“'20' and '15', figures that are special to me."
It’s been 20 years since he entered the agency, and 15 years since he became a member of NEWS. What was 2018 to Masuda Takahisa, who’ve been holding on tight to his principles and the things he believes in, despite being in an environment where changes happen at a dizzying speed? He represents NEWS to tell us about their upcoming countdown concert.
I want to value the care I put into my creations
2018 was a year of milestones for Masuda. Arena, stadium, and now dome. It was also a year of concerts.
20 years since I entered the agency. This was a year when I felt for myself, the importance of the number “20”. November 8th, the day I entered the agency, is an important date to me, something like a birthday. The people who entered the agency on the same day as I did, we would text each other “Happy Anniversary” on this day. It made me happy how I received texts from the staff this year too. I was 12 when I went for the auditions, and I’m now 32… so I’ve spent more than half my life doing this job. It’s amazing.
I was thankful once again
2018 was a year when the staff around us, as well as the fans, really hyped NEWS up. I had lots of people telling me “Congrats”, and we also received opportunities for jobs that only happened because it was our anniversary year. It’s like I found out all over again how significant a period of 15 years can be. While we were conscious of the fact that it’s been 15 years, we would probably have just spent it like any other year, if not for the reactions of those around us. People around us created this chance for me to feel thankful, once again.
I was also happy to be able to appear in lots of music programmes, possible partly due to our single releases “LPS”, “BLUE”, “Ikiro” and album release, “EPCOTIA”. Popolo too, collected congratulatory messages from our kohais for us, and I went through every one of them properly. I thought, “Anniversaries are nice,” and felt that I should start placing importance on anniversaries starting now.
About the 15th anniversary concert
The thing that left an impression this year has to be the 15th anniversary concert. We wanted an icon easy for people to recall when they looked back on it years later, so we decided 15th anniversary > ichigo (TL note: Japanese for “strawberry”, with a similar pronunciation to “1” [ichi] and “5” [go] in Japanese.) > Strawberry. We also put in a lot of thought to make sure it wouldn’t get overshadowed by the EPCOTIA concerts we got to do earlier in the year.
More memorable than the 10th
I remember the 10th anniversary concert, of course, but I wanted to make this even more memorable. That’s why I threw out as many ideas I could think of for the concert framework, and thought about the merchandise too. After going through numerous processes, we managed to create a concert we were all satisfied with, and I was really happy.
About EPCOTIA -encore-
NEWS will be performing our solo countdown concert at the end/beginning of the year! Since it’s an encore concert, we will link it up to the “EPCOTIA” concerts by keeping the worldview, but we also feel strongly about making it different. We’re now thinking of how to produce the concert such that those who came for the previous tour can continue enjoying their space journeys, while those coming for their first space journeys at the Dome can have fun too. The set’s different from the previous one, so there should be fresh surprises. I’ve also been thinking of a few ideas for presentation styles, though it’s really more of just throwing out new ideas rather than considering whether they are feasible ones. Because we want people to enjoy their time when they come to our concerts… I can’t share too many details (laugh). All I can say is, the merchandise is really cute. We made new merchandise this time, and of the new items there’s one that we regretted not making the previous tour. To say it frankly! It’s plushies of the aliens (laugh). In the dressing room, all the members were saying, “It’d be nice if we had plushies of the aliens,” so I’m happy we managed to make them this time! We looked at the samples, checked out the fabrics and the parts for their faces… the plushies are masterpieces completed after numerous revisions. All of us feel strongly about the merchandise, we don’t want things that we don’t love ourselves to be made into NEWS merchandise, and we want them to be things everyone can look forward to.
The joy concerts bring
I’ve spent every year at the Tokyo Dome since I was old enough to appear on the “Johnny’s Countdown”, and this year’s going to be the first time that I’m not going to be there. Isn’t it wonderful to still be able to experience “first time”s at my age? It’s a little sad that I won’t get to taste the festival-like atmosphere (at “Johnny’s Countdown”), but then there’s the part of how we’ll be getting to appear on it through the live telecast to look forward to.
A good momentum right from the start of the year!
Up till this year, the way I spend each year end is pretty much a fixed routine. For example, do the annual Countdown, appear on music programmes after midnight, go for hatsumode and then consider going out for food with everyone, but we’d almost always end up going our separate ways at this point because no shops would be open (laugh). But this time, there is going to be the NEWS concerts at the end/start of the year. Are there shops in Osaka that would still be open, after we finish our concert and going for hatsumode? (laugh) What if we end up getting too excited? Considering how we still have a concert the following day… guess not (laugh).
I really feel this all over again, but it’s sheer happiness to have both the goal and the starting dash of the year be concerts. Of course, there’s the part of how they work as nice ways to finish and begin the year, but more importantly, it makes me happy how people will be coming to watch NEWS concerts, at a time of the year where they’d usually be relaxing at home. I can’t wait already.
They’ve left their footprints, steadily, over the past 15 years. The future for the four of them will continue being a bright one, for the next 30 and 40 years.
Credits to yuxlala @ weibo for the scans! :)