Rena-chan’s wrap up part 1 from Marutto SKE48 (out 2013/03/22)
SKE48’s ace 360° thorough analysis – Exclusive photo gallery
In which Rena reveals 83% of what makes her who she is.
note : check the scans! Some great little pieces of info there too (especially regarding Kareha ranking 1st for the 2nd time… I wish antis would read that and stop blaming her for this episode already). Posted from right to left to preserve the chronological order of the photo gallery.
The school transfer which started her withdrawn life
I was born on July 27th of 1991 in my mother’s hometown in Hyogo. From what she told me, I was a quiet baby who never cried and slept all the time. Even to get feed, I wouldn’t open my eyes to the point the nurse was worried 「If she keeps on sleeping, she will starve herself to death」. My parents gave me the name of “Rena” because no matter the surname you attach to it the result remains unaltered*, and so even if I was to marry someday it would ensure me a wonderful life. (tln : there is a fortune telling in Japan based on the number of strokes of your name. You can try it here. 松井玲奈 gives a global result of “good luck”…古川玲奈 too *cof cof* Tried with a variety of second names and indeed it always gives a good or even great fortune)
I spent my early days watching my beloved Disney anime. I kept repeating sentences in English from those movies so much that I heard I was fluent in English at the time. I had a good memory too and at the age of 4 I learnt by heart the whole textbook of Japanese for 1st grade (tln : you usually enter 1st grade at 6). I could recite it word by word. Losing myself in things picking my interest, investigating them thoroughly, this aspect of my personality hasn’t change since then (laugh).
In kindergarten I taught younger kids how to fold origami, I brought them mud dango, I looked for the ones by themselves to bring them to the group 「Let’s all play together.」, I was the leader type of child. Looking at who I grew to be, it’s beyond imagination (laugh). Simply, having been raised like a princess, or maybe because my teachers in kindergarten kept saying 「Rena-chan is really cute, right?」, I forgot how to say 「Sorry」… Even if I was wise for my age and understanding of people around me, when I quarreled, I would claim I was right, standing my ground and never admit otherwise. I was obstinate young girl.
Entering elementary, I started to love learning. I happily recited my lessons and liked being praised when I would get perfect score. During lectures too I was very active. But following my transfer in 2nd grade of elementary, my “withdrawn life” started. When my environment suddenly changed, I lose my marks and wasn’t sure how to behave anymore, my spirit got drained little by little. I couldn’t get used to my new school and ended up taking refuge in the library room. That’s where I met other girls who had been brought together by their love for reading and who came to me 「Let’s be friends.」. With those I had a good affinity with, we would talk and get crazy about anime and game, also pretend to be characters from「Magical DoReMi」. From there I jump head first in the otaku world. I think everything about me then, my way of thinking included, gave out I had turn into a strangely cynical child. When we had debates during Japanese classes I was left by myself. Once, I tried to raise my voice nonetheless to defend a minority opinion. I was talk down by everyone in the class at once and our teacher cut me short「We got it already, stop it.」. Changing school I couldn’t be myself, express who I was honestly anymore, but I think I was trying to have others notice me somehow. By dint of repeating to myself 「I’m different from them all」, I ended up convincing myself. It’s around 5th grade that the symptoms of my “chuu ni byou” started to manifest themselves.
An adolescence engrossed in anime and games
My situation didn’t change much when I entered middle school. I was a subdued element among other members of the class. But seeing other girls cutting their skirts short, dyeing and growing their hair, it gave me the contrary impulse 「If that’s so, I’ll do the opposite!」. Speak of a twist personality. When it came to studies too, I ranked 9th in the first test we given, but as I didn’t want to stand out so I aimed only at getting pass marks, effectively maintaining myself at this average level. And then, my love for anime and game knew its spur, I took an even more angular direction. Falling in love? It was always directed at 2D characters. I was plain looking so I never received any confession, when a boy would talk to me I’d simply reply with a small nod. At the time the only person I wanted to get close to were the characters of my otome games.
Her encounter with stage acting and breaking free of her shell
After spending 3 years immersed in anime and games, I enrolled in a business oriented high school. I already had in mind to become an actress in the future but in order to have enough money making skills for times when it wouldn’t pay, I took as many qualifications as possible. Word processor certification, business English, data processing etc etc… Thing is, when I entered high school I wanted to be normal , I aspired so strongly at being just another bystander than I grew colder and colder. It was as if… I had given up upon this world (laugh). At the time, what I did best was to erase all trace of my existence. If anything was to happen to me, I didn’t bat an eyelash, and waited for it to end without a word. Even when classmates attempted at talking to me, I was overwhelmed by their youthful aura and couldn’t say anything in return. I wasn’t the rebellious type, on the contrary I disciplined and plain, but as I wanted to get up on stage I joined my school drama club. I was appointed leader of the troupe and turn to be the one pushing the group. Even if I’m usually reserved, when it comes to things I have at heart to do I will step forward. I created decors, directed plays, I rehearsed with members everyday until late at night. Being able to do something I liked, I rediscovered after a very long time what it was like to enjoy going to school. I stand on stage for the first time during the school festival. I played a cute and helpless girl who when she suddenly crossed path with a cockroach lost all composure and revealed herself riotous. I remember the first time we played it, my classmates were really surprised 「I never saw you like this.」「Who would have thought you could let out such a big voice!」. It wasn’t what one would call a refined play, but I think it’s thank to this school festival that I once and for all decided I wanted to act.
The place meant for her, SKE48
In the midst of my colourless school-life dominated by my passion for games and anime, I made an earth-shattering discovery. AKB48-san. In my mind only in the 2D world would girls purposely flip their skirts, and yet they were their on TV in a music show, real. 「What?! What’s up with this awesome group!」 and I rushed online to find more about them. The next day I went to karaoke with a friend to sing their song (laugh). When the stage albums were released I was thrilled, nothing made me more happy than buying them, one album at the time every month. My oshi back then was Oshima Hana-san. Her voice, her expressions, everything about her was endearing. I actually thought about applying for AKB48 5th generation auditions but as I couldn’t afford to go to Tokyo I gave up. That’s when I heard SKE48 was going to be formed in Nagoya. There was no doubt in my mind 「I want to pass the auditions!」. Even though, I was ready for my parents to put their veto. But then against all odds, they gave me the green light :「Fine with us.」. My grandmother had suddenly passed away after a cancer, my father thus told me 「We don’t know what life has in store for us, do what you want to do」, backing me up.
But my parents didn’t seriously think I’d be accepted in the group and even if I were to pass the audition they were sure I’d give up due to my poor physical strength before our first performance.
Of course I was delighted to pass the auditions but when I heard we would perform 「Party ga Hajimaruyo」I was moved to tears. I was just so happy at the thought of being able to do the same thing AKB48-san had done… Problem was that I had zero experience in dancing and singing so at first I thought I was going to die just to keep up with everyone. But I had a problem even greater than this one. Would I be able to fit in a group of young girls…? Of course it was out of the question for me to make the first step to talk to them. There was the fact that I was shy by nature but on top of that I couldn’t figure what girls my age had in mind and that scared me. What do those girls like? Why did they join SKE48? No way they’ll be interested if I start talking about anime and games… right? I grew unnecessarily worked up so much that until our first stage curtain opening I had not let my guard down around members. But then during the MC I started talking at high speed and couldn’t seem to stop anymore. I guess I took everyone by surprise there. I also openly gave my opinion during the review meeting we had following the stage, I probably passed for 「that girl with a strong ego」. (laugh) That’s something that didn’t change, even today.
There was a thing I noticed, standing on SKE48 stage. That it was where I belonged. There were people there ready to accept me for who I am. Eccentrism was valued as part of one’s individuality. For me who had lived until then a life worthless of valuation, words such as 「You did great Rena-chan.」,「I’ve fallen for you.」, gave me power. Hearing fans cheering for me I thought to myself 「I made the right choice. I need to work even harder.」. I always keep those feeling in my chest. I want to be acknowledged. And when I get the perfect score, to be praised and bringing back to the surface this feeling I once knew, when I was in elementary. That’s why I chose that here, without artifice, I’d present all there is about me, honestly, the good like the bad. Such was the decision I made.
Never forget, your 14 years old self
In middle school or high school I never cried in front of anyone. Whenever I felt revolted or sad I just swept it under the rug. Unable to express what I really felt, I didn’t live a life I could call “mine”. But standing on stage, all the energy and feelings I had kept in my all this time were liberated. It changed everything for me.
By joining SKE48, I got the opportunity to meet with many people who helped me grow, little by little. Lately I’ve been able to take notice of my surrounding and I even proactively approach and call out to my juniors. Until now my interest was only directed to 2D characters but I’m slowly realizing how humans too can be interesting. Could it be that I came to like people? Because see, I really want to know more about members. “Only now?!” you ask? Well, true it took me some time. (laugh) From now on too, I want to keep meeting with lot of people, converse with them, gather plenty of knowledge. It would be nice to get to know things manga and anime won’t teach you. My prime goal right now is to spread those two words 「Matsui Rena」. Hearing my name, I have to reach this step where people will immediately have my image in mind, as I believe it will open me doors to those acting roles in plays I aim to. I can’t remain subdued forever. But isn’t it weird? For the girl who was once such a faint existence, seating in the classroom corner trying to erase all trace of her presence, to have come as far as to think 「More than anyone, I want to stand out.」? I could never have imagined such a turn of events.
Those days I’m often asked by fans with children 「How can I raise my child so he/she will grow up to be like you?」. When it happens, I always give the same answer 「He/She just need to become an otaku.」. Their reaction is usually 「Eehh?!」, but looking back I think it really is the key. (laugh) Put simply, if you live your life in a perpetual state of “chuu-ni-byou”, that’s how you’ll turn out.