This month’s guest is Mr. Saikawa, who handles my concert performances. This person is simply amazing! What’s so amazing about him? His enthusiasm! In any event, the amount of love he pours into each performance is incredible. For that reason he attracts a crowd of talented staff (for directing, sound, lighting, and so on), he’s naturally very trusted, and he’s constantly working with many excellent people.
At the same time, his refusal to compromise in his pursuit of the best stage display, and his cool side that looks at the situation with a calm demeanor are a little scary from my point of view!
After all, if I slack off or try to get out of work he’ll catch me! sigh But for Maaya Sakamoto, who’s too easy on herself, she couldn’t survive without someone like Mr. Saikawa.
There was one time when he really surprised me. It was the day before a concert—the last day for rehearsal. After spending the whole day singing in the studio, I can normally eat two helpings’ worth of food, but for some reason that day I could hardly force down any dinner, and I left most of it untouched. Usually no one cares about that sort of thing, and no one notices. But it didn’t escape Mr. Saikawa’s eyes. He considered various cases, such as when I wasn’t my normal self, or if I was worried about something, or if I felt ill, and came up with countermeasures for concert day. And all without my knowledge! Afterward, when I found out that Mr. Saikawa had been secretly concerned about all those things as he watched over me, I was shocked. And I was also happy. Mr. Saikawa was really the only one who noticed back then that I was feeling a little uneasy. He’s not just a master of his trade, but a true unsung hero with a heart to match.
And now that I’ve complimented him left and right, I’m curious as to what Mr. Saikawa wrote about me.
1) What do you normally call Maaya?
The name I use changes with the occasion.
On concert day, “Maaya-san”. On a normal day in the studio, “Maaya-chan”.
On occasions when I get tired of her nonsensical behavior, after a sigh and a pause, “Maaya…”
I don’t think she’s aware of this, but since a certain concert last summer, the staff and I have been calling her “Co-hime” [“little princess”]. Incidentally, the one called “Hime” [“princess”] is known as the Lady Y.K.
2) Share one of your “Legends of Maaya Sakamoto”.
This happened in the rehearsal studio for last year’s Tanabota 2.
Co-hime, whether from nervousness over the upcoming concert, excitement, or various other tensions, can’t escape the appearance of pimples. Hime (Lady Y.K.) decided to do something about it.
The rehearsal studio was filled with goodies: a bevy of all natural anti-acne medications. From one end of the table to the other, it was a lineup of The Natural House products.
Co-hime, who was all smiles, said, “Thank you! ♪ I’m so happy you did this for me!”
But when dinner rolls around, she pipes up with an energetic voice and says, “Umm, I’ll have the grilled beef meal, please!”
Three of us had to restrain ourselves from giving her a sound whack to the head and shouting, “What are you thinking?!”
3) Name something you’d like Maaya Sakamoto to stop doing.
She’s recklessly stubborn. I wish she’d stop telling those tiny lies she tells so people don’t worry about her.
4) What is Maaya Sakamoto’s greatest charm?
This might not be a precise answer, but…maybe it’s that for some reason you can’t take your eyes off her?
You wonder if she’s OK and she gets through it surprisingly smoothly, and when you think all is clear she catches you off guard when she trips up. Not just the staff, but everyone around her gets pulled into not being able to take their eyes off her.
5) Maaya Sakamoto is like _____.
Something in nature:
……A spring wind over new greenery
……I bet I’ll hear quite a few objections to this, but a baby spotted seal (three months old)
……Pork jowl, grilled with salt and spring onions
6) What was your first impression of Maaya Sakamoto?
Superlatively shy and bashful.
We first met in a discussion setting, in a meeting room at Victor. Yours truly, as you are certainly aware of, is also shy, and so when everyone else was running late, leaving the three of us to wait with Mr. Sasaki from Team Victor, it was really tough. I remember feeling pressured to start some sort of conversation, and so I brought up the topic of mackerel.
7) If you know any of Maaya Sakamoto’s weaknesses, please share them with us.
Her overflowing emotion. It’s a weakness, but also her greatest strength. Without it, nothing gets started.
8) Name your favorite Maaya Sakamoto songs.
“Gift”. “I.D.”. “bitter sweet”. “another grey day in the big blue world”.
Recently “Hemisphere” has also been +1.
9) Of the events that have taken place as you’ve worked alongside each other, what stands out?
Lately there have been several times at concerts that have made me realize she’s pretty strong.
One was at last autumn’s School Festival Concert, Part 2. The staff on that day was wrapped in a strange nervousness. Actually, that day was the last stop (even though it was the second one) on the School Festival Concert Tour, so we had two surprises waiting in the wings.
The concert began, and progressed with the cheers of the audience. Surprise #1 was “Life is good”. Maaya was the only one who wasn’t in on the double cannon shot that released a storm of silver foil into the concert hall. Co-hime edged backward in her surprise. We had prepared Sudopā to support the chorus in case she stopped singing, but she picked up the pieces and forced her way through the song. The staff were all astonished by that resolve. When the song was over, her smile told us she was having a blast. The staff were speechless. And the concert at last reached the encore.
Surprise #2 was “Empty Your Pockets”. For this one, we hadn’t even informed the band members exactly what would happen. Hime (Lady Y.K.) appeared, playing an accordion. She really seemed surprised by this, and tears started to roll from her eyes. Her voice turned weepy. (Lady Inoue from Team Victor was also crying.)
As it turned out, as the song went on, an easy smile appeared, and made you think she was audacious enough to actually enjoy the situation. Her quickness to recover is most impressive.
10) There’s a lot to her, but if you were to sum up Maaya Sakamoto in one line?
Off the top of my head—the Unknown Hero (what? why not a heroine?)
11) Finally, put whatever you’d like in a message to Maaya.
This year you’ve cleared your college graduation. I’m sure you have all sorts of goals and dreams.
So this year, let’s take on each concert in turn and go at them Passionately, Intensely, and Enjoyably.
Actually, I have one dream (goal) of my own. I hope I can accomplish it in the near future.
Maaya Sakamoto’s Response
Hi～, Co-hime here. Wow! Those are some sublime song choices. With “bitter sweet” in there, that’s sublime indeed. For “Hemisphere”, you listened to it with me in the studio when it was fresh out of mixing, didn’t you? After it finished, I realized that even though it was my song I was crying, and I heard you next to me calmly hmm-ing to yourself. So that actually meant you liked the song? I couldn’t tell. Hahaha! That’s nice—I hope we can put it in a concert soon.
And why a seal?! Spotted seals are kind of plump, and white, and round, and they whine, and they’re slow…what in that is like me?!! Hmph. But still, I wonder what that “dream of your own” is. It makes me curious. I wonder what I should do if it’s something huge. But this is Mitsuyuki Saikawa, a trusted member of my staff we’re talking about, so it must be something spectacular. Let’s make it a reality someday! (Although I still haven’t heard what it’s about. )