Name: Inoue Kikuko (井上 喜久子), Inoue Honoka (井上 ほの花)
Age: 17 (oi! oi!), 17 (real)
Birthday: 25th September, 9th February
Agency: Office Anemone
Inoue Honoka generated a bit of buzz last year when she made her singing début under the name HONOKA for the Taiko no Tatsujin game, mostly for the fact that she was revealed as being the daughter of Inoue Kikuko. Her mother’s profile is certainly helping her get a leg up the corporate ladder but I hope that she will be like Han Megumi, who is making her way in the industry based on her own merits.
Animate has an interview with the mother-daughter duo.
The first & last interview between the two when they’re both 17
The Inoue mother-and-daughter pair; both at the age of 17 right now!
Kikuko: Inoue Kikuko, 17 years old!
All: Oi, oi!
Honoka: Inoue Honoka, 17 years old!
Q: Young..so young!
Q: Now that you’re starting to appear in public, do you realize the convenience of having a ready-made joke for when you do your greetings?
H: Yes I do. Thanks to my mother always saying that she is 17 years old I was able to make my debut at 17 as well; it’s amazing joke material to have.
K: Joke!? I’ve been reduced to a joke (laughs).
Q: Prior to your début, what did you actually make of that ‘I’m 17 years old!’ joke?
H: I was thinking, “Mom’s cute!”.
Q: When did you start being conscious of the fact that ‘mom’ wasn’t just ‘mom’, but that she was ‘the seiyuu, Inoue Kikuko’?
H: My perspective has never changed. She’s the same at home after all. The Inoue Kikuko that the fans see is the mom that I see at home.
Q: So you don’t feel that uncomfortable about hearing your mom’s voice coming out of the TV?
H: I don’t really feel uncomfortable when I hear her voicing motherly types or characters like Belldandy & Amatsu Kanata from Girlfriend (Kari) but when it comes to types like Lobelia from Sakura Wars or Grace from Macross F I just go “Woahh….”.
K: Now that you mention it, you came to watch the Sakura Wars musical when you were a little girl and exclaimed “That’s not mommy~!!” with a look of great sadness on your face. It was only when you were in high school that you started to think “Lobelia’s cool!”. It seems girls go through many changes as they grow up.
Q: Does the Kikuko at home use such scary voices?
Q: That means you’ve only ever heard your mom’s scary voice through the TV?
H: Yeah, I guess I’ve never heard her use it otherwise.
K: I see~. I think I’m the type who ends up crying instead of angry. Like, “Ohhh~, Hocchan! (cries)”.
H: So when I don’t study even when I’ve been warned to, she’ll go “Why won’t you do it!? (cries)” instead of “Why aren’t you doin’ it!? (anger)”.
Q: So you only see that side of her through her roles. I can see why you were indeed scared to have seen her play Lobelia when you were a child.
K: It seems that she was rather shocked.
H: She wore things like chains on her arms as well. I was in such shock that I felt sick and you had to accompany me home. That was at the Budokan live for Sakura Wars. Do you remember that?
K: Eh, really?
H: Our house is quite far away so you had to call a taxi and we went home together. Sometime later, there was an after-party I went to that we had to travel to Tokyo for.
K: Ah, you’re right. That happened.
Q: We hear that you’re good at doing imitations.
H: Yes, I can do them! I imitate a lot of different characters, such as Crayon Shin-chan.
Q: Let’s hear it then.
H: “Hey hey, sis~~~~ I’m Nohara Shinnosuke~. My beat is heartingg~~!”
Q: That’s pretty good (laughs)
K: Really!? I’m glad! Also, I’m trying to practise a ‘one-man Love Live!’ act at the moment. It’s really low quality though. Would you like to hear it?
H: Hmm, why don’t you just do Nishikino Maki? Since you voice her mom anyway. “What do you mean, I don’t understand!”
Q: Yeah that sounds similar.
H: It does, doesn’t it?
K: I’m kinda sorry. I’m really practising all the other members as well. They don’t sound alike at all but would you like to hear it?
H: It’s okay, go ahead!
K: Okay, so let’s try Honoka-chan. “Fight on!”…ah, I did it after all (laughs).
Q: Can’t you imitate your mom?
H: It wouldn’t sound similar even if I tried. Because our voices are different in tone. (tries) “Shimajiro, it’s snack time”…See?
Q: The quality of voice is different but I think the two of you do share similarities in terms of mood and speech habits.
K: When we’re at the karaoke she goes all out in terms of power. Me – I’m on the weak side.
H: The way we bring out our voices is totally different. My mother has a crystal clear voice. Doesn’t hearing it heal you?
K: No, there’s no such thing! Geez really, I’m so sorry! It’s no good for parents and children to keep complimenting each other, isn’t it?
H: But I think that if you keep listening to my voice you’ll think it’s annoying. My mother’s voice is something that you can listen to forever.
K: No, no, no, no! This is one of those answers that sounds too good to be true, did you guys set this up behind the scenes!? Ahhh~ I’m so embarrassed!!
Q: Is there anything else you’re good at? We hear you also write lyrics and compose your own songs.
H: Yes! I do write lyrics quite often. As for composing, there are times when the tunes flow and times when they don’t.
Q: You will be entering music college this spring and begin going down the road of a full-fledged musician. Kikuko-san has released many albums of original songs – how do you feel about Kikuko-san’s songs?
H: Style-wise, I feel we’re very different.
K: My daughter made a song recently about the feelings of a dog that’s being kept by the health authorities. The lyrics showed a sense of social awareness.
H: My mother’s songs are just what you would expect to hear from Inoue Kikuko, aren’t they? I’m the total opposite.
Q: What sort of music do you like to listen to?
H: Mostly Western music. I’m totally in love with Ariana Grande!
Q: Have you listened to (Ariana), Kikuko-san?
K: I have, but I don’t get it at all (laughs). But it’s true that she’s always singing English songs. Her pronunciation is good as well, which I find strange since she’s my daughter.
H: I really love Mizuki Nana too! I also read her autobiography Shin’ai and her wonderful personality comes across really well; you can tell just how much effort she’s put in – I can truly empathize with that.
Q: Have you met (Nana) yet?
H: No, not yet! I’ve gone to watch her lives before but I’ve always had school the following mornings so I had to hurry home once the live was over.
K: I talk about my daughter quite often so Nana-chan has been saying “I’d love to meet Hocchan!” all the time but somehow, the timing is never right.
H: I also often listen to anisong as well as idol-type songs. I like stuff like Morning Musume. or Hello Pro too! I feel inspired when I see girls of my age working so hard, it makes me want to cheer them on.
K: It’s strange to see her grinning to herself while watching Hello Pro videos (laughs).
Q: Do you dance?
H: I did ballet back in elementary school and was also in the dance club in junior high, but I haven’t danced since then. Not for many years.
Q: How did you decide upon the stage names Inoue Honoka and HONOKA?
H: I’d always liked the Disney Channel and foreign dramas since I was young so I developed an admiration for foreign things. Because of this admiration, I had always wished to use the English spelling of my name HONOKA as my stage name if I were ever to début. When you’re in elementary school you’re always trying to design your own signature, aren’t you? I would always write mine in English.
Q: Will you be separating your activities from now on – HONOKA for your singing activities and Inoue Honoka otherwise?
H: I’m still not quite sure about that yet (laughs). I am an Inoue after all so I thought I’d just use ‘Inoue Honoka’ but my singing voice is quite powerful and somehow, ‘Inoue Honoka’ doesn’t really fit. I was hesitating over what to do but since I received a work offer for music first, (I) decided to go with HONOKA to start with. But I’ll probably go with ‘Inoue Honoka’ for voice acting work.
Q: You want to do voice work as well?
H: Yes I do.
Q: So you want to do voice work as “Inoue Honoka”?
Q: Using ‘Inoue’ – that means the fact that you’re “Inoue Kikuko’s daughter” will follow you around forever. Do you not mind people viewing you that way?
H: If ultimately, people can stop raising objections ‘because I’m Inoue Kikuko’s daughter’ then that would be great. The truth is that I am using her as a springboard right now…
K: You’re using me as a springboard!? What do you mean!?
H: I’m sorry (laughs). But hey, it’s because of you that I’ve been given a chance. Still, my personality, voice and singing are totally different from my mother’s so I hope people will get to know the real me in the end.
Realizing the dream of the 17-year old mother-and-daughter pair working together on (her) début song!
Q: What type of activities would you like to be involved with in the future?
H: It’s a little embarrassing but I always wanted to be a real magician since I was young. When I told my mother she would always say to me “Your smile is what magic is”. I even thought about writing ‘I want to be a magician’ in my junior high yearbook, but people would definitely think I was a chuu2 if I did that.
So I thought about bringing happiness to people all around the world by singing my favourite songs and through my smile – maybe I could be a magician too through such activities. That’s why I want to travel abroad and meet people from various countries and let them know lots and lots about anime; to be able to do that, I want to become a seiyuu.
Q: Kikuko-san is always wishing for ‘world peace’ as well – so mother and daughter do think alike after all.
K: All I do is pray for world peace but my daughter is taking a more practical approach.
H: Like the story about the dog at the health authorities, I wish to spread specific messages through my songs to raise awareness of, and aid in certain issues. I’d like to go out into the world and teach music. It’d be great if my songs and my smile could bring happiness to everyone. That’s why I’m always smiling while showing all my teeth.
K: Ah, I understand the feeling of wanting to smile with your teeth and gums out (laughs).
Q: When you attend music college starting spring, what do you wish to learn?
H: Lyric-writing and composing classes are a must. I want to tell stories to other through my own words and music, so I have to learn to write and compose by myself. Also musicals, and I want to take dance as well.
K: It’s a music college but there are ballet and musical classes; it looks like you can freely choose from a variety of courses. Seems like it’ll be fun.
H: Also, I want to learn English properly. I probably won’t take proper tests or anything, I just want to be able to speak the language well.
Q: How about instruments?
H: I started playing piano when I was about 4 and still play now, but I don’t think I’m that good at it. I’m still just a bud. Like a flower that won’t bloom.
K: Hahaha! That turn of phrase is interesting~!
H: But if I wanted to compose my own songs I’d have to know proper chords and so on. I also tried out guitar for 2-3 years but got frustrated, so I think I’ll have to set my mind to it. I want to master at least 1 instrument properly.
Q: Like the castanet?
H: Yeah I’d probably be great at the castanet! Or the maracas. Mom, you’re good at the tambourine aren’t you?
K: Yes, the tambourine (laughs)
Q: You made your début with the song Koi Genso (Love Fantasy) for the Taiko no Tatsujin game. Isn’t it a rather difficult song? Don’t you think so too, Kikuko-san?
K: Yeah, I was surprised. It’s a reaaally nice song and I thought at first “(She) can’t sing this~!”. It was hard~.
H: The lyrics and the song’s mood had me thinking “Eh, am I good enough for this!? Is it alright for me to sing such a cute song!?” at first. But having listened to my own voice and found out that the song was written especially for me, I was a little embarrassed but really grateful.
K: The director had a chat with (Honoka) and asked her lots of things like “What sort of songs do you like to sing?” and then came up with the song; seeing that, as a parent, brought tears of joy to my eyes.
H: Actually, at the time, my mother was also in the studio for recording. After hearing her sing I wondered whether it’d be better to have her sing instead of me. My mother’s voice has ‘colour’, doesn’t it? When I listened to my own singing, I heard no colour in it.
K: That’s fine because you’ll find it in the future.
H: Also, this is something that’s being revealed for the first time – the ‘ru-ru-ru♪’ harmonies in the song are sung by my mother.
Q: Ah, so the 17-year old mother-daughter combo has already worked together. What did you think about the finished song?
K: I was there for her recording and when I heard my daughter sing I began thinking “Ah, she should do it like this instead!” but I didn’t want to be one of those stage moms moaning at the side and I said apologetically to the director “Ahhhh I don’t want to say this….but~!”. But I think the result is really beautiful and I am both thankful and inspired.
H: I’d like to show people the live version as soon as possible. I am confident that this song will definitely ‘sound amazing in the flesh!’.
K: Did you just say ‘amazing’!?
H: I am confident that I will get that across. I think I’ll be able to bring out my ‘colour’, just like mom does when she sings. During recordings, I was singing it in a straightforward manner. From now on I want to sing with passion and be like mom, being able to bring out my own ‘colour’.
To be continued in part.2 when it comes along…