[identity profile] sociologique.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] flytotheworld
Apparently I still can't stop myself from translating, so here's Maa-kun's 10,000 character interview from the pamphlet.

Special.01: Masayuki Sakamoto
With both the perfect, disicplined spirit of an artisan, and the amiability of a man who's relaxed his shoulders, Sakamoto is a man with great "human power." While laughing about "the obvious" and "the usual things," he's a man who'll do the things he has to do with great effort until he reaches the end of his limits, he's come to adore this place called V6 more than anyone else, even if it never leaves his mouth. From the times when he thought he absolutely had to carry out his duties as V6's leader, to his 30s where he had both a personal turning point and one as part of V6, and from there, he spoke to us in a straightforward way about his feelings of gratitude to all the people who've supported him these past 20 years.

"I don't feel like something is finished if I don't do it all the way to the MAX." - p.22

"V6 are a family. But we're not a family..." - p.24

"My age is often a joke, but I don't make excuses about it." - p.26

"With every single word, I want to get it out there in a straightforward way." - p.28

Long Interview
"We say what must be said, but gently. V6 are adults."

"We've definitely changed a lot, but it's hard to put my finger on just how we've changed."

"After all these years, would you once again give us a self-introduction about what kind of group you think V6 is?"

We're a surprisingly serious group. When we're given a task, within the framework of that problem, we'll properly talk it out, and we'll worry about it together. Trying to get six people to agree on something is difficult, but even when we get our opinions out there, it's like "oh yeah, that makes sense, and there is that sort of thing, but isn't there also this?" and we say it gently. We say what needs to be said, but we're people who don't want to create an ugly atmosphere (laughs). We're all adults.

"You're passing through your 20th year, so what sorts of things do you think have changed about V6 as a group?"

I think we've definitely changed a lot, but it's hard to put my finger on just how we've changed. When we were first put together, just because Kamisen hadn't had a lot of experiences, there was a feeling that Tonisen should take the lead. When we'd be doing interviews, or round-table discussions, press conferences, and so on, the first one to start talking would most certainly be someone in Tonisen. But now, or should I say, from about probably 10 years or so ago, it's like, "anyone in V6 is fine!"

"Because I thought I'd drag the group with me, I forced the obvious on everyone"

"For you, at the very beginning, you had a very strong feeling of having to drag everyone along, right?"

Yeah, I thought "I've gotta do something!" But, looking back on it now, I wonder what I was doing, or what I wanted to do... At the time, I wouldn't look at how I wanted to do things, so when I'd get told, "you're the leader!", in a vague way I'd think, "I have to do something!" and I'd hurry along, and I don't think I was really able to do anything because I was being so hasty. I was punctual, and I'd memorize my responses to questions when we'd do interviews ... which is to say that I would only say the obvious things to the other members, and there were times it turned into me forcing them. I feel like there was a lot of resistance, and it was a struggle, but I don't remember the minute details. Every now and then, when I watch old videos and stuff of us, Kamisen absolutely 100% could not do those "common-sense things" (laughs). Now when people ask me "what did you do as Leader?" I think "what did I even do?" Really, I wonder if I even did anything. Even still, at the time, I would just do things arbitrarily on my own, and I think the other members would calmly be watching me like "what is that guy even doing?" (laughs). If I were to have been calm and looked around me, I probably would have discussed things with the other members more.

"There also was a time when you wanted to switch and have Inohara be the leader."

I honestly asked him "Inohara, would you wanna do this?" He responded with "nah, not really," and the agency said "Sakamoto-kun, you absolutely have to do it" and I said "OK." But when I became Leader, because I ended up not being able to see or understand what was going on aroud me, that meant I didn't even understand myself. Like, when I was in my third year of high school, the director of the club I was in gave me orders and said, "you be the captain" and I said, "no way," and they said "no, it has to be you," so I said, "I understand. In that case, I quit!" and I really, seriously quit (laughs) -- that's how much I don't want to be the leader or captain of things. I'm not really suited to it. I know that when I blow a fuse, I just run on full speed ahead, spin out, and totally break down. And sure enough, as V6's leader... that... happened (laughs). I'd run out ahead and when I'd suddenly look back behind me, expecting the others to be there, they weren't. I'd think "wait, where'd you go?" and look ahead, and it was like "wait, you're all seriously running on ahead of me~" (laughs). For the other 5, they opened their eyes to what they wanted to do, and ran rapidly down their own paths. Before I knew it, I was the only one left behind. I was surprised. But even so, just because it couldn't be helped that I was chasing after everyone, I got to think about what it was, for the time being, that I wanted to do or that I even could do. So, I decided that on my own, I would do musicals, and as part of V6, I polished up my singing. I'd always been given the lead vocals in the group, so when it came to being a professional singer, I thought I should do it right.

"We can't lose to our audience in terms of passion1, so we raised our skills"

"What was the thing you were able to do as part of V6 where you look back and say 'this was our turning point'?"

There's a lot of different ones, but if I were to narrow it down to 1, it would be our first overseas concert in Taiwan. As far as a turning point goes, for me, my awareness of V6 got kicked up a notch. Up until then, when we'd do concerts, I'd think "we have to make sure the audience has fun, and that we make them happy"... but it wasn't a treat, and I was aware of that. However, for our concert in Taiwan, the audience was much more passionate than we were, and we got a lot of power from the fans, and we rode along on that feeling. It was all because of adrenaline, and it was a sort of strange state of excitement. As a result, it even surprised us how excited we got. But I thought, "no, it's the other way around." Being on stage and performing, it's bad if you don't draw power out from the fans, right? So we thought we need to step up our game, each and every one of us need to put in more work, and we can't lose to the audience in terms of passion, so I remember it feeling like it had planted the seed of an impending crisis.

"After you became more conscious of that, was it reflected in your meetings?"

It was pretty much the tour after that one that year when we started having concerts without Juniors in them. At the time, it was quite the challenge for us at first to have just the six of us standing on stage. We felt uneasy, like, "without the Juniors, we won't be able to fill all this space, right?" But, the memory of our concert in Taiwan was pushing us along, so we were like, "let's try it, just the six of us!" and got the courage to take a step forward. Planning concerts where it would be just the six of us, in both singing and dancing, we'd each have to put in more work, and also appeal more to the audience... and in that vein, we'd have to overcome a hurdle, and it placed us in a situation where we'd have to win or lose based solely on our own merits.

"I got free of something when I turned 30, and it was like I was able to walk at my own pace."

"What was the reaction to your first concert with just the six of you?"

Of course, with just the six of us, that meant we had to run around a lot of stage, and compared to what we'd done before, we really had to increase our momentum, and we had a great sense of accomplishment.. I think something like "it was probably awesome." I'm really sorry I'm so vague! (laughs) Lately, we've done all these interviews where they ask us to "look back on the past 20 years" and when it comes to things we've done, they'll ask, like, "Go, how was that?" and he'll go, "I don't remember." And I'm the same -- I think all my memories of that first concert without the Juniors have just totally flown out of my head (laughs). For people, you can't really remember well times when you're totally focused on doing the things in front of you, when you're running on adrenaline, or when you got super excited about something. It's just like... I'm sure there was some feedback, since we came to the decision to continue doing concerts just the six of us. Of course, it's something we've been able to do because the fans were into it. The year after that was the year I turned 30. When I thought about "30 year old idols" and I asked myself "are there even any?" I answered with "back in the day, nope." But then I thought, "if I could have fun being a 30 year old idol, it might be neat." I thought, if I could be the first to laugh and say "I'm 30!" then maybe the normal, everyday things in my life would become fun, too. In terms of being free of the past, it was a kind of defiance (laughs). Then, as hard as it was to believe, I was able to let go of the things that'd made me rigid, and lift the weight from my shoulders, and I started to enjoy myself more. I got rid of the stereotype I had that "idols always have to be idol-like," and without overdoing it, I felt like I was able to walk at my own pace. If I really think hard about it, for me, from the start there were a lot of parts of me that were "un-idol-like" (laughs). When I first entered Johnny's, they said "you're cutting it close in terms of age," so I quit once, became a salaryman, and then came back (laughs). So right before debut, I was under the impression that I was getting called to be a volleyball coach and not a member of V6 (laughs).

"Was there a job you'd done that was a personal turning point for you?"

With that, too, it just so happened that it was around when I turned 30, and it was the first time I got a part in a Broadway musical: "Footloose." I've had roles that were "more than a play," and I've had parts where I was a "musical actor" that were turning points for me, but when it comes to musicals, the affection I feel for it, and the degree to which I love it is more than any other. It was the first performance of that musical in Japan, and so it was pretty monumental, and I had a strong feeling of "I have to kill it!" -- just this ball of stress. It might sound like I'm exaggerating, but for each and every performance, I was burning with energy, totally on edge and concentrating 100%, so during intermission, I was so exhausted I couldn't even go back to my own dressing room. Being "so exhausted I couldn't go back to my dressing room" isn't a simple example, but -- literally, I could not go back to my dressing room (laughs), so they put a bed on one of the wings of the stage for me and that's where I'd rest. Never before or after that have I been so exhausted I couldn't go back to my dressing room like I was in "Footloose." I also fainted once when they lowered the curtain. That's just who I am and it can't be helped, but I don't feel like something is done if I don't do it all the way to the MAX. I want to be successful in what I do no matter what it takes, so I think I put too much effort into whatever it is that I do. If I hadn't recognized that part of me then, I wouldn't another chance after that, so when I stood on stage, every single moment, it was win or lose. So that's why I was so happy when they decided to do another run of the play!

"Is the you who you are when you do solo work different from the you who is part of V6?"

They're totally different. But I think that probably everyone in V6 is different when they do solo work. Naturally, you flip on a different switch. First of all, because what you're doing is totally different. The choreography you're doing is different, and there's new things to remember, but V6 gives you the basis for things. And then your solo work is where you absorb a lot of different things, drill them into your head, and polish it up. V6 feels like home. And when I say "home," I mean it's a good place that feels comfortable, so maybe I should say it that way... but also like, haven't there also been times where it's hard to relax there? Times where it's like you spend too much time at home and you feel so suffocated you just wanna fly out the door, and times where when you don't go back in forever you realize how much you owe to that place, and when you finally do go back, you can sigh contentedly and go "yeah, this place is relaxing~". In a way, it's the most important place. But when I say V6 is a family, I don't mean that the members are a family. We're not best friends, but I also feel like we're different than just regular buddies. But even despite that, it's like returning home (laughs).

"Here in our 20th year, I deeply feel the love everyone around me has for V6!"

"In your 20 years, what's the job you've done that you've been most happy about?"

The work friends we've made through our work -- in whatever form -- as V6, who've run along with us to various places, and who are like "daaaaang" about it being our 20th year. For example, the people who shoot the special features, the staff at Fuji TV from our earlier regular TV shows who were like "if it's for V6, I want to do it!", and when there's an event, the Avex staff we've had for forever who get together to help us, and on editing days for our TBS show, "Amazipang!", the "Gakkou e Ikou!" staff will always pop their heads into the dressing room. Usually, when your work with someone ends, you end up with this sort of dry relationship. But it's not like that with the people who've worked with V6. I really, deeply feel like "what a joyful thing this is!" I feel the "love for V6." It makes me think "I'm really glad I'm in V6~". Through our music, and through our variety shows, being surrounded by such warm staff, I think like, they've really looked out for us -- I feel that all over again. Someday, I'd like to properly repay them for their kindness. Coming upon our 20th anniversary as V6, without a doubt, it's thanks both to the power of the staff around us, and the cheers of our fans. That's why, when people just say to us, "congratulations!", I think "isn't that a little off?" I want to say "congratulations!" back to them.

"If we were to lose even one member, I think it would stop being fun."

"Thinking over it again, what sort of place does V6 have in your life?"

Hmmmm... V6 is the air around me. But that's not to say that that's the place it has in my life. That might be misunderstood as "so that means it's the same whether it's there or not?" (laughs). Pure and simple, V6 is the air around me. People can't live without air, right? If I think "if V6 went away," I don't think I'd be able to take even a step foward, and if we lost even one person, V6 would become something totally different. It probably wouldn't be fun anymore. Being togther for 20 years in any kind of group, there'll be a lot of twists and turns. There'll be good times and bad times. When I find different kinds of solo work or just things I want to do on my own, and I want to push on through that, and when I get more and more praise, you want to put more power into it and concentrate on that more, right? It's hard to think about "if our group work went away, I'd only be able to do one kind of solo job" and when I get super into dramas or plays, or movies at the theatre, I think "I don't wanna be an idol now. I wanna be an actor," and I think the other members have also thought that once in their lives. But now, we've passed through those times, and when we do our best, naturally, we can spread out and do more work, and so when we do our solo work and gain these experienes and come back to V6, V6 become a stronger group for it, and everyone understands that.

"We come up with a lot of well-intentioned bad ideas."

"What kind of group do you want to be from now on?"

As V6, I don't think there'll be any more dramatic changes in the future. If you just sorta vaguely look over your shoulder, and one of the members is sitting there, and there's someone waiting for you there, and someone who'll ask "you OK?" when you come back -- like, lots of things might be totally different, but I don't think I can say that there'll be anyone who'll just selfishly go on ahead. If this were 20 years ago, you'd have someone running on ahead on their own or staying behind, as though you were playing hooky by going to the convenience store for ice cream.2 I've known since I was young that if you go along with a feeling like you shouldn't put a toe out of line, or if you repress your own feelings to go along with those around you, as a performer, you probably won't be very interesting, right? Ah, in V6's case, up until now, if you step over the line, and someone yells at you all "THE EFF?!" if you get mad at them even once like that they won't come back, and I do have those sorts of tough parts of myself (laughs). I understand that, so for example, I'll suggest "in order to make the fans have fun at our concerts, should we have little gimmicks?" Like, "let's do a concert without any songs from singles in it," or "the opening is always really extravagent, so what if we started it off with a ballad?" We all come up with a lot of "well-intentioned bad ideas" (laughs). It's neat.

"During your 10th anniversary year, did you have any ideas about what kind of group you'd be or what you'd be like during your 20th year?"

I didn't even think about that in the slightest. That's why now, I can't even imagine what we'll be like during our 30th year (laughs). It's just, lately Okada's been saying "no matter how many years from now, we should just randomly get together" a lot, and I'm like, "wow, that's beautiful." It'd be nice if we could just keep randomly getting together, having concerts, and just repeat that forever. But, in 10 years, that means I'm gonna be 54, right? ... hmmmmm, I wonder if I'll be able to dance? (laughs)

"More than just showy acrobatics, we'll show you a high-quality performance."

"Are there things about the group that have encouraged you or lifted your spirits?"

If I had to say, it'd probably be the time I got injured. I broke my foot during the middle of the tour. At the time, I thought how great it was to have the other 5 members around. Sitting near the audience and watching the concert, I thought, "what a super cool group!" Then it was like "wait, what? Isn't it more refined with 5 instead of 6?" -- I had a lot of different thoughts (laughs). At a time when you'd otherwise need to have 6 people, in a hurry, and without uttering any complaints, I was really grateful that the 5 of them were able to succeed in that instance. I had a lot of feelings of regret, like "sorry I wasn't able to be part of the concert!" And from then on, no matter how many times one of us would get hurt, those of us who were left would come together and change the choreography from a 6-member version to a 5- or 4-member version (laughs). People will say "V6 is a group where everyone can do acrobatics," but if you really think about it, we're all amateurs. None of us have properly learned anything. Yet despite this, it's not just acrobatics that we've done, but rather kinda group gymnastics, and the risk of injury in that is much higher. We used to do backflips from raised stages up until however many years ago, right? I remember well how excited the fans got the first time we did that all at once. But, as the years went on, and we all got older, the mood of the people around us changed from one of being "moved" to being "worried" like, "wait, what? You're still doing this? Are y'all OK?" (laughs). When we'd do it succesfully back in the day, the audience would scream, but gradually, that changed to more of a sigh of relief. Actually, I've heard from the fans that like, "I'm as worried about you all as I am impressed." It's unwise to make the fans worry, right? (laughs). When we push ourselves too much and get injured, the quality of the whole performance goes down. So everyone gets excited when we do showy acrobatics, but I'd like to do performances where we can get the crowd fired up without using those things.

"I'm thinking of ways to show my gratitude and make it a show that anyone can enjoy with a smile on their face."

"What are you doing to prepare for this tour?"

Nothing special, really. Same as always. I'm doing the same training I've been doing, and basically getting my body ready for concert rehearsals (laughs). V6's concerts are basically a lot of dancing, so when it comes to be rehearsal time, we do each song a bunch of times, and then when we do the whole setlist, it becomes even more special, and that's enough. I don't have to run myself into the wall -- it's totally fine if I don't (laughs).

"So, have you thought of a personal theme for this tour?"

A theme? I don't think I have... Oh, right, I just thought again about how I don't want to make excuses for my age. If I get a pass on that, I get the feeling that a lot of things in my life will simply collapse. "My age is often a joke, but I don't make excuses about it." That might be the theme I'll be keeping in mind.

"What sort of concert do you think it'll end up being?"

I think it'd be nice if it could be a concert where you could feel all the more the power in the music. I want it to be a concert packed with a lot of different meanings and things. For one thing, we had the idea that "the songs that the fans who've supported us up until now want to hear are the songs we want to sing." And also like "how about if, in an instant, we all turned our backs to the fans, came together, and then sang while looking each other in the eye?" There's a feeling that our 20th anniversary is the only time when we can do things like this. Beyond that, we're gonna dance this time! It might be kinda sad, but because we're a group who do dance intensely even during ballads, this time I want to be made to dance a lot (laughs).

"What's the most important thing about this concert?"

It's all about gratitude! The fans who've kept coming to see us, the staff who construct the stages for us -- they're the reason we're standing on that stage, and without the people who compose the songs, we wouldn't be able to stand on that stage and sing. To say nothing of the fact that without the people who listen to our music, there'd be no reason to stand on that stage. I want to show our gratitude to every person who's been connected to us. But not the kind where you bow your head -- rather, "it would be nice if we could find a way to make make them have fun and put a smile on their face."

"For V6, and for yourself, what sort of place do concerts have in your life?"

They're everything. We all love being up on stage, and we love dancing.

"We put 120% of our feelings into this song, and I'd like for that to honestly come across."

"What sort of feelings did you have when you first hear the 'anniversary song' included on the limited edition A version of your 20th anniversary best album, 'SUPER VERY BEST'?"

I honestly just thought "oh, that's great~". The staff initially suggested we write letters to the fans, but then after that, we gave the things we'd written to Inohara to make a song out of, and that's how it came about. We've had messages and songs for the fans before, but we'd each tried writing different things, but there was so style to it, so I thought this one was nice. At the beginning, all of us were all "whaaat! That's embarrassing!" and felt all awkward, and no matter what I wrote, I'd get embarrassed and throw it out, and it made me want to write my feelings seriously.

"What sorts of feelings did you put into the anniversary song, 'Koko kara' (From Now On)"?

I dunno why, but I am the king of awkward lyrics (laughs). We've written songs as Tonisen a bunch of times now, but of the lyrics I've written, only a few of them have ended up in songs. And even I know that it's about "quality," so I don't set out to write lyrics, but rather my feelings just came out in words and phrases and I sent them off to Inohara. I wrote a P.S. of "I'm sorry!" (laughs). I left it all up to him. I think it must've been really hard on him.

"What sort of impression do you have of the final lyrics?"

When it comes to Inohara's literary talent, his choice of words is wonderful, and I felt like they were lyrics we couldn't have written if we all did it together at once. When it comes to the song, saying these kinds of things are a little embarrassing, and I'm really proud of it since I feel like it became a song even a great writer couldn't have written.

"Tell us what your impressions were when you heard Inohara's melody."

We all had a hand in crafting it, so we fully understood the weight of the lyrics, so when the words hit your ears and mixed with the melody, I felt like it became a song that you could really empathise with. I've been listening to it all the time (laughs).

"How do you want to perform it in concert?"

It'd be fine even if we didn't do anything, right? I want it all to come across in the song. We put our thoughts 120% into the words of the song, so I get the feeling that we don't need to add anything else to it. Really, if we were to dance during this song, wouldn't it become kinda boring? (laughs). With every single word, I want to get it out there in a straightforward way.

"Finally, tell us about 'SUPER VERY BEST.'"

There are 45 singles and 3 new songs. Putting all the songs in order, I understand not just how far we've come, but also like "aah, our voices have changed this much~" and I've noticed how much our voices have matured. I also think it's a mature album without the photographs. While you listen to the songs, you'll think "ah, yeah, this happened," and for everyone who listens to it, please look back on our 20 years with us.




Messages from the Members

Message from Nagano: Even just saying that there's even just one person who's older than me, just sorta makes me feel at ease. It's really great that there's one thing I'll never surpass him at (laughs). Let's keep working hard together!

Message from Inohara: I feel like I'm the person who, out of all of V6, feels most like "I'm gonna spend my life trying to understand Sakamoto-kun's feelings," so with gratitude, from here on out, I want you to show me the things that you like.

Message from Morita: As the oldest in a group separated by ages, he's really serious, and I think "that must have been tough." Having passed 20 years together, I understand that now, and I think I've gotta be grateful to him.

Message from Miyake: He doesn't say what he feels, but rather, shows it by his actions. When I'm doing a play, he'll absolutely come to see it. And then he'll say one word to me and go home... He's a really casual and smart person.

Message from Okada: He's warmly watched over me... probably like a father, yeah? What we think and our values are different, but he's definitely a father figure to me.


. notes .
01. Literally "amount of heat generated" but I just can't make that make sense in this context, so we're going with passion.
02. Blessings be upon [livejournal.com profile] apneatic_melody for helping me word this in a way that makes sense in English. Do I even speak this language?
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