ARTICLES "Let off your brakes!": Tsunku♂'s public criticism of Fukumura Mizuki

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"Let off your brakes!": Tsunku♂'s public criticism of Fukumura Mizuki
In the second part of Tsunku♂'s conversation with Morning Musume. '20 leader Fukumura Mizuki, he gives her direct criticism and advice after watching over her for what will be 10 years. Fukumura self-analyzes herself as "the type to not take risks," but what's Tsunku♂'s evaluation......? The earlier article is here. We plan on posting a column of Tsunku♂'s thoughts for Fukumura on 11/19 (Thurs).

Moderation, Editing: Ozawa Aya
Text: Hasada Yoko
Illustrations: Mizushina Takayuki
Translation: Lurkette

"Where should I focus my efforts next?" Tell us, Tsunku♂!​

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--We received a question for Tsunku♂ from Fukumura beforehand: "Where should I focus my efforts next?" ......Tsunku♂, how about it?
Tsunku♂: As she said before, the key to being a leader is figuring out how to handle the other members. I think doing that will lead the whole of the group in a good direction. What is it that you want to do? Do you want to pull the other members along behind you? Or do you want to let each of them break out and make the whole group shine?
Fukumura: That's a difficult question~.
Tsunku♂: If you hadn't joined Morning Musume in your second year of middle school, what would you be doing now?
Fukumura: I think I'd be working at the Hello!Shop [Hello!Project's official store] (laughs). I'm the type to become obsessed with things when I take an interest in them, so I guess... I guess I'd be going to a vocational school and focusing on some one thing.
Tsunku♂: You didn't think about debuting as an idol or talent with a different agency?
Fukumura: If I were to be an idol, it's only with Hello!Pro. I didn't look at other idols, so it was very much like, "I absolutely can't imagine doing anything but Hello!Pro!" But I might have gone to other auditions, like to be a Chao Girl or a Chuu2 Movie Heroine. Out of frustration.
Tsunku♂: When you survey the scene now, there are many different kinds of idols, including the force that is K-POP. Thinking calmly, how does the current Morning Musume. fit in?
Fukumura: There are times when I feel like we're fine as we are, but I want to go up one more level.
Tsunku♂: Is there anything specific you want to do?
Fukumura: Part of me want to be involved in the planning of concerts a bit more, like with the organization and costumes and such. I don't really want to go viral online, I want to work as a long-standing artist. I want to have a concert at Tokyo Dome, I want to make the scope of fans who watch us bigger, and I want to appear in commercials.

--What does Tsunku think is necessary to reach those things?
Tsunku♂: I think it's important for her to have benchmarks. Her dreams of a dome concert or commercial deal are important, but she has to have benchmarks 3 steps ahead of those even more. It's just as important to have dreams that are specific, like, "I want to accomplish this today!" Small goals are really good, like, "Today's the day I buy what I like in one hour at the discount store." However, it doesn't work if you yourself can't see why those things are important, what you're doing them for.
Fukumura: Small goals......
Tsunku♂: This is just an example, but if you ask each of the members their goals, and then ask them how much of it they were able to accomplish that day, I think the group will grow just by doing that. It's about what's important to you as a person. I was producing the group up until Michishige, but now that I'm not there, so the only one who can see how the group should be is you.
Fukumura: (nods)
Tsunku♂: It's a pain but you have to set these precise goals, like let's get to this before the end of 2020, let's get to here before 2021, or else it's all a waste, I think. As it relates to the daily benchmarks for each member working towards a bigger goal, asking them how the day went, how the month went, it makes them realize naturally that they have to work for it, and I think that's true leadership. Not cutting corners.
Fukumura: That's true.
Tsunku♂: I think for you personally, you need to be able to say things more definitively. Maybe you were spoiled by having so many adept seniors back in the day, but as it is now, you'd get cut, if this were a TV show. It's definitely better to be specific when it comes to telling stories, whether it's about yourself or the other members, even if it's only 10 seconds long.

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Tsunku♂: Talking to all the other members about their goals and what they're going to do for the last month of 2020 is a bother, but that's exactly why you have to do it. You can't just perform the songs and dances you've been given. I read everything you put on Instagram, too, but I wonder what sort of message you're putting out there? We do want to see the cute Fukuchan, but you also have to show how you are inside at a glance.
Fukumura: I think Michishige was really good at that sort of thing.
Tsunku♂: That's her personality, so I don't think you have to be like her, but I'd like to hear more of what you have to say as Fukumura. But I do think it's really important to convey that sense you have now of, "I'm leading from the top of the Hello!Project fandom!"

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Tsunku♂: I write songs while looking at the members' faces, and I've looked at your face the longest, for about 15 years. I compose the melody and write the lyrics while thinking, "I wonder how the grown-up Fukumura would sing?" We haven't talked much lately, though, so today I've gotten to see a bit more of who you are, and that should expand the music and lyrics.
Fukumura: That's great! I look forward to more.

Fukumura, let off your brakes more!​

Tsunku♂: I wanted to ask you some more personal questions: if you weren't in Morning Musume, what sort of romance would you want to have? Looking at the 20 year old Fukumura, what advice would you give to this other Fukumura in your heart?
Fukumura: What~ (laughs)! This isn't about love, but I'm unfortunately always the hot-and-cold type. With my goals, I'll be like, "I want to be here!" "I want to do that!" but before I put it into words I end up think, "Can I do this? Maybe not?" If I weren't in Morning Musume, I think I'd be more forceful.
Tsunku♂: Do you feel like you're pumping your own breaks?
Fukumura: I do. I have this ideal of an idol in my head, so I think I fixate sometimes on how I feel things have to be. I do wonder if I'd be more adventurous if I weren't an idol.
Tsunku♂: For as much as you feel like you're pushing the brakes on yourself, you'll be that much more inclined to go after bad boys. That might be your type~ (laughs).

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Fukumura: What~! I wonder (laughs).
Tsunku♂: He'd come around on his motorcycle and take you along, then your heart would be pounding while eating hamburger steak late at a diner late at night. If you were a normal college student it would be typical, but I feel like you might get a thrill out of doing something bad.
Fukumura: That's not me now (laughs).
Tsunku♂: Well, if you were that way now, we wouldn't be able to laugh about it (laughs). Speaking of which, there's a story I distinctly remember you telling, "I like trains, so I bought a Marunouchi line train car and I put it in my yard," which is such an old man story.
Fukumura: Ahaha (laughs). I did say that.
Tsunku♂: It wasn't long after you joined and so you hadn't gotten used to MCs yet, so we had meetings beforehand to get funny stories out of you. You and Wada (Ayaka) took some time, but there were lots of curveballs that came out. I feel like you two were trapped, thinking about it now, since you both ended up becoming leaders.
Fukumura: I see...... The restraint of being leader......
Tsunku♂: Seriously, it's a waste if you're stepping on your breaks on account of of a title. You have to show more of yourself. It has to make you wonder if it's risky, that it might cause the people around you to be concerned! Fans might think you're good as you are now, though. The best would be for the only part of you to remain is the part of you that loves Morning Musume, and not only giving priority to the members. Then, when you're on stage you can give a more queenlike feel, a more sadistic Fukuchan, who can go after this image that toys with the fans (laughs).
Fukumura: (laughs). Okay, I'll do my best!

Interview with Fukumura at the end of the discussion​


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--Thanks for participating in the discussion. Do you normally have many opportunities to speak to Tsunku♂ one on one like this?
Fukumura: He's given me lots of advice up to this point, but there really haven't been many chances to speak so thoroughly like this with just the two of us. Not since I went to see him in Hawaii. I'm really grateful for the opportunity.

--He gave you lots of specific advice. It felt like he was asking you to break out of your shell more, but how do you really feel about that?
Fukumura: Yeah, it's a really specific example here, but some of the Morning Musume members have gotten more extreme with their hair changes. Oda and Yokoyama and some others have dyed their hair much more extreme colors than they've done before, but I can't be that adventurous. I end up thinking about the fans and then just ask what they would want me to do. I think in that sense, I'm not able to demonstrate any unpredictability from myself.

--In the livestream for the salon, there was a discussion with Tsunku♂ about, "Normally Fukumura is soft, but on stage she's a sadistic queen." Has there been a change in your state of mind with your appearance while performing lately?
Fukumura: Before I was thinking about myself, like, "I want to sing so that I can be center as much as possible!" Now, though, I've gotten to where I think more about giving a performance that gets across to every single fan in the audience, rather than my position.

--Are there any leaders of other groups that you think really suit their groups?
Fukumura: There are a lot, but one outside of Hello!Pro who I think is really cool is Takahashi Minami. I haven't really watched much TV so I only know about idols and Hello!Pro, but when I see members of AKB or Nogizaka moderate on TV, it's made me want to learn more speaking skills as a leader.

--You're learning from your surroundings. What do you think your personal strength is as leader?
Fukumura: I'm always thinking about what I can do that's really me. I want to protect Morning Musume and keep everyone's spirits up. Even if things take a turn for the worse, I hope I can lighten each member's mood little by little. I think that's what I've been able to do as leader. But there are a lot of things I haven't done that I haven't been able to try.

--Finding the balance between respecting the past and changing for the future is difficult. I think it's a test of your skills as leader with what you'll do next as the face of Morning Musume and Hello!Project. What do you think?
Fukumura: That's exactly why I'm always thinking about what the best course of action would be. It's not good to think about these things alone, so I also wonder about how to communicate that to my juniors, but when I'm doing things so seriously, the more I think about it, the harder it gets for me. Now, though, I feel like I've been able to escape that cycle a bit and I feel like the current Morning Musume is an accumulation of everything I've done up to this point.

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--Do you get worried about being the leader of a group that is the perpetual highlight of Hello!Pro?
Fukumura: I do. There are times when I'm sincerely frustrated. There have been moments where we're all lumped together, like, oh, each group has their strong points, but I wonder if that's bad-mouthing, like it's an excuse. Like, I know that people appreciate Juice=Juice as being good at both dancing and singing, but I like how Morning Musume sings. I respect them, of course, but I hold that Tsunku♂ style of singing, that way of counting out the rhythm that we've done very close to my heart. I want us to inherit what Berryz Kobo or °C-ute always did and preserve that.

--Tsunku♂ also talked to you about setting detailed goals for yourself. How are you dealing with raising each member's skills as leaders now?
Fukumura: I keep in mind that I should communicate things right away in rehearsal about little things in their technique, like vocalizations. That I should assert myself about a girl's strengths and weaknesses. But what I'm most acutely aware of is praising them for the things they can do. I haven't had many chances to speak to Haga Akane, for example. I felt that she loved the group and had set goals on her own to grow, but I had a talk with her about how things would change if she broke through in one more way. I feel like her face has been brighter since then.

--Thank you. Do you have any words you want to leave the fans with?
Fukumura: Because we've been so upset about not being able to perform in front of the fans, our performance at TV Tokyo earlier was incredible. We all want to make the most of the chances we get, and so when we can do a concert again, our emotions will explode and we'll give an amazing show!
 
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