01 December 2016

Interview: Kakizaki Memi and Kageyama Yuuka, of Hiragana Keyaki

From the January 2017 issue of BUBKA magazine.

More outstanding talents in Keyakizaka46

Kakizaki Memi and Kageyama Yuuka: a new-century combo bursts into existence

Hirate Yurina is the new heroine, born in 2001. But she's not alone. There are two more members in Keyakizaka46 who are third-year middle-schoolers like her: Kakizaki Memi, with her stately good looks; and Kageyama Yuuka, with her enthusiasm for and rich knowledge about soccer. They are being talked about everywhere. We chase down the truth about this "new century combo."


-- You are Hiragana Keyaki's two middle-school members, so there is a feeling that you are a combo, isn't there?

Kakizaki: Is that so? Thank you.

Kageyama: We're good friends.

Kakizaki: Yes. We get along well.

Kageyama: I talked with Memi at the audition, when we were waiting.

Kakizaki: It was at the final judging, wasn't it?

Kageyama: That's right. I think I was the one who started talking to you. I watched everyone's Showroom broadcasts, so I knew there was someone who was the same age as me. But I only broadcast my voice, so I thought the other members wouldn't know me. (laughs)

-- When Kageyama-san spoke to you, what did you think?

Kakizaki: I tend to be shy of new people. I'm not at all the type to start a conversation with someone. I was surprised and thought: "Waa! She's speaking to me!" But since I knew Yuuka was the same age as me, I wasn't upset. I was happy!

Kageyama: Yay! I got up my courage to speak to her, and that started us talking together.

-- What did you say in your PR for yourself at the audition?

Kakizaki: I went to after-school English conversation classes, so I took sayings I liked and said them in English. Like sayings from "Anne of Green Gables...."

-- Oh, please say them in English!

Kakizaki: Eh?! I don't really remember. (laugh)

Kageyama: (giggle)

-- Japanese is okay, too.

Kakizaki: Well, sayings like: "Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing." I saw the drama "Hanako and Anne," so I knew those sayings.

-- What were the judges' reactions?

Kakizaki: Well...it didn't seem as if they had any reaction at all....

-- I doubt that was true (laughs). Kageyama-san, did you appeal on the basis of having a qualification as a soccer referee?

Kageyama: No, at that time I didn't say anything about it. I didn't realize it would be something I could promote myself with.

-- But now you make it known that you are a "soccer freak."

Kageyama: (giggle) My whole family likes sports. We watch baseball, sumo, boxing, soccer.... I love J-League, high-school soccer and overseas soccer.

-- And the team you like is Sanfrecce Hiroshima?

Kageyama: Yes. I watch shows like "Yabecchi FC" and "Foot x Brain" that sometimes introduce the special characteristics of various teams. Those showed how Sanfrecce players prepare before a game and I was naturally drawn to them. I'm the kind of person who, once she has gotten interested in something gets totally into it and wants to learn more and more. And as I looked into the team, I fell in love with it.

-- What kind of soccer does Sanfrecce Hiroshima play?

Kageyama: Well, first of all...(here she goes into a detailed explanation of the nature of the team and its strategy, which is left out of the Japanese interview)...ah, is it okay for me to go on talking like this?

-- It's fine (laugh)

Kakizaki: (giggle)

Kageyama: The heart of the team is Satou Hisato. Next comes Aoyama Toshihiro, and.... In attack, Uta-chan...ah, Peter Utaka....

-- Ahaha. You call him Uta-chan?

Kageyama: Yes (laughs). Lots of teams have foreign players. Uta-chan starts the attack....

-- This is so interesting! You can tell me anything I ask (laugh). By the way, in soccer, what position do you think Kakizaki-san would play?

Kageyama: Probably striker? But not an intense attacker like Okazaki Shinji....

Kakizaki: Uh?

-- Kakizaki-san is quick at short range, I suppose?

Kakizaki: Yes, I run the 50 meters in 7.5 seconds.

-- And you have a good grip strength?

Kakizaki: Yes, my grip is strong (laughs). My right hand is 34 kilos.

Kageyama: Wow! A young, fast, physical forward.... Maybe like Asano Takuma? Lately, he's become physical and really strong. Now that he's appearing for the A side, his physical condition and body control....

-- You even know the latest news about Asano. (laughs).

Kakizaki: I'm sorry, I don't know anything about this (laughs).

Kageyama: You don't? When he scores, he does his "jaguar pose..."

Memi with Nagahama Neru

Ideal Image

-- Kageyama-san has her soccer, does Kakizaki-san have something she loves that much?

Kakizaki: I love cute things. Things like dolls. And stuffed animals. And I love frilly lolita clothing. I want to become like a frilly French doll.

-- A Rozen Maiden world-view, then?

Kakizaki: Exactly! I've read the Rozen Maiden manga. And Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and so on. I love that world-view.

-- Do you normally dress like a doll?

Kakizaki: Yes. But those brands of clothing are expensive, so I don't get to dress like that very much....

-- But Kakizaki-san has an elegant atmosphere about her. It seems that elegant clothes would suit you.

Kakizaki: Ehh... That makes me happy.

Kageyama: Uh-huh. I think they suit you.

Kakizaki: But Yuuka wears shorts and things....

Kageyama: Recently, I'm trying to be more fashionable, though.

Kakizaki: The middle school vibe is strong.

Kageyama: Well, I am in third-year middle school (laughs).

-- Large as life. By the way, what character in Madoka Magica would Kageyama-san be?

Kakizaki: What...? I wonder....

Kageyama: Does Madoka Magica have a character like me?

Kakizaki: Yuuka has such a bright and cheerful atmosphere. She's a mood-maker who makes me happy when I'm with her.... Maybe (Miki) Sayaka.

Kageyama: I'm sorry. This time I don't know anything about this. (laughs)

Kakizaki: I think your cheerfulness and liveliness are like her.

-- So the conclusion is that Kakizaki-san is Asano and Kageyama-san is Sayaka-chan. (laughs) This is difficult, but what about Hirate Yurina-san, who's the same age as the two of you? And Nagahama Neru-san, who is in both your group and the main group? Who are they like?

Kageyama: Hirate-san pulls Keyakizaka forward, but she doesn't give the impression of being the leader type.... Maybe Kagawa (Shinji). He wears number 10 on his back and pulls people forward by his play. I think there's a similarity there. Neruko-chan (Nagahama), rather than bringing us together, she gives the feeling of watching over us. I think she's like the midfielder who sends passes to us. She's Endou (Yasuhito).

-- Amazing! But finding  a parallel in MadoMagi seems difficult, doesn't it?

Kakizaki: Ehh.

-- Sorry for the bad pass. Oh yes, you haven't given a parallel for yourselves.

Kakizaki: Eh...(giggles)

Kageyama: Hahaha. I wonder...

-- Maybe what kind of idol you want to become would be good, your ideal.

Kage-chan in her element, attending an international soccer match with her family

Kageyama: If we're talking about an ideal, I would want to be like Marco Reus, on Dortmund, the team Kagawa plays for.

-- I don't know enough about this, I'm sorry. What kind of player is he?

Kageyama: Dortmund is a very good team, and has many highly skilled players. But among them, Marco Reus is very athletic and technical. He starts the attack with precise and definite passes. Within Keyakizaka46, I would also like to hone many skills and become the kind of person who lifts everyone up.

Kakizaki: My ideal is to become white like a French doll.

Kageyama: Your skin is very white!

Kakizaki: What?!

Kageyama: Here, let's compare (showing her own arm).

Kakizaki: Oh, no....recently it's like I've been roasted. It's disheartening.... I want to be a person who is white like a doll and never perspires.

Kageyama: It's okay. With me beside you, you'll always look white.

Kakizaki: (giggles)

-- Please work hard from now on to become Hiragana Keyakizaka46's Marco Reus and French doll!

(Tokyo, October 8)


Memi and Kage-chan couldn't be more different. But they both have outstanding qualities that make them seem like they have a future as idols. Memi is extremely cute, with a mysterious aura, but also seems to be able to dance. She and Neru are double centres in some of Hiragana's numbers. 

Kage-chan is smart and active and talented in many ways. They each spoke some of the poetry lines in the Hiraganas' performance of Sekai ni wa Ai Shika Nai, and some commenters said that Kage-chan did hers better than anyone in either Kanji or Hiragana Keyaki.

It was good to see how well Memi moved in the Omotenashikai performances, doing a short bit of rhythmic gymnastics ribbon work, including a graceful leap. I knew she was fast -- 7.5 seconds is faster in the 50 yards than anyone at last fall's Kanji Keyaki track meet except Akanen, who was just .03 seconds faster, at 7.47. And now we learn that Memi also has a strong grip -- she would have won that event last fall (Oda Nana won it). She's a strong, fast French doll.

Kage-chan's soccer knowledge is reasonable for a true fan who is also pretty smart. She's a soccer otaku, in a way. She seems such a positive and active person. She will be of great benefit to the group as a whole, it seems to me, as an energizer and mood-maker. And she showed in the Omotenashikai that she can dance.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Just want to clarify, Akanen's fastest record was 4.7 seconds for 50 meter sprint, not 7.75 seconds. (From Keyakake #08)

  3. Maybe we're both wrong. Akanen's time was "7seconds47" according to that image, not 4.7 seconds. But I think that means it was 7.47 seconds, which would be faster than than Memi's 7.50 (by 3/100ths of a second). I'll change that. I was imagining that the seconds were divided into 60 parts, which is wrong. Thanks for helping get this right.