Monthly Archives: June 2013

Takamina – True or Not? Urban Legends

This is a feature from the May issue of Bomb magazine that Takamina covered.
(One line I couldn’t figure out in #6 was omitted, something about switch-flipping).

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True or Not?
Takamina Urban Legend

As expected of the General Manager, there are many plausible stories revolving around Takamina. Since we have this opportunity, let’s get as much of the truth out of her as possible and verify these urban legends about Takamina!

Legend #1: You have the strongest ability to sense the supernatural among the AKB members. You’ve seen a woman in a red raincoat in the AKB theater.

This is a “scary story that really happened” that was recreated in a VTR. I think I was around 14. Everyone had been playing tag in the pitch black theater. When I was “it”, I was looking around for everyone, and a woman in a red raincoat was walking around… I told everyone about it, and none of them believed me. But on another day, the manager got a strange reaction from the security company. He told them to please investigate with cameras, and when they did, the woman in a red raincoat was there in the footage. She’s there in the theater a lot. I’ve also seen a soldier standing in the wings of the stage.

Legend #2: You have never taken a bath with other members.

It’s not that I’ve never gone in the bath with them. When everyone was staying over [at an inn] for the Christmas party, I was pulled in and forced to get in the bath with everyone else by Mariko-sama (laugh). I said “Stoooop, pleaaase”, but Yuuko convinced me with a pouty face (laugh).
I like to take baths alone.

Legend #3: You were accepted into AKB because you are 148cm tall and your birthday is 4/8.

I think so. When I do interviews, that’s the thing people have the most interest in. They say, “You’re 148cm tall and born on 4/8. You were fated to join AKB”. I even talked about the strange connection I have with 4 and 8 in my digital camera diary.

Legend #4: When you were accepted to AKB, you deleted all your friends’ addresses.

I deleted them. It seems pretty stupid when I think about it now, but it was like a Buddhist rite. It wasn’t when I joined AKB, but when I graduated from middle school. I joined AKB halfway through my 2nd year of middle school, and all through my 3rd year of middle school I had both my studies and AKB activities. And then when I graduated, I thought my friends would become a distraction. Even if they said “let’s go out and have fun”, I wouldn’t be able to, and that would become stressful. I thought that if I deleted their addresses, I could rest at ease without having to regret not being able to hang out with them. That was the heart of the mystery.

Legend #5: You are in the habit of giving your clothes to junior members.

I do give them clothes. Just recently I gave some to Yui and Sayanee, I also give them to Kitarie, Sashihara, Shiichan and others. They all actually wear them. It’s just, Yui wears them wrong (laugh). For example, I’ll give her one or two skirts and tops. Even though the skirts might not really go with those tops, she wears them together anyway. I keep thinking “that’s wrong”, but I’m glad she wears the things I give her. Every time I see Murashige, she would bug me about the banana parka, so I gave it to her the other day.

Legend #6: You’ve never showed your face without makeup.

In the past, that was true. But since I turned 19, I’ve started going makeupless a lot more. It’s become a pain. Nowadays I go out without makeup.

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Kitahara Rie 2013 Election Interview

This interview with Kitarie appears in the “AKB48 Official Election Guidebook 2013”. Plain text indicates Kitarie’s answers, bold text indicates the interviewer.

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Even after she decided to put in candidacy for the election, Kitarie’s smile was unchangingly bright. Now, what kind of emotions are coming and going within her heart? I asked her her thoughts on what the election means to her.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s something particularly special. Up until now, my rank hasn’t really changed a whole lot (laughs). It’s just that, when the election ends and my rank comes out, every place I work at takes a look at that rank. That’s why I have mixed feelings about it.

To me, my placement at 13th last year was amazing, but society’s point of view on it, as well as the point of view of the fans and my own point of view, I think we all look at it totally differently”.

Within the past four elections, Kitarie has ranked 13th three times. There is a sense that being able to keep the same rank within the top 16 and its tempestuous movement is an immense feat.

“There’s an amazing sense of stability. Ranking 13th the first time was certainly a present from my fans. The second time, ranking 16th, I thought it went along well with my strength at the time. When I was pushed back up to 13th in the 3rd election, I was incredibly happy, and the 4th time… yeah, it was a miracle! (laughs)”

This past year has been one of surprises and upheaval for Kitarie. Last year in August, at the Tokyo Dome concert, her concurrency with SKE48 was announced, and from October to December, she appeared as a regular on the reality show “Terrace House”. It made a stir with fans and society alike for being the first time an idol under the ‘love ban’ was sent to live under the same roof with both men and women and the situation televised.

“I’m extremely glad I participated in ‘Terrace House’. For three months, absolutely nothing was private and that was difficult, but by working with others from my generation who are doing their best in different fields, my way of thinking has broadened. I would have made friends if I had continued living the way I had been, of course, but there I was able to meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Since they were also people who were, like me, chasing their dreams with everything they’ve got, they said ‘It’s not shameful at all to follow your dream’, and I was able to think about that with a new outlook. On top of that, there are a lot of people who learned about ‘Kitahara Rie’, and that was a great chance for me.”

However, just because her name has become more famous doesn’t necessarily mean her rank will go up in the election. She seems to agree.

“I was given a lot of experiences, including experiences that have made me feel like I’m advacing down the road to my dream of becoming an actress. But to the people who are cheering on “AKB’s Kitahara Rie”, they might not be as accepting of this transformation. So this year, I’ve prepared myself for the possibility that my votes might decrease.

But at the same time, taking advantage of my appearances on dramas and variety shows, I may have made new fans, and even if a new fan puts in only one vote for me, that effect might build on itself. That’s why I truly don’t know what will happen in this year’s election. It took courage to decide ‘I’ll announce candidacy!’, and even now I’m really scared of the results coming out, but keeping that in mind, I really have to think about where I’ll go from here.”

You want to come closer, little by little, to your dream of being an actress. Now that that dream is getting stronger, I wonder how you view the unceasing wave of girls you’ve worked with in AKB and SKE graduating one after another?

“It might sound silly coming from someone who only had concurrency for half a year with SKE, but because I was thinking ‘I can do my best in SKE from now on’, it’s actually really lonely and sad. I’m friends with Kuwabara (Mizuki), and after I joined Team S, I became friends with Shii-tan (Takada Shiori) and (Hiramatsu) Kanako-chan, as well as Kuumin (Yagami Kumi), Ogi-chan (Ogiso Shiori), and Shawako (Hata Sawako)-san….

But on the one hand, I really respect members who decide to graduate. I’m envious of them, and I think they’re really admirable, because they don’t have a fallback or a place they can return to. That courage to face up to reality is something I don’t have right now.

Besides, after all, I love AKB and its members. I love the work I do in AKB, and I love the theater. It’s become so much a part of my life that I can’t even think of leaving it.”

During the interview, I was reassured by this girl’s lovely, serious attitude. It’s been 5 years since she debuted in AKB. She’s thought about many things, worried about them, and overcome them.

“From the beginning, I’ve been someone who tries to stick to a plan. That’s why I feel I can’t take risks. But I think that every once in a while, there are times when it’s better to jump into something without thinking about it too much. I feel like maybe I lack that vigor and resolution.”

Within AKB48, which is moving towards the next generation, where does she stand? She stealthily told me her goal for the election.

“Since I’m participating, I want to fall into the top 16. Ah, but, if possible, I’d like to be 13th again… (laughs)”

“13th”. That placement seems, after all, to hold a special place in Kitarie’s thoughts.

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