This year at Japan Expo USA marks the second US appearance for idol Kikkawa You, where we had a weekend full of appearances and fun with Kikka that most of us will never forget. On the first day, I also had the time to sit down and ask a few questions to Miss Kikkawa, and had a lot of fun in the process. Here’s an overview of all the related activities on a daily basis.
Friday morning of the event was the first contact I had with Kikka, when I first came into the interview room and started setting up my gear. Shortly after, she came through the door and greeted me very gracefully with her very vibrant blue dress on, and after our greeting, we had a little bit of a conversation, much to my enjoyment.
She soon noticed that I had a lot of idol-related badges on the gear bag I brought with me to the interview and noticed a lot of familiar faces in her agency mates from Hello! Project and admired them for a while. She soon noticed there was no Kikkawa badges or pins, to which she replied, “Where is Kikka??” I had to regretfully explain that I’ve never seen badges of her for sale or I would have one.
She soon also noticed that I was wearing a Denpagumi.inc shirt under my dress shirt and again asked why I didn’t have a Kikkawa shirt on! I told her I haven’t had the opportunity to get one yet, but that I will buy one later in the same day. She made me promise with a pinky swear that I would buy a shirt and wear it to her concert later. I didn’t expect so much fun interaction from an idol of such stature, but it was very endearing and refreshing to get some of these responses from her and it was a great way to introduce herself, which set a very good precedent for the interview.
She soon sat down to answer some questions about herself and her career, which will follow here, with my questions in bold text and her answers summarized after.
SH: Hello Kikka, I’m happy to see you returning to the US after I unfortunately missed your first appearance the last time you were here. Do you feel any different this time around?
KY: After going to Atlanta before, I was really looking forward to seeing different kinds of people, since this trip was to California instead of Atlanta, and California seems very different from Atlanta. It feels pretty different and I’m really enjoying San Francisco area so far.
SH: I’ve followed you since your time in Milky Way and enjoyed all your work, but I’d like to ask, how do you feel about working as a solo artist versus working with a group? Which part of your career have you enjoyed more?
KY: I’ve enjoyed the “food” aspect of being solo much more, since I basically get to eat whatever I want now! However, I can’t comment on the work itself, since I like them equally, and they’re pretty similar in the end.
SH: Your recent cover album “Vocalist?” and some of your recent singles have been a really interesting mix of cover songs from many eras of Japanese music. Did you have any input on what songs you’d be covering for the album or on any of the singles where you did cover songs?
KY: I’ve largely been covering the songs of my agency seniors’, but I haven’t had much say in it. Sometimes I make a few suggestions if there’s a song I’ve been thinking about and my producers see if it’s possible for us to do it.
SH: Are there any other songs you’d like to cover in the future, and do you think you’ll get the opportunity to do so? Have you ever thought of doing enka or more traditional Japanese songs before?
KY: I’ve really been wanting to cover some of Goto Maki’s songs lately. I’ve always looked up to her and I’d really like to cover some of her work in the near future, so hopefully I’ll be able to do that soon. Enka is really difficult to sing, but I’d really like to challenge myself with it someday, so keep an eye out for it!
SH: You also recently covered Matsuura Aya’s “Love Namidairo” as well as “Chocolate Damashii” which is one of my favorite songs of hers. Did you ever get a chance to meet or work with Aya during your time in Hello! Project?
KY: Because of the timing of our careers, we didn’t actually get to work together on any particular project, but I would run into her around our agency office every once in a while and we would talk every so often. It was great to communicate with someone I looked up to so much.
SH: Since you’ve covered so many J-pop songs from so many different years, some of our readers would like to know if you also listen to much Western pop music, and what do you think are the main differences between J-pop and Western pop music?
KY: I listen to Katy Perry and some of the other major artists out there right now, but not as much as I listen to Japanese music. All I can really say about the difference between the two is the pretty obvious fact that the Western music is sung in English! I honestly don’t see that much deeper difference between the two, or maybe I just don’t think about it much.
SH: You’ve also performed many different styles of music from rock, metal, and electronic to vocaloid and idol pop. Which of the styles you’ve performed is the most satisfying for you and why?
KY: My favorites would probably have to be stuff like fun “candy pop” or rock styles. I just really like performing the styles that really get the crowd going at the live shows, it makes the show a much more memorable experience for me.
SH: It seems to be somewhat hard for solo artists to find a good following in today’s idol market where group acts are all the rage, but you seem to be doing very well. What would you attribute your success to in this current “Idol Sengoku Jidai?”
KY: I just have really supportive fans that have been with me for a long time, so I think it helps with a lot of my competition. I think I have a lot of different sides to me, as well, like when I’m performing and in photo shoots, I have a really “cool” look, but when I’m talking and doing interviews, I have a really cute side, too. People also love me for my really nice body, of course!
SH: You’ve had quite a few releases in your solo career in a very short amount of time, it seems you’re really busy. What do you like to do in your spare time lately, when you get some time off of working?
KY: I like to do a lot of the usual things like shopping, and since its Summer right now, I’ve been going to barbecues and going to the beach with friends.
SH: Do you have any upcoming announcements, releases, or events coming up in the next few months that we can look forward to?
KY: In the next few months I have quite a few things going on, like my upcoming collaborations with the music group Kimaguren. We’re doing a song for a big commercial and releasing some material under the name “Kikkaren.” I also have a really big concert coming up on September 23rd in Tokyo, so there’s a lot of big events coming up for me in the near future!
SH: If overseas fans want to keep following Kikka after Japan Expo, what can they do?
KY: Since we’re a really internet-based society right now, online support is a really big thing. You can always visit my official website and YouTube channel, and I do streaming lives through Niconama and a few other sites, so you can always keep up with those, even from overseas. I’m always waiting for fan letters, too!
I also got to take a picture with Kikka, where she was cracking more jokes and kept doing her signature pose and saying “You!” at the camera. I decided to turn it on her by pointing at her instead of the camera and said “You!” back at her:
After the interview, we bid farewell and met up again soon after at her merchandise booth, where I did purchase a shirt from her! Her concert for the day took place shortly afterward, but a lot of fans showed up to her booth to buy some merchandise and take some snapshots with her, here’s a few highlights:
Later in the day, at 5pm, Kikka did her first concert of the convention at the main hall stage, with tons of convention attendees coming out to see the show. The concert contained a huge mix of songs consisting of her own songs as well as many covers of Hello! Project songs from groups like Morning Musume, ℃-ute, and others. She did a great job on all of these covers, sometimes sounding a little better than the originals, and it definitely got the fans very into the concert. Here’s some highlights from the first concert:
Just after the concert, Kikka headed over to the main autograph area of the convention for her first signing session, where the line spanned outside of the gates with fans coming to meet with her and get some items signed. This was a very full autograph session that lasted one hour, and was her last activity for the first day of the convention.
On the second day, her activities started with her panel that took place in the early afternoon on the back stage of the main hall. This panel was a blast and she talked a lot about her experience in America so far and asked a lot of questions to the crowd about where we were from and also got some suggestions of where to eat.
She also told a story about how she’s been trying to work out lately, but hurt her leg and then just gave up and started eating foods that tasted good! Here’s some pictures of the storyboards she made and highlights from the panel:
During the panel she kept talking about weight loss, so someone in the crowd ran up and gave her an American “Slim-Fast” drink to say that’s what she needs to drink to lose weight. Kikka responded with an adorable “LET’S DIET” as she thrust the bottle into the air!
Shortly after her fun panel, she headed over to do another autograph session that had even more of a turnout than the previous day. The session also lasted for an hour, as usual, and this ended her activities for the night. Here’s a view from the autograph session:
The third day of the show had two more major appearances from Kikka, being another autograph session and one more final concert. The autograph session was just as packed as the others and seemed to be a great time for everyone.
The final concert happened much later in the day, right before the convention started to close down for the night. Fans lined up outside the concert over an hour before the doors opened for the concert, and many fans traded stories and had fun while waiting for Kikka to take the stage.
This concert had many more attendees than the first concert, since many people weren’t able to arrive until later on Friday or Saturday, so the energy was much higher and the crowd was much more into the performance.
Kikka wore a different dress for this performance, a little bit flashier than the first time. The set list was consisted of largely the same set list as the first concert and had a lot more fan interaction from Kikka. Here’s some photos:
The crowd cheered for her to do an encore performance at the end she came back to do her debut single “Kikkake wa YOU!” to a full crowd of chants and wotagei dancing. After the concert, fans gathered back together for a little more hanging out and post-concert camaraderie before dispersing out to finish the last day of the con.
There was also a ton of on-site reporting from Kikka throughout the event, and you can see most of this on her official Twitter account (linked below) and I’ll post a few choice pictures in the gallery below. She did lots of posing with cosplayers, went dancing at the masquerade, went to other artists’ concerts, and even asked a few questions at Denpagumi.inc’s panel on Friday, randomly appearing in the audience to everyone’s surprise.
It was a sad time on Sunday when Kikka’s activities came to a close, but everyone had a very full weekend of fun with Kikkawa and lots of memories to last long after the convention. Thank you to Kikka and staff for making the weekend a blast and to Japan Expo USA for bringing her as Special Guest and Official Reporter of the convention, and we hope to see her again in the future.
Please see the related links below for more information on Kikka.
Gallery from @kikkastaff Twitter:
Kikkawa YouTube Channel