This is an interview with Hirata Rina found in the January 2014 issue of ENTAME. Accompanying the interview are several blocks of extra material like a letter to her oshis and a “getting to know Hirari” segment, which I have also translated.
I still can’t believe I’m on a jacket cover!
-This month, we have the girl with the catchphrase “Fluttering down to your heart♪ With a flutter-flutter, Hirari-!”, the friendly Hirata Rina-chan!
Hirata: Thanks for having me!
-First off, congratulations for placing 3rd in the Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament and entering your first senbatsu!
Hirata: Thank you! I’m really happy. Honestly, on the day of the tournament, I was thinking “I’ll win, I can definitely do this.”
Hirata: I had a feeling since I woke up that morning that I could do it (laughs). But… I couldn’t beat Jurina-san (wry smile).
-Even still, 3rd is amazing! And the reaction surrounding it has been amazing too, hasn’t it?
Hirata: I got over 100 emails on my cellphone about it, I was so surprised.
-You wore a Statue of Liberty costume on the day of the tournament. Why was that?
Hirata: When I thought about what I could do to appeal to my fans, I thought it would be best to do something that highlighted how I’ve returned to my homeland from America. And everyone knows right away that the Statue of Liberty is from America.
-It made you stand out perfectly. How is your senbatsu work going?
Hirata: Since I went in thinking that I definitely wanted to win in the Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament, I was truly glad that I won a spot. Right now, I’m really happy that I have so much work to do. I was especially excited while doing the photoshoot for the CD jacket. Because I’m actually on a CD cover (laughs). I still can’t believe I’ll be on the cover of a CD that’s going to be picked up by so many people.
-Were you ever frustrated that so many members of the same generation or lower have been chosen for senbatsu?
Hirata: I wasn’t frustrated. I stay pretty positive (laughs). I believed my chance would definitely come around.
-You’re very optimistic.
Hirata: Well, even if I worry about it, there’s nothing I can do, right? This time, I grabbed hold of a chance, and now I want to aim even higher.
-Why did you want to join AKB48 in the first place?
Hirata: I’ve always loved idols. Since I was living in America, it made me fall in love with Japan. And if I joined the entertainment world that I longed for, I would be able to live in Japan. That was what made me decide to auditon for AKB48.
-How did the audition go?
Hirata: Well… I wasn’t nervous at all (laughs). I did a back handspring, I sang in a loud voice, I think I was probably the noisiest one there (wry laugh).
-And so you became a 12th generation research student.
Hirata: I was really happy.
-This year, in April, you were promoted to Oshima Team K.
Hirata: I really admire Oshima Yuuko-san’s power of expression and performance. That’s why I’m working hard every day to eventually surpass Yuuko-san.
-What do you find amazing about Oshima-san?
Hirata: When Yuuko-san said “For each and every song, I change my heart”, I was really surprised. I change my expression, but I don’t change my heart… . I think that idea is truly amazing. Yuuko-san told us “Ask me anything. Because I’ll give you everything I’ve got.” That’s why I want Yuuko-san’s everything (laughs).
-Is there anything we should look for in your theater performances?
Hirata: Of course there is! Fans have told me “Your performance and power of expression are really good” and “The gap between your cute and cool expressions is good”, so it’d be great if you’d keep an eye out for that!
-What are your dreams for the future?
Hirata: It’s been my dream to be a singer, ever since I was little. But recently, I’ve gotten interested in acting. I’ve started thinking I’d like to try acting in cool female roles like Angelina Jolie does.
-Then, to conclude, please give us a message for the fans.
Hirata: If you don’t become my oshi, you’ll regret it (laughs). From here on, I’m going to aim higher and higher, so please keep supporting me.
I’ve always loved snakes, ever since I was a kid. I don’t really know why, but my dad likes them too. I love winding them around my fingers! I have two snakes right now named Pocky and Piper. Pocky is a California snake, and Piper is a coral snake. I got them before I entered AKB48, so I’ve had them about 3 years. The picture is of my favorite snake, Piper. He gets spoiled when I hold him (lol).
[Letter from Hirari]
To my oshi
Thank you for supporting me♡
Everyone’s words and comments always fill me up with energy! I think it’s thanks to all of you that I was able to get 3rd place in the Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament. I’m going to work even harder than I have been up until now so that all kinds of people become aware of me, so please keep supporting me!
Next year, I enter high school, so I think more work options will open up to me and you’ll have more chances to see me. Until then, please keep watching over me. You are my Only One♡ Thank you♡ I LOVE YOU♡♡♡
[Getting to know Hirari]
Phobia of Needles: I’m so scared of needles, I can’t even be around safety pins. Even talking about them like this is awful for me… . And this is the season for influenza vaccinations. I really hate those and I run from them. Lately, the staff seems to find my running pretty funny (sob).
30second English Dialogue: Lately, a lot of members have been uploading videos to their Google+ posts, but in AKB48, I was the first one to do that. At first they were just normal videos, but along the way I started my specialty, English conversation. I try to choose phrases that would be used normally, and I upload them (almost) every day.
Jellyfish: I love to draw jellyfish characters. Their names are Kuuru-chan and Kaarii-chan (*they can be seen in the title on the page to the right). My fans made a jellyfish alliance for us. If you can describe a jellyfish you like to me at a handshake event, you can join the jellyfish alliance too!
Friendship: What comes to mind when talking about me is how I’m famous for being able to make friends with anyone (laughs). I think I like people before I even meet them. I haven’t met any of the girls in HKT48’s 3rd generation yet, but I think I can be friends with all of them. Oh, and I have faith that I can get along with all of the draft conference members, too!
Returnee: Among the AKB48 members, I’m the only one who’s a returnee. Honestly, I’m better at English than Japanese (laughs). Thanks to being a returnee, the number of people who are interested in me have increased, and fans from overseas come to see me at handshake events. And there are lots of people who learned English because they want to talk with me in English at handshake events.