— To start off, October 2008. AKB48 10th single (Oogoe Diamond) went on sale. That time an unexpected situation occurred, The absolute center of AKB48 back then Maeda Atsuko san and Jurina san took the WCenter position.
Jurina : The moment when they told me ” You have to participate in the AKB48 song too”, Because I was still in 6th grade, I couldn’t understand what these words meant. After that, when someone sent me the details about the positions, although I understand ” I’m the Center “… but I have completely no idea that this position was so important.
— When was the time when you realized (If I didn’t do this well it will be bad)
Jurina : To be honest I was already nervous during my first rehearsal with the senbatsu members. Everyone has already practice perfectly, I’m the only one who have no idea what was the current situation. I was worried whether or not people will think “So this is the new girl from SKE48 integrity!” I felt very very insecure.
— If I’m not wrong, That time Oshima Yuko san who was in the front line was sent to the back. (Allowing a new member to take the position of someone who was in the front line) This situation, no matter who it is there will be some complicated feelings right.
Jurina : This is no doubt right. SKE48’s Center position started to change in 12 gatsu no Kangaroo to (Kitagawa) Ryoha and Miyamae (Ami). That moment I knew right away ” Ah, so this is what it feels like”
— What does it feels like?
Jurina : Because in my heart, there is one thing that I have been protecting for 6 years… Of course I do feel sad and hurt because I also love SKE, I think we must be able to move forward. “It’s only right If I take a step back right now”… but If I say I’m not sad or hurt, that’s going to be a lie. I also felt unsatisfied that my tears just rolled down my face. When we were singing “12 gatsu no Kangaroo” I, Rena, Ryoha and Miyamae, there’s when 4 of us has to sing together, but at that time, most of the calls from the fans were directed towards Ryoha and Miyamae. That’s also what hurted me and made me sad as well.
— You mean when fans call ‘Chouzetsu Kawaii…’ right?
Jurina : Yes, I felt like “Ah~! So this is what its like!”, but the thing about me crying is when I went home. So during the time of Oogoe Diamond, I didn’t know anything, but now I knew how confusing it can be. And this thing with the new centers, I guess it all started with me, so at that time, it probably started a lot of changes.
— This new center thing that everyone called “Jurina Shock” right?
Jurina : To be honest, the reactions from the fans at that time are pretty scary. During handshakes, fans would come and say “I will never accept you” or just skip me in the line. I guess rejections like this are normal when suddenly the AKB you have been supporting all this time suddenly included a SKE member.
— But, It is because of Jurina Shock that AKB48’s single Oogoe DIamond got 3rd place in the Oricon Ranking, and bigger changes started happening since then. After that, SKE debuted with their first single ‘Tsuyoki Mono yo’ What did you think while listening to the song?
Jurina : We did talk about it between us that “why we have to be Tsuyoki Mono yo”. It is because we have to go fight “We must go fight against AKB”.
— So from that moment when you declared “we will surpass AKB one day” SKE has been fighting non stop.
Jurina : That’s right. But, especially, after SKE performed the SKE version of Oogoe Diamond during ‘Party ga Hajimaruyo’ stage, all of the fans praised us that we were really good and energetic! we gain confidence through the same song that AKB had performed in, and we realized that this is what we should be doing! At that time. we would always gather around and chat together.
— “To beat AKB” like that?
Jurina : Yes, we would always think about it during extreme lessons, “After this, maybe we will become a threat to AKB’s existence!” Practicing non stop, and mentally and physically tired, but it is because all of the members thoughts were the same that we were able to keep on going. Maybe this is why the first SKE stage ‘Te wo Tsunaginagara” was created.
— Up until now, Te wo Tsunaginagara is still being called SKE’s soul setlist.
Jurina : When we initially heard it, we thought “If its this stage, we could probably surpass (AKB) and have an equal fight.” Especially the song Te wo Tsunaginagara showed the energy and unity of SKE, I think when we hold hands together, it showed the bond between the members and fans. When we heard the song, we all cried.” It is just like singing about us. Exactly the same!” At that time, SKE’s lessons was definitely the harshest in history. We cried, we took deep breaths, some member even collapsed, but no matter how hard it is, “not giving up and showing victory” this kind of lyrics really defines who we are.
To me, fan’s existence is more important than anything else.
— Talking about SKE48, we can never not bring up the existence of fans.
Jurina : That’s right, Nagoya fans are really very passionate. It’s because everyone is so serious, they would come and tell the members “Jurina, you slacked off during that dance move didn’t you” and “That member is still better” words like that. To be honest, I would feel disappointed when hearing upon these sometimes, but I really have to thank the fans for telling us what we did wrong straight forward. I think they did this to make SKE better, so I don’t feel as annoyed anymore. It is because of these fans, we were to do things more seriously, and understood that “We will need to give more thoughts before taking actions, and do what we think is best.”
— It is because of this, SKE and fans became stronger and finally at the 5th single ‘Banzai Venus’, SKE achieved the Oricon weekly 1st Rank
Jurina : Everyone was really happy that we finally got Oricon weekly 1st rank, but soon after, we immediately thought “What should we do? Can we get 1st place ranking next time too?” and we started discussing, but I think this is what SKE is like.
— When do you feel like you really want to beat AKB?
Jurina : Definitely during 2012 Sousenkyo, when a lot of names from SKE was being called. “We are finally here” “We can definitely do this” Well, looking at it now, most of the members that ranked in at that time have all graduated. That year was also my first year as an AKB kennin member. A lot of things happened during that year.
— That is what I really wanna ask you now, what do you think about kennin?
Jurina : I was really shocked and it was really difficult. Especially at that time, my body was in a very weak condition, I was also filming for TV drama. It was really a busy period of time for me. So when kennin was announced, my first reaction was “Eh?? Do I need to complete AKB’s activities too? “I might not be able to do it.”
— “Do I have to leave SKE?” Did you thought this? At that time, they didn’t specify if it was transfer or kennin as well right?
Jurina : Ah, I never thought of that actually; because “I will leave SKE” never came up in my mind. I was actually thinking “there must more stuff to do!” and I made me uneased. So after the concert, I just collapsed and cried at the backstage. I cried my heart out. I can’t handle this, something like that.
— That’s true, SKE was also planning a concert at Gaishi Hall, it must be hell of a schedule at that time.
Jurina : Yes, but I was admitted into a hospital afterwards, so everybody thought it was from shock because of the kennin news, but that’s not true. Before that, my body was already in bad condition. So mentally, I decided that I need to do my best for everyone and for Nagoya.
— You have been thinking of surpassing AKB, but now you’re part of it, did you ever think of that?
Jurina : Of course I have. If I say “I want to surpass AKB”, it’s not good anymore, stuffs like that. So from that time, I haven’t been saying it as much. Oppositely, I think to myself that “I need to make myself someone that can lead everyone in AKB as well”. Whenever, AKB’s senior members graduate, that thought gets stronger, but to everyone from SKE, the feeling to surpass AKB will never change, that’s why I feel like it’s hard to blend in sometimes. To me, I get less opportunities to perform in SKE stages that I really like. That’s why…. I have never actually talked about it before, but I hated stages once, no matter if it’s SKE or AKB.
— Why is that?
Jurina : Because it became too scared to stand on stages. Even though I always thought I would give my 120% to perform, I still can’t perform with enough. I don’t want to perform half heartedly on stage and drag everyone down, so I became scared to perform. “I can’t give out a performance that I am satisfied with”. That period of time was really hard.
— So something like that happened. Afterwards, at the same year, SKE was able to perform solo at NHK.
Jurina : We were really happy. At first, we didn’t think we could perform by ourselves. But AKB could sing a medley and we could only perform Pareo wa Emerald, so we thought how can we fill that gap. We will need to do something that only SKE can do and that’s when we decided to do the line dance. We didn’t succeed even once during the practices before the official performance, so we were all really happy when we made it on stage.
What do you need to think about yourself after becoming 18?
— So, bringing the thought of surpassing AKB, Do you have any thought for the future? Has SKE surpassed AKB?
Jurina : I don’t think so yet. To be honest, SKE has too many graduations. Therefore, I’m looking forward to the new members that is going to be joining SKE and we will have to pass down the SKE spirit.
— What do you think SKE is lacking of now?
Jurina : It is probably the sense of crisis. Seeing AKB keeping their forms, makes me think that SKE is no way near. AKB has realize the thing they need to keep and pass on in the future. They will discuss topics when the fans’ cheer are too quiet in outdoor events. It is because SKE don’t really have events like these, it led us to the result of now. This is why we need more sense of crisis.
— You have brought it up before, the problem where there are too many SKE members graduating. What do you think is the reason?
Jurina : What is it…I reckon not having a big aim is one of the reason. Because we kept on moving forward, wanting to surpass AKB, we have achieved many goals such as taking weekly Oricon, appearing in NHK, Nagoya dome solo, it probably made people feel like they have already achieved something. That’s why they will feel like “Is it OK to keep going on like this?” Of course it is still a good thing.
— I see…
Jurina : But that feeling “I want to surpass AKB” which I have not said ever since kennin, I want to say it again now. Then after, I think we would be able to surpass them. It is now when SKE changed center that I want to lead the kouhais. If everyone in SKE bring their A game, make SKE more lively than before, then I really believe that SKE can definitely surpass AKB. It is now that we will keep this feeling ( Beat AKB ) and go into battle.
— It is probably time for the last question. Jurina will be 18 soon. Any thoughts?
Jurina : After turning 18, I will not just think about the group, but I will do some thinking about myself as well. And I want to become someone that is not just being good to myself but also someone that will take notice about the people surrounding me as well. More like I want to become someone like mom (lol). So excited! 18!