You can find Part 1 here.
JRR: A lot of overseas fans are curious as to why you have the comma at the end of the band name. Could you tell us why?
ISSHI: When we were ready for our major debut, the name Kagrra had already been decided, and the comma at the end is not really a comma but the shape of a magatama (a piece of stone with a tail-shaped end). The comma at the end is an emphasis of the magatama.
JRR: You have a program called “Kagrra, no Su” (Kagrra,’s Nest). We’re wondering why you decided to start this program, and what did you enjoy the most about doing it?
NAO: You know about Kagrra, no Su? Wow. Well, we do it between intervals and broadcast it on the internet. It’s a show where we can show the different expressions of Kagrra,, and since we’re commonly viewed as a more serious band, we figure that this is a good opportunity for fans to see the more natural side of us.
JRR: The overseas fans really enjoy it.
NAO: Thank you.
JRR: NAO, can you tell us about your two characters, Charisma-sensei and Sasori; where did these characters come from, and who are they?
NAO: Well… the character Charisma-sensei’s concept is based on an older brother (“aniki”); basically his character is set to be the host at lives. As for Sasori, that’s a character that only comes out in Kagrra, no Su, when we show the playful band.
JRR: Do they feel alive to you, or do you just play the roles?
NAO: I’d prefer people to think of these two characters as completely separate from the NAO of Kagrra,.
JRR: As in a different personality?
NAO: No, please think of these two as completely different people from me.
JRR: IZUMI, as the leader of the band, how do you hold the band together, and what is your style as a leader?
IZUMI: There are many types of leader; for me, as the leader of Kagrra,, instead of just saying “Let’s do this,” what I do is, when there’s a problem, I gather all the information and come up with a conclusion and a decision to say, “Let’s do this” or “Let’s do that.” I feel that’s my role as the leader.
JRR: When you have a conflict, what do you do to resolve the problem?
IZUMI: We don’t really have conflicts. Of course from time to time we have arguments, but we always talk it out. We all get along really well.
JRR: That is great to hear. SIN, could you tell us about how it was like to learn to play the koto, and how did it feel, the first time you played it on stage?
SIN: At first, I was really worried if I could produce actual sound on stage. Since there wasn’t really a system meant for that, we had to use whatever we had; so if I wasn’t able to produce sound, then it would have ended there. I was really nervous about that.
JRR: How did it feel when everything worked out, and you heard the sound of the koto onstage?
SIN: I felt as if the ice had melted. *laugh*
JRR: AKIYA, we know you have played a 12-string guitar; what sounds can you make with the 12-string guitar that you cannot with a regular 6-string guitar?
AKIYA: The 12-string guitar can make some really gorgeous sounds, and create a very fantastical feeling. I wanted to create an elegant sound that makes one imagine Japanese periods, and thought it would be interesting to use a 12-string guitar to create that effect. That’s why I had the guitar made. It’s surprisingly good.
JRR: How long was the process to make the guitar?
AKIYA: About three months.
JRR: What did you start out with in making the guitar?
AKIYA: Well, it was a project that we started with the people who produce the Kagrra, no Su program. We started out by actually deciding on the shape of the guitar, and then decided on the type of wood to use based on the shape.
JRR: ISSHI, you really like traditional Japanese things, such as traditional culture and history. What is your favorite Japanese folktale, and why is it your favorite?
ISSHI: It’s hard to pinpoint one, but I like the stories where there are “oni” (Japanese monsters/villains) present.
JRR: Such as Momotarou?
ISSHI: That too. Basically, most Japanese folktales are all somewhat based on true stories, so they are not completely fictional. That’s why I like reading up on those stories.
JRR: There are TV shows that try to explore those folktales; have you seen any of those?
ISSHI: Oh, really? No, I don’t really watch TV. Usually I read up on them in books.
JRR: What do you do on your days off?
ISSHI: Hmm… I think I probably have occupational disease… even on my days off I end up listening to music, watch music DVDs, read music magazines… so I don’t really have a complete day off.
JRR: Do you ever go to other bands’ lives?
ISSHI: Not at all.
JRR: Are you not interested?
ISSHI: Well, not that I’m not interested, but more that I get tired of staying in the same place. Bjork is coming in May this year; I’d like to go to that concert, though.
JRR: We know you like QUEEN; what is your favorite QUEEN song?
ISSHI: "Killer Queen."
JRR: AKIYA, we know you like B’z; have you heard ACTION yet?
AKIYA: Not yet… *laugh*
JRR: SIN, which artists do you like?
SIN: No one in particular, I guess… Up till recently I listened to LINKIN PARK quite a bit, but now I don’t really have any artist in particular that I like.
JRR: NAO, what about you?
NAO: Hmm…… *thinks for a while* Recently… I guess KOBUKURO.
JRR: And IZUMI?
IZUMI: Something that I listened to recently that gave me the most impact is the music for SOUSEI NO AQUARION. It gets played on TV…
JRR: What kind of music is it?
IZUMI: *Laughs* Anime music…
JRR: Do you like anime?
IZUMI: Yes, I love anime.
JRR: What do you enjoy watching recently?
IZUMI: For manga, I like ONE PIECE and NARUTO.
JRR: For ONE PIECE, do you prefer to read the manga or watch the series?
IZUMI: Well, I’m a quite gloomy person and I like to stay home and read, so I have a ton of comic books at home.
JRR: Who is your favorite character in ONE PIECE?
JRR: Does anyone else enjoy watching anime?
AKIYA: I like EVANGELION.
JRR: Who is your favorite character?
AKIYA: Female character? That would be SOHRYU ASUKA LANGLEY.
JRR: EVANGELION has a very deep and meaningful story; what in particular do you like about EVANGELION?
AKIYA: When I first watched it I was still in junior high, so I didn’t really understand a lot of the things in it. But when I became an adult and watched it again, I was amazed at how deep the story was and fell in love with it.
JRR: It is very different viewing as a child and as an adult.
AKIYA: Yes, and when I watched that re-broadcasted on TV again, I wasn’t sure if that was a good time slot since younger people would watch it as well. *laugh*
JRR: Talking about anime brings us back around to filmed media. We would like you to talk about your PV for "UTAKATA." What was the filming process like? And how did you come up with the concept?
IZUMI: We started out by discussing with the director, explaining that we wanted an oriental feel that wasn’t too Japanese or too Western. Location-wise, we also wanted it to be unique.
JRR: You used the imagery of painting on a woman’s back, which you have used before in the past. Would you consider using similar imagery again in your future PVs?
IZUMI: That image was used to correspond with the lyrics; we came up with the idea after discussing with the director of the PV. It’s not a must-have imagery, but to express the meaning of the song we decided to put it in.
JRR: On the topic of expressing the lyrics, most overseas fans do not understand Japanese. Is there any song in particular in the new album CORE that each of you would like the fans to be able to understand the meaning of, in terms of the lyrics?
ISSHI: In the CORE album, the first song "IRODORI NO SANKA" has the most meaningful message. It is dedicated to singing about world peace, so if they can understand the meaning of the song or even just fragments that would be nice.
AKIYA: The first track "IRODORI NO SANKA"—musically it is based on the Japanese scale, and the melody is definitely one that is uniquely Kagrra,. It’d be great if the fans could study the meaning to the lyrics while listening to the song.
JRR: If you could teach overseas fans a Japanese word, what would you like to teach them?
SIN: Arigatou (thank you).
AKIYA: Aishiteru (I love you).
JRR: Why “aishiteru?”
AKIYA: Well “arigatou” and “aishiteru” are the top two phrases that you don’t mind hearing, right? No matter who says it to you, you wouldn’t be unhappy about it. I think these two are great.
JRR: Do people say these two phrases to you a lot?
JRR: When fans scream out “I love you” or “Marry me!” how does that make you feel?
AKIYA: I’m happy to hear those words, but it’s impossible to respond to everyone’s request. *laugh*
JRR: Back to ISSHI, what is the Japanese phrase that you’d like to teach overseas fans?
ISSHI: This is a difficult question… if I were to teach them a word, I’d choose one that is uniquely Japanese and probably only understandable between the Japanese people. For example, the word “oni” (Japanese monster) is uniquely Japanese and there’s hardly an equivalent to that in English. Recently Japanese horror films have been very popular overseas and several of them have been remade into English versions, so to correspond to that I would say… “yuurei” (Japanese ghost).
JRR: Japanese yuurei are definitely very different from American ghosts.
ISSHI: Yeah… it’s uniquely Japanese.
NAO: In the Japanese language, there are many phrases that start a conversation, such as “konnichiwa,” but I guess most people already know that term. Well, for example, we will be going to Germany for a live soon [note: this interview was conducted before JRock Invasion], for the first time, so next time when we go back, it’d be nice to hear the fans say “Okaeri” (welcome back), like “Okaerinasa-i!” (welcome back, in polite form)
JRR: So would you teach the audience at JRock Invasion how to say “okaeri” and “tadaima” (I’m back)?
NAO: It’d be nice if I could. Yeah. If I get the chance.
IZUMI: I’d like to teach a word from my hometown.
JRR: Where is your hometown?
IZUMI: Hokkaido. The word is “namara,” used to emphasize and exaggerate. For example, “namara sugoi” would mean “really great.”
JRR: Speaking of Hokkaido, what is remarkable about Hokkaido, if a fan were to travel there?
IZUMI: During winter times, they hold an annual event called Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival) where they make buildings and sculptures out of snow and ice. It’s very beautiful.
JRR: What is a famous product of Hokkaido?
NAO: There’s quite a few… such as Shiroi Koibito (a white chocolate covered cookie)
JRR: Is there anything about American culture you find remarkable?
IZUMI: The most significant difference I feel between American culture and Japanese culture… well, I like movies, so for me I find the American movies’ ways of expression really remarkable, both old movies and the ones today. When we went to Los Angeles in May, we went to a Hollywood studio. It was really cool.
NAO: This is pretty fundamental but dining-wise, the two cultures are very different. Everything was bigger.
JRR: What about volume-wise?
NAO: Volume too, but basically everything was big, like hamburgers.
JRR: Did you eat hamburgers while you were there?
NAO: Yes I did. I like the hamburgers there; they’re bigger so it feels much more substantial when you’re eating them.
SIN: The people there are big and tall. When going through the immigration checkpoint at the airport, the officer was looking down at me, so I thought, “He’s tall…”
AKIYA: Well, we talked about movies earlier… another thing I noticed was that when close people greet each other, they put their cheeks together…?
JRR: You mean, as in a hug?
AKIYA: Yes, a hug. Japanese people don’t do that… we just shake hands. Isn’t hugging in public a little embarrassing?
JRR: But you were the one saying “I love you” earlier…
AKIYA: Yeah, but words are words… When people hug each other, are their cheeks touching too?
JRR: Hmm… not really.
[JRR staff proceeds to demonstrate a hug for AKIYA.]
JRR: It’s more like this.
AKIYA: Oh. That’s a hug.
JRR: So you were surprised by people giving each other hugs?
AKIYA: Yeah… like, since I’m into combative sports, when I go to the gym (in Japan), some foreign guy I know would approach me and try to give me a hug and I’d wave my hand and say no.
AKIYA: In Japan, it isn’t common for guys to hug each other, so it’s really weird for me. I have to say “No, I’m not…!”
AKIYA: In that sense, the two cultures are very different.
ISSHI: Hmm… something good that America has and Japan doesn’t….. Jason? From “Friday the 13th.”
JRR: You like horror movies?
ISSHI: I love those. In Japan there isn’t many splatter horror films, so…
JRR: Did you like the SAW series?
ISSHI: Oh, I haven’t really watched those, but I prefer classic ones like Friday the 13th, and the chainsaw ones.
JRR: Wasn’t there a splatter horror movie called “ISSHI the Killer?”
JRR: Oh, it was “ICHI the Killer”…! Is there a Japanese horror movie that you recommend?
ISSHI: Hmm… a Japanese one…. I guess it would be RINGU. It was definitely a new type of horror film for Japan.
JRR: What about JUON?
ISSHI: Well… spirits don’t have such strong powers… so for me it seems like a complete fictional, made-up story that just cannot happen.
JRR: Isn’t it also quite impossible for something to come out of the TV? [as in RINGU]
ISSHI: But you can’t tell if the thing is really coming out of the TV or if it’s just the person’s imagination. So I’d still recommend RINGU.
JRR: Lastly, would each of you give us a message for your overseas fans?
IZUMI: We’ve only done one live in America, and I feel that that is not enough. If given the chance, we’d like to be able to perhaps do a small tour, and visit more places in the U.S. When that day comes, please come and support us.
NAO: We have yet to do a one-man live, whether in America, or the upcoming live in Germany, so it’d be great if we could do a one-man live or tour. And please come see us when we do.
SIN: If we hear enough voices asking as to go, we’ll be able to go, so please speak up!
AKIYA: Of course I’d love to go overseas, but I’d also like to ask overseas fans to come attend our lives in Tokyo. Here, we exert for a better stage design with ingenuity and I’d really like the fans to be able to enjoy our music in the Japanese environment. Also, it’d be great if we can be a part of something like the Family Values Tour.
ISSHI: I like America and I’d love to go there again. Last time at the JRR Festival, during the MC I said we would be back, so I’d like to keep that promise. We will come back eventually! Please wait for us.
Style note: Romanization represents a "sh" sound with si. SIN is pronounced "SHIN."
Interview by Misha, with additional contributions by Reiko and Kuri
Translated and Transcribed by Christina
Kagrra, appears courtesy of PS Company
Special thanks to Kagrra, and PS Company