Interview: Walküre's Minori Suzuki and JUNNAby Nicholas Dupree and Zac Bertschy,
The latest in a long line of idols birthed by the legendary Macross franchise, Minori Suzuki (as Freya in the series) and JUNNA (as Mikumo Guynemer) flew in to perform for their overseas fans as part of the Anisong World Matsuri event during Anime Expo in Los Angeles, California. Though they were down a few members, the ladies still brought their sparkling best to the stage at the Microsoft Theater, bathing an audience of screaming thousands in an ocean of brilliant purple light while belting out the throat-shredding, heart-pumping anthems of Walküre, the idol group these girls are part of in Macross Delta. Suzuki won the Macross Utahime competition back in 2015 as her springboard to stardom, and JUNNA is launching a promising pop career off of her success with Macross; her first mini-album is out as of June 2017.
ANN: Have you been surprised at all by the reception to the show and the group in America? Have you been surprised at all by the reaction from American fandom?
We get a lot of reaction from Twitter fans, not only from America but all over the world. Sometimes they respond in English. There's a live streaming show for our show, Macross Delta, and basically the fans outside of Japan are asking "please come to the States, please perform here" and we feel a lot of energy in those comments--they're upbeat.
You've been performing as Walküre for over a year now -- what has that experience been like for you?
Minori Suzuki: I play Freyja, and I wanted to grow up with Freyja as I played her. It's been over a year, and it feels like I'm still growing up, especially whenever she sings a song for Walküre, and she's really happy about that.
JUNNA: So my character's really bold and really strong and the ace of Walküre, and as she stands on the stage, she feels it, the fan expectations, everything. In a good way, I'm really happy to feel that. I wasn't really expecting this overwhelming experience on the stage. Overall, she's really, really pleased to sing for her.
Besides your own, do you have a favorite character from Macross Delta?
Minori: I like everyone, because not even one person can be missed in order to be Macross Delta, so including Freyja, I feel that everyone is my favorite.
JUNNA: I really love Walküre and each person, each member, has specific roles, and even when I sing on stage with other people, I really feel like each character stands on their own in each role, so my favorite is Walküre as a whole.
Do you have a favorite song to perform, and then do you have a favorite song that's just your personal favorite?
Minori: I really like to perform God Bless You. Also Kaze wa Yokoku Naku Fuku. And Teary-Eyed Explosive Sound, that's the direct translation but that's my personal favorite Walküre song to listen to. And the reason I love to perform the first two songs, they describe the thrill of flight itself, the essence of Macross Delta, and I feel like I am fully becoming Freya when I perform those songs. Every time I perform those songs I really, really get the emotion and everything behind it. And that's why I love those two songs.
Also, Love Thunder Glow. That song describes how confident I feel, it's a joy to perform.
JUNNA: Absolute Five, that's the song I love to listen to. The reason I like to listen to that is because it's about how Walküre needs all five members and even one cannot be missed. Every time that song syncs up with the video, I feel like "oh, that's the song, you know, that's the team," and that feeling is why I love listening to that song so much.
Macross is a classic name in the anime world, a venerated franchise. How did it feel to be chosen to be part of a legend?
Minori: I was a big fan of Macross Frontier, since primary school. I had a dream, "I want to sing like the two princesses from Macross Frontier." When I was chosen, I was really happy and at the same time really pressured. I always had the fear, "Can I perform like the two girls from Macross Frontier?" But I tried to just tell myself that the only person I can be is myself, and I need to bring myself to my performance as Freya. So I tried to put my fear away and just enjoy myself.
JUNNA: I didn't know anything about Macross beforehand – I got the opportunity to audition for Macross Delta through another audition I was on. I was introduced to the franchise after I had been cast, so I basically jumped into this Walküre not knowing what's going on. I didn't even know how the song was going to be placed--you know, the song I sing in Walküre . So, then I had a lot of fear and thought "What am I gonna do?" I didn't know anything. Then, after this whole experience, I was like "Oh my gosh, I didn't know there was such a fun, wonderful, joyful world." And that's the most surprising thing to me.
What's been your most memorable experience working or performing as Walküre?
Minori: Episode 16! That was the episode mainly featuring Freyja's birthday, and their song, the one I mentioned before, God Bless You, that's composed by this Japanese composer Katsutoshi Kitagawa. Before I even started acting for Walküre, I was a huge fan of Katsutoshi Kitagawa and I always dreamed of singing one of his songs. I was really happy because that song was written for Freyja, and the episode was specifically featuring Freyja's birthday story. I was really stoked to sing my favorite composer's song, and that was the most memorable moment for me.
JUNNA: Right after Macross Delta finished airing on TV, there was a concert in Japan, in Yokohama City -- there's an arena called Yokohama Arena, which is one of the biggest concert halls in Japan. We had a two-day concert this past January, it was basically sold out, it was filled with fans... I was like "oh my gosh, I've never performed with so many, many, many fans." It was literally packed, right? And I was really happy and really moved. "Oh my god, this many fans are cheering me," and I was really moved, the fact that this many people were sending me their voice, and that was the most memorable for me. Especially after many, many rehearsals. I practiced a lot on stage.
Do you have any message for your fans in the United States?
Minori: So this is my very first time abroad, performing. I'm really excited about that, about seeing the reaction to our performance, to interact with US fans. I'd like to ask all the fans in the States to watch me perform, I'm really excited. Please check us out after this show.
JUNNA: During that big concert in Japan, I asked the audience "Where are you guys from?" I saw many people actually came from overseas--I think Korea and the United States. I'm looking forward to performing for them this time around, here in the States, and I'm excited to see the reaction, how differently they might react from the Japanese fans. I'll do my very, very best. Yeah!
Thanks to Walküre, Anisong World Matsuri and Anime Expo for the opportunity.
Anisong World Matsuri Website: http://anisongworldmatsuri.com
Anisong World Matsuri at Otakon 2017
Date: August 11 & 12
Venue: Washington DC Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Lineup: FLOW, JAM Project, T.M. Revolution, Yousei Teikoku
Concert Info: https://www.otakon.com/concerts/anisong
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