ChanYui’s recently released her 5th single (okay, that was more than a month ago at August 12, so maybe not so recent after all) after her first solo concert this July. This will be the last single of her teenage years, as she celebrates her 20th birthday on August 15. In this (translated) interview, ChanYui’ll tell us the secrets behind her latest work, and also the thoughts she has as she goes through the last month of her teenage life.
I am able to sing only because everyone understands and supports me
──You previously said that you were able to be yourself the most when you think –about how everyone would feel towards your actions– and put those thoughts into action.
──And so, I felt that you were a person with high awareness, as an entertainer as well as a professional. The concert at Pacifico Yokohama had a great sense of completion to it. I was quite astonished by the emotions running high on top of the stage that day.
That was the effect I was going for as well (laughs). I wanted to be the “Ogura Yui”, like I’ve always been, in front of everyone, not wanting to show my weakness to them. Because of that, even if I’m going through tough times, I won’t tell others that I’m doing so. I think it’s my job to relay those feelings through my songs and acting. Normally I won’t show my weakness as it is, but the concert this time was special, in a way. When I saw the spectacle from the stage, the hard work put in so far…… It’d be a bit preposterous to say that it’s solely my hard work (laughs), but it felt like I was being rewarded for all my efforts thus far. I decided that, if only for all the people who have supported me this much, it was okay to show my honest feelings, and I wanted them to understand these feelings as well. When I thought about that, emotions overwhelmed me and tears started to flow.
──That’s why, while we were all shocked to see you moved to tears, we never thought that was unlike you. Your 5000-odd fans were also happy at the fact that you had just finished your first solo concert. It was only natural to tear at that. It’s difficult to put it in words, but the tears became a beautiful highlight of the concert.
But I shudder at the thought of having the live footage from the concert compiled (laughs). There’s the part about me crying as well, but I care a lot about my bangs, and since I was singing and dancing by myself for over two hours……
──Your bangs went all over the place (laughs).
That’s it (laughs). Just by being there, the fans who understand and support me made it possible for me to sing without any worries, and that definitely made it a new kind of performance for me.
Despite being shy, I tried to sing assertively
──The single this time, “Honey♥Come!!”, is indeed a song where the things you have reaffirmed during your concerts are put into words. The song was used as the ending theme song for the anime Joukamachi no Dandelion, where the next king is elected from a family of nine siblings, so I guess that is why the song starts with “pick me please”, but I suppose that phrase can also be taken as your declaration.
Indeed. Expressing my feelings towards everyone as Ogura Yui herself, while retaining the link between the song and the contents of the anime, was something which…… how should I put it, I tried to sing assertively (laughs).
──Well, you did say (in the song) that, ”You, who support me, are dear to me, and I want to make you smile”, and “I will spare no efforts in making sure that you do not regret supporting me”, yes (laughs)?
That came out relatively impactful (laughs). The lyrics were really direct so I thought at first that I wouldn’t be able to sing them if I didn’t hold these strong emotions. However, I soon realized that “I want to make you smile” and “I will spare no efforts in making sure that you do not regret (supporting me)” are feelings which I constantly have, and that gave me a surge of confidence. The melody and arrangement provided by Mr. Shunryuu and Mr. Okubo (Kaoru) respectively both gave off a wonderful sparkling sensation, and made me feel “Wow, they’ve really done it!”. That is why I was able to sing freely during recording. This might not have been my own words but I did think “Ah, this has become a great song” (laughs).
──This song has an interesting disposition too. While the melody and arrangement are both loud and flashy, and your vocals, cute and bubbly, the song just does not come off as “pushy”. It doesn’t scream “Become my fan!”.
I think that is because I was being shy (laughs). According to Ms. Oomori (Shouko), whom I asked in passing during recording, it looks like the title for this single “Honey♥Come!!” came from me being shy* during my previous recordings with her. It’s also around this time that the lyrics “A shy love” were born. And since this song is centered around me being shy, it didn’t turn out to be that kind of assertive song (something like “I’ll let you be my fan”). Moreover, instead of a tone like “Follow me!”, I chose to adopt a more humble and inviting tone like “Let’s go together!” when singing.
*TL note: There’s some wordplay involved here. はにかむ (Hanikamu) means “to be shy”, and is pronounced similarly to “Honey♥Come!!” in Japanese.
I will continue to work hard because I have little self-confidence
──But that is also why there was a female fan at the concert at Pacifico Yokohama, wearing the exact same red gingham dress as the one in the album cover art of “Strawberry JAM”, jumping up and down waving a pink penlight as she cheered “Yui-chan!” ……
I was really glad to know that there were many female fans who came for the concert.
──Indeed. To those girls and many others, you’re like an existence they aspire to become: an object of admiration. If I have to say, a star. But from your viewpoint, you would instead treat yourself as being below them?
That is because I am not the type who have confidence in themselves. For example, regarding the talk about never showing your weakness from earlier on, I feel that I think that way only because I am that type of person. There are people who still manage to look cool even after showing their flaws, but I think that if I were to allow my flaws and weaknesses to be seen, everyone will only be disappointed. But this way, having little self-confidence, for the better or worse, makes me feel that I have still long ways to go before being able to become that kind of idol-like existence. In my own way, I am slowly but surely continuing to try my best, to reach that level of support.
──I think there’s a symbolic meaning behind “In my own way” this time, and while I suppose you wouldn’t say embarrassing things like “I will work many times harder than others!”, I think the feelings of wanting to always try your best while trying not to be overly confident can be summed up in one phrase: “to be shy”.
That is the idea behind it.
──Why was Ms. Oomori able to tell your disposition just from seeing your shy appearance?
Indeed, I wonder how that slipped out (laughs). But to be able to tell that just from my casual behavior in the studio is something I’m very happy about; to be able to read who I am simply from such casual behavior is something which makes me go “Ah, as expected of Ms. Oomori”. I think that is one part of Ms. Oomori’s brilliance.
The style of the song changes depending on whether I sing in Hikari’s or Akane’s shoes
──Earlier on, you mentioned that while “Honey♥Come!!” retained its links to the anime Joukamachi no Dandelion as its ending theme song, it was also a song which expressed your feelings.
That is right.
──On the reverse, you can also say “While this (song) is a proclamation from Ogura Yui, it is also the ending theme song for an anime”. Not only do you try to express your feelings through the song, you also have to treat it as an introduction to the series. In addition, you also voice Sakurada Hikari in the series. Actually, you have quite the complicated relationship with “Honey♥Come!!” ……
Hehehe (laughs). This is pretty much the case when asked to perform the theme songs for an anime. This way you try to get an overview of the universe and storyline of the work.
──Why is that so?
I think that is because everyone has their own intentions for watching anime. There are those who watch a particular series because they like the original work, and then there are also those who watch it for the voice actors/actresses who appear in the series. For all you know, there might also be people who watch the series because I voice a character and do the theme song for it. While I indeed voice Hikari in the series, if I had sung the song with Hikari’s emotions and feelings, the song wouldn’t have become the theme song representative of the series as a whole, and certainly not a song representative of me either. Also, I think that amongst the characters in the series, the one who comes closest to capturing the essence of “Honey♥Come!!” is the main character, (Sakurada) Akane. Since I voice Hikari, it’s going to be somewhat different singing in her shoes.
──That is true.
Akane is someone who aspires to be friends with others despite being a shy girl herself. While I think about the universe in-story which revolves around and moves along with her, I start wondering if I’m right in incorporating the techniques I have learnt from my time as a solo artist, into my music. I also wonder if making certain technical decisions using my judgement (“If I sing it this way, won’t it sound better?”), based on the overview of the series as a whole, will make the song a proper theme song for the anime, as well as a song representative of myself.
I actually did such troublesome things?!
──I get the feeling that you think about a lot of complicated things while singing, just from our conversation thus far (laughs).
Even up till now, when I try to think aloud I get surprised at how I actually did such troublesome things (laughs).
──Eh? But my next question was going to be “Where did you pick up this ‘art’ of thinking?”……
Sorry about that (laughs). The moment I received the preview and lyrics of the song, the thoughts and feelings appeared in my mind in a flash, instinctively. “Should I centre this around Akane?”, “In this song, the hook (the climax of a song) continues with this same phrase so if I sing it like this it might not be very interesting” are some of those thoughts. These thoughts and the subsequent thought processes (“I want to do it this way!” “Hmm, but if I do it this way I’ll have to do this and that.”) are formed naturally in my head. I get surprised when I try to sort them out now (laughs).
──You’ve mentioned before that you found it easier to exercise your creativity when building upon a theme that was already given to you, is that similar to this?
Indeed. I have been given the two themes “This is the ending theme song to Joukamachi no Dandelion” and “This is also a declaration from Ogura Yui”, so it feels like the things I wanted to do regarding the song came to mind instantly. This is the same when it comes to music or (voice) acting. Even if I am told to sing freely to my liking, I think I will always start from the themes that bind me to the song.
──This might sound a bit unpleasant, but in music or in (voice) acting, have you had any experience with themes that you want to work with but are unable to do so?
I haven’t had experience with that kind of themes, but there have been occasions where I worry about the way I had to approach a theme to make it sound like mine. In fact, there have been countless occasions where I have been unable to project my individuality on the theme, resulting in much regret. At times like those, I end up changing my way of thinking midway.
── What do you mean?
I’m very uncomfortable with situations which make me go “Ehhhhh!?”, so I try to get opinions from the people around me in a bid to somewhat drown out that feeling. But it’s quite rude to do that. So what I do is to keep in mind those opinions, face the feelings of doubt when they come, and find the good points of the theme which make it possible for me to accept it (“This is good!”). And then I make sure to treat my first impression of the song with importance. In the case of “Honey♥Come!!”, my first impression was “This is good!”, so it felt like I figured out the style of singing instantly, just like that.
I want to show it off if I can
──The coupling song, “Girlish Edge” is a very hyper dance song. The disposition of the song is definitely different from “Honey♥Come!!”, but in certain aspects it is the same. I think they’re both songs which suit the 19-year old you, as you undergo this period between childhood and adulthood.
Ah, I thought it was a pretty intriguing song. How should I put it, it’s somewhere “in between”.
I can relate to the feelings of “I’m only attempting to act mature; I can’t contain my excitement” and “I act freely; doesn’t that fit me to a T?”. There have been many instances where “I try to push myself but find out in the end that I’m unable to do anything” (laughs). But there’s also a part where I think “I’m unable to become like this girl”, so I feel that I’m “in between” understanding and not understanding the song.
──What do you mean by “(you’re) unable to become like this girl”?
I don’t think I’m as cool or collected as the girl in the song…… I don’t think I’ll say such stylish lines like “Moving between the blurred lines, aren’t you being upfront based on your mood?” and “Let me enjoy this special moment as much as I can” (laughs).
──Don’t you think that’s like showing off?
Not really. I want to show it off if I can (laughs). If I do that, I’ll think “I can’t be like this girl, but it’s still cool”. There aren’t any difficult parts to sing, and the recording is quite fun. I’ll be able to switch between the normal me, and the me who thinks about showing it off and tries to play it cool.
──So how was it like singing to such a high-speed dance tune?
That was also very enjoyable. I’ve been to various dance classes since I was small. While I like dancing as a whole, I also like dancing to these kind of beats. In addition, the placement of the accents in the song, as well as the rhythm-making, was something that was fresh to me.
──Indeed, the concise explanation of the situation, followed by the omission of particles as much as possible and the arrangement of the individual phrases, makes a rhythm that sounds unique just by listening to it.
The rhythm’s rather interesting (laughs). It might be because I’m a dancer, but I got onto the rhythm of the lyrics and of course, the instrumental, naturally.
──But it’s not a song where the beat induces one to jump along with the high-spirited tension. That is why I think the difference in temperament between this song and “Honey♥Come!!” is pretty interesting.
If I’d sung it with hyped-up energy and power from the start, it wouldn’t have sounded like the usual me, nor would I have sounded cool (laughs). If I tried to sing in a slightly collected or rather, flat tone, there would be some allowance for me to play it cool. Even as the rhythm’s beating away, I’m still there singing with a composed voice. So it becomes high-spirited, but also becomes a song which sounds very much like the usual me, and allows me to put an air of style to it.
Baths are an extremely big matter.
──Just like the single “Ring Ring Rainbow!!” from YuiKaori, which was recently released a few days before (Ishihara) Kaori’s birthday, “Honey♥Come!!” is going to be released 3 days before your 20th birthday, on August 15.
Yes, that’s right.
──Then, this is going to be the same question that was posed to Kaori during the interview for “Ring Ring Rainbow!!” (laughs), but do you think of “Honey♥Come!!” as a work that summarizes your efforts as a 19-year old? Or do you think of it as a work that points towards the upcoming year as a 20-year old?
As opposed to Kaori-chan, I feel that this single is better left behind in the teenage years. I was able to express my feelings to everyone through “Honey♥Come!!”, and made a rhythm from my voice in “Girlish Edge”, so it’s a work that puts the things I want to do and be particular about into one single. And then there’s the music video for “Honey♥Come!!” as well.
──Even though the full-length music video was unveiled and screened for the first time at the concert at Pacifico Yokohama, it was very well received. The alternation between the worlds of the honeybees and that of the flowers was pretty interesting, and then there was that flower bath scene.
Ahahahaha (laughs). Apart from “Honey♥Come!!” having the meaning of being shy, as well as the literal meaning of “sweet things are arriving” (honey is sweet after all), it does also have the meaning of “honeycomb”*, hence the setting in the music video. And then since the honeybee and the flower fairy are both attracted to each other, I thought of a setting where the honeybee tries her best to dance in a bid to get the attention of the flower fairy, while the flower fairy tries her best to refine herself. That is why the bath scene has a symbolic meaning of refining oneself.
*TL Note: Yet another wordplay. Hanikamu (ハニカム, which sounds exactly like はにかむ) can refer to a honeycomb.
──So you mean that was a scene that was required in the setting (laughs).
Yes. To the flower fairy, that bath is an extremely big matter (laughs).
And that’s the end of the interview (yet another lengthy one; I should really get used to the length of these!). Took me quite a while to do up the translation this time round, I wanted to make sure I got the nuances right (though I’m sure there’ll still be some imperfections here and there). ChanYui can say some really abstract and deep things at times; she’s unexpectedly mature for her age if I’ve to say!
Guess that’s it for now. Now, time to get back to those 50-question interviews…
The original text for the interview can be found here.