NGT48 – Ogino Yuka / IDOL AND READ 012

An extensive look at an idol who’s trying not to be an idol. You read that right! She’s a bit of a weirdo, but she sure is sweet.

So it has been a reaaally long while since I wrote something on this blog. Such a long time that the two girls I last wrote about sadly have graduated or quit the industry (yes I’m unfortunately talking about Mene&Rei), but it is with another of those long and painful-to-translate IDOL&READ interview that I’m making my come back. And boy what an interview! This must’ve been one of my favorite to read in all the interviews of that mag I’ve read so far. I’m sorry, my translation is definitely hardly going to be reflecting the writing style or the “narrative” that makes it, in my opinion, very fun to follow in japanese. But I did my best, I promise. In any case, I hope you enjoy it at least a bit.

By the way, it is now my longest-to-date translated interview, overtaking Ano’s interview by just a few hundred words. Oh and next month’s IDOL&READ will have Habu Mizuho&Kakizaki Memi’s interviews from Keyakizaka46. I will be translating one of the two, depending on whether someone else handles Habu’s or not.

No matter what happens, I’ll never get discouraged!

Ogino Yuka, the girl who placed 1st in the Preliminary Sousenkyo results back in May and ended up in 5th place during the actual Sousenkyo. Carrying the dream of becoming an idol and overcoming the bitterness of failing at the very end after taking countless auditions, she finally debuted her AKB activities as a Baito AKB before entering the Kami 7. This is the girl whose past we’re having a look at today. Behind the miracle, with efforts and a strong mental combined, it may look like she has reached her dream — but the truth is, she appears to be still a long way off.

You were born and raised in Saitama, right?

That’s right. But there were lots of rice fields around where I lived, with lots of nature. It definitely wasn’t a city (laugh).

Were your parents born in Saitama too?

They both came from a different prefecture. But it’s pretty much like they’ve always lived there.

Have you ever asked them about how they met and fell in love?

I haven’t, so I don’t know. But they often went together to Hawaii and because there was that “Maui” island they liked over there, I’ve heard they initially wanted to name me Maui (laugh). So instead of being Ogino Yuka right now, I could’ve been Ogino Maui! Maybe they eventually realized that sounded wrong for a name and changed it at the very end? But yeah I’m glad they went for Yuka, really (laugh).

What’s your oldest memory?

It’s probably me fighting with my younger brother, who’s one year younger than me, with badminton rackets when I was around 4 years old. We were just playing around but our mother ended up confiscating them (laugh).

Have you ever asked what kind of child you were?

I was really energetic when I was at home, but whenever I would go out, I’ve heard I was a very reserved little girl. In kindergarten, I would often make dorodango (mud dumplings) and play silently. I do think myself I was a quiet child, and it didn’t change much until I started elementary school. Nowadays, because I’m always so energetic my parents are often surprised by how much I’ve changed and am able to be so outgoing in front of people.

What was your dream when you were still a quiet girl?

It’s a classic for girls, but I wanted to be a Sailor Moon or open a cake shop. I liked Tsukino Usagi, the heroine of Sailor Moon. She’s usually a bit of a klutz but would become super cool as soon as she transforms. I think it’s this personality gap that drew me to her. I really wanted to have a cake shop too and held onto that dream until my 3rd year of elementary school. But my mother told me opening a cake shop would be impossible if I didn’t speak english — so I gave up (laugh).

Wouldn’t it have been better to start studying english instead of giving up?

I wonder? Had it been the me of today, I might’ve tried, but back then when I was a child it was out of the question, as I was really bad at studying. I was a bit of an idiot (laugh).

What happened after you gave up on your cake shop dream?

I think I wanted my parents to keep doing their best at work and have them continue raising me forever (laugh). I didn’t think I would have been able to find a job even if I became an adult back then.

Why would you think that?

Watching Office Ladies in dramas made me think so. That it would be impossible for me to do the same thing. That’s why I was really uncertain about my future, whether I would eventually be able to become a full-fledged working member of society or not. That is, until I started dreaming of becoming an idol instead.

You’re standing where you are today obviously thanks to all the experiences you went through during your life. But what would you say is the main reason you changed so much, going from that quiet child to the very cheerful girl you are now, and when did it happen?

It all started when I was in my 4th year of elementary school, when I went to see a friend’s performance and started taking dance lessons after that. I started interacting with lots of other kids, and progressively became able to stand on a stage through performing in front of people.

What was the thing that caught your attention when you watched your friend’s performance?

I simply thought it was very cool, I don’t know why but I was moved. This friend of mine was also pretty bad at studying, so just like with Tsukino Usagi, I may have been attracted to that personality gap a bit. After seeing that performance, I started wanting to stand on a stage and look cool as well. So after that, I asked my parents if I could take dance lessons.

Up until that point, was there anything else you wanted to do?

No, nothing. There wasn’t anything I felt passionate about before that.

So, it was your first time considering the show business industry.

Yes. However, while I myself had no interest in those sort of things, back when I was in kindergarten and had grown a bit older, my mother took me to various auditions. But I wasn’t the type of person who enjoyed it, nor was I someone able to stand in front of people, so I took them reluctantly. I even told my mother I didn’t want to go while crying, but she still kind of took me there by force. Of course, since that’s the kind of mindset I had while presenting myself there, I failed all of them. But as I started taking dance lessons, a new feeling inside me emerged as well — that “I didn’t want to lose!”. And that’s when I began thinking I wanted to take auditions myself.

In the first place, why would your mother keep bringing her daughter to auditions by force?

My mother wanted to enter the show business world when she was younger too but couldn’t, so I think she tried to push that dream of her onto me. I know she wanted to do that kind of things, although I didn’t hear it directly from her. That’s why it really is nothing but speculations on my part. Asking her would feel a bit like prying into her past and I would feel bad for her doing so, so I’ve never asked her directly.

What did your father think of all of that?

My father had always strongly opposed it. He was even more reluctant than me when it came to auditions. He was all “I don’t want her to take auditions!”. But my mother didn’t let herself be discouraged by such words (laugh). It was probably that my father, at that time, wanted me to study normally and grow into a normal adult. That’s why when I first asked them to start taking dance lessons, he was totally against it. But after repeatedly asking him, times and times over, he finally let me do it and even came to the recitals. That’s where I thought, if I were to show him my good sides there, maybe he would have a change of mind. But that didn’t exactly work. He simply told me I at least could keep taking those lessons. Then, by entering contests and such, the feeling inside me that I wanted to show my dance to more people grew stronger, and I started taking an interest in the show business world.
I began thinking I wanted to appear on TV and become famous.

This is when you started liking AKB48 and started dreaming of becoming one of them?

That’s right. At school, the “Heavy Rotation” song was all the rage, so my friends told me it was good and insisted I had to watch it. I borrowed my mother’s computer and did so. I immediately fell in love with Oshima Yuuko who was beyond cute. This is what made me start thinking I wanted to take idol auditions now, and turned to my mother for advices. Right around that time, AKB48 was holding the auditions for the 13th Generation, so I applied. But my father, again, strongly opposed it and told me he’d never allow me to do that. I had had to apply in secret, but completely failed right at the paper examination. As expected AKB48 really wasn’t easy to get into, but it quite hurt the me back then, when I was still in my 1st year of middle school, and left me frustrated.

But you didn’t give up after that and kept auditioning for AKB48 right?

I had failed, but on the one hand my love for AKB48 kept growing stronger, and on the other hand, more than anything, I felt nothing but frustration. So I auditioned for the 14th Generation afterward. Of course, my father was still against it. To the point that he was like “You have no idea what’s going to happen to you if you apply.” (laugh). My mother was fine with letting me do whatever I wanted, but my father wanted me to think about my future. And he even told me there was no reason to apply because I would fail anyway! But I wanted to apply no matter what, so I kept asking him while crying, and eventually got the right to.

So your father eventually approved of your goals?

More than approving, he was more like “You’re going to fail anyway, so why not”. After that, I passed the paper examination and advanced to the second round. When I told my father so, he answered “You might’ve passed the paper examination, but now is when things will start to get serious” ! “Why would you say such things?!”, I replied while crying angrily. I was so frustrated! So after the paper exam, I did my veeeery best to sing Maeda Atsuko’s “Kimi wa Boku da”. But in the end, I didn’t pass.
My father then told me, surprisingly, “do your best next time too”. I didn’t quite understand (laugh).

Seeing his daughter being so frantic, maybe your father started to change his mind little by little?

I wonder? But having my father now telling me to do my best, I thought I really had to succeed next time no matter what, and thus auditioned for the 15th Generation. From that point onwards, it was now my father who took me to all the auditions.

Now that’s some sudden change (laugh).

I know right (laugh). Seeing me so hung up about AKB48, and how difficult those auditions seemed to be, it might’ve picked his interest. We were together when we were waiting for the results of the final 15th Generation examination too, and he was really happy when I got accepted to become a cadet. But because it was to become a Research Student (kenkyuusei), there was still another month of lessons to go through. Once that month of lesson would be over, it would be decided whether we were fit to become a Research Student or not. At the very end, I was rejected. I had managed to become a cadet, but not a Research Student.

If we think about it, from when you wouldn’t even pass the paper screening during the 13th Generation audition to becoming a cadet, you did make progress little by little.

That’s true, but when I received the rejection mail for the Research Student examination, I was really depressed.When I showed that mail to my father he was really sad too… Ah… thinking about it makes me want to cry… But it’s a bit early to cry again right (teary eyes). Eeeh, but after that, about a week after I had failed the Research Student examination, I received a new mail telling me there would be a re-examination! It was like a miracle. The results of the re-examination were so I could become a Temporary Research Student and undergo a 1-year-long training course.

It means that, after your 1-year training course, if you were to pass, you would be able to become a full-fledged Research Student?

Yes, during that training course, 3 examinations would be held. If I were to pass any of them, I would become a Research Student. But if I were to fail all three of them, that would be the end. After I failed the first examination, I knew I had no choice but to pass any of the other remaining two and started practicing really hard by going to karaoke.
So at first, once the returning-home meetings would be over at school, I had my mother come to the school gate to give her my backpack and everything. Then in order to build stamina, I would put on a mask and run all the way to the karaoke boxes and sing by myself in a private room for 4 hours. I would do that 4 times a week. My father advised I should try to take some voice training lessons too, so I did. However, I was so tone-deaf I felt bad for the teacher and quit (laugh).

But you did keep going to the karaoke?

I did. When my father had a day off, I would sing for 5 hours long in front of him the song we were assigned. He praised me saying I was “surprisingly good”. That’s why I got a bit carried away (laugh). Apart from singing, I would also practice dancing by myself on my days off for 6 hours straight. In order to practice dance, my parents even bought me a big mirror. But despite my family doing that much for me, I ended up failing all of the three examinations.

You might’ve been getting closer to your dream, but the closer you got, the bigger the shock it must have been when in the end you failed again.

It sure was a big shock. When the results of the 2nd examination came in, my mother told me “remember the words of Takamina (Takamina Minami)!”. That “efforts never go unrewarded”. And because my mother told me so, I kept believing in those words. But when I received the mail announcing the results of the 3rd examination, I shouted “efforts never go unrewarded? That’s a lie!” and threw my chopsticks at my mother. It came when we were eating. I was super enraged, and vented my anger on her. She started crying, and I skipped school for three days.

It had turned into quite the situation.

This is the one time where I gave up on entering the show business world. I was against it at first, but counting all the way down to kindergarten, I had failed more than a hundred auditions, it was time for me to stop. I told my parents I would stop aiming for the show business world and would quit dance as well. But for some reasons, that’s when my father answered, “You would give up now?”.

The same father who was firmly against it at first.

After that my mother added “don’t give up, just try one more time” too. And then they applied for me to the Baito AKB audition on their own (laugh). After the paper screening, I passed the singing and dancing examinations too… It might’ve been a baito, but thinking about how I had finally managed to become an AKB48 member, I was so happy… (tears accumulating in her eyes). We had a group LINE for the three of us, my parents and me, and I sent them a message saying “It’s just a baito but I’m an AKB48 member now!” — and got a call from my father right after who was overjoyed. But this baito AKB would only last for a year.

You were also applying for the Team 8, right?

I did, and went to the final round. But at that time, I got along well with Takahashi Ayane, who was applying as the representative for the Saitama prefecture as well, and I couldn’t help but keep thinking “Ayane is definitely going to be the one who passes”. It turned out she did and became the Saitama representative. So I didn’t have any regret.

What about other auditions?

There are some others where I passed the first rounds but failed the rest. Now thinking back about it, I really had some guts (laugh). Because some of the other members that got accepted at the auditions I applied to are none other than Shiraishi Mai&Nishino Nanase! I also applied to Hello!Project’s auditions and went to the final round but failed there. And I took the auditions for Idol College too.

Taking all those auditions, I think you really went through a lot prior to lashing out on your mother about Takamina’s words.

On the one hand it was my own dream, but my mother always supported me heartfully ever since the beginning, and even my father who was against it at first was now encouraging me, so the more time passed the more I did not want to waste their feelings. Up until then, I was bad at studying and there was nothing I could do to make them happy. So I wanted to succeed at becoming an idol and please them.

Did those feelings also made your motivation to become an idol stronger?

Each time I would be rejected, the feeling that “I will definitely become one!” grew stronger, yes, but truth was “idols” seemed like such distant beings. There was no way a girl like me could become onel. Of course I wanted to stand on the same stage Oshima Yuuko stood on. But I often thought it was impossible for me. Those two opposite feelings had always been inside of me.

I would like to ask about your baito AKB days. After you became a Temporary Research Student and failed to become an official Research Student, you had given up on becoming an idol. Yet, while it was a baito, you had finally managed to enter the AKB group you had admired for so long. So what kind of feelings did you harbor when it happened?

Back when I was a Temporary Research Student, one of the staff told me that “behind any lights, there was shadow” — I didn’t quite understand what that meant at that time. But after joining Baito AKB, I found the answer. When you watch idols on your TV, they’re always wearing super cute clothes and are all shiny, but behind all of this facade, it’s an incredible amount of efforts and work that lie. I was overwhelmed when I learned this truth.

Was it completely different from what you had it mind?

Absolutely. After watching how the lessons went or participating in concert rehearsals, I realized why I had never passed an audition up until then. Before that, I couldn’t think about anything other than myself. Even if you had asked me to, I wouldn’t look at my surroundings and I had never even looked at the others Temporary Research Student. I do think the me from that time would not have been able to become a group member, and that all of this played a role in me eventually failing those auditions. One member who particularly impressed me is Yokoyama (Yokoyama Yui).

What specifically did you find impressive about her?

During the rehearsal for the Kouhaku Utagassen, Shimazaki Haruka was not able to attend it and I had been appointed to her position instead. But I did not know neither the choreography nor the positions for the song we were performing, yet Yokoyama gently gave me all the instructions I needed and I was somehow able to complete my duty thanks to her.
Yokoyama does not only remember her own position and moves, but everyone else’s as well, as she’s always looking at everything that surrounds her. Even during her Research Student days, she would remember her senior’s choreographies and positions and teach them once they’d be back. In my case, having my hands already full with myself, there would be absolutely no way I could do the same, and this is why I think Yokoyama is so impressive. But my Baito AKB days were very short-lived, the year passed in a flash.

Your dream of becoming an idol that you had once given up on had finally been fulfilled with you entering Baito AKB. So I suppose the reason you chose to enter the Draft Kaigi afterward is because you felt like seeing the continuation of that dream?

Well, there was this “Pajama Drive” stage that I went to, where Miion (Mukaichi Mion) and other members, with whom I was a Temporary Research Student for the 15th Generation but who managed to become official Research Student before me, were performing. Seeing them on stage, and thinking that if I had passed the examinations, I could’ve been there too made me really frustrated and brought me to tears. But Miion and the others were really all shiny and cute, so with those mixed feelings inside me, I had fun and cried at the same time (laugh). In the end, I went to see the 15th Generation Research Student stage about 5 times. I stopped crying after the 3rd time, but I never stopped feeling frustrated. The me of that time still didn’t want to give up. And then I eventually failed the third examination and couldn’t become a Research Student.
This is when I gave up on becoming an idol and where my mother applied for me to the Baito AKB audition, and where I started my one year of idol activity.

And so, during that year of being part of Baito AKB, thanks to you understanding one of the reason you might’ve been failing all this time and seeing how impressive the other members were as idols, the fire inside your heart got lit again?

That’s part of the reason, another one is that, being a Baito AKB, I got the chance to perform with the other members from the 15th Generation, and doing so I started thinking “I want to surpass them”. Also, meeting my fans during the New Year’s cards Giving-Out event was a big thing too. I wanted to meet them again. And with those thoughts in mind, I applied at the Draft Kaigi and got nominated by Kitahara Rie and Kashiwagi Yuki, and ended up becoming a NGT48 member.
But I think if I hadn’t gone to the toilets at that time, I wouldn’t have been nominated.

You wouldn’t have been nominated if you hadn’t gone to the toilets? What do you mean?

There were seniors members who came checking out on us, cadets, during the draft training camp. Other cadets would go see them and engage the conversation, so that they could try to get noticed, as one would expect. However, since I was scared, I never managed to do the same and I locked me up in the lesson court, non-stop dancing. I only left it because I wanted to go to the toilets. That’s when, on my way there, I met Kashiwagi Yui by chance who called out to me with a “Otsukaresama!” (good work there!). At this moment, I don’t know why myself, but I broke down in tears.
Kitahara Rie then embraced me, and told me “You really did your best all this time, Yuka”, while Kashiwagi Yuki kept stroking my back at the same time. After that, and thinking back about it I don’t know why I did this, but I proceeded to tell them everything about my dream. While crying big tears (laugh). Really, what was I thinking talking about all of those things to two super important senior members while crying (laugh).
But once I was done talking, Kitahara Rie told me that she had been through similar experiences in the past, and so that I should not give up. I think the reason someone like me got nominated was thanks to this coincidence.

Even so, after so much time and auditions failed, how did you feel the moment you finally became an official member?

I didn’t understand what was going on anymore and hugged my head (laugh). When my name was called, it didn’t even feel like it was mine. On top of that, since I had been nominated for NGT48, I would become a 1st Generation, which is a quite big thing. Although to be honest, in my groups wishlist, NGT was at the last place. When I got asked beforehand whether I would go or not if I were to be nominated for NGT48, I had even answered that I wouldn’t. I would have to live on my own if I were to, and domestic chores were a no-go for me.

Did Kitahara Rie and Kashiwagi Yuki knew about this at that time?

I wonder? If they had looked at the questionnaire, they might’ve known. But while I had written I wouldn’t go to Niigata even if I were to be nominated, once I actually had been called out, I was truly happy. Being a 1st Generation really isn’t something you can usually experience, and you can build things up from there, so my heart was filled with excitement, happiness and hopes.

So then, after that, did everything start to go well?

Well, not really. First there was Imamura, who managed the theater, that I was scared of (laugh). And then there was the fact that Nishigata Marina, along with whom I had been nominated, was older than me so we didn’t talk much. I quickly became uneasy.

What drove your uneasiness away then?

My father took us, Marina&me, to a sushi shop. That’s how we became friends!
You know, right after I moved to Niigata, I didn’t have any TV in my room and I spent my evenings alone and in fear. I didn’t even have a table and had to use the suitcase where I store my costumes to eat my cup ramen. Oh, do you know this song that goes like “I got no TV, I got no radio” (テレビもねぇ、ラジオもねぇ)? My mother sent it to me, and that’s all I was listening to while eating (laugh). I was all like, weeping, “I’m scared, I’m lonely”.

Your mother has some sense of humor (laugh).

She does (laugh). But I couldn’t just stay that way forever, so I summoned up my courage and contacted Marina. I asked her if I could come to her room, and she said yes. But once I stood in front of her door, 5 minutes passed before I pushed the doorbell. I didn’t know what to talk about with her. But using my courage I pressed the button, entered, and what I saw there was a TV! So I sat there in front of the TV, hugging my knees, while Marina brought me some tea. Even so, I would’ve felt bad simply drinking it and leaving, so without touching it we spent two hours watching the TV without exchanging a word (laugh). I eventually had had to go to the toilets, but I also felt bad about using someone else’s toilets in a room we had just moved in so I went back to mine. After I told my father about this whole story, he suggested we should go eating together, all three of us, and came all the way to Niigata for this reason.
So on New Year’s Day, we went to a sushi shop together, and the day after my father cooked for me. After that, I became friend with Marina and we started eating together or going to the cinema. It’s like my father connected us together.

Did everything start to go well from there, including your NGT48 activities?

While it was only me and Marina, yes, but my heart started to shiver when the other 1st Generation got announced. Things were getting rough. When the results of the audition were announced and I got sent the pictures of the candidates who had passed, I was with Marina as well. We looked at them and got all hyped like “The number 50 is super cute! Yamaguchi Maho! Ah the number 5 is cute as well… Kato Minami! And the number 24 is definitely going to be popular! Her name’s Nakai Rika!”. But as we saw more and more of them, we started becoming more and more anxious. Weren’t us draft members going to be forgotten? So we held a council of war!

What countermeasure did you come up with after your council of war then?

We decided it was actually fine doing nothing (laugh). After all, draft members had been here even earlier than the 1st Generation, right? And we also met them during the training camp. The moment we saw them, they were so cute we knew it was no use competing (laugh). Like Katomina (Kato Minami) who was so beautiful her aura was incredible. We started wondering again with Marina what we should thus do.
But afterward we couldn’t find the courage to talk to those 1st Generation members so we remained together, the two of us, all the time. Even during the lessons when we had to be in pair, I was with Marina. But at some point we realized it was no good, since we had been here for longer than the other 1st Generation, we should’ve been leading them instead. So from there onward whenever everyone was here, I would refrain from talking with Marina and engage with the others instead.

How did you “lead” them?

More than leading, we started thinking a lot about the 1st Generation. While I didn’t talk with Marina during the lessons, we were still eating together at night. During those moments we would reflect on everything that happened during the day, like “oh I think this girl would do better if she did this instead”. We were having this kind of talk everyday.
This is quite a big change from the you from the past who couldn’t see anything else than yourself.

That’s true. Then, as the days passed, the positions for our Debut event* eventually got announced. Although Marina and me were thinking about what would be the best for NGT48 as a group all the time and were trying to lead it into that direction, I personally still wanted to have the central position after all. But I didn’t get it. The one who got it was Katomina. Since she’s so cute and worked hard for it, I had to consent, but to be honest I still felt a bit bitter. As someone who had been here for longer than her even if by not a lot.

お披露目 = Debut event (8/21/2015)

Later on, we finally saw the release of your debut single “Seishun Tokei” this year back in April. And this time it was Nakai Rika who got the center position.

Rika had already been chosen as a senbatsu member in an AKB48 single beforehand and was doing her best as the NGT48 representative, so I actually already had thought that she was likely to become center even before it was officially announced. I just talked about how I was frustrated not having been selected as the center for our Debut event, but truth is I do think myself I’m not fit for the position. When it comes to dance I’m the type to be dancing carefreely with big movements, and I probably wouldn’t look good as a center because of my height too, so I have no confidence in my ability to carry everyone.
I wanted to be a center, but felt like it was impossible for me — those are the contradictory feelings I had. To top it off, more than me, it was Katomina who must’ve been frustrated at that time. Despite being the center during our Debut event, she hadn’t been granted that position for our debut single. Because of that I thought it wasn’t right for me to feel bad, and switched my hopes to have a position where I could support our center instead.

A month and half after, you got the 1st place during the Preliminary Sousenkyo voting, and ended up in 5th place during the real show which got you a place in the Kami 7. In terms of ranking, this is higher than anyone else in NGT48 or in AKB48’s 13th, 14th and 15th Generations, as well as higher than anyone else in Team 8.

Hmmm… But I think that if we’re talking about actual performance, there isn’t any domain where I can win. So that’s why I spent the year leading up to this Sousenkyo election trying to build some confidence in myself by closing the distance between me and my fans as much as possible. I wanted to become the friendliest idol possible. I would decorate my line myself during the handshake events, or would try to greet people in a voice louder than anyone else’s for example, so as to stand out. Because I can’t win in the performance or look departments, I tried to venture into others. In the end I do think I managed to close the distance between me and my fans and this is one aspect where I am now confident. Plus I still don’t want to lose to the other 15th Generation members.

Do you think it is this desire not to lose against the 15th Generation members, on top of all those efforts you made, that led to such a breakthrough from last year where you were at the 95th place?

But, if you think about it objectively, I only ranked this high thanks to my fans’ efforts, not thanks to my own abilities. If we’re talking about the 15th Generation, Miion is incredibly cute and visually striking, as well as being a capable performer — I personally have none of that.

Do you still talk with Mukaichi Mion?

When we meet for work we take photos or practice choregraphies together. We’re in good terms.

Nevertheless, from you failing the 13th Generation Audition right at the paper screening stage all the way to making your debut, this is a quite splendid story.

No no, I’m just getting started, it’s going to become an even better story from now on! Though I wonder how? Right now part of why I’m doing my best is thanks to the presence of the 15th Generation members that I consider my rivals, or something like that. It was really frustrating, but at the same time it was fun, those 5 times I went to see them during their Research Student days.

By the way, how did you feel when you became 1st during the Preliminary Sousenkyo?

More than happy, I was scared and anxious. The fans who were at the theater during the announcement were happy, but if I were to set foot outside, people wouldn’t even have known who was Ogino Yuka or would wonder why someone like me had ended in first place, right? Despite being 1st thanks to my fans’ efforts, I didn’t want to hear it and didn’t manage to rejoy. I was afraid of it getting to my head and being seen as arrogant, so despite the media covering the news of me getting 1st place, I felt like I didn’t know if it was fine for me to talk about it or not. It was the same when I ended up in 5th place, I was of course happy, but even more afraid of what would come next.

Are you still afraid now?

Well, since it is thanks to the fans that I am standing here today, I feel like I owe it to them to accept it and enjoy it now. That’s why I’m happy. Plus, entering the Senbatsu is everyone’s goal. As such, me being happy means there are many girls who are, on the other hand, feeling down. When I think about it like that, letting out negative feelings while doing activities as a Senbatsu member would be rude to those members who are feeling down. But while I’m enjoying myself right now, it’s true I’m still nervous. The senior members really are incredible. They’re so supple when dancing, and all have their own personality. I still have a long way to go.

I was watching a STU48 live the other day, and while Sashihara Rino&Okada Nana were both dancing the same choreography as the other members it felt totally different. Although that might be obvious considering how much experience they have.

Yes they really are on another level. That’s why when we are dancing together, I’m still often wondering if I am not holding them back. For example there was this TV show “FNS Uta no Natsu Matsuri” where we told me we would be performing “Manatsu no Sounds good!”, but it was my first time doing it. I only had three hours before the real show to learn the choreography, which was really short, and ended up being no good when the time came.
After that, I went hiding in a corner to cry but Yokoyama Yui came to see me. And not only that, but so that no other member notice that I was crying, she only asked me if I was alright, before inviting me to eat together through a LINE message. So after the performance ended, we went eating together and talked for about 2 hours while I was crying, and she found an answer to all of my worries. Moreover, the day after, NGT48 was to supposed perform on stage during the “Ongaku no Hi” TV show, and I had been appointed as the MC for this segment. But I wasn’t sure I could really give a good image of NGT48 in my state, and asked her about that.
In the end, she asked me, “Will you be able to do it tomorrow?” and didn’t let me go until I was able to answer “I will!” (laugh). Once I did, she went “Good!” !
Yokoyama Yui had always been a person I respected, so asking her advices while crying like that and going out together to eat felt weird.

Do you get advices from other senior members as well?

I do. Sashihara Rino is really kind too, she always answers me on LINE. But I end up thinking I might be holding her back by having her doing so too. She’s really busy, and yet she uses her free time for someone like me. But after I told her so, she answered, “Every members of the Senbatsu is part of the same team, I won’t let anyone out”. I realized how narrow my view of the world had been up until now. Sashihara even bought the NGT48 stamps on LINE, and she sends me my stamp!

This stamp is where you are saying your catchphrase right?

Yes. She sends me the stamp where I am saying “No matter what happens, I’ll never get discouraged” (laugh). I really am able to work surrounded by nothing but fantastic people. They’re almost all too kind. I got to work with the other senbatsu members the other day too, and it was really fun. But, being in such a blessed environment, I wonder if I am not going to get spoiled. The kinder the senior members around me are, the more I will want to rely on them for every little things. If I remain a senbatsu member, this won’t do, I think I need to stand out more.

What kind of idol do you want to become now?

An idol who isn’t an idol. For example, isn’t Suda Akari super idol-ish? And Watanabe Mayu as well, she’s the idol. But I don’t have this idol aura, nor can I pull off the “clean” idol type either, so instead I want to become an idol who makes the best of what she likes. Or simply put, I want to become a Galactic Idol!

Translation notes

Yuka uses the word 銀河アイドル which can also means “milky way idol”.

An idol who isn’t an idol is a Galactic Idol for you?

Yes, that’s a thought I double-confirmed last time when I went on a shooting with Takafumi Horie for a SHOWROOM live streaming the other day. It was a show where we launched a rocket into space. Getting to participate in this kind of work made me thought I got one step closer to being a “Galactic” idol! My goal as an idol, as a group, is to perform on a stage in las vegas, but as an individual, I want to be able to do a live streaming from space and sing from up there!

Once you’ll have become a galactic idol, what about your future? Do you want to try to become an actress or a model?

I want to be an idol forever. I’ve recently changed agency, which expanded my horizons as far as the types of activities I can do are concerned, but I think idols actually can do anything. Singing, dancing, and sometimes just messing around, as long as it makes someone happy, it’s fine. That’s why I want to be the idol who’s messing around.

It might be a bit early, but do you have any goals for next year’s Sousenkyo?

While this year’s sousenkyo changed me a lot, I think the real test will be next year’s. This year’s results have been said to be a miracle, but I want do to my best and prove it wasn’t. It’s hard to say what’s my specific goal though. I feel like I would be able to prove it wasn’t a miracle if I manage to get at least to rank 5th or get more votes than this year.

In order to accomplish that, what kind of activities do you want to do?

I’m not thinking about what I want to do “for the sousenkyo”. Instead, I’m trying to think about what would be best to make more people have fun. Putting the sousenkyo aside, I want to improve the quality of what people enjoy as much as I can.

Do you think you did a good choice not giving up up until now?

Yes I’m glad I didn’t give up! I want to apologize to my mother, for saying such things to her.

You still haven’t apologized? (laugh) Then let’s use this occasion to tell her so through this magazine!

Mom, I’m sorry for throwing my chopsticks at you that time! Your daughter’s efforts have certainly been rewarded! You told me to believe in Takamina’s words, and you were right!

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