I think that men dressed as women have many aspects that are more feminine than women in a sense. Because of that, women dressed as men can be more beautiful and attractive than men. Plus, since this is a unit with many members, there are many choices. There can be one of us who is close to your ideal.
The members of cross-dressing idol unit FUDANJUKU are unique in both concept and personality. They kindly share their thoughts on each other and their recent release, Jinsei Wahaha!?.
Since this is JaME’s first interview with FUDANJUKU, can you introduce each other with an interesting fact about each member?
Kojirou: I’m Akazono Kojirou. I love being goofy and joking around, and I like to play pranks on the members! But when it’s time to work, I do what I have to when I have to! I have a clear line! The member Uramasa is really genki! And he eats a lot–and really loves himself! (laughs) So spoiled! He really has many different sides, and he’s an interesting guy!
Kouki: I’m Seto Kouki. I’m always doing things at my own pace, and I’m good at singing. I will introduce Ruhara Renji. He’s the strangest member of FUDANJUKU. He’s handsome and popular among girls. He has many hobbies, so he knows many things. Also, his way of talking is interesting and funny. I call him “Center of the Talk.”
Kensui: I’m Aiba Kensui. Hm… I can talk about Yukimura Ryouma. Ryouma is a little-brother-like character, and he relaxes us by just being there. But, he is always doing things at his own pace. He often spills stuff and gets the costumes dirty. We sort of have to keep an eye on him. Also, we started this work at the same time and he’s younger than me, so he really is like my little brother and he’s cute… I don’t know if Ryouma likes me, though.
Momotarou: I’m Bukiya Momotarou of FUDANJUKU! My charm point is eye glasses, and I always wear them. Also, my color is pink. I love anime, and I always study it. I like many anime, including Gundam, Ghost in the Shell, and Doraemon. I’m introducing Midorikawa Kyouhei. We’ve both been members since the unit started, and we’ve been friends for six years. He is thoughtful, sensitive, and kind. Kyouhei-kun is very good at drawing. He often draws us and puts the pictures up on his blog! I really want you all to see his drawings.
Uramasa: I’m Seimyouji Uramasa of FUDANJUKU. My color is blue. I’m just really genki, lively, and loud. I like idols and pro-wrestling! About Akazono Kojirou: Koji has been learning dancing and singing since he was little. He’s the member who has been leading FUDANJUKU performances from the start of the unit. The color red is perfect for him, and his personality is straight and absolute. On the other hand, he’s a little silly and has a cute side. He miss-read “Please bring shoes with strings.” and he said “I don’t have dark blue shoes…!” (Kanji for “strings” and “dark blue” are similar.)
Ryoma: I’m Yukimura Ryoma. I’ll introduce Kensui Aiba-kun. He’s really good at singing and dancing, and he’s really confident, but he actually gets nervous easily. He is the closest member to me.
Renji: I’m Ruhara Renji: “The handsome face.” I’m from Kyoto, Japan. There are many manga awards in Japan, and I like manga so much that I am a judge. I also like philosophy. I’ve been passionate about studying Schopenhauer’s theory and psychology. I research stoicism, views of life and death, and aestheticism, and I have a few certifications as a mental coach. I’ll introduce Seto Kouki. I call him “Born to be the center.” An idol group has a central person (center). He was born with a handsome face and singing skills. He’s absolutely perfect for the center. He has almost no ambition, desire for improvement, or greed. He values peace and harmony. His personality is very Japanese. Therefore, he doesn’t try too hard and he’s energy-saving. I also call him “energy-saving boy.”
Kyouhei: I’m Midorikawa Kyouhei. Okay, I’ll talk about Momo-kun. Momo-kun has lots of love for this unit, and he’s always thinking so much about the whole picture. He’s a reliable leader who looks at each member and cares for us in many ways. But he’s goofy and a little clumsy. The other members are always scared!
How do the colours in each your names represent you? Is it a reflection of each member’s personality?
Kojirou: Red is bright and it stands out. Its bold color helps me, I think! Because it’s red, that’s what makes me into my current personality.
Kouki: At Japanese idol live shows, there’s a custom to cheer holding pen lights. As each member has a color, fans come to the live shows with pen lights of the color for their favorite member. My color is yellow. This color has a bright and lively image and it’s genki! I have a calm personality, and I think this color matches me! I actually like yellow.
Kensui: At the beginning, I wasn’t so interested in the color, sky blue. But I had many opportunities to connect with this color after I joined this unit. I’ve always liked the sky, and the color, sky blue, is said to be a pure color. So, I think this color is perfect for me, to remind me not to forget pure thoughts and true feelings.
Momotarou: My color is pink. When the colors were decided at the beginning, I don’t think there was a particular meaning. But now I have a really strong feeling about it. Pink is a color with a cute, feminine image. And I think that I’m the one who looks the best in pink costumes among FUDANJUKU.
Uramasa: The color blue has the image of cool, quiet, and calm, but I’m completely the opposite. Before, when I wore yellow, they said it’s too noisy. So I guess the color blue calms me down, and it may be just right.
Ryoma: Since Yukimura’s color is white, I used “Yuki” (snow)! People often say that I seem like a white-color person, so I think it fits!
Renji: My color is orange. But, I like black, gold, and red. I never wear orange for my fashion in private. The color orange means “friendliness” or “affinity” in psychology. As I get more opportunities to wear orange, maybe I’ll develop more “friendliness”! Since I usually choose being alone rather than teamwork, “affinity” might have been lacking. So, maybe it balances me out and it’s better!
Kyouhei: People say that I’m comforting, so I guess the calm, soothing color green fits me.
Overseas, there aren’t any groups with female members that dress up like boys. How would you explain this concept to someone from overseas?
Kojirou: In Japan, cosplaying is popular. Among the genres of cosplaying, there’s a trend sometimes of dressing as men. Though FUDANJUKU is dressing as men, it’s a unit that makes an effort to take it even further! It’s dressing as men so that we can be liked by girls!
Kouki: The concept is: Women dress as men, and act as characters. Anime is 2D. FUDANJUKU is close to that, and some people call us 2.5D. In such a fantasy world, we have what women cannot express and what men cannot express.
Kensui: I think that men dressed as women have many aspects that are more feminine than women in a sense. Because of that, women dressed as men can be more beautiful and attractive than men. Plus, since this is a unit with many members, there are many choices. There can be one of us who is close to your ideal. So, I want you to know us deeply.
Momotarou: Japan is the country of Cool Japan. Do you all know about cosplaying? It’s a part of Japanese culture where people wear costumes of anime characters and enjoy being in that world. FUDANJUKU started as a mimicking game, pretending to be someone different. We got male names, and we’ve been acting for a long time trying to create each of our characters. Now, we act naturally as this “other self.” It’s really fun. Dressing as men is one way to produce that extraordinary feeling.
Uramasa: I think that there are many women overseas who are more boyish than men and make other women fall in love with them. In that same way, especially because we’re women, we’re a unit that can act as men that women think are cool.
Ryoma: It’s like cosplaying!! When I’m dressed as someone, I completely become that other person!
Renji: Women dress as men. They may be more beautiful than ordinary men. In society, the sexiness and happiness that are desired and demanded are different for men and women. To act as a man which is completely opposite from usual might result in an unprecedented “ecstasy!” For me, I like wearing the unusual. If you wear the unusual, it becomes an addiction. It’s a dangerous attraction…
Kyouhei: We act as male characters. These characters are like the boys in manga that girls search for, and it’s like those characters actually exist in daily life. This unit is like a dream.
When FUDANJUKU debuted back in 2008, how did you each prepare yourself and learn how to act more manly or boyish, to help make the transition smoother? Did you have to practice walking and standing, even talking differently or was it just a natural progression to becoming more ‘boyish’ or manly?
Kojirou: As time passed, I became able to act naturally like a man. But, since I’m not really girly to start with, it’s more like my “natural self” than “acting like men.” The rest is me trying to act like the ideal man figure.
Kouki: Each member has a specific style. Since we’re women, we know what men can do to make us happy. Each member creates the ideal man, and acts him out naturally.
Kensui: I studied by looking at the artists and models I like. As I pay attention, my body naturally started to move like a man.
Momotarou: I was troubled over how to behave to look manly at the beginning, but I started to get it naturally as time passed. I study by looking at photos and live shows of male artists. I think we learn many things from communicating with the other members, too.
Uramasa: I watch DVDs of male idols, and study their cool behavior. Actually, I have many male friends, and my personality has always been a little boyish. My voice is kind of low for a girl. So, the transition wasn’t so difficult. But for running scenes, I sometimes run like a girl. I still need to master it!
Ryoma: At the beginning it felt unnatural, but as I continued it became natural.
Renji: I didn’t study at all. It’s like the switch in my brain turns on. After I change my clothes, after seeing how different I am from usual in the mirror, the more the switch is turned on. I must be unconsciously playing the “ideal man figure,” which I usually imagine in my mind when I’m a woman. So, when I’m a woman, the switch is turned off. I can’t behave like a man. I enjoy the strangeness of the “switch.”
Kyouhei: It’s very difficult. Maybe some members can do it naturally, but I’m careful when I’m dressed as a man.
Are there any rivalries between the group members when it comes to being the most popular member of the group? Or do you not make a difference between the members?
Kojirou: I always go on the stage, thinking “I’m Number One!” I feel that I won’t be able to be myself, if I go on the stage without confidence. But, I’m not saying that I’m always the most popular one. (laughs)
Kouki: There is rivalry! No one actually says it out loud, but I’m sure everyone wants to be Number One. But I’m the most popular one in FUDANJUKU!!! Maybe!!! (laughs)
Kensui: No, I’ve never been a person who has to be Number One. I like finding the good points of each person, so I don’t really think about rivalry.
Momotarou: Personally, each member of FUDANJUKU is one of a kind, and we all have originality. So it’s a group where each member has fans equally. In that sense, I’ve never felt rivalry. If there’s a popular member, that means that member is cool and has something special. I myself am a fan of the members, so I just like them, not as rivals. If we want more fans, we need to make ourselves better.
Uramasa: People have different preferences. When you look at FUDANJUKU members, each of you must have a different type that you like. I think it’s wonderful that this unit is able to match everyone’s needs in a way that just one person couldn’t satisfy. So I don’t really feel any difference in popularity.
Ryoma: Seto Kouki-kun. I envy him, because he’s so popular. He’s loved even by idols!
Renji: I never thought that we’re equal. But I never felt rivalry, either. I think I don’t have much interest in others. Maybe I’m a narcissist. I just want to enjoy my life without shame. The philosopher Nietzsche said, “Live a life you want to repeat everything the same way, at the moment you die.” There are many times I envy others, but I want to be myself, and that sometimes includes feeling inferior or feeling almighty.
Kyouhei: I don’t pay attention particularly. The important thing is that everyone’s personality is different!
For those who are unable to attend, what kind of atmosphere doFUDANJUKU’s lives create?
Kojirou: At FUDANJUKU live shows, there are many fans–both men and women–so you can enjoy regardless of gender and age! Our live show is really powerful, and really cool . I want people overseas to see it, too!
Kouki: All the fans enjoy freely as they want! Some dance with us, some do the cheering, and others sing together. We hope to create a live show that can unite everyone!
Kensui: At FUDANJUKU live shows, unlike at shows of other idol units, both men and women can shout as they want, without worrying about how they look to others. All the songs are exciting and fun, and even the songs you hear for the first time are easy to understand. You can enjoy without being scared!
Momotarou: FUDANJUKU’s live shows are created by everyone as the fans and members get together. The personality of each member is brought out, and you will feel the warm, friendly atmosphere. Many fans shake penlights for their favorite member.
Uramasa: Lately, there are more girls and more girly, high-pitched cheers. I think our live shows can be enjoyed by anyone from kids to adults.
Ryoma: We get excited along with all of the audience. Many of them are girls.
Renji: The ratio of men and women is two to eight. The women outnumber the men by far. It seems like women see us as sexy objects like “I want to date the member!” It’s a type of show where you can enjoy such strange feelings. There must be a sensual attraction.
Kyouhei: It’s a live show where both men and women feel the love.
How long does it take to fully learn the choreography for each song performed live?
Kojirou: Usually we only get a few hours to learn it, and then the eight of us practice to match the moves!
Kouki: Only one to two days! Can you believe it?
Kensui: Sometimes we learn it in just four hours, and perform it at the live show the next day. Everyone learns it quickly.
Momotarou: Usually the choreography is taught in three or four hours. But that’s not enough, and we get together and practice.
Uramasa: Choreography is taught over three to five hours. I review it at home that day. We practice together again, and we master it.
Ryoma: For me, it takes about three hours.
Renji: It seems like idol groups often learn choreography on short notice. It’s normal for us to do it one or two days before the live show. I’m not good at dancing, so it’s about seven hours for me… though I hesitate to ever say that I’ve mastered it!
Kyouhei: Everyone learns differently, but I’m bad with memorizing the choreography.
Looking across the entire discography, all the song titles have a strong, serious sense yet your most recent single Jinsei Wahaha!? sounds very carefree. Why did you decide to use such a playful title?
Kojirou: FUDANJUKU has both bright songs and serious ones. But they’re all filled with positive thoughts! I want to continue singing without losing that thoughtfulness.
Kouki: I think that laughing is important in life. So the title has a positive message that says, “Laugh out loud!”
Kensui: When we’re singing, I always keep in mind the theme “Laugh out loud — Go ‘Hahaha!’ if you have time to worry.” Unlike our previous songs, the lyrics are fun but have deep meanings, and the choreography is very upbeat. This song is one which makes you excited for sure.
Momotarou: All the titles are decided by the producer, Hanawa-san. FUDANJUKU songs have a concept to make people genki, so there are strong titles and carefree ones.
Uramasa: This song has a strong image of friendly pop, and it’s very cool. I think this is the reason for the title. All of the FUDANJUKU songs, including this one, repeat the title many times. First time listeners can remember them quickly, and they can start singing along soon. This is the appeal.
Ryoma: Hanawa-san decided the title! We love Hanawa-san!
Renji: We don’t create the songs, so I’m not sure about the meaning or purpose that’s intended. But I have a strong feeling about them when they become our songs. Maybe this one is a bright, fun song for an idol group with momentum!
Kyouhei: It’s a new song to deliver a serious, passionate message with a happy sound. I think that really makes you feel it.
In the PV for Jinsei Wahaha!?, when members walk while holding oversized ema tiles (wooden plaques), how was the PV filmed? How many times did you have to walk towards the camera? Was the stylized kanji added in post-production?
Kojirou: I was in charge of throwing the kanji “幸” (happiness). I shot it a few times to make it look cool, and they chose the coolest shot! The stylized kanji were already there at the beginning! The staff made them!
Kouki: The tiles already had kanji, and the staff made them! Maybe I did three takes…?? It was pretty difficult to walk, sing, and catch all at the same time! Akazono Kojirou was really good at it!
Kensui: We did exactly what you see in the PV when we shot it. It was difficult, but I was surprised that I got it all right in only one take. I was so happy!
Momotarou: The kanji was already written at the beginning. There were running machines on the floor, and we walked on them and shot the video. It was the staff who threw and caught the ema tiles. I remember that I got the OK with about two tries.
Uramasa: The wooden plaques already had kanji, but sometimes the lighting reflected on the plaques and the kanji didn’t show when we caught them. So we re-shot about three times.
Ryoma: We shot with running machines. It was easy for me, because I go to the gym regularly!
Renji: The kanji was already there. We shot it as we walked on running machines in a sport gym. Since I usually go to the gym, maybe I still had a lot of energy. They gave me notes on the look in my eyes, not on my walking movement, like “Your look is too intense!” Maybe I was too fired up…hmm.
Kyouhei: I threw it and caught it myself while walking on a running machine. I’m lucky, I didn’t have to re-shoot too many times.
Please give a final message to our readers.
Kojirou: I feel sorry that not everyone can see FUDANJUKU in person, but now it’s easy to watch us on the internet! We want to reach everybody. Please watch a lot and become our fans!!
Kouki: Thank you for always supporting us. And thank you for learning about FUDANJUKU! I’m happy to know that you support us even though we live far away. I’m studying English so I can talk with you someday! I’ll do my best!!
Kensui: Thank you for reading this whole thing. Have you found out something about FUDANJUKU? I will keep working hard so I can make you smile. I LOVE YOU!
Momotarou: Dressing as men is one of the styles of Cool Japan! Please try it, everyone! It’s a fun challenge! Also, please listen to FUDANJUKU songs which give a genki feeling just as anime songs do, and come see us!
Uramasa: FUDANJUKU hasn’t gone overseas often, but you can watch the PVs and live videos on YouTube and we also have our official Facebook. I would be happy if you check them out and like FUDANJUKU.
Ryoma: I’m so happy to know that we have fans overseas! We will work hard so we can go meet you. Wait for us!
Renji: For all the FUDANJUKU fans all over the world, you’re the best fans! We really want to see you all one day. Please come meet the most handsome group in the world! We want to make you all smile.
Kyouhei: The messages we want to deliver through song apply to the whole world, so I want many more people to listen.
JaME would like to thank RESONANCE Media and Teichiku Entertainment for making this interview possible.