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Working through this pile of magazines has been fun! This is an interview with Kawai from earlier this year before Nodo Jiman. I really enjoyed it and I hope you do, too!

As always, I am NOT a professional and don't promise a perfect translation. If you spot something wrong or that I might have misunderstood please do let me know.

I claim no ownership over the original material. This is for entertainment purposes only. Please do not copy or repost.

「のど自慢〜上を向いて歩こう〜」

KAWAI FUMITO

Taking on the challenge of a play that will make you laugh and make you cry


He’s appeared in various plays from「滝沢歌舞伎 10th Anniversary」to 「コインロッカ・ベイビーズ」 but this will be the first time A.B.C-Z member Kawai Fumito will be starring in a play without another group member. The play is loosely based on the 1999 film 「のど自慢」directed by Izutsu Kazuyuki. Kawai’s challenge this time is getting on the same page as his co-stars. We talked to him about how he’s feeling.


-----Kawai-san, this is the first time you’ve appeared without another group member in a non-Johnny’s play. Would you tell us how you felt when the offer came?


Kawai: Honestly, I was happy. Just because I’m on my own doesn’t mean I’ll be lonely. I was happy that I was going to be facing another new challenge this year. I was grateful.


-----In recent years each A.B.C-Z member has been performing in non-Johnny’s plays. Do you go and watch them?


Kawai: I go every time. When I watch the other guys perform, I feel motivated but more than that I feel inspired. One thing I’m thankful for is that recently each of us in the group have been working really hard and that makes me happy.


-----In this issue [of J Movie Magazine] there’s also an interview with Hashimoto Ryosuke. He said, “I don’t want to be overshadowed by the other group members.”


Kawai: Is that right? I guess I no longer really feel that way. Much more I feel like I don’t want to be overshadowed by my co-stars. When I’m working outside of Johnny’s--and I mean this in a good way--I don’t really think about the other members. Hashimoto’s play also has a lot of excellent actors in it and I hope he has a good experience working as part of the team and giving the audience something really special!!


-----It sounds like you have big brother-ly feelings towards Hashimoto-san!


Kawai: A long time ago I also felt like I didn’t want to be overshadowed by the other members. And I was about the same age as he is now when I felt that way. That’s why now I have to test myself more against people who aren’t group members. I need to catch up to the non-Johnny’s actors. The younger guys keep entering the business and I need challenge myself and move beyond what I’m comfortable with. I want to absorb even more from the people around me.


-----In the play, the other leading actor is Mori Masako-san, who is playing an unpopular singer named Akagi Reiko. Do you feel a lot of pressure?


Kawai: A ton! There’s both more issues to puzzle through and more things to be motivated about than working with actors my own age. I’ve been handed a really good opportunity.


-----What would be a issue you face playing Reiko-san’s manager, Sutani?


Kawai: Well, to what extent can I make Mori-san shine on stage. The position of manager is a modest one and I hope I can actually show that important element. There’s a strong image of managers as behind-the scenes people but he has another side that’s more like a performer. A manager doesn’t demand attention but a performer has to. That’s why I have to also act like a producer. The biggest challenge will be whether or not I can run the three-legged race necessary to make the role really pop on stage. And getting all of that across is my job right now.


-----I thought the visuals on the website strongly suggest that it will be a comedic play.


Kawai: Is that right? Well, the final script isn’t finished yet but the visuals really don’t give off a serious impression, do they? (laugh) You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, there’s going to be all sorts of things in the play but I think it’s going to be something that you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy. I don’t know if I’ll have a solo singing scene but I can say that the director told me, “You’re a Johnny’s so of course you’ll sing!” (laugh) Because the songs develop from the dialogue, it should be easier than usual to sing with feeling. Besides, the fans always praise me when I sing in plays. I sound different from when I’m singing normally in an A.B.C-Z I guess. Therefore, if I do get a solo song, I want to put everything I’ve got into it.


-----Your role in this play, Sutani, is a man who loves music so much he dedicated his life to it. I wonder how close that is to you, Kawai-san.


Kawai: I guess he’s closer to my personality than Kiku [his role in Coin Locker Babies]. The character of Kiku is massively different from me. (laugh) To an extent I feel like I can take things a bit easier this time.


-----Kawai-san, you also have an image of appearing on variety shows. How do you find “Kawai Fumito, the actor” within yourself?


Kawai: Acting and variety, I like them both but you could say that appearing on a variety show is less embarrassing. The reason I feel like I’ve always found drama difficult is that it’s embarrassing to become another person and say lines that aren’t my own words. I just feel insecure about it like, “It’d be weird if I said something like this….” It’s not like I hate my roles but I always I find it embarrassing. But that said, it noticed it was the opposite when I was in Coin Locker Babies last year. I could appreciate being outside my normal existence, existing as a me that wasn’t me. It was fun.


-----At the time, you told us that you felt a lot of pressure because there was a love scene.


Kawai: That’s right! Before the show I was incredibly nervous but once I got into the role it went unexpectedly smoothly. I felt like if I didn’t fully immerse myself in that world, it would also make things difficult for my partner. It felt like I’d had an eggshell or something surrounding me and that play shattered it.


-----Kawai-san, do you have a switch that takes you into actor mode?


Kawai: Well, I never been able to just turn into a character. Whether at rehearsal or the hours before a performance, I’m only in a role for the time I’m concentrating on it. When it ends I immediately return to the normal Kawai Fumito. Maybe my switch is arriving at the theater or rehearsal space. When I meet up with the staff-san and my co-stars, my switch flips.


-----Do you have an idol switch?


Kawai: My idol switch would have to be when I see the audience at a concert. (laugh) Before the audience comes in and we’re rehearsing, for example, even though I’ll be on stage, I’m still in “taking care of business” mode.


-----Kawai-san has many sides.


Kawai: I like thinking about what I can do to make concerts the best they can be because I want to enjoy myself during them.


-----For this play, you’ll be working with Teranishi Takuto, a kouhai from your agency. Have you spoken with him about anything?


Kawai: The other day the two of us went to karaoke together. (laugh) I didn’t give him advice or anything but we did have a conversation like, “Let’s both do our best.” I haven’t really reached such grand heights that I can go around giving advice, have I? (laugh). But it feels like since I’ll be working with a kouhai I have to be diligent and put on a good face because I have to set a good example. This time I’ll be the “star” but it’s going to be embarrassing if anybody calls me that. (laugh) There are absolutely parts where I’ll need everybody’s help, but I think I’ll also need to step up take the lead.


-----In this work, it seems like the songs will inspirational*. Kawai-san, do you find that songs also encourage you?


Kawai: Of course. When I listen to an encouraging song, I start to like that artist. I especially love seeing female singers who are singing with everything they’ve got. Whether they’re having fun and singing with a big smile on their faces or belting out high notes with all their hearts. I like songs where the feeling really reaches you.


When I’m feeling down, I like to listen to Def Tech.** I always listen to Def Tech on my way to rehearsals or the theater during the run of a play. I also listen a lot to Micro’s post-Def Tech solo albums.


-----What was it that got you listening so often?


Kawai: They were really popular with the Jr.’s back when I was in middle school and I’ve always liked them since then. I especially like Micro-san’s solo song 「雪柳」(Yukiyanagi). The line, “You don’t have to try your best”*** has saved me so many times. It’s a song that says it’s okay to relax and by yourself. And there’s SMAP-san’s 「DearWOMAN」 . I listen to that a lot too. That one also puts me in a good mood.


-----A.B.C-Z also has a lot of songs that make you feel inspired while listening to them.


Kawai: Out of our songs, I like 「Dream~5つの願い〜」. I think I feel that one the most when we sing it.


-----And why is that?


Kawai: It’s not just one of our original songs from the Jr. era but it’s the song from right when the Kisumai (Kis-My-Ft2) debut was announced. We’d always been together and knowing they were going to be debuting before us was really tough to take. The phrase “Someday it will happen~”****, at the time I remember singing it and putting more emotion than I normally do into it like, “It’s okay. We’ll definitely make it.”


-----I see. Well, finally, let me ask again, what kind of musical play this will be?


Kawai: When the audience sees it, they’ll feel happy and at ease. That’s what kind of play it will be.


-----

* The interviewer literally says 応援歌 or ouennka, which is a genre of song that doesn’t really have an equivalent in English. Something like a “fight song” or a “cheer” but not just for sports. An example would be Zard’s “Makinaide.”


** Note: Micro from Def Tech wrote Kawai’s solo song on 5 Performer Z.


*** The lyrics to the chorus of “Yukiyanagi” go:


がんばらなくてもいいんだよ

ありのままの君でいるなら

冬と春つなぐユキヤナギ

まわりを照らしていたら


You don’t have to try your best

As long as you’re true to yourself

The yukiyanagi spanning winter and spring

Will brighten its surroundings


(Yukiyanagi is a flowering shrub that looks like snow. It’s called Thunberg’s Meadowsweet in English.)


**** The lyrics are:


一人では何も出来ない 大切な仲間

夢追い求め走ろう

いつかは叶う 諦めないように

いつまでも いつまでも


I can’t do it alone, my dear friends

Chasing after our dream

One day it will happen, if we don’t give up

One day, one day...

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
heart283
Sep. 26th, 2017 01:27 pm (UTC)
I love where Kawai is in his career/life. It's interesting to read his analysis of this role and his job. And then his outlook, past & present. And "Dream ~ Itsutsu no Negai"! *cries* That song gets to me too, esp. after Kisumai's debut. And, again esp. at that time, they all seemed to perform it in an especially heartfelt manner.
Thank you very much for translating this!
nekobot01
Sep. 26th, 2017 02:11 pm (UTC)
Yes!! He seems happy with where he is but still very ambitious. I think it's a good place for him.

I saw Nodo Jiman twice and Fumito just looked soooooooo happy. ♥

This interviewer asked really good questions too! That's kind of rare!!

What I love about reading Kawai solo interviews especially is that he can be quite candid, more so than when they interview in a group where he will act as a moderator or even trying to make jokes to keep things interesting.
hikabunny
Sep. 26th, 2017 02:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!!!
nekobot01
Sep. 26th, 2017 02:12 pm (UTC)
I hope you enjoy!!!!!

Fumikyun = ♥
hikabunny
Sep. 26th, 2017 02:21 pm (UTC)
I really like how he's changed from not wanting to be overshadowed by other members to not wanting to be overshadowed by his co-workers. It feels very adult and grown up when he says he used to feel like that too when he was Hasshi's age.

I was wondering how Fumi has the image of being on variety? I heard this a number of times but I wasn't able to/couldn't follow Ebi that closely throughout their career.. So I don't know about his favorite song of theirs from before debut either.

There's the DefTech you were talking about before. Thank you for that. XD
nekobot01
Sep. 26th, 2017 02:33 pm (UTC)
I wonder if it's because he hosts Shonen Club! I think that must have a strong image for people.

And I loved that part about no longer competing with the members. ♥ I think he is more confident about himself in the group and so he can focus on doing his work instead of worrying that Tottsu has a drama or Hasshi is younger and more handsome or something... because the fans love everybody and we won't forget him.

DEF TECH!! I never heard of that song but I love that he still listens to what was popular in his middle school days. XD

hikabunny
Sep. 26th, 2017 02:41 pm (UTC)
I can see SC being the reason why. It's my image too that's probably why I can accept that variety attribute.

Now that you mention it I feel like I've read a few of your translations where he might have mentioned not wanting to lose too.. but it's true! All five of them are wonderful and every Ebi fan I have seen supports all five.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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