The following is a translation of an article published on Yahoo News in the last days of 2018. It features an interview with Kanako Takatsuki (nickname Kinchan), the voice actress playing Hanamaru Kunikida in the Love Live! Sunshine!! project. The original article is no longer available on Yahoo News, but it has been reposted to other websites, e.g. here.
I put up this translation on certain Discord servers on 1 January 2019, and am reprinting it here with minor improvements for more permanent availability. Note that this is not the only English translation of the interview that was floating around, but I made my own because I was unsatisfied with the other one.
Kōhaku guest Kanako Takatsuki — overcoming the worries of “there isn’t anyone who likes me”
The group Aqours, consisting of nine voice actresses from the TV anime “Love Live! Sunshine!!” will be appearing on the 69th NHK Kōhaku Utagassen. The members are living busy days. Starting with Kōhaku, appearances on various music programs at the turn of the year have been arranged for, one after the other. However, surprising words escaped the mouth of Kanako Takatsuki, 25, the group’s ray of sunshine.
“There isn’t anyone who likes me, is there? That’s how I thought.”
Thus said Kanako Takatsuki, showing a bitter smile. Staff’s laughing voices echoed in the interview room, assuring “that can’t be true,” but her eyes were serious.
This was a year of great strides for Takatsuki.
Aqours had a show in Tokyo Dome in November, tickets fully sold out. With live viewings organized in movie theaters across the country, the audience numbers rose to 150,000 people. Reaching this achievement that compares to first-class artists within a mere three years of the group’s formation is an astonishing feat. Being invited to an event like Kōhaku ought to also be a result to be satisfied with.
Takatsuki also tells she “wept for joy for the first time in my life!” upon hearing the news of the Kōhaku appearance. Yet, on the other hand, Takatsuki continued to harbor a tinge of doubt, wondering “are there really fans who support me personally?”
“In live events I always have eight friends around, and they have always been there to support me. In terms of being a voice actress, I haven’t really been able get acting properly down yet, so there are a lot of things I’m not satisfied with in my acting. That’s why I’ve lived my life not being able to have a real feeling of there being people who are fans of me specifically.”
Then, the days of Takatsuki living in self-doubt reached a turning point: the launch event of a collaboration with the sneaker and fashion brand “atmos pink”, held on 19 December. Up to now, the company has developed limited-edition products with sports brands, but it was their first time trying a collaboration with a single artist.
“I was really surprised when I first heard about it. Like, ‘are they okay with just me?’ [laughing] As I love fashion, I was involved from the beginning. Still, since I had these feelings of ‘I wonder if there are any people who are fans of me’, I said things like ‘wouldn’t a [production] batch size of 50 be enough?'”
In the end, Takatsuki’s anxieties proved wrong. Despite the event being on a weekday morning, a long line formed.
“There were women who broke down crying from the sheer emotion, and people who professed their love to me, and I was all shy and embarrassed hearing all this. It was the first time I was able to meet and talk one-on-one with fans, and I got really happy realizing that ‘there are this many people who are supporting me!’ Among all I heard, what made me most happy was one fan who said ‘Seeing Kinchan [Takatsuki’s nickname], I also got the courage to start taking steps forward.'”
This sparked a new determination: to be a role model that blazes the trail for others, so that everyone can jump into new challenges, “being braver and going forward with all our strength”. “I want to continue constantly challenging myself, so that I can one day say with pride ‘If you go all in for what you like, a world this fun is waiting for you!’ Next year, I’ll go on the offensive, leaving my fans no time to get bored!”