resonate with all kinds of people and not just those that were idol fans.
With it, I wanted to say, “This is my real self!” as a piece I created. I think that art direction is really important, so more than the desire to make a zine, it was a way to assert myself by saying I like doing these kinds of things, and in that way I can do this, too!
Before making this zine, I sold a t-shirt that I was the creative director for. I wanted to make something that didn’t look idol-like, that girls could casually wear anywhere without feeling embarrassed. I came up with three different versions. Then, around 200 orders for them came in. I was so surprised that there were people who were into that kind of thing. Regardless of whether it’s because it’s rare for those that have one because I made it or not, I’m happy when people are still wearing them.

– You were able to experience their reactions to the t-shirts. Did you draw any influences you draw from when making your zines?

There isn’t anyone in particular I draw influences from, but before I became an idol I would check out the Instagrams of people attending Musabi (Musashino Art University) and Tamabi (Tamagawa Art University), and I would check the SNS of those that I liked on a daily basis.
I purchased Yumi Tanaka’s zine by directly contacting her myself. When I think about it, it’s kind of scary. (laughs) I’m really sorry for how I was back then! I really like the videos on Tanaka’s Instagram.
I also like Yumiko Kikuchi’s “LIARS”, SUEKKO LIONS’ “FANCLUB”, and Ai Teramoto’s “Collection”. I have lots of other favorite zines.
I’m especially attracted to ones that contain portraits or pictures, and zines that have interesting binding, like those in ziplock bags or that are covered in vinyl sparkly material and the like.
I purchase zines without thinking when I see them in shops. Perhaps I haven’t yet encountered the zine that speaks to me the most yet.

– Going by what you’ve brought in today, many of them are made by women. Are you more interested in what women make?

I think so, yes. I also by zines made by men, but I’m more interested in those made by women. I really care about what other girls my age are making. Like, what kind of things are they thinking about when they take pictures? I have a very strong interest in what other female creators my age are making.

– Speaking of which, it wasn’t an independent production, but in April, 2018 you released a new zine, right?

That’s right, I modeled for the zine called “i’M” made by IDOL MOMENTS. Out of 17 different pictures, there are three randomly mounted photos in each copy. Additionally, there are randomly scattered papers detailing the production of this particular magazine. It was designer Shingo Sawai’s idea, and it was like him to come up with such an interesting concept.

– What kind of zine would you like to make in the future?

Ideally I’d like to make one with photos and text. I really like Asami Usuda’s photo collection called “Mitsuami”. Since my second zine was a little bit like a magazine, I think it would be nice to make one kind of resembling a photo collection. I’m not sure if there’s a demand for that or not, though… I’d like to make as many zines as possible. I want to try creating images, too!!

After getting into rap, she tried writing her own rap lyrics.

– You participated in Summer Rocket on the second mini album E TICKET RAP SHOW 2 (IDOL NEWSING) by E TICKET PRODUCTION released on my label in April of this year. It was your first time trying your hand at rap, so tell me what you thought about it.

I think a lot of people got to know our group at the time because of this project. We sounded the brightest on the album, and we also shot a MV for it. I think it was a big turning point for us. It was my first time singing lyrics from a male gaze, and it was very bright, like a song that gave everyone a sense of unity, which was very fresh. Doing the show was fun, too. It made me appreciate rap.

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– Before you said that as far as rap artists go, you were into JJJ, DJ Misoshiru to MC Gohan, and PSG.

I still am. Recently I’m constantly playing the “E TICKET RAP SHOW 2 album”, especially Maiyume’s “BEATS ME”, Mizuha’s “Right Now!, and Fuurei’s “FUN FOR FUN”. I love these songs so much, I play them when I do my cleaning in the afternoon. Hikaru Aoyama’s “WONDERFUL WORLD” is so I listen to it while I work at night. However I also think songs like “THEMES” that have been embellished wtih voice tracks (voice sampling) are great. It made me really interested in female-fronted rapping.

– Is there anything you want to try doing in the future?

Yes!! There are a lot of cool-sounding songs on this album, but there are also softer ennui-like songs by Aoyama that contrast with that, and because I like chill music, I’d like to challenge doing a rap with that kind of direction. That and I’d like to learn how to enunciate words and how to rhyme. I’m interested in writing lyrics and I’ve done it once before. I did it while referring to a rhyming dictionary-like site called In-Note, but it was pretty difficult. After that I had a lot of respect for rappers.

She wants to make zines and work in entertainment

– Last, please tell us about what you’re working on from here on out.

From now I’m going to continue working on things like my zine-making. Since I’d been an idol up until now, I hadn’t made any of the photos I’d taken available, but I’d like to take photographs with a unique focus and hold a solo exhibition. I’m also interested in studying how to direct MVs and short films. But I can’t just consider it, I’d have to study about it… Also, every day I get caught just daydreaming… Someday I’d like to create a fictional idol. It wouldn’t be a real person, but through an idol existing solely as an image, I’d like to direct others, songs, and costumes myself. There’s something appealing about a young girl acting as a producer and making a group, and I’d like to create a unique idol that girls want to support! If only I had the money!!!! (laughs) I wouldn’t be able to unless I won the lottery, but just thinking about it is free. I’d like to organize a really amazing event. I say all of this, but is it really okay~ Considering it’s all just fictional… (laughs)

– I hope you’re able to accomplish all that someday. Listening to your story makes it seem as if you’ve the behind the scenes spirit, but do you feel that way?

I would agree with that.

– But do you want to be on center stage?

Yes. Right now I want to work on center stage and express myself like that.

– Is there anything you want to do at the moment?

I want to appear in more video works. I want to appear in MVs or in movies screened at the mini theater. I also want to try out performing on stage.

– I see.

The MV I appeared in was released in May 2018. It’s for a song called “okuru” by a band from Okayama called aaps. I acted in it a little, but it was fun. I recognized how, by changing my gaze just slightly, the meaning of video changed greatly.

Contributor Wanted!!

From June, I began being represented by a talent agency called Michelle Entertainment. Now that I’ve graduated from being an idol, I’m working on becoming a uniquely expressive person. I appear in the stage play “Negima! Magister Negi Magi” alongiside ex-Nogizaka46 Rina Ikoma, who stars as the lead. It starts from July, and I want to give the part everything I’ve got. I’m a big fan of the original manga it’s based off of, and I have a folder called Negima! where I save shots of all my favorite pages. It’s cute that she wants to date all of the characters!!… It’s my first time doing something like this so I’m really worried, but above all else it’s important to have fun, and I’m trying my best during rehearals. I hope I see all of you at the theater.
After that I have plans to release my indie photo book “Aiiro (working title)”.
I want to challenge doing more and more things. I want to make an honest effort, not only toward zine-making. I appreciate all of your continued support now and in the future!

I wanna be…

Born in Kyoto on October 9th. Height: 164 cm. Hobbies, skills: Photography, music, performing, events, and an avid concertgoer. Her favorite musical artists include cero, The Internet, King Krule, Gen Hoshino, Maison book girl, and BiSH. She really loves the Takarazuka Revue. She’s represented by Michelle Entertainment.
I wanna be… Official Twitter:
I wanna be… Official Instagram:

Author Profile

Shinshi Okajima
Born in 1980
Expert writer on idols
Co-authored titles include The Group Idol Evolution Theory, A Serious Study of AKB48, 10 Years of Idol History, and The Idol Music Disc Guide, among others. He has made appearances on television and radio, on ZIP, Sukkiri!, Good! Morning, 5-ji ni Muchu!, dig, and more. He is the main advisor for the Media/Idol Museum, sponsored by Saitama Prefecture.
He oversaw the girls’ culture media work VIDEOTHINK, and produced Rinne Yoshida’s “Rinne’s Rap”, included on the ETICKET PRODUCTON E TICKET RAP SHOW series. This DVD magazine was ranked number one in its genre on Amazon.
Shinshi Okajima Official site:
Shinshi Okajima Official Twitter:

Translated by Jamie Koide

Photos by Kenji Harada

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Shinshi Okajima

Born in 1980. Idol writer. His works (includes joint works) : "Group Idol Shinka-ron" "AKB48 Saikou Kousatsu" "Idol Gakkyoku Disc Guide" and so on. Worked as a main adviser for "Media/Idol Museum" exhibition organized by Saitama prefecture. Manager of the idol contents website "IDOL NEWSING".

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