This interview with Yui appears in the “AKB48 Official Election Guidebook 2013”. Plain text indicates Yui’s answers, bold text indicates the interviewer.
An earnest hard worker, honest to the point of being awkward. Called ‘The Diligence’, without letting up on anything, she makes efforts seriously, and with constant efforts she’s grabbed hold of chances. But does Yokoyama have that same image of herself?
“Well, I think I’ve been really lucky. Two years ago, when the senbatsu cutoff was 21, I ranked 19th. If that had been a 16 member senbatsu, I wouldn’t have made it into senbatsu. Last year, in a 16 member senbatsu, I ranked 15th. Along with that rise came the Not Yet subunit, and you could say I climbed even higher, because up until I got into AKB I failed various auditions…. Thanks to a lot of luck coming together, I feel like everything is going really well. So lately I’ve been thinking, ‘it might be that I’m really lucky?!’”
To make a dream come true, diligent hard work is indispensable, but at times good luck is also necessary. The power to make sure your luck comes around, and also, the power to take hold of that chance and make things happen. She is possessed of both of these powers.
“I got a lot of chances this year, too. The fact that I was placed with concurrency in NMB, and that the teams were reshuffled were both great chances for me. Since I was the least senior member on Team K, I was relying on my seniors a lot. But in Team A, for the first time there were girls less senior than I was, and I took it as a cue for myself to change. When I turned 20, somewhere inside myself I said ‘I have to change’, and ‘I have to be more dependable’, so the shuffle and the concurrency came at a really good time.”
Yokoyama speaks while her gaze is fixed straight ahead, she surely is “The Diligence”.
“I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I realized I’ve become kind of a ‘gag character’. I get teased about things like my fashion sense, and I’ve been given the nickname ‘Nirooni’ (because of the incident when she totally misread the kanji characters for ‘2012’, thinking they were katakana characters spelling ‘nirooni’). But I didn’t have that kind of character from the beginning. Would it be that funny if I had started out that way? Is my character that of a gag character? What do you think?”
Hmm, well now, I wonder….
She looks back on this past year, wherein her concurrency in AKB48 and NMB48 allowed her to grow.
“I think doing both groups’ activities helped develop things like my endurance and my willpower. There’s a force of energy in NMB right now. Even the girls dancing together in the back row send out a great power and energy. But recently, the stage director told us ‘You might be giving it all you can, but push that power forward, to the point where it reaches the audience. As it is now, you are not doing that as well as AKB is.’
‘Now I see’, I thought. Certainly as far as putting power out there, AKB might be bigger on that. That might be partly because of the difference in levels of experience, but I think there’s also a difference in technique as far as expression goes. It’s just that, if we can accumulate various experiences from here on, I think that this overflowing power will be able to reach more fans. NMB still has so much more potential in this area.”
Feeling NMB’s quickening pace from experience, she says that the group already has a fire lit under it.
“After theater performances and concerts, for around an hour NMB will meet to review the performance. What made the people who came to watch have fun, what’s necessary to make a good performance, we’re always talking together about those kinds of things. When I see everyone talking passionately like that, I think once again that I have to do my best and try harder.”
And then, there was your predestined meeting in Osaka.
“Sayanee (Yamamoto Sayaka) was in the ‘Everyday, Katyusha’ senbatsu with me, and we were together for the CD jacket shoot as well. At that time we had normal conversations, but we only became friends after I transferred. We’re a ton alike. Both of us are very frank, and we think so much alike it’s scary! Lately, when we stay at hotels it’s always ‘Yokoyamamoto’ when we’re rooming together, and we stay up late talking together. About the team, about the group, about where the 48 group will go from here…. Our talks are really heated (laughs). Meeting Sayanee was a big thing for me. I might be the only one thinking this, but I get the feeling I could be friends with her for the rest of my life.”
The situation around her changing, Yokoyama has renewed her feelings and resolved to aim higher. She has decided on 10th as her goal for this election.
“Like last year, I want to aim higher, so I decided on 10th. It’s just, I have no idea what will happen at this year’s election. I get the feeling that the participants are really something different from last year, so…. But to me, this election is a ‘battle’. I want to become an unshakable member of the group, so I think a good outcome would be great.”