As everybody knows, now it’s quite likely that she will be selected as Center for AKB48’s next chapter. Now she is Center for SKE48, but in the past, she played as Center for AKB48’s single, too. This time she talked about pressure and responsibilities that only those who’ve experienced can talk, as well as about SKE48, now thriving group, whose 10th single and 1st album will be released on 19th.
3 weeks have passed after the graduation of Maeda. Matsui Jurina talked that there’s an unforgettable scene of Maeda. It was more than a year before.
When Maeda, who was an absolute Ace of the group back then, upset her health and staffs told her that she must be replaced with someone else.
“In the end, Maeda-san insisted she will ‘perform the stage’. Her performance. That was perfect. Even if it meant to risk her own life, she fulfilled her responsibilities. That moment, I was convinced that she is such a great person.”
She stared at Maeda’s back from the behind, standing on the same stage. Her admiration towards Maeda has become all the stronger since then.
(skip) It was July in 2008, when she joined SKE48. She was 11, and was the youngest member of 48 groups back then.
Since then, she’s always been Center of SKE48, and in this Mar, her concurrency in AKB48 was announced.
She has been running up the stairs. step by step. It’s understandable that she is dubbed Next Generation’s Center by fans, but the fact is she actually knows what it meant to be Center of AKB48, how much pressure Center has to overcome.
In Oct of 2008, right before she joined SKE48, she was named, Center of AKB48 10th Single “Ogoe Diamond”, by Akimoto Yasushi, all out of sudden.
She was 11, and this raised so much question and generated tons of argument among fans.
“Back then, I even have no idea what to do with SKE48. So, naturally, (being selected for AKB48’s Center made her) I was perplexed and confused.”
Once, her body didn’t move properly right before the start of Theater performance. There was a day when she fell sick, too. She stood in the center position for TV music shows even when she was reluctant to do it.
“When I, for some reason, listened to ‘Ogoe Diamond’ one year after that. Tears flowed out from my eyes, just naturally.”
This June, she once again stood at the Center position of all 48 groups. At Senbatsu Sousenkyo held at Tokyo Budo-Kan. When they performed “Manatsu no Sounds Good!”.
She was named to play a role of Maeda, who has withdrawn from the election.
“I was so nervous. Honestly speaking, I was much more nervous than during the announcement of the election result. Members around me in the performance were all great people. Once again I realized how great job Maeda-san has been doing as Center.”
There was a thing she was conscious about during the performance filled with nervousness . “Be yourself”. “I just thought let’ do it brightly and cheerfully. Just be SKE48’s Matsui Jurina, when I was performing the song. I think it’s not right to change your attitude and be milder just because you’re playing Center of AKB48. I just tried believing that I can be myself, I can be myself as my fans in SKE48 always tell me that they love my performance and love the way I am.”
There was a reason why she could keep this inner strength and overcome the pressure.
She was named Center of AKB’s single at the tender age of 11. “Thanks to that experience, I could overcome any hardship I’ve faced, I think. Like….. ‘Well, this is nothing hard compared to that experience’.”
SKE48 made a great leap in the election this year. Of total 64 members who made their name in the list, 15 members were from SKE48. She ranked in 9th spot, the highest position of SKE48.
“I felt, finally, people have started to recognize SKE48. I felt really happy.”
She is getting conscious about the change in how people look at her as she is now a concurrent member of AKB48 and SKE48.
“Fans and members of AKB48 warmly welcomed me, like ‘You’re welcome!!’. I felt, ‘Oh, I don’t need to be worried about it anymore’.”
SKE48 never stops thriving, too. The group always sell more than 500K copies for every single release. And recently, they announced the double release of Single “Kiss datte Hidarikiki” and Album “Konohi no Chime o Wasurenai”.
As the group is getting bigger and more popular, Jurina, the leading figure of the group, also pictures bigger goals for the group.
“This year, I aim at performing in Kohaku Utagassen as SKE48, as a solo act.”
SKE48 made cameo appearances in the year-end grand music festival as a sister group of AKB48 (2010 and 2011), but “That made me all the more eager to join the show as SKE48. I think SKE48 can now confidently perform in Kohaku.”
What she wants people to know through SKE’s solo appearance in Kohaku Utagassen is “There’s a difference between SKE48 and AKB48 in tastes of songs and performances. I want more people to know that ‘Performances and songs of SKE48 and AKB48 are totally different
In the opening of AKB48 29th Single Janken Tournament, new Senbtasu members performed the 28th Single “UZA” for the first time in public.
She declared to win Center before she joined this tournament. Jurina was dressed in Ogoe Diamond’s costume and cut her bang hair short, to reproduce the hairstyle she had back when she played Center for AKB’s single “Ogoe Diamond”.
Despite her enthusiasm, she lost to Namamura Mariko (team 4) in the 2nd round.
It’s all about Akimoto Yasuchi’s expectation on her that he chose Jurina over Watanabe Mayu, who placed far higher than Jurina in the 4th AKB48 Senbatsu Sousenkyo (for 27th Single). It’s natural that Oshima was selected for Center as she won the election, but surprisingly, it was Jurina, who was in 9th spot in the last election, who was chosen for the partner of Oshima Yuko as a part of Double Center.
Jurina’s names was called after all the rest Senbatsu members. When her name was called, shouting raised from the crowd as fire column and laser beams started lighting up the stage, making blasts. In the breakdown portion of the song, members who are good at dancing, Matsui Jurina, Yamamoto Sayaka, Oshima Yuko, Takahashi Minami and Minegishi Minami nailed almost EXILE-like dance performance.
Jurina is fairly conscious of her role as Next Generation’s Ace. Before the tournament, she stated with a firm determination, “Not only SKE48, but I hope I will be able to lead the whole AKB48 group.”
She openly expressed her fighting spirit toward Shinoda Mariko’s famous remark “Challenge us with determination to crush us!”, by responding “I will make Mariko-sama graduate AKB48.”
She had practiced Hip-Hop dance since the 3rd grade of an elementary school. She passed the 1st audition of SKE48 in July of 2008, as a 6th grader. Three month after that, she was selected for a part of Double Center along with Maeda Atsuko for the single “Ogoe Diamond”, the single released for the first time from KING RECORDS after they lost the contract with Defstar label because of dismal sales of the 8th single “Sakurano Hanabiratachi 2008″ and released the 9th single “Baby!x3″ only through online distributing, the period AKB almost lost it’s hope.
Matsui Jurina saved AKB48 as the single gained a lot of attention from wider audiences, and her position has established since then. It’s totally expected that she will make a comeback as Center for AKB48’s single after Maeda Atsuko’s graduation.
In this April, she experienced hardship as she fell sick due to anemia and vertigo from overworking. She was hospitalized and almost gave up to join SKE’s grand concert at Nagoya-Gaishi hall. She watched the concert from a monitor at the backstage. “They were performing confidently and captivating the full packed audiences. I think I may better not only look forward but sometimes count on my teammates.” she talked about the importance of “bonds”. The 15 year-old girl who’ve grown up through experiencing both glory and setback will lead the nexxt chapter of AKB48.