This interview with Jurina appears in the “AKB48 Official Election Guidebook 2013”. Plain text indicates Jurina’s answers, bold text indicates the interviewer.
Last year in March, her concurrency in AKB48 was decided. In the Senbatsu Election in June, she ranked in at 9th place. Without a doubt, the wind of fortune was blowing towards Matsui Jurina last year.
“Wind of fortune, eh? (laughs), I don’t really feel that way myself. I was participating in activities with all my might, but anyway, I’m doing the best I can to work hard. But I can really feel the warmth of the fans when I perform with AKB48’s Team K. Because they called my name a lot, I was really happy about that…”
Those calls are still ringing out. Not just in her home ground in Nagoya, the fans in Tokyo have completely accepted Jurina. From the previous election to this year’s election, how has the support for Jurina risen? When I asked her, this was her answer.
“There’s UZA. I’ve been called a center since “Oogoe Diamond” in AKB, so my fans were really happy. However, I was paired up as double center with (Ooshima) Yuuko-san. Of course I was thrilled, but I was also frustrated. ‘Is my power alone not enough?’ I thought. But since then, a lot of fans started saying, ‘Next time, you should get center for yourself alone’. From there, inside myself, a seed was planted that made me think ‘I want to aim for center’.”
‘In the next election, I want to break into the “Kami 7”’. This is a phrase that Jurina has been uttering at every opportunity since the last election. Have her feelings on this changed at all?
“That goal hasn’t changed. To explain my feelings in a little bit more detail, my feelings up til last year were ‘Rather than forward, it would be nice to move up’. Since the beginning of this year, it’s changed to ‘I have to climb higher than last year’.”
It may seem like a small change, but it’s actually quite large. A large change has awoken inside Jurina, this is ‘self-awareness’.
“I’ve received a lot of words of support from fans at handshake events, they say ‘Since it’s you, Jurina, you can definitely go higher’. When I hear words of encouragement like that, I myself start to think ‘I have to go higher’. As expected, the younger members are gradually gathering power, so I think I have to work hard in activities.”
The strong self-awareness that tells her she has to move forward may have sprouted, but at the same time, Jurina is calmly analyzing the present situation.
“Fans often tell me ‘Shouldn’t you aim for 1st in the election this year?’ But I’m not in position for that yet. That’s why I won’t say ‘I’m aiming for 1st’.”
The wall to ‘Kami 7’ that Jurina is contending for is high and thick. Those girls who paved their own road through piled-up troubles possess an unbreakable strength of emotion and solidarity. They’ve come to make the group known at a national level, and their friendly characters are beloved.
The impediment to reaching ‘Kami 7’, as well as what she herself is lacking; has she been thinking about these things somehow?
“It might be my age (laughs). I’m younger than many members, so I’m lacking an overwhelming amount of experience. The other thing is my popularity, I guess.”
What does she have to do to cross over the wall? Jurina says that this past year, that’s all she’s been thinking about. At present, this is the conclusion she’s come to.
“In the end, it’s about raising SKE’s popularity. Of course I’m doing my best as an AKB member, but I think I need to work even harder as a member of SKE. If the members all do their best with a strong sense of awareness, I think we can be on par with AKB. I expect that everyone in SKE feels the same about this.”
At last year’s election, after Shinoda Mariko said to the junior members, “Come at me with the intent to crush me”, the girl who ran straight up to Shinoda backstage was Jurina.
“I asked, ‘Is it fine for me to come, too?’ When I did, she said ‘Sure’. Oh, that’s right, the other day, Mariko-sama talked to me about this. She said ‘I’m not in AKB for my own sake. I’m here for the younger members’.”
Shinoda has a message she wants to convey to her juniors. She is looking forward to the new generation coming to unseat her.
“I want the person who takes on that burden to be me. I don’t want anyone else to take it. When Mariko-sama graduates, I want my coming of age to give her peace of mind. If she’s not still there by then, that might cause me some problems (laughs).”
What Jurina is hoping for is perhaps ‘independence from elders’. To ease the mind of Shinoda, who has been taking care of her since “Oogoe Diamond”, would be for the other ‘Kami 7’ members to give her the stamp of approval and say ‘We can entrust this to Jurina’.
“That’s right. I’ve come this far by being helped out. Someday I want to be like Mariko-sama!”
Carrying those emotions, Jurina announced candidacy. For her, the 5th Senbatsu Election campaign has begun.