We’re back with yet another interview translation, and this time it’ll be for Ogura Yui’s 6th single, High Touch☆Memory! Being the first release of her twenties, she will be sharing with us her thoughts on the single, as well as the feelings she hold as she goes into her twenties.
It took time to have an actual feel of being the “20 year-old Ogura Yui”
──The new single this time round, becomes the first release of your twenties ever since you celebrated your 20th birthday on 15 August last year.
That’s right. But as far as the song goes, it is not a song which was inspired by me turning twenty, nor is it one where I try to do up an adult-like expression. Having an actual feel of being what it was like being twenty, was something which happened relatively recently……
──You couldn’t move on from the feeling of being a teenager?
Yes. Having started my career since I was a teenager, there are some practices and rules that have long been established within me, such as the prohibition of consuming alcohol. Breaking these, or rather, accepting the changes (“Ah, it’s now okay for me to take alcohol!”) was something that took quite a bit of time. That is why I thought it’d be good to make this single in the image of the Ogura Yui that has lived her nurturing teenage years to the fullest and has extended her teenage personality into her twenties, rather than that of a 20 year-old.
──But within the song, there are some lines in the lyrics such as “Towards the next stage” and “Open the gateway; dash out without any hesitation” that display a certain form of resolution from the you that has turned twenty.
Of course, I myself hold this huge desire to want to move on to the “next stage” together with my fans. At the same time though, this song also holds as the ending theme song for the anime Cardfight!! Vanguard G : Stride Gate. As the lyrics were composed to tie in with the contents of the series, the “Open the door” part is also an allusion to the “gate” in the title of the series. In addition, this anime is being aired on Sunday mornings, so I thought I’d make this a song that blows away the lethargy of a Sunday morning and make you want to get outdoors without any hesitation.
──It’s a rather unplayful and straightforward pop song. It seems to be similar in nature to your 4th single, “Tinkling Smile” (released August 2014).
That is the very definition of a straightforward song. But while “Tinkling Smile” was a bit more adult-like, “High Touch☆Memory” is more merry in nature. It is very bright and catchy, but it’s not too sweet, so as to speak. Even for me, I sang this song while placing emphasis on making the song more refreshing and energetic, instead of making it cute.
──Indeed, the music video was thoroughly refreshing and full of energy.
This marks the first time I have done a shoot overseas, in Guam. That is why I tried to make the music video not only fit in with the melody of the song but also give off an early summer-like vibe. The dance scenes are usually done in lots of frilly outfits, but since the song this time is more merry and energetic, I opted to do it in short pants and a sun visor, to achieve a slight boyish look. I thought it’d be good to focus more attention on that part.
An unexpected tie-up with a battle anime aimed toward boys
──You’ve mentioned earlier that this single is the ending theme song for an anime, but to be honest, this tie-up comes as a bit of a shock. It’s an ending theme song for an anime aimed towards boys, not to mention a battle anime too.
I myself was shocked too! Among the various candidates for the new single, “High Touch☆Memory” was the most pop-like, and even though that fits me best, I would never have thought that it would become the ending theme song for an anime aimed towards boys.
──Have you seen the first episode of the anime?
──Content-wise, it seems to be considerably dark. It’s on that level where I start to wonder if it’s really okay for the mood to be so heavy right from the first episode given that it’s an anime that’s geared towards kids and airs on Sunday mornings. But as soon as the episode, with its heavy atmosphere and all, come towards the end, the intro starts to play……
“Ready, go! Only with you!”♪ (laughs)
──That’s right. That contrast throws me off; or assures me, rather (laughs).
This might be something that the people from the production side was aiming for. Even during the selection of the song, I was told that the song was better left as it is, with its playful and merry melody, without having to be too conscious of it being a tie-up song. The story is plenty serious enough, so the ending is made cheerful for that contrast.
Ogura Yui, the type to pack everything into her schedule
──As you have mentioned earlier, this song is meant to welcome Sundays with a blast. Speaking of Sundays, in the lyrics, there is this part “You’re still feeling pretty sleepy but, what a waste, today’s Sunday”. So, how do you spend your off-days? Are you the type, like in the lyrics, to go out since it’s a rest day, or are you the type to sleep in on rest days?
I am the former, for sure. In fact, rest day or not, I am the type who will not feel at ease until I fill my schedule up myself. That is the case even up till now but, I have always been unable to take hold of my own time at work and in school, so when I do have the time for myself I feel that I have to fill it up with a schedule, or something like that. That is why I make plans such as “Okay, I have 3 hours of free time, so I’ll spend an hour having tea at that cafe I’m interested in, and then I’ll spend the rest of the time looking around shops before heading to the venue”, etc.
──You live your life by the hour rather than by the day, then.
Is that precise (laughs)? Just this morning, I woke up early for a lecture at the university. I started off by checking the script for use at the recording in the afternoon. After I got out from the lecture, I went to the recording studio. Then I came over here for this interview. And after this I think I’d like to go for some yoga.
──That’s amazing…… Do you feel like your body has already become accustomed to your packed schedules?
That is probably the case. That is why, on the flip side, when I go back home for the New Year and I lie around without having anything to do, my physical condition starts to crumble (laughs). It might just be me feeling uneasy about a period of “voidness”. There are still many things I want to do and experience, after all.
──What are the things you want to do, specifically?
At the moment, I feel that I have to get more exposure to literature. I think I’d like to express myself better through my words. Or rather, I’d like to widen my vocabulary and train my language proficiency so that I can widen the range of expressions I can use.
──Is that because you would like to write your own lyrics?
No, I am not thinking about writing lyrics as of now. It is still rather embarrassing (laughs). I might challenge myself and write some someday though.
──If you were to be asked to write lyrics for the next single, would you do it?
If I’m being asked specifically to do so, I might do it (laughs).
“TO BE ALIVE”, a song with worries over the placement of feelings
──The coupling song “TO BE ALIVE” is the theme song for the game Summon Night 6: Lost Borders. This song takes a turn away from the pop nature of the title song, and features expressive violin elements that spans the whole song, making it a thrilling rock tune.
I was surprised when I was first given the demo for listening. The sound was simply too cool. To begin with, the game music for the “Summon Night” series has always incorporated elements from Celtic music. “TO BE ALIVE” follows this path as well, which makes it a song with an interesting melody, unheard of before. The lyrics also follows closely to the series, painting the story of the protagonists who find out about their emotional ties with the various people they meet in the medieval, fantasy-like world they live in.
──This song, whether melody-wise or lyrics-wise, is pretty emotional. But if I have to say, the way you sing it sounds cooler than anything else.
For “TO BE ALIVE”, I spent quite a bit of time worrying about where I should be placing my feelings during singing. The lyrics to this song can be taken as a story of growth and development for the female protagonist, Amu, whom I voice in the game. Hence, it can be taken in the viewpoint of Amu. However, on the other hand, while this song is about the world within the game, there are some parts in which we can relate to our daily lives as well. Taking that into consideration, instead of immersing myself in the perspectives of the in-game world and its characters, I decided it would be better to take a step back and sing.
──So you’ve decided to sing from the perspective of an outsider having an overlook of their world.
That’s right. I thought it would be good to express the image that encompasses the story of the game, the feelings of the characters, as well as the relation with our daily lives outside of the game, which is why I sang the song in that image. Having said that, I also feel that it is a song which can transform based on the way it is sung, so I think it would also be interesting to take on a different approach to this song during live performances.
The recent realization that I have a positive attitude
──”High Touch☆Memory” and “TO BE ALIVE” are both songs with extremely optimistic lyrics. Compared to the former, which is simply full of energy and cheerfulness, the latter seems to be more like “Difficulties await us ahead, but we will advance anyway”, and there is an assumption that there will be difficulties.
There is! It might be strange to be proud of it, but that is something that I can relate to personally, and I think that there are going to be many challenges in store for me from now on, without a doubt. However, there have been lots of difficulties up till now— my days as a high school student were the toughest, but I had the confidence to overcome the obstacles in front of me, one by one. That is why I think I’m able to do my best without giving in, no matter what lies in store for me.
──You are pretty optimistic yourself.
I used to think I was a very negative person, until I recently realized that that wasn’t the case at all. At work or in my personal life, I will concern myself with all the details whenever something happens. I will do incessant self-reflection and go “Ah, this can’t do”. But, in actual fact, that might have been an important thing for my self-improvement, and at a certain point of time, my perspectives began to change. If I hadn’t thought about my personal growth, I would’ve done nothing but work, and I think that might have just been a stopgap measure at covering up the issue at hand.
──So it’s something like bending low in order to make the leap. Before, you felt that you were a negative person, having focused on the times you were “bending low”, but a quick look beyond those times shows that it has turned into a “leap” in a positive direction.
That’s it! Even while looking back, I have found myself constantly moving forward. Ever since realizing that, I have been able to think of myself as a positive person.
──Earlier on, you mentioned that your days as a high school student were the toughest. Was it due to juggling both work and studies?
Yes. I was still very immature, in terms of both physical and mental age. I was working, and yet I couldn’t afford any mistakes as a student. That was what I thought, so every day was really gruelling. Especially since I was still unfamiliar with the workplace, so while probing my way through, I felt like my responsibilities towards every single aspect of work were heavier. I really want to tell the “me” from that time, “You did well”.
──You are who you are because of the efforts from that period.
There have been tough times, but the result was that they were always connected with really happy times. That is why I believe in my past selves, or rather, if I devote myself to the tasks in front of me, I will be able to think that the results will naturally follow.
The release event was a “high touch session”
──This time, the two songs in the single both had the existence of a third-person “you”. In fact, in the narrative of the lyrics, this “you” holds a pretty big weight. That’s why I was wondering if the existence of others hold a huge importance to you.
Of course. I have come so far now only because of the support from many people, and there have been many obstacles which would have been impossible for me to overcome alone. The “me” exists now because of “you”, starting from my fans, and that is not going to change ever.
──Speaking of expressing gratitude for your fans, the release event for “High Touch☆Memory” has been scheduled to be a “high touch session” in June, hasn’t it?
──I suppose the sense of distance with the fans is going to be different, as compared to a concert?
It is completely different. Of course, in concerts and stages, there are conversational exchanges with the audience as well, but in such events, I get to look at each and every fan in their eyes, and from their expressions and tones, their feelings are conveyed to me through the ambience. I get to feel “I’m being supported by all these people” once again, and that gives me the drive to do better.
──By the way, in your personal life, are you the type to be high-fived?
Hmm, no. I don’t think I have any memories of that in the past either……
TL note: “High touch” is how the Japanese call a high-five. It is being left untranslated in the title of this section due to the reference that ChanYui makes back to the title of the single.
──Not even with your partner in YuiKaori, Ishihara Kaori?
No! Won’t two people doing high-fives and getting hyped up over it look rather strange (laughs)?
To start building on an “Ogura Yui-like concert” during the solo concert tour
──After the high touch session, your solo concert tour “High-Touch☆Summer” will begin. How enthusiastic are you about it?
I’m going to take a short flashback to last July during the solo concert. It was held, to my surprise, at Pacifico Yokohama, which is an extremely big stage. Rather than being a wall I had to overcome, it felt more like a wall that slammed right into me. It was also my last concert of my teenage years, so I wanted to break through that wall by giving my all and showing everyone my best performance of the time.
──True to its name, it was a concert that showcased “the culmination of Ogura Yui’s teenage years”.
Just that, at that point of time, just doing the performance felt like it took up everything I had. For example, I have had experience doing concerts in large venues as YuiKaori, and at Pacifico Yokohama too. That is why during the rehearsals, somewhere in my heart, I had the feeling that it was going to be alright. But, as soon as the actual performance began, the stage looked completely different from when it was two of us. I guess it is because the energies of the audience were all concentrated on me then.
──You had to take up the expectations of the 5000 people assembled in Pacifico Yokohama alone.
I was constantly trying to come to terms with the weight of those expectations, all the more while doing my best to not lose to it. As a result, that felt like it took everything I had. In that sense, that first concert was a really important learning experience for me. The tour this time will be a step up from that first concert, or rather, through this tour, I will have developed “Ogura Yui-like concert”. That is why next time, instead of simply receiving power from the audience, I thought it would be good to be able to offer them something more powerful in return. Keeping that in mind continuously and holding on to these strong feelings, I would like to make a concert that will bring a sense of unity, like never before, with everyone.
“I will complete this tour through my own efforts because it’s a hurdle I can overcome.”
──This time too, the tour kicks off in a big stage, at Makuhari Messe, and what’s more, it goes for two days.
Yes, it does. But when such a tall hurdle was prepared for me, I didn’t think “Oh no, I might not be able to overcome this”, but rather, “I will complete this tour through my own efforts because it’s a hurdle I can overcome”.
──In the first place, if it’s an insurmountable hurdle, you wouldn’t have started your tour.
In a way, I’m being tested. Or rather, this is a state that exists precisely because of the possibility of clearing it by myself. The tour this time is a huge obstacle to me, but if I am able to overcome it, I should be able to become more united with my fans. And then there is also the excitement of simply going around the regions alone.
──Starting from Chiba, you’ll go around the Aichi and Osaka regions, before holding the final concert on the day before your birthday, on August 14. And it’ll be held in your hometown of Gunma, no less. A return of victory, so as to speak.
Yes, that’s it. That’s why, despite the cliché expression, “this summer looks like it could get really warm!” (laughs).
A way of living where an image of “the person I want to be” is intentionally not fixed
──From our exchange thus far, it seems that your attitude towards your career has been consistent. Having overcome the obstacles being laid in front of you, obstacle by obstacle, do you suppose you will see something like a complete version of yourself at the end of your journey?
I often get asked things like “What direction are you headed in?” or “Do you have any goals?”, but I do not make goals with the intention of making them goal-like. For example, there are many people I respect and admire, but when it comes down to it, I am myself, so I don’t think about wanting to be like those people. I think that using the things learnt from these people I admire to supplement myself is important. That’s why, the image of the person I want to be, is really something that is unknown.
──Because there’s no one you would want to become, does that also mean on the reverse, something like, you can become anyone?
That may be the case. First, I will complete a small goal that is down-to-earth and within my reach, which will then allow me to see my next goal. Through constantly progress like this, I hope to be able to become someone whom even I never thought of becoming. On the other hand, if I were to decide who I would want to become now, I feel that I will feel empty even if I do become such a person in the future.
──I see. If you set your final objective, when you do achieve it there will be nothing awaiting for you beyond that.
Yes. So I would rather just do my best for the things in front of me, and let the results come along naturally.
──You have mentioned earlier on about feeling empty after achieving your goals. However, depending on the individual, some even feel disappointment at not achieving their goals. Instead, you operate on the assumption that you are going to achieve your goals. That, I think, also shows your positive attitude.
Now that you mention it, it does seem that way.
──Previously, you have voiced a character in the anime Yama no Susume. Using mountain climbing as an analogy, as of now, you have no idea how tall of a mountain are you climbing, nor are you fixing a certain peak to reach, but you are climbing anyway.
Yes, that’s it. And then, if I decide “Okay, let’s climb that mountain”, won’t my approaches be limited to that mountain? Won’t I be discarding the possibility of climbing a mountain with a taller peak? Well, whether I can properly climb this mountain now is something I won’t know until later (laughs).
And that’s the end of the translation! This translation actually took a bit more time because I needed to fix a lot of the phrasing (a lot of the Japanese couldn’t be directly translated). I actually had it more or less done around August last year, but pushed it back because I was really busy with school.
Okay, that wasn’t so accurate, I was just lazy to format the post.
Anyway, that’s it for now. ChanYui’s released her 7th single in November last year, so maybe I’ll get to the interview for that…
The original text for the interview can be found here.