The Morning Musume that has definitely hit a turning point with their “3 consecutive #1 singles”。。To hear Michishige Sayumi say「I want you to know about the current Morning Musume」in tears while chasing after the shadow of their seniors, it makes one wonder how one would be needed in this group？Bearing these burdens while steadfastly going on as part of “Morning Musume”, these are the girls with us now.
Sayashi Riho ＆ Suzuki Kanon, the 15 year old combi and their 2 years and 9 months……The dreams and discord that laid there. The real idol story of 15 year old girl who can only be herself with the other, and the other 15 year old who truly loves and respects the first. This is their story.
（For Kouhaku）We really want to appear on it！
－－With the accomplishment of “3 consecutive #1 singles”, congratulations. How did you feel when you heard about it？
Sayashi Riho：The release week was especially nerve wracking for us, but we felt this was a chance we had to grasp.
Suzuki Kanon：We were nervous every day, weren’t we.
Sayashi：We were concerned with the daily rankings too. We even said stuff like「Man that other artiste really is strong」. But when the result of our 3rd weekly consecutive #1 came out, it was a huge relief……that would probably be the closest to how I felt about it, like I could finally be at ease. When we got 2 consecutive #1 singles, we actually declared「The next one will be #1 too」……so I was really happy we achieved that goal.
－－You joined as 9th generation members in 2011. Compared to now, the 2 of you were just kids back then, and I believe that just getting by day to day was a struggle back then, but have you every imagined that you would achieve 3 consecutive #1 singles at the time？
Sayashi：Oh noー, not at all（lol）
Suzuki：No way！At that time all we had on our minds was how to catch up. Even though we were in the same rehearsals with our seniors, we were unable to match up to their performance levels, so we had to try as hard as we could to close the gap, even if it was just a little. That’s all we had then. That’s why we never even imagined a situation like this at the time.
－－Be it the current leader Michishige Sayumi-san, or the leaders when 9th gen joined, Takahashi Ai-san and Niigaki Risa-san, all of them wished for the same thing, that「We want everyone to know the current Morning Musume」, but when was it that you two also started having that kind of consciousness for it？
Sayashi：If you’re talking realistically, probably around last year（lol）
Suzuki：That’s cos we were so busy thinking only about ourselves and how to improve that we couldn’t focus on anything else. That’s why, for me, honestly, it was probably also around last year too（lol）
Sayashi：Probably around the time of『Renai Hunter』or『One・Two・Three/The Matenrou Show』. It was around that time where people around me started saying「Recently, I’ve started liking Momusu’s songs」, and because of that, I started thinking「I have to start aiming higher」too.
－－There was once when Michishige-san wept while saying「I want people to know about the current Morning Musume」on the variety show『Ougon Densetsu』. Do the 2 of you bear the same kind of frustration as well？
Sayashi：I have many things I’m frustrated about. I have to balance my daily activities with stuff like tour rehearsals, and there were so many things I couldn’t remember perfectly, so on the day of the full dress rehearsals I couldn’t do everything properly and got scolded for it. Even though I’ve worked so hard, there were no results to show for it, and I couldn’t make it work out right. That was frustrating enough in itself, but even as that went on, other lesser known idol groups were getting to go on TV programs. It worried me, and I felt like Morning Musume had to work even harder.
－－What about Kanon-chan？
Suzuki：Of course, I don’t want to lose to the other idol groups either, but I want to learn from their strengths as well. I believe every group has their own strengths and weaknesses, so I feel like stealing only their strengths（lol）.
Sayashi： Also, even as we say「We want you to learn about the current Morning Musume」, I want us to continue improving as a group, and I’ll work hard so that the greatest charm of Morning Musume, our performance level, will continue receiving even better reviews from everyone.
－－I believe that determination is connected to how you have achieved 3 consecutive #1s so far, but doesn’t it lead to expectations that Morning Musume must achieve #1 every single time? Won’t that be an even greater pressure on you？
Sayashi：Honestly, even with 3 consecutive #1 singles, it feels like「Will this be enough？」. The last time Morning Musume achieved 3 consecutive #1 singles was around the time of「The☆ Peace！」 , and those songs were songs that no Japanese person could fail to not know about. But can the current Morning Musume achieve the same kind of results？That’s the kind of pressure we have.
－－I wonder what would have happened if you have gotten 2nd place instead？
Suzuki：But that’s something I don’t really want to think about.
Sayashi：I tried not to imagine it at all（lol）
Suzuki：If we thought about it, it might affect us adversely, that’s why we’ll place our trust in God and our fans（lol）
－－If you already feel the pressure with 3 consecutive #1 singles, but Sayashi-san already went ahead and declared “A 4th consecutive #1” as a goal. It’s a record that hasn’t yet been achieved in Morning Musume’s long history.
Sayashi：Since we’ve come so far already, honestly, I have some confidence.…………we do right（lol）!?
Suzuki：Yup. Up till now we’ve mostly been thinking「Can we make it？」, but right now it’s changed to「We might just make it」.
Sayashi：But it’s not like we’ve gotten complacent！It’s not like we think that we will definitely get it, as if it was already all in the bag, not at all！……it’s just that by saying that we will get it, we build our own confidence in actually achieving it.
－－So, this thing about appearing on Kouhaku？
Sayashi：（lol）I’ve always been watching it on TV, and only the chosen show up there, so I have no idea how it’ll turn out……
Suzuki：It’s too much of a dream right now so I can’t even grasp it.
－－I feel like you will appear on it though.
Sayashi：As a matter of timing, I really pray now that we can appear on it！
－－I really do understand. Rather than having to「start from the beginning」from next year, if you want to appear on Kouhaku you might as well go with the momentum and appear on it this year.
Sayashi：That’s exactly it（lol）！
What if I were not needed in Morning Musume
－－But it seems like your media exposure has been increasing. Just the other day you guys appeared on『Music Station』for the first time in 6 years, how do you feel about it？
－－Well, even though I said 6 years, for the 2 of you it was your first appearance on it.
Suzuki：Riho-chan, you watched the broadcast 6 years ago too didn’t you？
Sayashi：I was still young then, so I don’t recall it clearly, but I really loved Morning Musume back then, and I really admired them too, so I’m pretty sure I watched it. That’s why, with our appearance on 『Music Station』as a member of Morning Musume, I feel like I have gotten a step closer to the Morning Musume I used to watch……how do I put it？It was a huge dream fulfilled in itself, and from the viewpoint of an ordinary middle schooler, the only people who appear on that program were all respected entertainers/artistes, so when we heard that we were going to be appearing on it as well, all I thought of was how amazing it was. The response was amazing too, with the way my friends suddenly switched to a respectful tone in their mails to me.
Sayashi：I thought「You don’t have to do that！」to them, but it was with this that I felt how happy and amazing it was to appear on TV.
Suzuki：My friend texted me as well, but she has always been a passionate fan of Morning Musume. Anyway, she sent a really long essay in her message to me（lol）, and I’m really grateful to the devoted fans of Morning Musume. Even while we were walking down those steps (on Music Station), all I thought of was「Thanks」.
Sayashi： I was really moved by those steps！ Something like「Ah, I’m walking down on it」.
－－Something like「I’ve seen this on TV」（lol）？
Sayashi：It’s true！It was like「This is！That was！」at everything in sight. And the introductions to the other guests before the show also made me think「Ah, they’re here too！」.
－－Previously it was often said that「Even though the names of Michishige-san and Tanaka（Reina）-san were known, our names weren’t known」. But with the effect of your recent increased media exposure, won’t you be better known by now？Like being recognized on the streets.
Sayashi：Ah, it sort of increased but didn’t really.
－－Sort of but didn’t really（lol）
Sayashi：Also, even if they don’t know my name, they just say stuff like「You’re that girl with the really difficult name」（lol）
－－To the rest of the public, 9th gen still hasn’t shed the image of being “the new members”, but the truth is you guys have already been around for 2 years and 9 months. Both of you are already 15 years old and part of the central core of the group, but how did the journey to reach this point feel like to you？
Suzuki：We just kept running on.
Sayashi：It was really all just happened in the blink of an eye, with 9th gen being next in line after Michishige-san, the speed with which things changed was really fast. We had multiple graduations one after another with the 5th gen members, then 6th gen, and 8th gen as well.
Suzuki：With every tour it was like「They’re not going to be here anymore……」, and it felt really lonely. That feeling really increased after we joined. The lineup hadn’t changed in 4 years before that, and then suddenly everything changed, so even while we were still unprepared for it, everyone was already graduating.
－－When Michishige-san graduates, 9th gen will become the most senior in the group.
Sayashi：That’s right…… The current Morning Musume’s activity can be attributed to the efforts of Michishige-san, and no matter where Michishige-san goes she is recognized as “Michishige Sayumi”. She stands out no matter where she is. We too want to be like that, 「So we have to try out best to stand out a bit more！」, and we do our best to try and get our faces recognized, but really only Michishige-san is the only one with that kind of presence.
－－I’m sure that the pressure on that end is pretty heavy, but you’ve been in the group for 2 years and 9 months. Honestly speaking, was there any point in time where you felt like「I can’t do it 」or「I can’t go on anymore……」？
Sayashi：Honestly, I’ve felt that many times. Morning Musume really is a group that exists thanks to the efforts of our seniors. That’s why I can’t help but think sometimes「Can someone like me continue on in Morning Musume？」or「Am I not needed in Morning Musume」, things like that……that’s why I have to find all my weaknesses and somehow do something about them.
－－What sort of situation would make you think「I am not needed in Morning Musume」？
Sayashi：It just happens spontaneously. 「Can I continue on even with me being the way I am now？」I’ve stopped thinking that now, but the first time it happened was about 2 years ago. I felt like I could improve more during that period, but I couldn’t improve as much as I wanted then. With the entry of 9th gen and the expectations on us, I felt like I had to match up to those expectations but had failed somehow, so I was extremely uncertain and worried then.
－－Did Kanon-chan have the same problems？
Suzuki：The toughest part was my first rehearsal upon joining, but since I only just joined then, I never even thought of things like「Let’s quit」then. Basically I just had to work hard. But after getting past that point, even though it didn’t hit me often, but sometimes I wondered whether I was needed. I wondered how I had to change. I thought about those things all the time. It’s not like I wanted to quit just because bad stuff happened.「I’ve never thought of quitting at all」I can say this, but「I’ve always felt like quitting」. Do you understand？
－－I understand. You never thought of quitting Morning Musume, but you’ve always wondered whether you were needed by Morning Musume.
Suzuki：I’ve felt that way for 2 years and 9 months.
－－Around fall last year, you wrote on your blog that「I had a dream that I was made to quit Morning Musume for some reason today.」, didn’t you.
－－It was quite a shock.
Suzuki：I was shocked myself too（lol）. At that time, it was towards the end of our tour and I was scolded for「Didn’t you just totally mess up during the MC」. And then I had that dream of me being made to quit Morning Musume after that. I was probably subconsciously thinking「It’d be bad if I went on like this」which was what triggered the dream. I don’t remember it clearly now though……
Sayashi： When I saw that post I was like 「Oi！」（lol）
Suzuki：I don’t even remember writing that post（lol）
－－By the way the two of you are not only in the same generation, but also the same age. Do you discuss your problems with each other？
Sayashi：For that first tour we had way too many things to remember and was stressing out over it, so we often grumbled to each other about it……didn’t we？
Suzuki：It’s totally different from the way we are now though, back then it was a really bad atmosphere！
Sayashi： For example when someone points out to us「It’s not quite right here」, we would be like「……yeah yeah we know」（lol）. None of us had any time to relax for ourselves, so we barely spared a thought for the other person. It was something we really had to reflect on, and now we’ve moved on to being like「Sorry」to each other when something like this happens.
Suzuki： But it’s kind of funny when we think about it now.
Sayashi： Just thinking of how it was back then just makes us laugh now. The fact that we were all surly little brats back then. In a way, we’ve come to an amicable conclusion.
I really think that Riho-chan’s dancing is the best in the world
－－A 15 year old saying「coming to an amicable resolution」（lol）. Compared to when you first joined, what else has changed I wonder. How has Suzuki Kanon changed in Sayashi Riho’s opinion？
Sayashi：At the beginning Kanon-chan was trying her hardest to remember the choreography, but there were parts she just couldn’t grasp. But now she pays close attention and seeks clarification the parts she’s unsure about. Then she sorts it out from start to finish within herself. Kanon-chan is the one asking the teacher the most questions. 「How is it supposed to be like here？」「Is it like this？」, things like that. I only notice these things after I’ve done it once through myself, but Kanon-chan always notices these things first, and I think that’s really amazing.
－－Also, the Kanon-chan back then used to do a lot of impersonations. Why did that Kanon-chan of that time disappear to？
Suzuki： Oh, I can still do it any time I want……but, right now I’m already in my third year of middle school（lol）. I was still in elementary back then.
－－Well then, so how has Sayashi Riho changed from Suzuki Kanon’s point of view？
Suzuki： My first impression of her as a standoffish person has totally changed. At first I had this image of her as the “cool Sayashi Riho”, since she was good at both singing and dancing, and I felt like the difference between us was like the distance between heaven and earth. But after we had joined for about a year, I noticed that「Ah, Riho-chan is actually really cute at times」. She falls asleep almost instantly, and her sleeping face is really adorable. That really made her seem more like a regular human being, and after finding her clumsy side I felt that「We really are the same age」, and the image of the ”cool Sayashi Riho” in my head slowly changed to the “restless Sayashi Riho”（lol）
－－By the way when you’re talking about a “cool Sayashi Riho”, it’s not like she was putting on airs or acting cool right？
Sayashi： During the auditions I didn’t want to talk anyone at all, and Eripon（Ikuta Erina）mentioned that I had an aura like I didn’t want anyone to talk to me either. I was just really focused, and shy among strangers on top of that, so I couldn’t really talk to anyone right at first.
Suzuki：「Ah, a strong challenger」, that’s what I thought about you.
Suzuki：I personally felt like I only just made it to the finalists by the skin of my teeth, but for Riho-chan it felt like she totally deserved to be there. That’s why even after we both made it into the group, I thought that was no way we could talk to each other.
Sayashi： That’s why even though her impression of me has totally changed by now, I actually still haven’t gotten over my shyness with people.（lol）
－－Tanaka Reina-san mentioned this as well. During her graduation interview she mentioned「The moment I looked around I’d meet her eyes. I used to think she was really cute, but Sayashi’s not good at approaching people so she would always keep her distance. It’s not just with Reina, but with Sayu too.」.
Sayashi： When there’s someone I want to talk to, I naturally just stare at them a lot！
Suzuki： She wants to join in, but usually she just ends up sitting by the side（lol）
－－So you can’t be like Maachan（Sato Masaki/10th gen member. Is afraid of nothing and clings instantly to anyone）and just step in？
Sayashi：Impossible. I can’t be like Maachan and tackle Tanaka-san the moment she steps off stage at Budokan. I’m not that brave……
－－Well then, what do you think hasn’t changed about each other.
Suzuki：The speed with which she memorizes the dance choreography. Not only has it not changed, it feels like she has improved even further, and the speed at which she commits them to memory still surprises me. It’s almost as fast as the wind. I really think that Riho-chan’s dancing is the best in the world. That’s why……
Sayashi： That’s not true！What are you saying！
Suzuki： But that’s what I believe. That hasn’t changed.
－－Should I be listening in on this conversation？ The best in the wo……
Sayashi：I told you that’s not true（lol）！
Suzuki： Whenever I watch videos where people say「This girl dances really well」, I think「No way, Riho-chan’s better」, every single time.
－－Now then, what do you think hasn’t changed about Suzuki Kanon.
－－Surely that has changed（lol）. It’s a difference from an elementary school kid to a middle school student！
Sayashi：I really wonder. She’s gotten really reliable, and she says what needs to be said immediately, but the one thing that doesn’t change is the way she still drifts off in a daze sometimes. Even when we’re talking, there are times when she totally isn’t listening！ 「Eh, what？ Did you say something just now？」She says stuff like that. The fans only see the dependable part of Kanon-chan, and she has that image of being the level-headed one, but actually she still has moments where she’s not paying attention. I think that’s what that hasn’t changed, and I don’t want her to change either. If she became too serious she would stop being Kanon-chan.
Suzuki： Actually, when I’m looking straight into the eyes of the other person, most of the time I’m probably not listening. Conversely, when I’m drifting I actually am paying attention.
－－When you think she’s listening, she’s actually not（lol）. What kind of relationship do you think you two share？
Suzuki： Among all the members, she’s the one that feels most like family to me. We might not fuss over each other all the time, but we have the kind of relationship where we can just let our hair down around each other and not be conscious about it（lol）
Sayashi： If it’s Kanon-chan, I can just relax and be myself. Around the other members I’m concerned about them thinking「Sayashi-san is being sloppy」, so I usually try to be neat and proper around them, like sitting properly and all, but with Kanon-chan I don’t worry so much and just relax.
－－Except that as part of Morning Musume, I expect that there is always a sense of rivalry between the members. Sayashi-san is always sparkling brightly, and I have the image of her as someone who would never want to lose to anyone……
Sayashi：Do I really stand out that much！？
－－Whenever I go to the Hello! Project concerts, everyone is shining because they’re idols after all, but Sayashi-san is the only one that’s literally sparkling.
Suzuki：I get it！
－－Truthfully, do you often feel strongly that「I don’t want to lose to anyone」？
Sayashi：That’s right. Having said that「Dance is my forte」, I especially don’t want to lose to anyone in dance. With all our seniors leaving one after another, I strongly feel that I need to find the strength to be able to lead everyone forward. I feel that it doesn’t matter who, but it would be better if all of us felt this way.
－－Currently Sayashi Riho has been pushed as the new ace, and often takes the center spot. Do you feel anything like「That’s frustrating」about that？
Suzuki：Since we’re the same age and joined at the same time, I can’t help but feel that way sometimes, but for me……this is probably a bad thing and I know I probably should feel a healthy sense of rivalry at least, but in the end I just end up seeing her as a fan myself.
Suzuki：I really love Morning Musume. So even though I have to consider the rest as rivals, but as a fan I end up forgetting that and just wind up staring…… When I see the performance my reaction is like「Wow that’s amazing！」. I basically just end up grinning a lot like the way our audience does for us.
－－（lol）. If you’re wondering why I asked this question, actually it’s because I feel that Suzuki Kanon’s singing is really good.
To their （our seniors）voices「I don’t want to lose」, that’s why
－－That’s why I actually want to see you take the lead vocals next to Sayashi Riho.
Sayashi： In『Wagamama Kinomama Ai no Joke/Ai no Gundan』’s b-side「Funwari Koibito Ichinensei」, Oda（Sakura）-chan, Kanon-chan and I were the main vocals for this song, but before the recording of this song I was really looking forward to it, because I really like Kanon-chan’s singing too.
Sayashi：When we sang「Shabondama」, I was really moved by Kanon-chan’s singing, I even had goosebumps.
Suzuki：Ehhhh！Are you for real.
－－Kanon-chan, your self-appreciation is way too low（lol）
Suzuki：Even though I have to focus on improving, in the end I’m usually thinking「I just like to sing」or「I love Morning Musume」, so I never really thought about whether I’m any good.
－－Right now with the tagline「I want you to learn about the current Morning Musume」, it lumps all the members into a single entity. But if your goal of appearing on Kouhaku were to to be achieved, the next step would probably be「What side of myself would I want to show to everyone who now knows the current Morning Musume」, so have you two ever thought about standing together at the center spot?
Suzuki： For me, I still think that Riho-chan is the best in the world. Just being able to sing by her side…………I am honored to be there. I truly respect her, it’s like a dream out of a dream.
－－This isn’t quite the level of respect you would normally accord to someone of your own age in the same generation, isn’t it
Suzuki：Since we’re the same age, on our days off we can just go out and interact as “friends”, but the moment we step on stage she becomes “someone I really respect”. That’s why I’m living for the day where someday everyone else would feel the same way as I do.
Sayashi：Kanon-chan has never practiced singing or dancing before joining Morning Musume. Even then now she is able to keep up with the high quality performance levels. She really has a talent for dance as well, and I can see that she has one of the best sense of rhythm in the group. In that way, I can’t afford to lose……
－－People like Suzuki Kanon are the scariest types.
Sayashi：Honestly！It feels like she’ll suddenly overtake me and open up a huge gap between us.
Suzuki：Oh no no
－－It’s easy to guard against someone like Ishida Ayumi who declares her fighting spirit for all to see, but Suzuki Kanon is the type who doesn’t talk about it but just grows quietly.
Sayashi：She just improves like woaaaahhhhhh, and before you know it you’re looking up at her.
－－In order to realize that future, it’s as Sayashi-san said; not only can you not lose to other idol groups, but you can’t lose to the former lineups of Morning Musume as well. Can you win？
Sayashi：I have always admired Morning Musume and pursued them as a goal so far, which is why out of all the idol groups, Morning Musume is the most amazing for me. That’s why I want to work hard so that lots of people would feel the same way, and when I look at all the previous Morning Musume members that have come before me, I feel like all of us have to work even harder to bring out our own individuality. Even if you were to just look at a single photo, you could see the individuality of our seniors clearly in them. But for the current Morning Musume, it’s often said that「All of you look the same」. Even though we improvise by changing hair colors and the like, I don’t think that’s actually the point. It’s something we have to change from within. Having a solid presence is really important.
－－There are many idols who also say「We don’t want to lose to other idols」. But in Morning Musume’s case there’s also the fact that「We don’t want to lose to the seniors that came before us」. Which is why the album『The Best！～Updated Morning Musume～』was released in my opinion, so that you can remake the iconic songs of the past with the current members. What did you think when you first heard of this？
Suzuki：I was just simply overjoyed. Songs like「The☆Peace！」and「Souda！We’re ALIVE」can be found in albums in my house. I used to listen to them all the time when I was in the car, and these songs strongly evoke the image of Morning Musume. That’s why, I was happy……but, I was nervous too. We will be recording with our voices instead of the voices of our seniors that we’ve listened to. There’s a serious pressure when it comes to re-recording.
－－How does it feel like to make past hits your own？
Sayashi：Trying to make the songs our own was really a huge pressure on us. Even though it was the same song, we had to make it the New Morning Musume’s「LOVE Machine」or「Renai Revolution 21」. That’s why for the recording, even though we already knew all these songs, we had to keep listening to the demo tape over and over again to relearn the singing techniques. We absolutely felt like「We didn’t want to lose」to the previous voices.
－－By the way how old were you two when「LOVE Machine」was released？
Sayashi：Errrr, 2 years old？
Suzuki：Shouldn’t it be like 1 years old？
－－（lol）In that case, for the two of you, won’t the Morning Musume who sang「LOVE Machine」be like something out of a legend?
Sayashi：I think we actually learned about it in school during history……
Suzuki：That was how pervasive it was（lol）
－－Well then, our time grows short, and it’s time to sum it up. Hm, suppose if it was confirmed that you will be appearing on Kouhaku……
－－Please tell me your resolution for the year’s end.
Suzuki：On December 31st last year I went to the amusement park. If I had been able to appear on『Kouhaku Uta Gassen』that time, I wouldn’t be playing in the afternoon and instead be in rehearsals, and it was when I was at the amusement park when the reality hit that we would not be appearing for Kouhaku. That’s why even though I went to the amusement park last year in order to be given hopes and dreams, this year I want to appear on『Kouhaku Uta Gassen』 and be the one giving out hopes and dreams to others. My greatest joy is to bring a smile to people’s faces with my singing, that’s why on December 31st this year I want to share my singing with the rest of Japan.
Sayashi： I’m not planning to do something particularly audacious or anything, but I want to show off the normal Morning Musume in our usual way and carve that impression deep enough to leave a scar. 「Please watch the current Morning Musume」I want to leave a performance that will remain clearly in everyone’s memories when we are there.
－－By the way I want to see Sayashi Riho’s Shuwashuwapon！there.
－－And in order not to lose out to her, Suzuki Kanon must also mimic this move too.
Sayashi：What should I do？ If this really happens.
Suzuki：Just let it fly, let Japan feel your Shuwashuwapon！
Sayashi：Shuwashuwapon！ What if it doesn’t come out right！
Suzuki：Let’s hope it comes out like soda（lol）
－－That’ll surely leave a mark.