While at Anime Expo 2019 we got the chance to interview some of the Aqours members the day before their back-to-back concerts at The Novo in Downtown Los Angeles. Having just announced the American release of Love Live! Sunshine!! The School Idol Movie: Over the Rainbow, Aqours and fans alike were excited that they were in LA once more to promote the film and give two of their fun, kawaii, and high-energy performances.
We sat down with the multi-talented, real-life versions of Chika, Hanamaru, and Mari at Anime Expo and got a peek at what it’s been like to be part of Aqours for the last 4 years.
Kanako Takatsuki (Hanamaru)
Interview with Aqours - Anime Expo 2019
In case we have new readers, please introduce yourself and tell us your character name and your favorite thing about her/playing her.
Hello! My name is Anju Inami and I play Chika Takami. She is the leader of Aqours and she is the one who founded it. And she might drag everybody around sometimes but she has such a positive attitude and she’s always leading everyone. As for what I love about playing her… Sometimes she can be a little airheaded [laughs] so it’s fun to play her character-wise, and it’s also entertaining to see her facial expressions. [all laugh]
Hi! My name is Kanako Takatsuki, the voice of Hanamaru Kunikida. She always speaks with a Shizuoka dialect that goes “zura” so sometimes, when she even says “zura” by itself, she can express many different things through “zura” just by itself and I love that about playing her.
Hi! I’m Aina Suzuki, the voice of Mari Ohara. Mari is the school directo and she’s always bright and not scared to try something new, she’s up for any kind of challenge and she gives me courage by playing that character.
So, it sounds like you all identify with your characters. We can really see it!
Coming to Los Angeles has become a yearly thing. How does this trip feel compared to the previous ones?
Kanako (Hanamaru): Last year, we performed a single concert but this year it’s going to be two days straight. And they just announced that the movie is coming out in America so we’re very excited to sing the songs from the movie and also promote. It’s going to be a great way to promote the movie as well.
We know fans are really excited about that too!
You’ve been together for a long time. What is your favorite memory together as a group?
Aina: Last year, we finally had a concert at Tokyo Dome which has been our dream venue to perform at and we also performed at Kohaku [Japan’s traditional New Year’s Eve variety TV show] and these have been our dream places to perform. Also, since we’ve been together, we’ve gone on training trips, rehearsals, and concerts. Everything we’ve done until now has led to us being here today so it is all a precious memory.
Has there been a particular choreography that has been very difficult to perfect? How did you deal with that as a team?
Anju: While some members of Aqours are experienced dancers, others are pretty new to dancing. We believe that we have always inspired each other for the past four years and now, thanks to all the hard work and all the practice that we have endured now everything is well formed.
At first, it was a big hassle, we worked very hard for this. At first, it was hard to remember our stage position numbers because depending on the venue, the numbers are different. Like sometimes, this venue has five, another ten, and sometimes is like 1.5 or 0.25 so it’s all different but you have to be on that position for every venue and every concert so that was really hard to remember at first and adjust myself to those. But each member has motivation and power to improve themselves and we also cherish our own characters so when we think about our own characters, that helps us improve our performance.
[After a brief group discussion between the three regarding difficult choreographies]
Anju: We all agree that our first single, Kimi no Kokoro wa Kagayaiteru kai?, is the most challenging song and choreography that we’ve ever learned because there were so many turns and even the singing part was always in unison so it’s not just one member singing, it’s usually a harmony so we had to learn how to do singing and dancing and turning all at the same time. But we also believe that because of the first single, we could master that song so it gave us confidence and maybe that’s why we’ve been able to come so far.
Your characters have grown a lot in the second season of the anime and the movie. Have your characters’ experiences helped you mature and grow as well?
Kanako: Even in the anime series, time passes and I feel like the relationship has been growing as the time passes. Sometimes I think the characters themselves give us a tip for what kind of performance to give and even for their concerts. Sometimes I feel like I have to catch up to the characters’ speed so I can grow as a member and also as my character as well. Now, since the movie’s over, I feel like we need to lead the way for the rest of the members to go to the next level.
Sounds like a great experience. Congratulations on the movie and have a great concert! Thank you!