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Archive for May, 2011

Chapter 4:  Debut – From Kondou Nana to Mizuki Nana


Become a seiyuu

  •  She talked about her love for anime. When she was a child, she mostly used money for manga, games, anime and seiyuu related stuffs when she received performance wages or rewards from singing contests. She even went to anime shop alone during her middle school’s field trip in Kyoto and called the first anime shop she went as the sacred place (that’s why otaku fans love her so much).
  • Dad wasn’t pleased with her “silly” hobby but she shut the annoying nagging dad up (yes, she called him annoying) with excellent results in enka training and study. It was another reason why she never complained about his harsh lesson.
  • Aside from her dream to become a singer, she also wanted to become a seiyuu since she was a child. Hence, she decided to study professional course for voice acting and applied for seiyuu career while still pursuing her dream to become a singer.
  • She passed an audition for the role of Kadokura Chisato in NOëL~La neige PS game when she was studying in the last semester of her 2nd year and debuted when she was in 3rd year. It was her first time being able to have “special leave” from school for work.
  • She uses Mizuki Nana as her stage name because there was a singer with the name Kondou Nana already.
  • Due to her remarkable singing skill, the PioneerLDC game company decided  to release a character songs album, NOëL~La neige~depart Chisato x Nana, which was quite odd to have a full album for a single game character that was voiced by a newcomer.

NOëL~La neige~depart Chisato x Nana front cover


back cover

  • During the beginning of her seiyuu career, she was harshly condemned (by hardcore otaku?) that she saw seiyuu work merely as a tool to get singing career. This made her felt upset since she loves both jobs equally.
  • She said some people sarcastically called a person who takes 2 jobs at the same time like her as a “two-timer” and her response was: “Who care about being called two-timer? There is no rule to prohibit being one! If nobody did it before, I’m willing to become the first example!” (LOL I like it when she was being stubborn and full of confidence XD) and she proved herself she can handle both jobs well.
  • Seiyuu work was more difficult than she thought. She was scolded and told to go back home by a game director because she made many mistakes during the first few recordings. She had to practice very hard to understand how to express emotions through script reading while she was able to do it easily when she was singing.
  • She wasn’t (and still isn’t) good at speaking or being interviewed in public.

Leaving the greedy benefactor to Kings Record

  • Behavior of her enka teacher, who was also her agency’s executive, was getting worse. He initially didn’t agree with her decision to become a seiyuu but started talking about money most of the time after she debuted and released a cd.
  • When she didn’t have seiyuu works, Nana had to work as a general staff in the teacher’s office. She got fixed 50,000 yen salary per month but had to pay him 10,000 yen for singing lesson. She didn’t know whether the salary had included wages from her seiyuu works since all her income went directly to him. Being inexperienced in business at that time, she never questioned him about this issue.
  • 40,000 yen per month wasn’t enough for her after debuted. Not only she had to pay for living expense, sent money to her parent, and returned some to high school scholarship, she also had to buy new clothes, cosmetics and other necessary stuffs for her career. She received fan letters complained she usually wore almost the same outfits.
  • The teacher opposed her idea of getting part-time job but, later, agreed if she helped him in recording demo tapes for the songs he composed (not related to her jobs and no extra pay). That was how she learned about sound recording by herself. (Ironically, Nana can use complicated sound engineering program but is really bad at using basic computer softwares, such as MS Office).
  • She had worked part-time job as customer service staff in beauty salon. She really liked this job as she could learn  makeup tips and used free cosmetic samples.
  • She had chances to hold concerts but in small venues with capacity around hundreds seats and the agency didn’t try to invest more for her.
  • She met a person who changed Mizuki Nana’s life forever. That person was Mishima Akio, a King Records’s staff and her current producer. He immediately wanted to sign a contract with her after he attended her live. However, the teacher made it difficult by trying to sell his own works to Kings Record more than promoting Nana and refused Mishima’s offer as he didn’t comply.
  • However, Mishima didn’t give up. He contacted her directly and asked her to come to record studio for sample recording. Her first recorded song under Kings Record was Suichu no Aosora but it was used in her third single, The Place of Happiness.  Mishima promised he would try his hardest to promote her to the executives since he believed “the real talent can be sold”. However, for Nana, the real talent that Kings Record need isn’t her but Mishima himself.

Suichu no Aosora

  • Mishima asked Nana to leave her teacher’s agency as he was an obstacle to her success. However, she initially refused, still thinking that she owed him a lot that she should return his favor by becoming a singer from his agency. She even started to doubt Mishima’s and other staffs’ intention when they pressed this issue further. Later, she learned that it was because she was affected by Stockholm Syndrome (paradoxical psychological behavior of kidnap victims who, over time, become sympathetic towards their captors).
  • However, the teacher didn’t bother to promote her seriously and sexual harassment started to get worse that she could no longer stand it, so she decided to ask for Mishima’s advice. It was the first time that she revealed her 5 years traumatized experiences to other. Mishima was very angry when he heard it and told her to leave the teacher’s house immediately. Kings Record staffs offered their help for her. They moved her stuffs out of her teacher’s house without letting him knew while Mishima kept an eye on her outside the cafeteria where when she went to tell her teacher about leaving his house and agency.
  • After she left her teacher’s office to Kings Record, there were some threatening calls from him but nothing happened as she was watched over by KR staffs.
  • She said she feel like an idiot for still feeling thankful towards her teacher. She can’t fully hate him after all bad deeds except the sexual harassment that she still can’t forgive.

Related Clips:

Some songs from NOëL~La neige~depart Chisato x Nana

Monologue

Thermidor (Original ver.)

Merry X’Mas (Holy Night ver.)

Yudachi

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Chapter 3:  Youth – High school girl’s life

a.k.a. Mizuki Nana’s time as the pauper 😀 Thinking about the time when she had to live with 180k yen/year, then looking at her last year (2010) sales of 1.2 billion yen. Even if she get only 5-10% of it, it’s still around 60-120m yen/year. It’s almost unbelievable ^^’

High school life


Horikoshi’s gate (Source)

  • Her time in Horikoshi high was the most wonderful school life she hadn’t experienced before.  Most students in entertainment arts program had experience of being bullied or alienated, so they understood and tried hard to help each other.

Photo of high school field trip from magazine. The guy in the middle is Domoto Tsuyoshi. Can you spot Nana?

  • She was irritated with some regular program students. They often went to her class to see idols or ask for their autograph (Domoto Tsuyoshi of Kinki Kids was one of them). Later, spreading bad rumors about them when they passed the exciting period of having idols in school. Nana herself was gossiped, too. “What’s the meaning of having the girl who goes to school everyday in entertainment arts program?” But she didn’t give a damn about it as all classmates were with her.
  • She met her best friend, SAYURI, a stage actress and composer who composed many songs for her albums, there.
  • She tasted McDonald and pasta for the first time with her high school friends.
  • Nana hates raw food but her long-awaited dinner during high school field trip in Hokkaido was a sashimi dish. Therefore, she ended up eating only rice and Miso soup. XD (First time I knew a Japanese hating sashimi).
  • Due to her interest in manga & anime, she also attended short summer course for voice acting and later attended full year voice acting vocational course. Her agency financially supported her but it went bankrupted before she finished the vocational school. Luckily, she could continue it after her enka teacher found a new agency for her.
  • Finally, she could debut when she was in the third year (but as a voice actress).

Life in poverty

  • Her family was already in debt from building enka school, so her parent had to borrow money for her enka training tuition fee, lodging fee and her private expense.
  • Her monthly income in Tokyo was only 30k and she had to spend half of it for  monthly train ticket.
  • The school strictly prohibits part-time job, so no extra money unless you have job in entertainment industry, which she hadn’t had one.
  • Being a very good eater, it was painful for her to have very limited expense for foods. Her regular foods were onigiri and cheap bread. The most luxury food she bought was a grilled beef bento (400 – 600 yen) from convenient store.
  • No new private clothes. Only had few times for going out with friends (eating McDonald or pasta) because of limited budget.
  • When she didn’t have enough money for lunch, she often had to rely on her friend’s left over foods and tap water.
  • She didn’t have enough money to buy new school socks (750 yen/pair), so she had to fixed the current ones herself when they had holes.  She wouldn’t buy a new pair until they were in very miserable shape that she couldn’t wear anymore.
  • The only way to reduce fixed expense in her current situation was to get a scholarship. She had to study hard in order to pass the qualifications. The result was that she got top grade in school despite being a student from entertainment arts program and got a scholarship. She had to maintain it and also her good behavior until she graduated in order to continue the scholarship.
  • Due to her excellent grade and behavior, she was the second entertainment arts student who got school honorable award when graduated.

Living with perverted benefactor

  • Her enka teacher from record company was also her host family. He provided her a cheap private room with 2 meals (excluded lunch).
  • The teacher was a kind person but also a pervert. He often sexually touched her during their singing lesson. Their conversation went like:

“When exhaling, control this part of your stomach, understand?”

“My stomach is LOWER than that, teacher!”

“Don’t bend your hip.”

“My hip is definitely HIGHER than that!!!

  • Later, he also did it in ordinary life.
  • Despite feeling sick of it, she couldn’t do anything except told him off or avoiding him. She couldn’t move from his house caused there were no place with cheaper rental fee and she didn’t have enough money for additional expense.
  • Feeling disgusted with what he did, she tried to be away from his house as much as possible when she didn’t have voice training class. However, she didn’t have much money, so she often ended up cycling around the city or going to bookstore.
  • Having tensions from being sexually harassed and lacking of works, she developed irregular eating habit and ended up gaining 7 kg. in a year (resulted in the chubby Nana at the beginning of her career).
  • However, the teacher was the one who helped her when she had a risk of being kicked out from school because her agency went bankrupted (no agency = lack of qualification to be in entertainment arts program). He helped her to find new agency, stopped her from joining one that the president of previous bankrupted agency created months later because he didn’t want her to be in the hand of untrustworthy one. He eventually built his own agency to support her.
  • She was really thankful for him and thought she would pay him back a favor but sexual harassment was one thing that she couldn’t forgive.

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Chapter 2:  Father & Daughter – The Path of Enka

This chapter covers her family background and her life from birth to middle school (a.k.a. Mizuki Nana’s shitty childhood). It’s very long since I think giving more details about her childhood will help understanding the content better.

One thing about Nana that may surprise you:  despite her polite nature, Nana is a very stubborn person (but in a good way). She loves challenging and hates to lose. This woman is tougher and more aggressive than we thought. She shows her aggressive side a lot in the following chapters that will make you wonder if this is really the same cute Nana we usually see. XD

Family background

  • Kondou family (yes, her real name is Kondou Nana) was a typical lower middle-classed family in Niihama town. Her dad was a dental technician, who once dreamed to become an enka singer.
  • She described her parent as a traditional Japanese couple, “hardheaded ruler-of-the-family husband” and “silent & obedient housewife (yamato nadeshiko)”.
  • She mentioned briefly about a little sister who was 3 years younger. However, never once Mika’s name was mentioned. Being in different record companies prohibits mentioning even family member’s name? I had no idea.
  • Though she was somehow a stubborn person, Nana often cares too much about how others would feel and tries to avoid making them upset. Thus, she often irritated with herself when she couldn’t openly say what was in her mind.
  • She admitted she was jealous of her sister’s boldness and carefree nature. Mika could easily speak what she wanted and she didn’t care whether the counterpart was their dad or record company’s executive.
  • It was decided before she was born that the baby should be a baseball player if it was a boy or an enka singer if it was a girl.
  • Nana was named after Okada Nana, an actress and singer, using the same kanji because dad was her big fan. Though she like her name, she was a little bit upset with dad’s reason XD
  • Dad had bad habit of spending ridiculous amount of money for his hobbies; i.e. bought a fishing boat for his fishing hobby, then had to sell it a short while later because he didn’t have money for maintenance. Building karaoke rooms with very expensive equipments for enka school was also one of them.  Those hobbies caused her family to be more in debt.
  • The person whom she wants to recognize her singing skill the most is her dad. He was a traditional hardheaded japanese father who refused to show his soft side, so he rarely gave complement to his kids (that’s mom’s role). The time she mentioned about getting one was when she finally won the first prize in a national enka singing contest after 10 years of participation in many contests (she started participating since she was 5).
  • After she went to Tokyo, he was hospitalized until he died in 2008, 1 year before he could see her fulfilled his ultimate dream of performing on Kouhaku. She said, even now she still mentally seeks for the deceased dad’s compliment whenever she thought she sang well.

10 years of training and departure for Tokyo

  • Her childhood from 5-15 y/o was all about vocal practicing and traveling around Japan almost every weekend for enka singing contests/jobs.
  • Her dad was very strict. Everyday after school, she had to come straight back home for practicing. If she was late, even for 5 minutes, here came the beating or being locked in garden storage room.
  • She had to sing 10-15 songs nonstop without microphone everyday in dad’s office, which filled with dust and noises from dental mechanics. Stop in the middle or couldn’t sing louder than those noises = punishment.
  • Nana thought dad’s lesson was really harsh and ridiculous. However, being a quiet but stubborn person, she never threw a tantrum or cried in front of him. She said she didn’t want to lose XD
  • When she was 13, she was chosen by Niihama Tourism Board to sing a memorial song for Besshi, Niihama’s famous ancient copper mine. The song name is Tsugazakura. It was released in form of cassette only few hundreds copies.

Her first song, Tsugazakura, released under her real name.


  • She never got living expense from her parents since she was 5. Her expense came solely from singing jobs’ tips or competitions’ rewards. She learnt budget management from it, hence being able to survive the poverty during her earlier time in Tokyo.
  • While attending and receiving awards from many competitions since she was 5, she had never gotten the first prize until she won national enka contest at age 14.

Nana won national enka contest. She sang Kawachi Otoko Bushi and Sennen no Koto (Final) in this clip

  • She was scouted by a record company in Tokyo because of that. They offered to be a guarantor for her further study in Horikoshi.
  • Didn’t want to show her weakness, she didn’t shed any tear in front of her family when she left Niihama. However, she broke into tears when she was alone in the bus bound for Tokyo.

Being bullied

  • Due to her training routine, she had never been allowed to go out with other kids. Being surrounded with elder people most of time made her knew nearly nothing about trendy stuffs that other teenage girls like. Hence, she was alienated and bullied.
  • The bullying started when she was in grade 4 and continued until she graduated from middle school. She didn’t dare to tell her parent about it until she decided to write this autobiography.
  • Nana herself didn’t want people to call her stupid because she wanted to be a singer, so she studied hard to become a good grade student and often elected as class representative. However, this worsened her situation as there was a rumor that she was an attention seeker.
  • It started with spreading bad rumors. Then, the bullies openly insulted her dream or even her looks and alienated her from the rest of classmates. The “more obedient” students couldn’t oppose them.
  • No matter how she was picked on, Nana never cried or skipped classes. Of course, she was hurt but she thought running away or showing her weakness meant she lost to them and she was (and is still) a person who hate to lose.
  • Before she graduated, the bully girls asked for her autograph, pretending they really wanted it.  However, they laughed at her after she handed them the autograph and called her a disgusting singer wannabe. This caused a trauma that she doubted whether the person who asked for her autograph really wanted it at the beginning of her career.

…but I want one T-T  (Source)

  • Knowing about her further study in Horikoshi, those girls forced her to accept their address and telephone no. on graduation day, saying she should tell them if she become friend with any famous idol because “they are friends”. Feeling bitter about it, she ditched those notes in waste bin.

Quote:

“This made me discovered the dark part in my heart but I didn’t want to become a weaker, who surrendered herself for others’ selfishness.” “

“ I was afraid I would lose faith in others if I had to stay here any longer.”

“ I really want someone whom I can trust from my heart.”

Related Clips:

Enka songs related to this chapter. Sang by original artists.

Minami no Hanayomesan by Takamine Mieko – The first song Nana had learned from her dad

Kawachi Otoko Buchi original version by Nakamura Mitsuko

Sennen no Koto by Miyano Harumi – Nana sang it in the final round of contest. Hmm… I like this song 🙂


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Chapter 1: Prologue

An only illustration in this book

This chapter was like a brief summary of overall content and her feeling about living alone in Tokyo. Interesting points are:

  • Nana had studied in Horikoshi high school, which offers a special program for entertainment arts. It’s a popular school for people aiming to be in entertainment industry and many Japanese celebrities (i.e. Hamasaki Ayumi, Yamashita Tomohisa (Yamapi), Ueto Aya,  Fukada Kyoko) graduated from here.
  • Student must be under talent agency/record company to be able to apply for this program.
  • Horikoshi allows entertainment arts students to have special leave/flexible learning schedule if they have works in entertainment industry.
  • During her first year, Nana was recognized as a student who never missed any class, which ironically was something she didn’t want because it meant she didn’t have any job.
  •  She was the only one in class who hadn’t had a chance to debut until she was in third year.
  • She had to wake up and go to school early to avoid sexual harassment from perverts in train during rush hours. She encountered some during her first month in Tokyo. She said she really despises those folks and can’t forgive them (aggressive Nana XD).

Horikoshi High School (image source: here)

JR Chuo Line – the train Nana used to catch to school everyday. (Image source: here)


 

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Shin'ai cover

I had posted Shin Ai summary up to chapter 4 in JPM  forum before but it was lost because of the forum crash, so I decided to move it here to avoid losing it again. I re-posted chapter 1-4 here and following chapters are coming soon.

Shin Ai was released on 21st January 2011, Mizuki Nana’s 31st birthday. It consists of 7 chapters with the first and the last as short prologue and epilogue. The main contents are only in chapter 2-6, so the book is not long but I won’t post full translation, only long summary from my point of view. Don’t have much time and don’t even consider translating the whole book. Sorry. ^^’

About the content, I have to say, not as a Nana fan, that it is a good inspiring book. It’s a story about a person who never give up her dream despite many painful circumstances she had experienced. Main idea of this book is: “your dream will eventually come true if you never give up”.  She was insulted and picked on a lot before she become a Mizuki Nana we know but she never thought about giving up. That’s why she is who she is now.

Whether you are Mizuki Nana fan or not, I’d like to recommend this book if you love reading an inspiring story and are able to read Japanese. Shin Ai is still available at CDJapan and HMV. According to this blog, this book was sold around 60,000 copies in Japan since February. I also secured one copy when I went to see her Live Grace 🙂

By the way, English isn’t my native language. If there are some parts that you feel they are weird or don’t make sense, please excuse me.

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Hello world!

Hello everyone!

Finally, I created a blog. It was initially decided to be a place to keep my Mizuki Nana’s autobiography translated summary but since I already have a space to write something I think I will do it.

I may not update it often since I’m working full time now and quite lazy when I got free time.  But I will write something about my fangirling over Mizuki Nana and other fav artists, my travel experience or my random thoughts , etc. when I have time 🙂

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