Sakura Gakuin 2016 Nendo students Sara Kurashima and Mirena Kurosawa interviewed on Top Yell NEO July 2016 to talk about the past Transfer Students Ceremony and the upcoming year, their beginnings, how they joined Sakura Gakuin, and much more! Interview translated below.
Sara Kurashima & Mirena Kurosawa interviewed on Top Yell NEO July 2016
During the Sakura Gakuin 2016 transfer-in ceremony, held on May 6th, Sara Kurashima-san was appointed as Student Council President and Mirena Kurosawa-san was appointed as MC Chairman. What are your impressions of the event?
Mirena: "My mind went totally blank and the first thing that came to my mind was 'What even is an MC Chairman?' Until then there was only a Talk Chairman, I didn’t really get why it’s a different post. Principal Kuramoto said, 'Make use of your accumulated experience, I want you to show things as MC chairman which haven’t been shown in Sakura Gakuin before'. I appeared in variety shows and did some other work before entering Sakura Gakuin, so I thought I should take advantage of that experience and draw out the personalities of the members the Fukei don’t know yet, as MC chairperson."
Sara: "As a senior I was thinking I’d get some kind of position, so I wrote down my thoughts in a notebook. Each year the President is called out last but this time it was called out first and I couldn’t really prepare my mind/spirits/heart. When Kuramoto said 'She’s indeed like a Student Council President' I ended up thinking 'Really?'. In the end I blanked out just like Mirena, and I couldn’t really say all that I wrote down in my notebook. Nevertheless I was able to convey what I wanted to."
-You gave an impression of a proudly speaking Student Council president.
How much could you say of the things you wrote down?
Sara: "I wrote it down point-by-point and I think I could say about half of it. I decided that I should write something that’s a good speech for any position. Because of this, I didn’t fully know what I’d say until I’m there, so I was nervous."
-Kurosawa-san, did you come up with your speech right there?
Mirena: "Yes. I thought, obviously the Student Council President has a great burden on her, so I didn’t really think about it. I just spoke about what I felt at the time."
-Kurosawa-san, earlier you mentioned your past experiences.
Could you elaborate on that?
Mirena: "When I was a 2nd grader in elementary school, I wanted to become a model for the girl’s manga magazine, ’Ciao’, so I applied for Ciao Girl Audition 2009. Although, I wanted the DS game which was the first prize more than becoming involved in entertainment (laughs) I made it to the final 10, and I really enjoyed being cheered on by everyone during the last part of the audition on the catwalk. I tripped during the audition, but people from the agency reached out to me and they let me join Amuse. After that I had a lot of different jobs."
Sara: "Just like Mirena I also joined Amuse through 'Ciao Girls Audition 2012’, but I didn’t want to become a model and such, I just entered because a friend invited me. Then I won Semi Grand Prix. [first place went to Megu that year] I was mainly doing modeling work back then."
-So you were invited by a friend? Did you not really have much interest in entertainment?
Sara: "Well, I didn’t really. I’ve been really shy since forever and I didn’t like performing in front of people. However, at the audition I said I’m good at dancing and showed it off dancing to Girl’s Generation. I was learning dancing for a while but I that was my first time in front of a crowd and moreover, alone. Unexpectedly, I really enjoeyed it, and I was smiling all throughout."
-What kind of dancing were your learning?
Sara: "Hip Hop. I started when I was in kindergarten, and I took lessons up until entering Sakura Gakuin as a 1st grader in Jr High."
-Could you use your experience in Hip Hop in Sakura Gakuin?
Sara: "The dancing in Sakura Gakuin is absolutely different, since in Sakura Gakuin the choreography is done to the lyrics. I had a lot of confidence going to the lessons as someone experienced in dancing, when I transferred, but I was totally wrong. The only time I could use that experience was when we did 'Let’s Dance' during the 5th Anniversary concert. Since it didn’t have any lyrics I felt a bit nostalgic while dancing. I could teach the others who couldn’t do ’club’ style steps, since it wasn’t really a Sakura Gakuin-like song."
-Kurosawa-san, was there anything you were learning?
Mirena: "I’ve been swimming since I was 3 years old. I passed the swimming federation’s 1st grade swimming certificate test! I went there until I was selected for the team, but I chose Sakura Gakuin instead of swimming"
-Which stroke are you good at?
Mirena: "Front crawl, but I can do all of them!"
-You seem to have a lot of confidence (laughs)
Sara: "There are a lot of girls in Sakura Gakuin with some swimming background, so they’re always going 'I’m better!'” (laughs)"
Mirena: "None of us wants to lose to the others! (laughs)"
-How long have you known each other?
Sara: "Well, since we were 5th graders. We first met during a shoot for ’Ciao’."
-What did you think of each other at that time?
Sara: "She was so composed, I couldn’t believe we were the same age."
Mirena: "I thought she must be really adult and cool, but she was totally different. As we met more and more, she came to be really funny and a prankster. I was really surprised by the difference between her true self and what I thought of her at our first meeting."
-So you quickly opened up to each other?
Sara: "At first we couldn’t really talk because we were nervous, as we met more, we got to know each other and since we were the same age, we became really good friends. We even helped each other with studying."
-Is there any work you’ve done before Sakura Gakuin that left a strong impression in you?
Mirena: "2 years ago I was a regular on the variety show 'Dai! Tensai Terebi-Kun' and that experience has stayed with me. We sung, did some acting, we were put on the spot a lot too (laughs). I got to do various things. The hosts, Degawa Tetsuro-san and Suzuki Akie-san handled us like real kids, so we were like a real family. I really didn’t want it to end."
Sara: "The commercial I was in for 'Girls Designer Collection' was my first ever ad I did. I still remember, I did the shoot in a red dress, but the color was changed with special effects later, I was really astonished. I watched the ad on YouTube a lot. The staff at the shoot was kind too, so I really enjoyed it."
-How were you two invited into Sakura Gakuin?
Sara: "Someone from the agency asked if I will try, and they let me audition."
Mirena: "There was even an entrance exam."
-Were you interested in idols before entering the group?
Sara: "Absolutely not. I barely even knew any idols other than Sakura Gakuin, so I became a bit more familiar with them after entering the group."
Mirena: "I wasn’t really interested and didn’t know much about them either."
-Did you meet with Sakura Gakuin members before becoming part of the group?
Sara: "Almost never. Even while on lessons by the agency, Sakura Gakuin was separate so I didn’t really come in contact with them much. The first time I met them was at the 2013 nendo graduation ceremony. After the concert, I was allowed to greet the members."
-What were your impressions after seeing your first Sakura Gakuin concert?
Sara: "I saw videos of them, but seeing them live, they’re really shining. They were shining even more, seeing them up close while taking with them. They were so cute, they really left an impression on me. Later I watched them from the 2nd floor, and the sense of unity as the Fukei were waving the flags felt amazing."
-Kurosawa-san, you joined the group later as a 2nd grader of Jr High. Were you invited before that?
Mirena: "Not even once. I was asked in 1st grade if I want to try auditioning, but I thought they had the wrong number (laughs). However ever since the first Student Council President, Mutou-chan’s time, I was watching their concerts, and Sakura Gakuin performed a lot during Ciao events too so I was really familiar with them. I saw all my senpais during that time, and as Sara said they were always shining, cute and cool at the same time. I did feel like I wanted to join, but I wasn’t able to, I kind of gave up, but when they contacted me I felt really happy."
-Which member do you remember the most from that time?
Mirena: "Ayami-chan was a great dancer and singer, so I admired her both as a Ciao Girl and Sakura Gakuin member."
-Since you admired her, were nervous when you met her?
Mirena: "Well when we were together in Ciao, we could talk normally, but when I met ’Sakura Gakuin member Ayami-chan’ I ended up being nervous. I couldn’t talk to her freely. I ended up feeling like there was some distance between us and just wanted to say 'Great work! I’m always watching your stuff' (laugh)"
Sara: "I always felt close with Shirai Saki-chan. I had a lot of chances to meet with her. Even before, I talked to her many times, and after joining Sakura Gakuin the distance between us got even smaller."
-Is there anthing that changed in you after entering Sakura Gakuin?
Mirena: "I didn’t notice it, but people have been saying that I’ve become more girly. I think as I became an idol, my femininity has risen (laughs) Until then I was the type to wear short sleeved shirts and shorts and just run around."
-Kurashima-san, did you feel Kurosawa-san’s femininity too?
Sara: "Honestly, not really (laughs)"
Mirena: "We’re this close and you didn’t?!"
-Let’s pretend this never happened [?] (laughs)
How about you, Kurashima-san?
Sara: "I think I’ve become more of a hard worker. It’s really important for me to balance work with studying so I’ve become more composed to make the most of my time. Since I want to do Sakura Gakuin activities quickly, my time with my homework has become quicker too."
-After becoming 3rd graders, has your outlook changed too?
Sara: "It changed incomparably. I think I will have to become more serious, and I think from now on I have to say the things my senpais said to us before."
Mirena: "Last year as a transfer-in had to just follow the others, but now only in one year I have to be in a leading position. The change is hard and there are a lot of times when I get confused about my role. But lately I’ve become a bit more aware of myself. Working together with Sara and Aiko as the student council, we’ve been saying 'Let’s do our best together'”.
-What kind of Sakura Gakuin do you want to make in the 2016 nendo?
Sara: "While keeping traditions, we would like to bring out the individuality of this year too. I imagined how I’d want the old songs to look this year, and being in a leading position along with Mirena and Aiko, I’d love to be able to make an even better Sakura Gakuin."
Interview by: Top Yell NEO July 2016
Translation by: Iwashi
Check: Scans Sara Kurashima & Mirena Kurosawa featured on Top Yell NEO July 2016, click here