home English Tracks Genius Japan – [INTERVIEW] Spreading Love and Joy: A Conversation with Naniwa Danshi on “I Wish” and Their Musical Journey

Genius Japan – [INTERVIEW] Spreading Love and Joy: A Conversation with Naniwa Danshi on “I Wish” and Their Musical Journey

Song Info: Presenting you Genius Japan – [INTERVIEW] Spreading Love and Joy: A Conversation with Naniwa Danshi on “I Wish” and Their Musical Journey.

Genius Japan – [INTERVIEW] Spreading Love and Joy: A Conversation with Naniwa Danshi on “I Wish” and Their Musical Journey

Interviewed+Written by Genius Japan | November 18, 2023

Guided by the skilled hands of Kanjani∞’s Tadayoshi Ohkura, Naniwa Danshi swiftly became a force to be reckoned with in the competitive world of the Japan boy group. Their debut single, “UBU LOVE,” released on November 12, 2021, catapulted them into the limelight, and in a week, they achieved an astonishing recorded sales of 700,000 copies. The year 2022 witnessеd a cascade of accolades for the group, including thе LINE NEWS AWARDS for “Best New Artist” and the prestigious Japan Gold Disc Award for “Top 5 New Artists,” solidifying their status as one of the most captivating new debuts of the era.

Naniwa Danshi for Genius and Genius Japan

In this exclusive interview conducted by Genius Japan, Naniwa Danshi invites us to delve into the vibrant tapestry of their seven-member ensemble. From exploring their distinctive personalities and recounting experiences during the creation of their 6th single, I Wish, to articulating their aspirations of forging global connections with fans, each member shares profound insights into their personal growth, the evolutionary trajectory of their music, and the delightful moments hidden behind the curtains, and offer a glimpse into their aspirations for the future and the delightful quirks that make them stand out in the world of Japan boy groups.

── Hello, Naniwa Danshi! Can you please introduce yourselves to Genius Japan readers?

Daigo Nishihata: Hi! My name is Daigo Nishihata, but please call me Daichan. I am the center of Naniwa Danshi so I am very serious. But not too serious!
Ryusei Onishi: Hello! I am Ryusei Onishi, but please call me Ryuche! I am the cute and friendly one!
Shunsuke Michieda: Hey there! My name is Shunsuke Michieda, but please call me Michi. Our fans say I am too cute for words!
Kyohei Takahashi: ‘Sup? I’m Kyohei Takahashi. They are all cute, but I’m the cool and handsome one. Nice to meet you.
Kento Nagao: Hi! Kento Nagao here! I’m told I have a smile that lights up a room.
Joichiro Fujiwara: It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Joichiro Fujiwara, but please call me Jo-kun! I am the eldest member of Naniwa Danshi and thus it’s my job to keep these crazy kids in line.

(Kento, from across the room): Since when!?

Kazuya Ohashi: プリン食べ過ぎてお尻プリンプリン!My name is Kazuya Ohashi, but please call me Hassun! I am the leader of Naniwa Danshi!

Daichan: Are you sure it’s wise to use your standard intro for a foreign interview? How would you even say that in English?

Jo-kun (studying his phone): Apparently it would be “I eat so much pudding that my butt jiggles.”

Kento: As you can see, Naniwa Danshi is a Japanese idol group with seven members, all of whom have very unique personalities!

── First of all, congratulations for your second year debut anniversary! Your debut single, “UBU LOVE,” was a tremendous success in Japan, and you’ve gained a massive following in just a short time. How have you grown as a group since then, both personally and musically?

Jo-kun: As a group, we are happy that our debut song “UBU LOVE” has been listened to not only in Japan but by people all over the world! Of course, we are happy that our fans listen to and enjoy it, but also a lot of kids listen and really seem to like it based on TikTok videos I’ve seen of little kids no older than 2 or 3 years old dancing around in front of TV screens playing our music videos. I am very happy too that our second single “SACHI-ARE” has been used across the country at school dances and Field Days. And this year, we had our second tour since our debut, and I can feel that the power of our group, as well as the power of us as individuals is growing year by year. It’s a really good feeling.

Naniwa Danshi at Debut Announcement Concert

── Your 6th single I Wish is out, congratulations! How does the title track “I Wish” differ from the group’s past songs?
Kyohei: There is a sense of Naniwa Danshi and the youthful spirit we try to represent. So, in that sense, it’s very much like our other songs. On the other hand, there is a difference in our performance of the song, and the music video of course. It’s a lot lighter on choreography, which is something a lot of fans have come to know us for. So in a sense, I think it’s a step towards growing up, but not too far! It’s still a very cute song that suits Naniwa Danshi well.

── Among the songs included in I Wish, many Nanifams are raving about “Snowy Love!” as we heard that it is Daichan’s favorite. Are there any interesting stories that made you fall in love, particularly with this song?

Daichan: I really like the phrase right before the first chorus, about wanting to hold hands but having to do it in a really shy way. Like “let’s hold hands, but just because it’s cold,” being too nervous to ask the question you want to. Also, it got a holiday feel too, and goes great with our song from last year, “#MerryChristmas.”

── The lyrics of “I Wish” are full of love and support which also link to the theme of the drama My Second Aoharu, starring Shunsuke Michieda. Is there any particular part of the song lyrics that makes you emotional whenever you sing this song, and why?

Michi: The melody is catchy and the lyrics are also very good, with a melody that comes in smoothly. I realized the chorus part, “I can be stronger if you are with me,” fits well with the theme of the drama, but it also fits with who we are as a group. Together, the seven of us can do what we cannot do alone. So, while it’s the theme to the drama, I feel that it can stand on its own. I think it’s one of those songs where you can feel the bond we have with one another as Naniwa Danshi.

── The plot of the drama My Second Aoharu has an encouraging message about not giving up your childhood dreams regardless of the age. As the group’s producer and senior, what advice did Tadayoshi Ohkura of Kanjani∞ give you that influenced Naniwa Danshi’s perspective of growing?

Jo-kun: Because of the unique nature of our agency and the way it builds a sense of family over successive generations, our process of growing up is maybe a little different than other entertainers. For example, I started when I was 8, and knew Ohkura-kun as an older brother long before he started working with us professionally. Not only has that influenced how I interacted with him once he became our group producer, but it has also definitely shaped how I myself act toward all the little 8 year olds coming and going from the lesson studios now. I see them working so hard, and being so nervous when they finally get to do something on stage, and it makes me more aware than ever of how far I’ve come and what might be in store for them too. I wonder if Ohkura-san felt the same when he met us for the first time, and if that had anything to do with why he became so involved with us, Ae! group, AmBitious, and others in the first place. There is a sense of very palpable continuity beyond one’s own career; like a relay race and you’re trying to help make the next group as strong as possible to keep the baton going forward.

── The recording movie of your new song, “I Wish,” was also recently posted on YouTube. Do you have any captivating episodes during the recording process that would add to Nanifam’s interest?

Kyohei: I love being in the recording studio. It’s like the first moment the song really becomes ours rather than just a cool demo. When we record, we’re usually alone in the booth, so when we finally get to hear the mix it’s like a brand new and fresh surprise. It’s such a cool feeling knowing that we’ve created something we get to share with our fans all around the world.

Naniwa Danshi on stage at their POPMALL Concert Tour

── On Genius, we like to fill in fun questions to strengthen the bond between fans and artists. If you had to create a new flavor of ice cream based on your personalities, what would it be, and what ingredients would it include?

Daichan: I like spicy flavors, so my ice cream would have the taste of curry with a lot of spices, like my personality. I’ve never eaten anything like it so I don’t know if it would be any good, but I think that would be neat to try it at least once in my life. I think in Mexico they have spicy chocolate, so maybe there’s a spicy ice cream out there too somewhere.

Ryuche: Ice cream with popping candy, like crackling Ramune. The group says that sometimes I say things that can be taken as prickly, but I look cute when I am doing it (laughs)… I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing sometimes.

Hassun: Matcha ice cream with caramel sauce.
Daichan: That’s so common and boring!

Hassun: I know! I can’t think of anything completely original! But my member color is green and caramel is my favorite pudding flavor. I even introduced myself by sharing my love of pudding. It might not be unique, but I recommend everyone try combining matcha with caramel because it is delicious!

Jo-kun: Chocolate mint.

Daichan: That’s even more boring!

Jo-kun: …BECAUSE I’m told I’m quite sweet and refreshing. (Daichan: Lies!) And, if I were an ice cream it would have to be in a cone because then it would be like a little baseball bat and as everyone knows I am obsessed with baseball!

Michi: I love tarts, especially cheese tarts. Vanilla ice cream packed with a lot of tarts and topped with cookie crisps as an accent! It represents my sweet relationship with our fans.

Kyohei: Ginger scattered on top of vanilla ice cream. Yeah, vanilla ginger. There is a spicy part, but maybe not as spicy as what Daichan was talking about. A nice mix of sweet and sour with a kick, just like me.

Kento: My member color is yellow, so I’d put bananas in my ice cream. And since I’m younger and noisy, I’d also put cookies in it for crunch!

── Finally, as we are approaching the end of the year, what can fans look forward to from Naniwa Danshi in 2024? Any exciting projects or goals that you can share with our readers?

Jo-kun: We really want to keep getting noticed by international publications and introduce ourselves more and more to overseas fans. We see so many international comments on YouTube, and the fans in Korea were so nice to Michi when he went to Seoul for his movie Even If This Love Disappears from the World Tonight, so doing something overseas in 2024 would be nice! COVID-19 has finally subsided, so I also really want to travel more, whether for work or just for fun. I want to go places! There are so many people across Japan we want to meet, and simultaneous to that I want to meet people across Asia and beyond to Latin America and the West too.

Michi: I love that we’re reaching so many international fans with our music, and I hope that we continue to do so, but I’d also like to explore projects in other media too, like an international photo book or something. We really want to let our fans all over the world get to know who we are.

Naniwa Danshi posing with their Plushies

Photos provided by Naniwa Danshi. Any unauthorized copying, alteration, reproduction, or distribution is prohibited.

── Thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedules to chat with us, Naniwa Danshi!

You can read all the lyrics and translations from Naniwa Danshi and their latest single, I Wish, on Genius now.
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