A 10,000 character interview is literally that: the interview contains 10,000 characters total. The following is one with V6 prior to their 20th anniversary.
“Through the good and the bad, we’ve never much thought of this as ‘work'”
V6 are milling about in the 20th anniversary year. Our gravure presentation this time is a blue image, “skyrocketing,” using V6’s passion. And so, let the blue-themed round table discussion begin!
Okada: Man, I love blue.
Inohara: It’s my favourite, too!
Okada: I’ve been doing shooting lately for my movie, “Everest,” and I’ve basically been in a world of nothing but blue, white, and black. That blue sky just has an overwhelming power over the scenery. Former Governor (of Tokyo Shintaro) Ishihara regulated exhaust fumes, the sky got more blue. And I’ve gotten to just want to gaze up at the perfectly blue sky forever. When the sky isn’t blue, I also feel blue. So when I feel like that, I have to work through it and do my best.
Morita: I love clouds, so I love looking up a cloudy blue sky. Looking at clouds calms me down.
Sakamoto: We had a question earlier on our radio show asking “what do we think of when we think of ‘blue’,” and the three of us in Tonisen all went, “the sky” in unison. It’s natural to just want to throw yourself down and look up at the sky. For me, I like when I’m cruising along on my bike along the riverbank and stuff. And I just think to myself damn, this feels so good!
Miyake: You guys really like blue!
Nagano: Of course, the Earth is inherently blue. The sky and the sea are blue. We have that image of water being blue, too. Blue is the colour we see the most, isn’t it? It might be an origin colour.
Of course for V6, too, they’ve begun waves of activity started with their origin, their debut, on November 1st. The start of all of which is their new single, “Timeless,” released on May 8th. With a theme of “bond,” it’s a mellow, graceful ballad.
Miyake: The melody line is beautiful, and it’s a song where the more I listen to it, the more it sinks in. The lyrics are pretty universal, too, so I think anyone could get into it. And like, it’s like parts of experiences that people have had that have all built up…
Morita: In the lyrics, I feel like it also gives off a hint of V6 as we are now. Like, the bond between men.
Okada: The PV shoot for it was hard, though, for sure.
Inohara: We danced it over and over and over~
Miyake: Because the director said he wanted to shoot it with multiple layers. Repeating the same phrase at the same place, we shot it time after time.
Nagano: For example, Go would exchange glances with himself and pass by himself. It’s like… showing off our future selves, our current selves, and our past selves.
Morita: It’s something the director thought of as he listened to the song.
Sakamoto: We shot it in a sprawling warehouse without any kid of set. We were the only living things in it.
Nagano: We danced the same hook in the song 9 times.
Okada: And we had to remember a lot of dance moves.
Inohara: We were shooting through the middle of the night, but the choreography and filming staff were working for us without sleeping since the day before. The finished product is… kinda creepy — how many people did we end up becoming? (laughs)
Nagano: There were a ton of us!
Miyake: It might be hard to watch (laughs).
Morita: We didn’t recycle any footage, and it was just us doing it however many times, and I thought that was fun. You can see the past, the future, and the present all in one go. It gives off that feeling, one way or another.
The b-side is “SPOT LIGHT,” a song that takes them back to their roots. They also produced the PV.
Sakamoto: This is a song where you’ll get fired up when you dance it. A song that makes you feel like “bounce! more!” We had our fans there with us at the PV shooting, but I sweating so much. (laughs)
Miyake: It’s been a long time since we shot a PV in front of our fans. It was actually kind of embarrassing, since we haven’t had that kind of scene or that sort of communication between us and our fans in a while.
Morita: I had a weird sort of nervous feeling.
Miyake: And when they were all like “whoo!” and screaming, I had no idea what was so great.
Morita: But we made some great memories.
Nagano: This time, to shoot for 2 PVs, we did shooting for 2 days in a row. That might be the first time we’ve ever done that.
Okada: We shot it before I left for Mt. Everest.
Inohara: Because we were filming the footage to use on TV shows and also for the bonus features at the same time, we rushed through it. It was like, “is this our debut again?!”
Okada: It really was a lot to deal with.
Inohara: Oh no, no — we all have times where we’re all busy doing lots of different things.
They’ve been chosen to appear on “24 Hour TV” this August. It’s been 15 years since their last appearance.
Nagano: It’s awesome. It’s been this long since our last appearance. The year 2000 only feels like 7 or 8 years ago.
Miyake: We got the news from our manager right around the time we were shooting for the PVs.
Sakamoto: When they called us all, I was like “oh god, who did what now?” (laughs)
Nagano: There’s a lot of nervousness around it, huh (laughs).
Sakamoto: When we went to go prepare for it, we got the wrong presents, so I was like “what?!”
Nagano: I know our fans were really surprised, but I think we were also really surprised.
Sakamoto:Right, right. I was like “What?! Are you sure?” It wasn’t like I got super excited like “let’s do this!” I’m sure the staff were also like “are they going to be all right?” (laughs). There may still be surprises in store this year, so you have to have a really good reaction to it. Like, “for real?!” (laughs)
Morita: It’s been so long for me that I’ve forgotten it all!
Miyake: I don’t even know if we can be awake for 24 hours. We’re much older now. Don’t we all get sleepy when we haven’t slept now?
Inohara: 15 years ago, we could just get through things with our youth.
Nagano: To prepare for the actual day, we’re going to have to really adjust our sleep schedules. We’ll be waking up the morning of the program, and one way or another we can’t not be awake for something like 30 hours. Whether or not we really remember it, this isn’t our first time, you know. We’ll go into it knowing it’s our second match and approach it like we can win it.
Sakamoto: We’ll be having two generations of MCs at the same time with Hey! Say! JUMP lending a fresh feeling to the whole thing during daylight hours. At night, they’ll have to leave it up to us as the adults!
Miyake: We’re gonna be all tangled up with our kouhai this time. I’m not used to it, so that’ll probably be the most troublesome thing for me personally… (laughs)
Morita: That’s right. What should we do?
Miyake: This is Inohara-kun’s speciality.
Sakamoto: Other than Inohara, none of us have really worked with Hey! Say! JUMP. Arioka (Daiki), when the announcement was made, said, “we’ll borrow the hearts of our fathers.” To them, we’re their fathers’ generation! So we have to show them old mens’ power!
Nagano: We really have to start connecting with them in preparation for August. And all the more because of our age difference, it’ll be something probably never seen on TV until now. It’ll reach a wide demographic.
Morita: The things people wished for before and the things they wish for now are different, so if we could have fun and make their wishes come true, that would be great for me.
Okada: I don’t know what I can do or what I will do, but it’s a show we’re all going to do be able to do together, and that’s something we haven’t done in a long time. You’re all great people… it’ll be fine!
Miyake: The best thing would be to do it honestly and be as large as life. And take on the thing we have to do (laughs)
Morita: Just do your best. Anyway.
Sakamoto: Using the skills we’ve built up and the the things we’ve done over the past 15 years, I want to properly convey whatever it is our current selves can do.
“Because we’ve gone out and done our own things, when we do things as V6, I do those things with a feeling of gratitude… and that’s how I’ll always keep doing it.”
And the week after “24 Hour TV,” they begin their long-awaited tour.
Okada: I’ve just gotten back from Mt. Everest~ I haven’t been able to talk with any of you guys or the staff. I have no idea what’s going on… (laughs)
Sakamoto: Right now, the fans are choosing the songs they want us to do in concert. We figured we should probably start from there.
Okada: Because it’s our 20th anniversary. Everyone wants to congratulate us, and it’s for them that we’ve been working and to whom we’re grateful~
Inohara: I would glance at the daily ranking as it would come out, and there are enthusiastic fans who love certain songs off of albums, and also fans who love famous songs from years ago. It’s gotten to be a jumbled mess.
Sakamoto: It’s neat to look at. There are fans who are like “I want to hear the classics,” and with others I get the impression of “you put this song on an album but you’ve never done it. Please sing it.” They’ve really shown us a lot of different feelings. It’s surely been hard for the fans to choose, so I’m happy to hear those words from fans.
Miyake: We want to satisfy everyone to the best of our ability, but I don’t know that we’ll be able to do it as everyone wishes we will. It’s been 20 years, so it may end up where we have do a lot of singles, so we may have to narrow down the fan-loved songs, probably. On the other hand, if we put in a lot of things, it may turn into a 4-hour concert, and I don’t want that. We’ll have to condense.
Okada: When it comes to fans, they’re definitely like “do this song at this time!” or “do the songs in this order!” and have an even greater sense of that kind of thing than we do. So if we read between the lines, I want it to be a concert that will appeal to everyone who’s supported us.
Sakamoto: I feel like we need to put everything together beautifully, so for this single, we went with the theme of “bond.” So the songs our fans chose show our connection with them. So it would be nice if we could make this one concert with that as the common theme. I feel like, it would be great if this were a concert we could make together with our fans.
Nagano: That’s right. It’s not just about the results of the questionnaire, but I think we’re all aware that there are people who were with us on our debut of November 1st who will be coming to the concert. So I think putting in some elements of that would be good, too. And then, I of course want to do the things we really want to do. It’s like, it’s our 20th year, but it’s also like some things haven’t changed.
Morita: Right, right. We’ll do the old songs, and do some from albums, but I first want to show off the things we want to show off. Without losing sight of that, I want this to be a concert where the people who come to see us understand that.
Miyake: For both our newer fans and our fans from way, way back in the day, and even for those who are just sort of randomly going to come along, I think it would be nice if we could make it a show that anyone who watches it could enjoy. But that’s probably the most difficult thing, huh.
V6 will be going into the second half of the year with great vigour. You could say that right now is where they take off running, so how do they feel now?
Sakamoto: As this is our 20th year, we’re not just running around with our hair on fire. We have times where we go through a lot of different things, we have times where we stop and start, and we have times where we walk slowly. I feel like things are coming at varying speeds.
Okada: First of all, it’s amazing that we’ve been doing things together for 20 years.
Morita: It is. It’s amazing that we’ve stayed together for 20 years, one way or another. We’re work friends, but if we were just regular workers at a regular company, being together this long and working together like this would be kinda unbelievable.
Okada: It would definitely be unique. For example, even if we were in a company, and working on the same project, we wouldn’t even be doing that because there aren’t many projects that go on for 20 years. Even still, we may be work friends, but only families are together longer than we’ve been together. We’re friends and we’re rivals. And when we talk about the different components that have gone into our relationship, there’s really none other like it.
Inohara: That’s right. I never thought we’d keep going for 20 years. It’s really, truly difficult being a group.
Morita: It is, isn’t it~ We’ve all had our various difficulties.
Miyake: Inohara-kun, there’s also been times where you had to be the bridge between Tonisen and Kamisen. There’ve been times where it was hard for Sakamoto-kun and Nagano-kun to talk us 3 younger members, so as the person in the middle, you’d ask us things and be like “Sakamoto-kun and them think this, what do you three in Kamisen think?”
Inohara: No matter how much time passes, we’ll have parts about each other that bring us down and those haven’t changed in forever, but on the other hand, the memories of the bright, fun, and happy times haven’t changed, either. We’re the same people all doing these things.
Morita: No matter how much you think, like, “oh hell no,” that doesn’t mean you have to do those things together. Usually, you can be like “I don’t wanna see that guy” and then not really see him. But for us, we have to see each other, no matter what happens.
Inohara: But those times can be kinda fun, so then you’ll be like “let’s do this again.” So no matter how much you think “I don’t wanna do this,” in the end, it turns out to be pretty fun, and you’re like “well, ok, fine.” Kinda like, you get numbed by the good feelings (laughs).
Okada: V6 is one part of our livelihoods, and therefore one part of our lives. It’ll probably never be able to be wiped 100% out of my memories, right?
Inohara: Well, in the beginning, you were the youngest so you couldn’t really do anything. You were just this absolutely adorable little dude… We were all Juniors, but we’d had experience and you were still developing yours. You didn’t know anything. We were all climbing the stairs together. None of us were like, “Screw this, I’m doing this alone.”
Nagano: That sense of distances was probably good, though. We weren’t too close, and we weren’t too distant. We don’t really think about it. It just sort of ended up this way on its own.
Inohara: Right. And for us, through the good and the bad, we’ve never really thought, “this is work” or “I have to make money,” and we’ve never said that, either. It is work, but since we do it in a group, aren’t our feelings the most important thing? I think we’ve prized our relationships together. Because it’s work, and because we can’t divide it up too much, there are times where we’ve come into conflict and we’ve had our fights. But I think that might be one of our good points.
Miyake: A few years ago, when we happened to go overseas for filming, on the way home, Inohara-kun and I ended up talking about “V6 from here on out,” right? We talked more about the visuals, and the choreography, and a lot of other things related to our music. At the time, when the conversation turned to “wouldn’t it be good if we did this sort of thing more?” we ended up producing our last album, “Oh! My! Goodness!”
Okada: For us, as we go more and more into doing our own personal work, there’s a part of me that wonders how we’ll return to each other as a group. Halfway through, part of me stopped wondering how we would expand as a group.
Morita: As time has gone on, we’ve all started doing things we wanted to do.
Okada: And as we’ve gone out and done our own things, we’ve gotten other work as V6. So that’s why when we do things as V6, I do those things with a feeling of gratitude… and that’s how I’ll always keep doing it.
Morita: But, when we’re apart from each other, we can always call on each other. No matter how far away we are, we can always call on each other. Stuff like “wanna go hang out with everyone?” or “how is everyone doing lately?”
Okada: That’s right. Hearing about how everyone is doing or about good rumours about things, that makes me happy.
Morita: Yeah, me, too.
Okada: That’s why, even if I’m super pissed off, and all like “WTF!”, there’s still part of me that thinks I want the others to be happy. I don’t think I could hate you all; I’ll probably always love you guys. I feel like that’s probably our bond.
Morita: I was wondering first of all what our bond was, but when I hear one of my co-stars worked before with Ken in a play, suddenly I feel closer to that person — that happens a lot.
Okada: I don’t particularly think “We have a bond!” so when I think about being connected, I don’t really get it. It’s just, we’ve gone through a lot of good and bad times together.
Miyake: And those have meaning, and being able to exist in the idol world for 20 years is precious, I think. I hear a lot that in other countries, there aren’t really idol groups who’ve gone on for this long. So I think like maybe this might have become Japanese culture’s style. And I think that’s amazing.
Morita: Well, at any rate, the fact is that we’ve formed a relationship having been together for 20 years. Because this is our 20th year, I think that we should keep on doing our best and show our gratitude to our fans who’ve supported us until now. That’s what this time is for.
Sakamoto: I said to our manager, “this year is for V6.” And true to those words, we’ve gotten a lot of different things for the 6 of us. So we have to concentrate!
Even though we can easily say “20 years,” V6 have been through a lot of different things from their debut up until now. What do they think was the turning point for them?
Morita: It might have been when our major show ended. For me, I had gotten the feeling that we’d gotten to be interesting. I could clearly see we’d go back to being a group who’d do the things they wanted to do. I mean, yeah, a show ending is sad, but when you say turning point, I think that was it.
Sakamoto: Personally, it was when I turned 30. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d still be an idol at that age. So, for me, I feel like my idea of what it meant to be an idol has been different since I turned 30. A weight lifted from my shoulders, and I thought why not do things at my own pace… I’d always been like “I have to do this!” up until then. I’d always felt this arbitrary sense of responsibility, and I wondered if it would be all right just to make time for me. I started to enjoy myself after that, and began to enjoy V6. I was unconsciously the director of our older concerts. Even when I’d be performing, whether or not the fans were enjoying themselves would just fly out of my mind.
Inohara: Before then, Sakamoto-kun would take over the role of planning out the concerts.
Sakamoto: I heard a fan say “Sakamoto-kun totally will not wave.” And then it hit me like “oh, yeah, huh.” Up until then, I’d been doing plays, and when we’d do the blocking for the concerts, it was like “you two go here, and then you go here. And then I’ll go here” and that’s just how I worked. But that was no good, huh. When I’m not enjoying myself, the fans aren’t enjoying themselves, either. I felt really bad.
I think the turning point for me was when we decided to do concerts as the 6 of us.
Miyake: Speaking of concerts, I think the turning point for me was when we decided to do concerts as the 6 of us.
Inohara: Our Summer 2001 concert, “Volume 6.”
Miyake: We’d had a lot of Juniors in our concerts up until then, and then we decided like, let’s just do it as 6. And we’ve done it that way ever since. We haven’t had dancers with us, either. Just the 6 of us in such large spaces… you don’t even realize how big they are until there’s just 3, 2, or even just 1 person performing. So it’s vital that you properly fill up the space and plan out the performance.
Okada: My view on what our turning point was is probably a little different from the rest of you, but back in the day, I split up myself as an actor and myself as a member of V6; I don’t anymore.
Sakamoto: Oh, that’s right.
Okada: I just came back from shooting on Mt. Everest, and when I came back to Japan from being in mountain man mode, I started immediately doing work as V6 again, and there was honestly a part of me that felt like the world is so different that they’re not even connected. But that doesn’t only apply to us — I think it’s something everyone who likes acting worries about. That’s why, anyway, I love you guys. You help me have fun, but more than that, I’m really grateful to be able to celebrate being together for 20 years.
Nagano: I don’t think the turning point was any one big thing… I think you shouldn’t not change for the sake of not changing. Well-established eateries are like this, too, but even while they’re saying, “we haven’t changed,” but so they won’t get tired, they change little by little.
Miyake: Wow, really?
Nagano: Really. That’s why, when the unchanged things come out, they stay the same. For example, I don’t get very fat, physically. And so as to not change my body shape, I have to also not change the way I think or it’ll be bad. I stay the same internally. But if it’s all just the same stuff, I’ll get tired of it. So the way to change, and the way to capture that change is different for every person, for sure, but I think it’s necessary for people to change.
What will V6 become after this?
Morita: No idea. I wonder what we’ll become? I’m looking forward to it, myself. No matter what, V6 is V6, and I always want to be confident about that.
Miyake: I don’t know what we’ll become after this, either, but I know that the only reason we’ve gotten to be here is because of the fans who’ve supported us. So as long as they want us, I want to treasure V6’s existence.
Sakamoto: When it comes to V6, we’ve never set any specific goals so far. We’re just living for this year, and for this moment, so when it comes to our experiences, they’re sometimes different, but I think the one thing that’s most appealing about us is that we’re always changing little by little. So it’s like, why not do it how we’ve always done it~
Inohara: You’re right. We’ve never really decided “how we want it to be…” What do you guys think? How do you want it to be?
Okada: A comfortable group would be nice. We’ll get together when things are going well, and then we’ll do great things. Not try too hard. We’ll become good old dudes that way, I think. Become like a group of 6 artisans. Have various things we can boast about… and then if you get the 6 of us together, we’ll just become this sheer group of 6 weirdos, probably (laughs).
Sakamoto: We all have totally different thoughts. These are the moments we have as a group that I can enjoy.
Nagano: I don’t always say it, but I want to always hold the feeling that we as a group are right. Debuting doesn’t mean you’ll end up going on for 20 years, usually, right?
Sakamoto: 20 years is felicitous, like Christmas or New Year’s. Of course, we do our best to work hard and get to those times, but we usually go back to work the next day.
Nagano: When I listen to the people around me, they really make me feel like “it’s been 20 years,” and I’m really grateful. But it’s not just “it’s been 10 years,” “it’s been 15 years”… but it’s still important. That’s why I always think we as a group are right, and I want to make this an extra special celebration with everyone, and it would be great if it would be better than anything we’ve done so far. And then in bringing that to life, it’ll be really easy to make that a turning point. We’ll be much better able to combine a lot of things and then transmit them.
Okada: Right. And after that, It’ll be really easy to transmit those feelings of gratefulness. It’s hard to know when to say “thank you,” right? Even if you keep on saying it, the meaning doesn’t always get across.
Inohara: It’s hard, huh. If you were to die tomorrow, you could say it as many times as you like, but you have to go on living.
Okada: That’s why, to the members who’ve been together for 20 years, and to the fans who’ve supported us for 20 years, I think maybe we should do a meeting where we can convey our gratitude. And when it’s the right time, say “thank you,” and have it reach them and celebrate our 20 years.