This is an interview with Kawaei Rina, found in the 2014 version of the Senbatsu Election Book. Interviewer is in bold, Ricchan’s answers are in quotes.
Kawaei Rina, preparing for the close-at-hand election, is seriously thinking and worrying about her rank this year.
“Last year, I went from unranked to my first time ranking in. And on top of that, I even ranked at 25th, so of course I was really happy! But I kept hearing ‘I thought you’d rank higher’ from everyone around me, and even the fans told me ‘Sorry you only ranked 25th’. That’s why, this year, the feeling that I want to rank higher than 25th is really strong. It’s just that I honestly lack confidence in myself. I’m really anxious, actually…”.
Though she says this, the rank she’s aiming for is 16th. Of course, she has a reason for setting her goal as a rank inside the single senbatsu, despite her lack of confidence. Her exposure in the media this past year has risen rapidly, and as a result of that, she’s surely aware of herself as a person who has accumulated many different experiences.
“I’ve made appearances on a lot of variety programs, and I’ve been in dramas like ‘SHARK’ and ‘Sailor Zombie’ too. I was chosen as one of the 16-member senbatsu for the first time in ‘Heart Ereki’, and followed Yokoyama (Yui)-san in being promoted in commercials for ‘AKB Challenge: You Can!’ So I want to live up to those expectations, and I want to connect my experience with results. Because I get the chance to appear in media so much. On the stage last year, I was able to hold it in and didn’t cry. But this year, if I can rank 16th, I might…..start crying”.
Kawaei says this year’s election is a battlefield.
“As expected, it’s a ‘battle’. Since I believe I’ve worked as hard as I possibly could up until now, if I fail to reach rank 16, I’ll wonder, ‘What did I do wrong?’ So no matter what ends up happening in the election this year, I’ll take it as an opportunity to reevaluate my life and think about what I should do from now on.”
Kawaei also has a clear idea of what she wants to be.
“Everyone sees me as the ‘dunce character’, but I’m thinking seriously! Right now, what I want to become is ‘someone who ought to be in senbatsu’. That is to say, I guess I want to be someone who’s required to be around (laughs). Like if I’m not in senbatsu, people will say, ‘Huh? Kawaei’s not there?!'”
She herself says her goal is 16th, but in this book, she’s ranked 9th! When I showed it to her, she said “No way!” with a look of surprise.
“9th is how many steps up from last year? Around 15 ranks?! …Ah, 16 ranks, huh (laughs). It would be too awesome if I could climb that many ranks!”
However, after “Waratte Ii Tomo!”, she began serving as a regular on the show “Viking” and, as usual, using it as a chance to make her appeal to people other than AKB48 fans. When we consider this, her rank jumping up to 9th is not outside the realm of possibility.
“Well, if I really did end up ranking 9th, I’d shake and hyperventilate onstage like Yokoyama-san!! And she’d probably get mad and say ‘Oi, Kawaei!’ (laughs)”.
Kawaei! Because it’s you, you can do that!