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Vol.32 Takahiro Mizushima & A9 Shou - A Talk (Part 2) -

TEAM SAKUSAKU presents ~ Favorite Collections ~
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One year on from the first staging of “Sakuraikku Smile ‘16”, we bring you this interview-style article featuring voice actor, Takahiro Mizushima, and visual-kei rock band vocalist, Shou (A9), who met through the late contents producer, Takamasa Sakurai. This installment continues from the previous article Vol.31! (*For more info on the event, check out episode #20 of this column!)

>> Click here for part 1 of the interview >> TEAM SAKUSAKU presents - Favorite Collections - Vol.31 Takahiro Mizushima & A9 Shou - A Talk (Part 1) -!

I Looked at Japanese Pop Culture from a Global Perspective and I Knew What I had to do

───One of the key terms in Sakurai-san’s work was “Japanese pop culture.” Both of you work within that field, but is there anything about Japanese pop culture that you’re particularly aware of on a regular basis?

Takahiro Mizushima (hereafter referred to as Mizushima): As a voice actor I mainly work with anime and games, and I think that one of the characteristics of Japanese animation is the sheer broadness of expression. For example, you have the range of voices of the voice actors, the intricacies of the anime itself, the acting…and it’s all this variation with each area adding its own color and flavor that I think gives it it’s inherently Japanese and pop-cultural qualities.

A9 Shou (hereafter referred to as Shou): The fact that there are so many people who say they want to listen to the original Japanese audio even though they can’t understand what is being said is probably a testament to how valued those qualities are as well. When you think how many English and Chinese speakers there are in the world, in a way, you could say that the survival of the Japanese language now rests on the shoulders of Japanese voice actors…!

Mizushima: Such responsibility!! (lol) But the power of music is also incredible and I think there are a lot of people out there who listen to Japanese music and Japanese groups, even though they don’t understand Japanese language, because they think it’s cool. Perhaps with visual-k especially, would you agree?

Shou: You’re right. In the past we saw ourselves as an underground movement that ran counter to all the popular Japanese artists of the time…but now when I look at Japanese bands from a global perspective, I see with full clarity the kind of band we should be. The visual impact of visual-k is a big part of that. It’s not quite glam and it’s not quite metal but it has a certain gaudiness like the characters you might see in an anime, and I think that weirdness that brings Japanese pop culture and visual-k together is an important factor to maintain so that people from overseas see it and think ‘That’s interesting. I don’t speak the language but I want more.’ And it’s all because I met Sakurai-san that my thinking has changed in this regard.

Mizushima: You really have put a lot of thought into this, haven’t you, Shou? You’ve already experienced overseas in your Asia Tours with A9, but I hope that you continue to do more live performances and events around the world from here on also.

Shou: Lately I’ve actually been thinking more about how to get people from overseas to come to Japan. Of course we will maintain the mentality that Sakurai-san imparted on us and do our best to keep visiting fans outside of Japan, and even though I’m aware of all the various hurdles, I also want to create something so good that people will want to come to Japan to see it. That’s the goal I’m working towards at the moment.

Mizushima: It’s important in our line of work not just to think about pursuing the overseas market once we’ve made it in Japan, but to think about the overseas market from the outset. Even if you do give a performance overseas, if you’re constantly thinking I’m going to them so they know who I am, or, I’m going to them so that one day they’ll come to me, then I’m sure you will expand you’re reach significantly.

Shou: I for one have fully come to realize the importance of making your way out into the world. There are a lot of overseas fans who come to Japan for A9 national tours, but what we learned was that the majority of these fans were from countries in Asia. And I think the reason we’re getting more people wanting to come to Japan to see us is because we went to them for our Asia Tour. The overall number is still relative small, though… It may not be ‘the world’ but as an Eastern island nation, I want to continue to set my sights on Asia.

Takamasa Sakurai
At an event in Taiwan (photographed by Mizushima)
Mizushima: I’m a big fan of Hello! Project, so nothing they do evades my gaze (lol), but I remember when Juice=Juice added dates to their tour in South America. Hello! Project already has quite a pervasive presence in online media and fans over there regularly pick up on any information they find and share it with others, but when the members actually went to perform for them, I think that’s when they started to go ‘Okay, let’s us go see them in Japan next. I want to go to Japan.’ Sakurai-san was someone who was relentless about going overseas and it was like he could see just how to get people to come to Japan wherever he went. In that sense, I think that you and Hiroto in particular have inherited Sakurai-san’s mindset quite firmly in both your public and private lives.

Shou: I really am the epitome of the in-doors type, but I guess my consciousness has begun looking outwards (lol).

Mizushima: (lol) I think there is a real value in “TEAM SAKUSAKU” and all its members who share that view whilst endeavoring in his and her individual field. I hope that more and more people get involved, and not just those who had some connection with Sakurai-san. either!

Takamasa Sakurai
At an event in Taiwan (photographed by Mizushima)

───A final comment to finish up?

Shou: It’s important that we carry on Sakurai-san’s work and put it into action, and I think that also means contributing to Japanese pop culture. Specifically, though… (turns to face Takahiro-san) please get something made! (lol)

Mizushima: Seriously!? You sure it’s okay to put that in the article!? (lol)

Shou: I don’t mean just songs, but artworks and different ways of showing things as well!

Mizushima: I seriously wonder just what I could do if I had a person of such amazing expression supporting me all the time… I definitely have to get in shape first, though (lol).

Shou: (lol)

MizushimaI think that cultural growth all comes down to ideas. Just like BABYMETAL and bands that feature traditional Japanese instruments – ‘Can these two things actually work together!?’ – thoughts like this lead to innovation. If “TEAM SAKUSAKU” were a bento box it would be a jumble of Japanese, Chinese and Western flavors all mixed in together. But then you discover that this combined with that actually tastes amazing, and only such a bento box could lead to such realizations. In that regard, it’s also big opportunity – not only in the business sense – and I want to challenge myself in various ways insofar as my capacity as an adult allows. It’s a miracle that I was born into this age and that we’re gathered here together right now, so I really want to make the most of this opportunity and be a part of something creative. So, bearing the cultural responsibilities of this small Asian island nation…(turns to face Shou) please do your best! (lol)

Shou: Likewise! (lol)


Takahiro MizushimaTakahiro Mizushima (水島大宙)

Voice actor and narrator. A friendly character who is popular with both men and women. A clear fresh voice, often plays quiet youngsters, as well as cool, handsome characters.

Major roles and appearances (among many others): Has voiced characters in TV anime, such as Jyojiro Takajyo in "Charlotte," Kotaro Takebayashi in "Ansatsu Kyoshitsu (Assassination Classroom)," Jun Shiratori in "Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (The Town Where Only I am Missing)," Rolo Lamperouge in "Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2," Kouta Otoyama in "Uchu no Suteruvia (Stellvia of the Universe)," Hubert Ozwell in the game "Tales of Graces," Momota Asuma in "Boyfriend (Kari)," etc. Also provided dubbing in films such as "Sokyu no subaru" for the character of Li Chun Yun played by Shao-Qun Yu and "Chronicle" for Andrew Detmer played by Dane DeHaan. Radio work includes "Takahiro Muzushima / Ryohei Kimura ←SIDE BY SIDE→" and many more.
Since 2013 has been using the name "TAKA" for musical performances and activities.

Blog: http://ameblo.jp/neko-no-otete/


A9 ShouA9 Shou (将)

Vocalist. Formed Alice Nine in 2004. They played the Budokan in 2011 and have been pro-active in their overseas activities, twice performing an Asia Tour. Adding to an already 14-year-long career, their new single “F+IX=YOU” produced by Ken (L'Arc-en-Ciel) was released on January 17, 2018.

Official Website:http://a9-project.com/



"World peace through J-POP culture!"
TEAM SAKUSAKU is a playground for artists and creators of J-POP culture.
Our passions for the things we like is the pathway to PEACE.

Official Website: http://teamsakusaku.com
Twitter: @team_sakusaku
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/team_sakusaku/
Inquiry: info.teamsakusaku@gmail.com


Takahiro Mizushima A9We have a card signed by Takahiro Mizushima & A9 Shou to give away to two lucky asianbeat reader! Make sure to apply!

We're looking forward to receiving your applications!

Application period: Friday 19th January to Sunday 11th March 2018
Winner announced: Wednesday 14th March 2018

The application period is now over. Thank you!

The lucky winners are ...

宮 san
亞夢 san


(Please note, winners will receive an email directly from asianbeat. If you don not reply with a confirmation message within a week, you application will become invalid and you will not be able to claim your prize.)
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