Translation: The reason former Kobushi Factory member Hamaura Ayano is heading into acting
We asked about the circumstances surrounding their sudden breakup, her thoughts towards the former members, and her current state of mind
Former Hello!Project Kobushi Factory member Hamaura Ayano announced on her own Twitter account on January 4th that she is signed to Warner Music.
This is news to pay attention to for Hello!Pro fans, but for those who aren't familiar, here are some details.
Kobushi Factory is the group that won the Best New Artist award at the 57th Japan Record Awards. They started with 8 members, but they started to withdraw one after the other. Once they became a 5-member unit, they began a steady advance forward: their group unity increased, they improved their signing, they harmonized in a capella, they used beatboxing and rapping, and they became a group with such strong performances that you wouldn't think they were idols.
Nevertheless, they suddenly announced their breakup in March of 2020. The members were going their separate ways, but what shocked many fans was that the beloved Hamaura, known from her trainee days as Hamachan, Colonel Hamachan, was also graduating from Hello!Pro with the breakup and was becoming a freelancer.
12 months have passed since then, and we asked Warner Music's first actress how things have been going and how she feels now.
It's strange, but the Kobushi members have all become much better friends since we broke up! (laughs) To the point where even I'm surprised (laughs)."Personally, when I graduated from Hello!Project, I didn't know whether I wanted to return to a normal life or continue in the entertainment industry. But I didn't want everything I had done up to that point to have been in vain, and I didn't want to end things without repaying the efforts of the people who have supported me, so that's how I decided to continue in show business.
"I went freelance because I wanted to have a lot of different experiences. I had worked in Hello!Project for about 9 years, since I was 11, so that's all I knew, and I wanted to know more about the world outside of that. At the same time, when I was looking for representation, this agency was the one closest to the things I wanted to do, myself. When I didn't pass a different audition, someone reached out to me to introduce me to the company, and that's how I decided to sign with them" (Hamaura Ayano, continued below)
There were an awful lot of people who spoke out in disappointment at Kobushi Factory's disbandment just as they were becoming the strongest they had ever been, both in terms of performance and in terms of group energy. The impetus was leader Hirose Ayaka going to music school, but from there the girls chose not to have her graduate or bring in new members, but to dissolve the group.
"We did discuss bringing in new members, but we figured it would be difficult with things like the a capella, that with the new members we'd have to start over from the beginning. There was a time when we weren't sure where things would go from there.
"The a capella was a skill that we had acquired as a group and grew from taking that on, but then we felt that there was a limit somewhere 10 or 20 years down the line, like we hadn't acquired the ability to win just on singing alone. That's when we discussed going out separate ways, gaining new experiences and acquiring those skills, and that it'd be nice to someday be able to regroup after that and become even bigger than we were at the time.
"We all loved Kobushi Factory, we loved the members, and we really loved the songs, so in choosing the path of disbandment, it felt like maybe we were saving away the Kobushi Factory we loved."
She speaks this way about her most enjoyable memories in her 9 years working with Hello!Pro.
"I love doing live shows the most, I could never forget that feeling of unity I got from doing concerts. When we'd sing the song "Kobushi no hana," the audience would change their lights all to white, supporting us altogether, and I loved that sight. Our last concert had no audience, so it's really a shame I wasn't able to see that one last time."
Her decision to pursue acting was a surprising one, but it seems the truth is she had this dream for a long time.
"The first time I did a play, I realized how much fun acting was. I got to play a lead role many times, so I always wanted to be an actress, so I don't think was decision was hasty, really.
"Even if I had been an idol until I was 25, I probably still would have become an actress after that. My singing is not the most outstanding and I felt like I was only able to be an idol because the other members sustained that element, so I didn't have confidence to go forward by myself as a singer. I felt like I was at the limits of my development, but if I were an actress, I thought I could refine my facial expressions way more and could play many different roles, so I figured acting could stretch my potential."
Starting on February 17, she will be in the play "Kimi no Take," currently in rehearsals, supervised by Flying Trip, the company she worked with last year in a starring role, as well. At the same time, her various studies are indispensable as Warner Music's first actress.
"I've started studying English a bit since Kobushi Factory disbanded, and Chinese, as well. I buy books and study, I practice with apps. Right now I'm only at the point of understanding some vocabulary, but I'm considering branching out overseas, so I want to be able to speak smoothly someday.
Also, because of the coronavirus, I've had lots of time to experience different TV dramas and movies, so I've been making the most of that. I've always loved watching things, so there have been times when I've watched 5 movies in a day, when I have the time. One I recommend is the Korean film "Train to Busan." There's a sequel, "Peninsula," that has come out, but even thought they're zombie movies, they have a depth of emotion, they're astonishing movies. Another is the psychological horror film "Orphan." I don't really watch love stories, I like sci-fi and action movies, so I'd like to try acting in an action film, too."
And as for her comments on the Kobushi members after setting out on a new beginning?
"Everyone supports me so much. Wada Sakurako (who ended her entertainment career) especially, she tells me, "I'm your #1 fan. I'm supporting you the most." The truth is, when we broke up, we all talked about getting together at the end of 2020, but because of COVID protocols we couldn't all meet up. At the end of last year some of us did meet up and discuss what's going on, though.
"When I heard what everyone was up to, it made me want to work that much harder. It's strange, It's strange, but the Kobushi members have all become much better friends since we broke up! (laughs) To the point where even I'm surprised (laughs).
"When we talk about work, we all have our own opinions and our ambitions are great, so it makes me nervous, but when we're in private we only talk about fun things. I do think we became better friends after the group disbanded. I've shown them my weaknesses, so now we can talk about anything, they're there for me, we're like a family."
Finally, she talks about her goals.
"My goal as an actress is to become someone like Nakamura Tomoya, who has been called a chameleon actor, someone who can play any role. Up to this point I've mostly played kind characters or kind of silly characters, so I definitely want to try being a villain.
"I also want to be famous enough to repay the work of the people in the company who supported me up to this point and the people in the company that I belong to now. As the company's first in the actress division, I need to go to lots of auditions, increase my connections with different people and works, and open a path for others."
Flying Trip Vol.17 "Kimi no take" (Written and starring Haruma Shin'ichi) 2021.02.17(Wed)-25(Thu) Venue: Kokumin Kyosai coop Hall/Space zeroText: Takou Wakako
Requested by Pyo-Kiyo