Okabe Rin’s Sponichi Interview, April 2018

The new captain of the traditional Team A / Okabe Rin’s love for the group / No desire to be center

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Okabe Rin and her drawings of herself and the Team 8 official mascot, photo by Sponichi Annex

AKB48’s new teams have begun. The captain of the traditional Team A is Okabe Rin (age 21). A new star that has been working as part of Team 8 so far. The previous 3 captains of A are the graduates Takahashi Minami (age 26), Shinoda Mariko (age 32) and the General Manager Yokoyama Yui (age 25). What are her thoughts about continuing the legacy of the powerhouses who supported the group…?

-Team A’s captains so far are Takahashi-san, Shinoda-san and Yokoyama-san.

“They’re really amazing people. I’m a bit afraid. I can’t do the same things, so I’ll have to do it differently.”

-How will you do it?

“I’m not very strong, so it’s difficult for me to take charge with simple words like Takamina (Takahashi)-san. There are seniors in the team, so I think it would be good for me to speak behind the scenes, consult people individually and support from the sidelines as much as I can.”

-Why do you think you were chosen to be captain?

“No idea. Even now, I don’t know how they decided on it. But I think it’s okay if that isn’t clear. I’m sure there’s a reason behind it, so it’ll be great as long as I handle the responsibility.”

-What do you think about it personally?

“I think it’s possibly because there’s an expectation that ‘if it’s Okabe, she’ll push on without a flinch’ or ‘when everyone else is hesitant, Okabe will take charge’.”

-Those around you have commented that have a reputation for being smart.

“Rather than being smart, it’s just that I like to think more. For example ‘if such a question is posed, I’ll answer it like this’, I like to think about things pre-emptively before they happen.”

-You also have a reputation for being good at singing and dancing.

“As for singing and dancing, I’ve been to music classes and entered a dance team before, so I have been able to express my abilities the way I want to.”

-You’re also known for being interesting.

“I used to have a complex of not being able to say interesting things, so to be told that, I feel a bit stronger (laugh).”

-Why did you enter AKB?

“I saw what a handshake event looked like on TV and I thought “if it were me, I would do it like this”. While I continued to think “if I entered AKB, what would it be like?”, I eventually started to love it.”

-Did you not wish to sing or dance?

“I thought all of AKB’s activities were interesting.”

-Handshake events are tough, aren’t they?

“They’re tough, but for me, it’s a way to express my troubles to my fans. Telling my fans “I had a lot of work before this! (anger)” and other complaints lets me relieve my stress.”

-Do you enjoy all the activities?

“Right now, yes. Sometimes, when I fail at something, I like to consider why something was done wrong. I think it’s my calling in life.”

-I think I know why you were chosen as captain. Basically, you love AKB!

“Yup, I love it (laugh).”

-That’s important for the captain!

“Indeed it is.”

-Do you have any desire to be center?

“Quite bluntly, no. I want to be a core member, but objectively speaking, I’m not the center type.”

-What’s your main challenge?

“I’m currently thinking about how to leave an impression on those who don’t know AKB. I actively think about how to leave an impression on others when seeing people make comments on TV programmes or press conferences.”

-What kind of idol do you aim to be?

“I want to be the girl that people would always want to watch and support. There are fans who truly love me, so I’ll never want to betray them. I do not want people to ever think ‘it was my loss to support Okabe Rin’. I consider my fans’ feelings as my utmost priority.”

Okabe Rin, born on 7 November 1996 in Ibaraki Prefecture. In April 2014, she was announced as a member of Team 8 and made her theater debut in August the same year. She made her first senbatsu appearance in last November’s “11gatsu no Anklet”. Last December, her concurrency and captaincy in Team A was announced. Her nickname is Rinrin.

EX Taishu 2018/05 – Okabe Rin and Takahashi Juri

This is an interview of the two new AKB48 captains, Okabe Rin and Takahashi Juri that appeared on the May 2018 issue of EX Taishu.

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The teams are reset: The new captains’ ideal AKB48

New Team A Captain – Okabe Rin
PROFILE
Okabe Rin
Born on 7 November 1996 in Ibaraki Prefecture. Debuted as a member of Team 8 in 2014. Her skill is demonstrated in her work as Team 8’s illustrator. First appeared in AKB48’s single senbatsu in 2017. Acts as Team A’s captain starting this spring.

New Team B Captain – Takahashi Juri
PROFILE
Takahashi Juri
Born on 3 October 1997 in Ibaraki Prefecture. A 12th Generation member. Promoted to Team 4 in 2012 and transferred to Team A after the dissolution of Team 4. Transferred to Team B in 2014 and then Team 4 in the following year, taking on its captaincy. Acts as Team B’s captain starting this spring.

The new team shuffle was announced at the end of last year, at the AKB48 Theatre 12th Anniversary show. The previous teams were dissolved and new teams were reinstated. As compared to previous sorrowed shuffles, this shuffle was a positive one, in order to create a new AKB48. We wish to ask the 4 captains who stand at the frontline how they will create AKB48’s future.

The type of person that worries before doing things, and the type of person who worries after.

-When did both of you start to interact with each other?

Okabe: We’ve had opportunities to work together since my first senbatsu appearance in “11gatsu no Anklet” and since then we’ve interacted a bit. Before that, we had small talk like ‘You’re that girl from Ibaraki’.
Takahashi: Rin’s image has changed a lot. At the start she seemed like the strange and mysterious kind.
Okabe: ‘Rin-chan is strange~’ is something I hear a lot (laugh).
Takahashi: But she’s a serious girl that has her own views. That’s why she became Team A’s captain.

-What are your thoughts about Juri-san?

Okabe: Before entering AKB48, I knew about her because people said “There’s this Takahashi Juri girl who’s also from Ibaraki.” She also made an impression on me on the TV show “Ariyoshi AKB Kyowakoku”.

-There was a time she was called “Messi” because of her dead eyes. (This is a pun made during the aforementioned TV show)

Okabe: Since I met her, she’s been very friendly. She’s also a lot more mature than on TV. I think she’s great at communication. It would be great if I could be like her.
Takahashi: Eh? That makes me happy! But I’m younger though. Rin-chan is my senior in life.

-What do you think about being appointed as captain?

Okabe: I was wondering if I got appointed because shuffles needed to have some surprises (laugh). I don’t know why I was chosen, and now I’m trying to find the reason along the way.
Takahashi: Rin-chan is really bright. She’s composed and also persuasive in her actions. That’s probably why she was appointed as captain. There wasn’t any explanation when I became Team 4 captain too. But we have to continue while concealing our doubts. Though in my case, it was really troubling once it all began.

-The type of person that worries before doing things, and the type of person who worries after are really different.

Okabe: Everyone thinks that the captain should be the vocal figurehead to bring everyone forward, but I think Juri-san is more suitable for that.
Takahashi: But I think that being captain of Team A and the young Team 4 is completely different. Back then, Team 4 was a group of girls who did young concerts. That’s why there was a resolve to work hard so we wouldn’t lose to the seniors.

-Are you conscious about being Team A’s captain?

Okabe: When things are going slow, like in the mornings, I’d want to sleep a bit more, but then I’ll remember “No, I’m the captain now!” and I’ll get my act together.

-Serious! Did Juri-san experience a change like that?

Takahashi: I did. Before becoming captain, if I were feeling unwell, I’d say it out and my seniors would be concerned, asking me “what happened?” But now I won’t say it out loud. I think that leaders need to be able to light the way for their companions. My outlook has changed such that even in times of adversity, it’s most important to stay positive.

-Okabe-san, what’s your attitude as a captain?

Okabe: I hope to become a captain that can be calm and objective, that can let people think “The captain can always be relied on!” When everyone is hyped up, I’ll take a step back, and when things are tough I’ll give suggestions.

-Which members in your teams pique your interest?

Okabe: Goto Moe-san. At first she treated Team 8 as her rivals. But a while back, the backstage area got smaller so she ate at the staircase, and she reserved a spot for me, shouting “Captain, there’s a space here!” Afterwards, she’d say “Captain, I’ll clean that up for you!” The rest won’t keep calling me “Captain, captain!” so our relationship is quite interesting. I’ll also answer her by saying “Yes, Goto?” (laugh)
Takahashi: For Team B, it’d be Kubo Satone. She’s really cute, and she also looks like a Team B type. But her appearance on Team K stages as a research student made quite an impression on me. She’s great at dancing and her performance ability is solid, making people want to watch her. Her foundations are built well. It’d be great if she could show it in Team B. She made it back into senbatsu this time, which is heartening.

-What about the seniors?

Takahashi: Oya (Shizuka)-san is very caring. We were in the same team during Kuramochi Team B, but we never got to talk much back then. But now that I’m 20 and can drink with her, we should be able to connect better.
Okabe: For A, I’m looking forward to Myao (Miyazaki Miho)-san. I’d like to see her talk with Yuiyui (Oguri Yui) during MC. When flustered, Yuiyui’s word choice and reactions are interesting, so I think she can bring out Yuiyui’s merits.

The atmosphere of Kumamon that can overpower Yukirin snowmen.

-Do you have any ideas for the vice-captain role?

Takahashi: I think everyone’s a vice-captain. The vice-captaincy is as special as the captaincy, so I hope everyone can take on that role. I hope everyone can feel that they are building up the team. It’s because everyone has something that is unique to them, and everyone meets different challenges, so I hope everyone can build such a connection.
Okabe: For me, I’d pick Myao-san. She’s the oldest senior in the team, and someone who has seen the ups and downs in AKB48, so I’m curious to know what she usually thinks. I think if it’s Myao-san, she has the answers to any problem. If there’s a vice-captain position it’d be a lot easier to discuss with her. I’d like to know her strategy.

-I wonder how far she has thought about things.

Okabe: Even if she can’t help me, I think she can strengthen my spirit. With her around I feel at ease, and she’s the person I’d like to talk to the most.

-What would you do in times of difficulty?

Takahashi: I’ll consult Yukirin (Kashiwagi Yuki). She has experience and also knows how to treat fans. There have been a lot of things that I’ve decided to do because of Yukirin’s support, and I’ve learnt a lot.
Okabe: At the concert a while back, when I had to choose songs, staff members who have been with AKB48 for the longest of times gave me their opinions. I usually keep my opinions, consult others, then make a holistic decision to pick songs that can satisfy all.

-As captains, what would you do if there are girls that seem troubled?

Takahashi: Previously I would talk to them immediately. But there are girls who want to get by with their own capabilities, so now I would observe her from the sidelines, so they can become stronger.
Okabe: But I won’t want to let go of her like that. Because there are a lot of times when Team 8 and 16th Generation members can’t solve problems solely by themselves.
Takahashi: So I hope to become a more cheerful person. If people thought I was scary, they wouldn’t consult me.
Okabe: Juri-san is really easy to talk to.
Takahashi: Really? I’m so happy!

-In the previous issue, the manager said that AKB48 requires more “hako” fans, what do you think?

Okabe: Shouldn’t we treat “member fans = AKB48 Group hako fans”?
Takahashi: But there are a lot of competitive activities, so it’s probably impossible to do that.

-Even with the General Election, sister groups have “hako” fans don’t they?

Okabe: I think there’s no real concern about “hako” fans, since I think it’s about the AKB48 style.
Takahashi: But I was really shocked when I went from Team B to Team 4. There are a lot of Team 4 fans and they were really full of energy. I learnt about the advantages of a team from Team 4.

-Indeed, Team 4 fans are very enthusiastic.

Takahashi: It feels like Team B is being carried by “Yukirin Snowmen”.

-There are a lot of Yuki-san’s fans.

Takahashi: Previously there still was (Watanabe) Mayu-san. But it’s not that we want to rely on Yukirin-san. For example, we’d like to actively gain the attention of those who only have Yukirin-san in their eyes.

-It would be great if they could switch from single-fans to hako fans.

Okabe: I’m coming here as a Team 8 member, so I can feel the difference in the fans’ enthusiasm when working as a Team A member.

-Team 8 fans are very passionate! It would be nice if that passion could influence the other teams’ fans.

Takahashi: Indeed, Kuranoo (Narumi)-chan’s fans at the Thumbnail show were amazing. They were holding Kumamon toys and could overpower the Yukirin snowmen in atmosphere.

-Then, please make a statement about your aspirations as captains.

Okabe: I want the image of Team A to be like when I was still a fan, where Team A held the aces and was the flagship team, the team that always piqued the interest of fans. I want it to be the pioneer team that makes people think “If there’s a Team A performance, I’m definitely going!”
Takahashi: Though I think Team B has a cute little sister image, but Shiichan (Oya Shizuka) has come back and Chori (Nakanishi Chiyori) has come as well. I hope we won’t be limited to that image and let everyone show their talents. But we’ll have to work harder in terms of performance. We have to show people a gap in expectation, that even Team B can be this flashy!

AKB48 Sousenkyo 2018 Guidebook – Okabe Rin

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“My dream exists in this group.”

Okabe Rin
AKB48 Team 8 / Team A

Age 21

2017 Rank: Unranked

Target Rank: 20th

She looked forward to talking about AKB48 at the dinner table.
Without realising it, the girl from Ibaraki was already in her 5th year as an idol.
She is easygoing yet hates losing, just like a spring cabbage.
Soft, but as you peel, you will find a strong core within.

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I’m still looking for my own “weapon”.

Albeit being unranked in last year’s General Election, the past year had been a breakthrough for Okabe Rin. The biggest of these was getting into her first Senbatsu in AKB48’s 50th single, “11gatsu no Anklet”.

“I really couldn’t believe it. I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it into Senbatsu my whole life…”

As humble as Okabe is, the staff praises her desire for improvement and stoicness.

“It’s just that I hate losing. I meet many hurdles that I want to overcome, and I like to overcome them one by one. Since entering AKB48, I’ve been actively emulating what I think is great from other members. That’s definitely the case for singing and dancing, and even for the sending-off after each theater show and blogging, I’ve treated members that are better than me in various aspects as rivals in my heart and competed with them. If I don’t do that, I’ll easily slack off (laugh).”

Ever since entering Senbatsu, have you considered the senior members as rivals?

“As far as performance ability is concerned, I can’t beat Yukirin (Kashiwagi Yuki) in singing, and I can’t surpass (Yamamoto) Sayaka (NMB48) in dancing. If my target is too high, I’ll lose my confidence and I don’t want that, so I’m looking for something that I can challenge my seniors with. One day, I want to find a weapon that belongs to me!”

The only people that she will show her weak side to are her fans.

“Since the beginning, I’ve always said this to my fans. If anything good happened, they’ll be the first to know, and I’ll show my weak side too. If there’s anything that bothers me, I’ll complain about it to them (laugh). That’s why for me, I love to do handshake events, and it’s one of my most important activities!”

Her stoicness and effort has given her greater opportunities to shine. Requiring emotional support in her work, Okabe is often healed by her fans. Using that newfound energy to work even harder, Okabe and her fans have created a cycle of happiness.

 

Trials will only be given to those who can overcome them.

The other time when Okabe Rin’s name garnered attention was the shuffle during last December’s “AKB48 Theater 12th Anniversary Special Memorial”. She was appointed as the new captain of Team A.

“Being the first person called up as ‘Team A Captain Okabe Rin!’, I was completely dumbfounded (laugh). Was it really okay for a Team 8 concurrent member to be Captain? It gave me a lot of pressure.”

At the time, it was her fans who helped her. There was a phrase that she would never forget.

“I think it was the day after the shuffle, that I saw this comment on 755 that used a Mencius saying, ‘Trials will only be given to those who can overcome them, so you’ll be fine.’ It made me feel better. My fans were uneasy too, but like me, they hated to lose (laugh), so they gave me encouragement. Team A is the most historic team in AKB48, so I’m aiming to form a majestic team where everyone can display their own strengths.”

This year’s target is an astounding 20th place!

“Just trying to ‘rank in’ sounded weak, so yeah (laugh). I thought that if I didn’t at least put my feelings into it, it wouldn’t be a true dream. My dream exists in this group, and I want to overcome hurdles with everyone. It would be great if at least 10 Team 8 members could rank in this year!”

 

A reform of the flagship team. Becoming the captain of Team A!

AKB48 enters its 13th year. Okabe is appointed as captain of Team A, the team where it all began. After the appointment, she participated in the 3rd Draft Meeting and gathered feedback within her team, and sought to improve her team performance at the Tandoku Concert.

“With help from seniors like Yokoyama (Yui) and Miyazaki (Miho), I’m able to enjoy doing it.”

However, she does not want it to be a merely friendly team.

“Because this is the most historic team, I want to advance without forgetting that we are at the frontier. Even when doing cheers before concerts, I tell the team to think of the members beside them as rivals.”

 

3 Single Senbatsu appearances in a row. Taking on both internal and external activities.

Since appearing in her first senbatsu in the 5th single with Team 8’s Oguri Yui, she has been a senbatsu member thrice in a row. She also appeared as a guest heroine for Otona no Cafe, which was her first theatre performance.

“It was the first time I acted in my life, and I had issues with intonation when reading the script… My stomach was in knots that whole month (laugh). But acting was a rewarding experience, and those around me were very kind, so I enjoyed it. Having experienced the thrill that was theatre, I’d like my fans to see how much I’ve grown!”