Idol past and present story
~Feelings towards Hello! Project, feelings towards Up Up Girls~
Seven years ago these two girls entered the Hello! Pro Eggs with the dream of one day joining Hello! Project. Time passed, and now these two are active in a separate unit. We asked them about their memories regarding Hello! Pro and to look back on how they got here.
From when you graduated the Hello! Pro Eggs until when you joined Up Up Girls, I think the two of you faced a lot of troubles!?
Saho: “I wonder if I did…”
Sengoku: “For me, ‘yes!’ (laughs) The Eggs had regular concerts and they were fun, but there were a lot of difficult things as well. It felt like a long time.”
Saho: “It was fun for me, too, but for the first four or five years I couldn’t do anything. I constantly compared myself to others, I had no concept of who I was. I didn’t think very deeply. I didn’t start to have confidence in myself until around the last two years.”
During your training days, obviously you felt like you wanted to debut?
Saho: “During those last two years, yes. We were anxious a lot, right? Older girls kept on leaving, and slowly I started to become one of the oldest. I didn’t know whether I would debut, or if I should follow another path…”
Did you ever think about quitting?
Sengoku: “I never thought about it while I was an Egg either, but between when I graduated and when Up Up Girls was formed I considered it.”
Saho: “Me too! I thought about it during that time (laughs).”
Sengoku: “It’s something you think about, right? (laughs) I gave it my all and at that point it was the first time I’d thought so seriously about so many things. But there were a lot of things I didn’t get to do during my time as an Egg, so if I gave up then everything I’d built up would have been wasted, and I felt I would have regretted that. I thought if there’s another place where I can give it my all, I want to do it. But I did really consider quitting. I couldn’t come up with an answer so I discussed it with my family, but they told me ‘it’s something you should decide for yourself.’”
What if they had told you to quit?
Sengoku: “Nobody ever said that, so I never considered it. If somebody had, maybe I would have quit (laughs).”
Saho: “When I graduated from the Eggs it also happened to be the exact same time I was graduating from junior high school, so it was a good time to end things. I considered starting a new life with high school, but, when I watched over all the old Egg ‘shinjin kouen’ DVDs again, I saw how much fun I had (laughs). I realised I want to keep doing that and it helped me decide.”
On the other hand, there were also Eggs who debuted, such as Mano Erina and Smileage. Honestly, what was your state of mind at the time?
Saho: “I heard about Smileage being formed on the day of our costume rehearsal for the shinjin kouen. Rather normally it was announced ‘a new unit has been decided,’ and four names were read out. Until that time there hadn’t been any new units, so I had no idea what it really meant. I didn’t really comprehend it until quite some time later. But, yeah, I was sad (laughs).”
In your case, you were already in the Shugo Chara Egg! group with three of the first generation members of Smileage, right?
Saho: “I was kind of disappointed with myself, but more than that I really didn’t want people around me to feel sorry for me. It was a big thing for me, wondering what I’d do if they did think about me like that. So I could no longer look people in the eyes. Nobody ever came and said anything to me, but I felt they were probably thinking that…”
Minami, you were in Ongaku Gatas with Mano Erina, right?
Sengoku: “I thought it was great when Mano made her solo debut. Right around that time all the older Eggs were leaving. The older girls I were really friendly with all left, so I started to become really worried and anxious. Then the next to debut were Smileage, who were younger than me… what did I think at that time? I’d gone past disappointment…”
Saho: “I think I understand you! You have no feelings left. Like, you feel nothing? You get past feeling disappointed. Even when other people’s debuts were decided, I didn’t once feel disappointed. It’s not exactly like ‘it’s nothing to do with me,’ but it was like something that was just unbelievable for me, I felt great for them. Then when I was in Shugo Chara Egg and Smileage was being formed, I felt I was getting close, and that was the first time I felt disappointed. I feel I changed at that point. But I think becoming able to feel like that was a good thing.
So how did you feel when you graduated from the Eggs and joined Up Up Girls?
Saho: “To be honest, at first I was a little at a loss. When I graduated and they asked me to join I struggled with an answer and couldn’t really give them a reply. But I felt I had to decide, there’s no more time, and if I didn’t do this now I’d regret it later, so I joined. It wasn’t until a little later however that I thought I really have to do my best and be aware of my responsibilities though (laughs).”
Sengoku: “Oh really? (laughs) At first the feelings of worry and other things were quite large, yeah.”
At the beginning we asked you about your troubles with the Eggs, but how about with Up Up Girls?
Sengoku: “Up Up Girls is even worse! Since then we’ve had even more troubles. But this is what makes Up Up Girls, I think (laughs).”
Saho: “I thought so, too! (laughs)”
Sengoku: “All of last year was like that, right? When we were Eggs we had teachers for the dances and MCs, and they took care of the costumes for us while we were on stage, but with Up Up…”
Saho: “Yeah, we learn our dances by watching ourselves on video. In the meeting room.”
Sengoku: “In the meeting room that doesn’t even have a mirror.”
Saho: “In the beginning I couldn’t help comparing to our Egg days. I kept thinking ‘but when I was an Egg we did things like this…’”
Sengoku: “Definitely. We were handed various songs, and we had to quickly learn them all by ourselves. We had no teacher, so if there was a dance move we didn’t understand we had to ask each other. In any case, we really struggled in remembering things (laughs). Last summer we were all like this, there really was no room to breathe.”
Saho: “It’s amazing when you watch our summer event DVD from last year, isn’t it? Our eyes are all really suspicious (laughs). If you watch it you’ll understand what I mean.”
Sengoku: “But since the start of this year we’ve become able to do many things, and we’ve gotten our own original songs, so I feel perhaps it’s just a little further ahead, and I’m unbelievably happy (laughs).”
So how do you feel about the Hello! Project members now? Have they become your rivals!?
Sengoku: “When I was an Egg, that was like the domain of the gods (laughs).”
Saho: “I know, right! They’re gods (laughs).”
Sengoku: “The goal as Eggs was to enter Hello! Project, we did things thinking about how we wanted to join them, so they’re people we really look up to. Then, when we graduated from the Eggs and could no longer do so, even just listening to their songs made me sad. But with Up Up we were allowed to do covers of their songs, so once again I felt how good they are, and I’m a regular fan of both their songs and units, so I really do like them.”
Saho: “Yeah, it was always like that.”
Sengoku: “But Up Up are attacking from a different place to Hello! Project, so the feeling that we’re building something different to them is very strong. So, while we look up to them, I also think it’s good that they could be rivals.”
Saho: “We’re doing things separately to them now, so we have a better chance of overtaking them than if we were still inside Hello! Project, don’t you think?”
Sengoku: “Of course! That’s right.”
It’s a bit of a mean question, but supposing Tsunku said he wanted Up Up Girls to join Hello! Project, what would you do?
Sengoku: “Eeeh, join Hello Project? (laughs)”
Saho: “… Honestly, if we could all join together, I would say ‘yes, please!’ (laughs) My feelings towards Hello! Project haven’t changed since the past. I’ve always looked up to them, I think they’re great and I love them.”
Sengoku: “Yeah, that’s right. But, while I’m not exactly on a separate path, Hello! Project is Hello! Project, so there are things you can do, and things you can’t do there, right? I want to try and develop something different in a different place now. If we were told to join, I would say ‘no way!’ (laughs)”
Your different answers are interesting, but as you are both doing your best for Up Up Girls, nothing has changed, right?
Sengoku: “Right! We’ll do anything, and we want to do anything. In order to get our name out there I’d even go so far as to hand out tissues (laughs).”
Saho: “Up Up Girls will unite the whole country!”