Wasuta (“The World Standard”)
Interview by David Cirone
June 26, 2019
Japanese idol group Wasuta (“The World Standard”) has moved full force into the hybrid world of J-Pop and video games with their new mini-album, The Legend of WASUTA. The lead track “Mera Nyaizer!!!!!~kimi ni a ge u~” is the latest episode in Wasuta’s series of videogame-based music videos, following the colorful “Ultra Miracle-cle Final Ultimate Choco Beam” and “Kurae! Hissatsu! Neko Punch☆ ~Watashitachi Tatakau Nyakotan [Level 5]★〜“.
The Legend of WASUTA‘s imagery and the group’s trademark colorful costumes, along with obvious nods to RPG story themes and sound bytes, are a gateway to Wasuta’s new live show “Kawaii Quest”, which begins performances June 27. The live show includes game-based graphics, an onstage game controller, and plenty of chances for fans in the audience to choose the fate of the five colorful members.
Since their formation in 2015, the group has been dedicated to playing a role on the world stage by embracing social media and traveling across Asia, Europe, and North America to build their fan base. Checking the enthusiastic international comments for the “Mera Nyazier!!!!!” music video on YouTube proves the strategy is working.
The “Mera Nyaizer!!!!” video looks like it was a lot of fun to shoot — how did you feel doing all that punching and kicking in these new costumes?
Hazuki: This was actually our first time shooting this way. Our “video game” style videos usually use a lot of CGI, and we’ll often film with a green screen, too. But for “Mera Nyaizer!!!!”, we had someone actually doing parkour and doing the moves directly with us, wearing a camera on his head. We shot most of this outside, too, so it felt even more realistic! We could really get into it!
This is your third MV with a video game theme, and like Ririka mentioned, Wasuta is no stranger to green screen. How do you prep for shooting something like this, knowing you won’t see the what’s going on until later when the special effects are added?
Nanase: It’s hard for me to imagine the complete scene during the filming stage, but we’ve made a lot of music videos using special effects, so everybody is fairly used to it. There are a lot of fight scenes in this MV, but everyone’s expressions are very intense and it looks really cool! I think it’s kind of rare to find an idol group that’s adopted special effects like we have into their music videos, so I’m proud of this MV too!
What steps do you go through to get your choreography ready for a new music video, and what’s the biggest challenge?
Miri: I always feel very excited when the instructor teaches us new choreography, because I want to see what dance moves we’ll use to express ourselves individually in the song. The days when we film music videos are tough because they’re so drawn out, but Wasuta’s music videos are always interesting and have a lot of power, and so I’m constantly surprised and I get to make new discoveries which keeps the filming days really fun for me.
Wasuta – “Mera Nyaizer!!!!!~kimi ni a ge u~” (MV)
What is the main story of your new “Kawaii Quest” live show? How do you “rescue kawaii”?
Ruka: Well, we can’t say too many details about the story, because we want to keep the surprises really fresh for the audience. But as soon as the concert starts, the audience is helping us make decisions about which way to go and how we should fight the forces that are in our way. Everyone cooperates together, and it’s completely unpredictable. We don’t even know if we’ll make it, so the energy and tension stays really high!
Is it hard to be just “normal” girls with your busy schedules? How do you make special time for your family and friends when you’re so busy performing and traveling all over the world?
Hazuki: It depends on what you mean by “normal girl”, but on days off I can go shopping or hang out with friends so I don’t think it’s that difficult! When we go overseas, I buy souvenirs and give them to my family when I see them, and I send them photos to try to share memories with them.
Nanae: I’m the type to fill up my schedule when I’m off work, and I get a little jumpy if I have too many days off, so being an “normal” girl might be difficult for me! Even in my dreams, I’m still Nanase Hirokawa of Wasuta, and I even talk about the group in my sleep!
Miri: Even though my schedule is busy, my friends are very important to me, so if they have plans to come to Tokyo, I make sure to go and see them no matter what. Because I have those “moments where I go back to being a normal girl”, I get kind of a reverse reaction which makes me love being an idol, and so I do my best to make precious time. Also, because we have things like social media, I’m able to stay in contact with my friends and family a lot.
Ririka: Surprisingly, I feel like I’m able to balance being an idol performer and just taling time to myself. Even if I don’t have the whole day off, as soon as I’m free, I often go out to eat with friends or just hang out somewhere. I think I have a pretty strong “on/off” switch inside me, so I’m good at keeping my work and private lives separated!
Ruka: On my days off, I go out with my mom and relax, and I like to spend time after work going out for dinner with my friends.
Your first group photobook, Wonderful Collection, was just released. What were your favorite photos in the book?
Hazuki: All the fan photos! An important part of Wasuta’s relationship with our fans is asking them to take pictures or videos during live shows, and we included that section because we wanted to post the photos the fans took for us! It shows us through their eyes and I think it’s something that only a group like Wasuta could display.
Nanase: My favorites are the photos taken at Sagrada Família in Spain! You can’t see the whole Sagrada Família building in the photo, but the wall looks stylish and matches my favorite pale blue one-piece which I was wearing, so I think it’s a great picture!
Miri: My favorite picture is the one in which all of us are walking down an avenue in Spain. Personally, I love taking walks down avenues or pretty paths, and I love the members of the group too, so it felt nice and relaxing to walk together and it made me happy.
Ririka: I just love the pictures the fans took during Wasuta live shows. We always enjoy seeing the photos and videos they post on social media, and I’m so happy that was included in our first photobook.
Ruka: Seeing the professional photos right next to the photos taken by fans is a very special feeling for me. I really love it because it’s something we and the fans all made together.
Wasuta’s lyrics and costumes often have a “cat” theme — like the cat ears or using “nya” in the song lyrics. Why are cats so important to Wasuta’s image?
Ririka: Wasuta’s main concept is spreading Japanese “kawaii” around the world, and there are many ways to express “kawaii”, and anime especially is popular around the world. Cute little cat ears are a well-known symbol of anime culture, and it’s an instantly recognizable symbol of “kawaii” to the rest of the world. That’s why we started performing with things like cat ears and tails on our costumes and include feline elements into our lyrics, but now I feel like cats have become part of Wasuta’s personality!
You’ve been talking about your fans a lot, and how you spend a lot of time interacting with them on social media and at live events. Why is keeping a strong connection to fans so important to you, and how does it give you power?
Hazuki: I’m always happy to express my gratitude to the fans. The reason we can keep performing is because the fans are there, and we’re supported by their words and knowing they’re always cheering for us. Whenever there’s a chance to communicate with our precious fans, I want to do so as much as possible!
Nanase: We usually post a lot on social media, and I find myself doing it without thinking because I naturally feel like “I have to tell them” and because the reaction of the fans is so happy! Also, I want all kinds of people to know us through social media, so I want to work hard to post more!
Miri: An idol is someone who provides people with positive feelings and passions through singing, dancing, and smiling, and the reason that idols can work hard and put all our effort into each performance is because of all the fans who come to see us and support us. I love our fans for sharing those positive feelings with us, and they’re very important to me.
Ririka: The most important thing for us is talking with the people who put in so much time and effort to come to see Wasuta. It’s the same whether we’re in Japan or overseas, but since we have fewer chances to meet up with fans overseas, the time where we can interact with them is even more important. Personally, talking to fans gives me energy, makes me feel brave, and it’s fun, too, so I’ll continue to cherish our connection with the fans!
Ruka: Listening directly to how people feel about what we create and knowing that we can share our feelings together truly makes me happy. I don’t think I could keep performing without it.
Wasuta’s new mini-album The Legend of Wasuta is available now on streaming platforms worldwide.
Wasuta Official Website: http://wa-suta.world/
Apple Music: http://bit.ly/Wasuta_iTunes
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