08 November 2011
Because You Were There For Me: Minegishi Minami
Also from the Shukan Asahi interview series comes the story of Team K's Minegishi Minami (Miichan). In her interview, Miichan talks about how her grandmother has been a constant source of strength for her. It's very touching, and I think especially interesting because it offers a glimpse into what being an idol is like.
How My Grandmother's Words Saved Me from Truancy
Translated by Kyttyee
[Why is Minegishi a center girl?]
[I want to stand out as the super-cute girl]
[I'm a little disappointed right now]
Those were the things I was thinking to myself four summers ago.
At that time, I was a member of Team A's 3rd Stage [Dareka no Tame ni], and we had just performed it for the very first time. Up until then, I had always been a backup dancer for other members, just holding my microphone and dancing in the back row, and I didn't have many chances to appear in front during shows. I also didn't have many fans. So I kept saying to myself, "It would be so nice to have a better position."
It was in our 3rd Stage that I finally got to be in the center position for a song, and after that, I got to be in the front row for our single [Seifuku Jama wo Suru]. As for fans, I was always optimistic about that too, and innocently expected a lot of wonderful letters.
However, a lot of my letters, just like when I first started, still had many criticisms and pointed out my faults where I stood out. Of course, there were also warm blessings, but the scathing words from so many people, cutting like a pointed knife, tore my 13-year-old heart to shreds with one blow... When I stood on the stage, I was terrified. I thought, I'm going to just be hurt again; who am I going to disappoint this time? When the starting time for shows came near, my steps would start to shake, and I would start crying. I couldn't take it anymore, I just wanted to quit already... At that time, that's what I would think to myself everyday.
Being like this, I turned into a person who constantly had a shadow hanging over her. But luckily, I had my maternal grandmother. One day, although it was already time to be at the AKB Theater, no matter how I tried, I just couldn't find the courage to go. All alone, I sat in my home, feeling uncertain. Then, my grandmother, who lived nearby in my neighborhood, came to find me, and said to me, "If those fans write and say unpleasant things to you, grandma will go to the AKB Theater so you can be relaxed and happy when you are there." My normally calm grandmother said this with such intense expression. "I will go and tell them, 'You have hurt grandma's Minami!'" I could see that tears were beginning to form in the corners of her eyes. Because of her, I was so happy that I started to cry, and I felt that my grandmother sitting before my eyes had just saved me.
When I first joined AKB, I often had to miss school. At my middle school, it was quite rare to have students involved in the entertainment business, so this was probably why some of the other students teased me. Every time they saw me in the classroom, they would say, "This in an idol? But she seems so super-UKE" and laugh at me. Although my busy schedule and waking up early was not completely unmanageable, it still began to affect my health.
At that time, my grandmother told me, "Whatever happens, grandma will go to school so you can be relaxed and happy when you are there." That time too, because she told me so earnestly, I seized my courage and went back to school.
The me that I am now has been saved twice by my grandmother. Even now, there are people who view me favorably, and those who don't. But either way, I can go on stage and perform with a smile because now I am able to surround myself with courage.
My grandmother often joked, "It's like I'm Minami's manager." Grandma, you have always been my ultimate manager! From now on, I will always be genki!
Translation notes: The term "super-UKE" used in the teasing is a play on words, where "uke" could me popularity, but also the submissive partner in a gay couple.