Written exclusively for Tokyohive by Kat Gruss
If you could see how long someone had to live, what would you do? Would you sit back and feel powerless or would you do everything you could to change their fate? These questions are considered in Migihara’s manga Kimi ga Shinu Made Ato 100 Nichi (or “100 Days Until You Die” in English), which is currently being aired as alive action adaptation. But the roles of the emotional Rintaro Tsuda and the mysterious Itsuki Onodera need talented actors to carry them from print into the real world.
Yuto Takahashi, as Rintaro, and Mizuki Inoue, as Itsuki, of up-and-coming group HiHi Jets are the ones to fulfill those parts. Both boys have the necessary talents to be able to make all that watch it fall in love with this drama. Yuto and Mizuki sat down with Tokyohive to discuss their thoughts about the drama as well as give insight into their careers as idols so far.
What were your reactions to receiving this role?
Yuto: My biggest surprise was being offered a high school role because I’m past that point. Being able to go back to that was something that I really enjoyed and was really eager to get back into.
Mizuki: For me the biggest thing was that I was familiar with the work and aware that it’s grounded in reality but with a fantasy element. How to appropriately balance the two was something I was a little nervous to be able to take on but also very excited. Especially given how my character is so upbeat, I was really interested in getting involved in actually getting to make that come to life.
How do you relate to your characters? What parts of them resonate with you?
Yuto: One of my specific concerns was that I didn’t feel like there was too much between me and the character to draw from. Normally, when I play a role, I can draw from my personal experience and bring that experience to life in my current character. But I really didn’t feel that there was that much between me and the character at present. Especially given the fantasy element and how to actually bring that to life was something that I had to think deeply about. One thing I did feel was that the sense of duty and taking care and really wanting to care for the girl is something that is really true to my personality. So I was able to at least link that. The way that I act towards her and want to protect her is very true to life in terms of how I would be in a situation like that in real life.
Mizuki: The aspect of being very mysterious and being able to fit within the elements of everything going on is something that I did feel like I could draw from. It kind of matched my own personality of being very quiet. In that sense, I actually did feel a sort of kinship with the character a little bit more than Yuto did.
What is your favorite line from the drama?
Mizuki: My favorite line was something said by the main heroine to me. “You guys see a lot because you think a lot.” What I thought really resonated was the fact that she was recognizing how sensitive we are and everything that was going around us. We weren’t locked in ourselves but were really, really sensitive to her emotions and that sort of thing. I thought that was really nice because it’s something that I aspire to be, to be aware of what’s going on around me.
Yuto: The scene that I chose is one that I felt that represented how my character had actually grown. It’s not necessarily one particular line, but it’s a point in the story when I’ve realized that the heroine lied to me about something that caused me to flee her. That “Oh, I have to get away from her’ or ‘I can’t be with her’ feeling, but then I realized that the reason why she said that was because of self-protection or wanting to protect me. My character was able to realize that and take on a little more of an adult responsibility aspect. The fact that my character grew that well is something that really touched me, and I really like that particular scene.
If you were to describe HiHi Jets to a stranger, how would you describe the group? How would you describe yourself?
Yuto: In terms of the group overall, the way that I would appeal HiHi Jets to other people is definitely the roller skate performance. We’re a group of five who are young, aggressive and exciting. We’ve very loud, but in a good way. We’re a group that puts a lot of energy into everything, so when you watch us, I want you to have fun and get a lot out of our performance.
In terms of how I would present myself, at one point in my life I had ambitions to be a professional baseball player. I actually wanted to be the next Ohtani Shohei. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite work out, and I'm very happy where I am here. My very thick eyebrows are my particular charm point that I want people to recognize me by.
Mizuki: I would also echo what Yuto said about the roller skating being our biggest “expanding out” point as a group. Specifically what I want to focus on is that not only do we actually skate on the roller skates but we’re actually able to dance in them too. From what I’m aware of, I haven’t seen that sort of performance be a big part of any performance that I’ve seen overseas. It’s something that could really help us stand out, and the fact that we’re able to step and jump and dance while on roller skates is something that we really work hard to appeal. It’s something that is very fresh and is something that we’re really proud of.
As for me personally, I am the leader of the group. But I’m not a take charge, loud, obnoxious style leader but rather one that is very quiet, and really tries to work within the group for consensus and be the focus point for them to be able to do what they need to do.
One of the ways that HiHi Jets stands out amongst other groups is your skating abilities at shows. What do you consider the group’s other charm points or weapons to be?
Mizuki: I feel like one of our biggest weapons is our voice. Each of our members has a distinct voice and is very good at singing. This is something that Inohara (the president of the Junior management company Annex) has referred to. When focusing on making our original music, we make sure that the songs are placed in such a way that each of our individual voice strengths comes through. It’s because it’s easy for our fans to immediately hear, “Oh! This is this person, that is that person.” That allows our talents when it comes to singing to really come through in a remarkable way. It’s what I feel is one of our strong points in particular.
Yuto: What I feel like is the biggest weapon of the group is, beyond the roller skating, is our energy. When we’re together, we’re basically like a group of five friends. It’s not like a closed friendship. It’s a very open friendship. What I really encourage is that on our YouTube videos you can see that, and it’s very inviting. It’s a group of friends that you also feel like, when you’re watching us, you are the sixth member of the group sort of thing. We’re a group of fun dudes you want to hang out with, kind of energy. You can see this a lot in our YouTube videos that we do, especially the most recent series of our journey up Mt. Fuji. It’s a series that we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. We finally got the chance to do it, and for the last several weeks, one by one, the videos have been uploaded, and we still have two more as of now (＊Editor’s note: This was stated as of the interview).
How were you able to build that bond of friendship together?
Yuto: A lot of our friendship and the bonds between us have been determined based on the years that we’ve been together. We’ve been a group for quite some time, and we’ve shared a lot of experiences, both positive and negative, that have cemented our bond. But it wasn’t something that we had to intentionally cultivate. We’ve had this ever since we first came together. It’s really just a reflection of the fact that we work really well together. We were a good match from the beginning and being able to share that isn’t an effort that has to be thought too much of. It’s just sharing what is naturally there and making sure that, when we’re able to live it, our fans are able to enjoy that from the outside looking in is something that is a really big focus of ours.
HiHi Jets has a lot of original songs that have a wide variety of sounds. Which HiHi Jets song in your opinion showcases the abilities of the group the best?
Yuto: For me, the answer is undoubtedly FRONTLINE. It’s a really high energy, high voltage song that characterizes what I said earlier about how we’re really fun and upbeat and explosive in terms of energy. When you listen to that, your energy goes up and is something that you can draw from and is part of what we want to express to our fans.
Mizuki: My choice is our named theme song, Hi Hi Jets. The reason why I chose it is because it’s got a lot of speed. It’s also really easy to follow, so foreigners or people who can’t understand Japanese can follow along. There’s a beat that’s really catchy. It becomes a bit of an earworm, so to speak. It’s very inviting. It’s our starting point. It’s our theme song. It encapsulates everything about us well.
Both of you have had long careers as idols. What initially made you interested in a career in entertainment? What keeps you motivated to continue down this career path?
Yuto: For me I joined this agency when I was a first year in high school which is significantly older than the typical elementary age. In fact, while I was doing that, I was also playing baseball. There was a bit of a rest from sports during that point, but I really liked being in front of people. I liked being able to perform, so I decided that while I still have the opportunities I should try out the entertainer life. I applied to a few different agencies but was entered into here and have been successful ever since.
In terms of the motivation aspect, for me it’s more of the realization that I have people who have been supporting me nonstop ever since that beginning. Especially in considering the fact that I don’t quite have the head start so to speak that other people who started significantly younger did. The fact that there’s still no shortage of enthusiasm from all of the fans who have gotten to know me is something that really keeps me going. I want to continue to give back as time goes on.
Mizuki: For me, I started a lot younger, and I have been dancing since the age of five. I’ve always had a passion for song and dance. I was introduced to it by my mother who had me take classes. I received offers from a few different places, but this was the agency that I chose. That was something that really started it, and it’s something that’s passionate for me.
In terms of how that connects to my motivation, obviously the love and support that we’ve received as a group and individually from our fans is preeminent. But also my personal love for music and love for performing, and the fact that music has this power to be able to inspire and move so many people. Being a part of the creative process of that music is very personally important to me. It’s something that I really want to continue to facilitate, and that’s what keeps me going.
What has been your favorite experience as an idol so far?
Yuto: The biggest and most impactful experience that I remember was our first performance as just HiHi Jets at the Yoyogi Sports Complex. We’ve had a lot of experience doing lots of different shows, but up until that point had always been participating in them as one among many. Usually I’m not very nervous as I’m a natural performer and I’m very comfortable in front of people and doing all of these kinds of things, but for that show I was nervous because the question ‘We have to carry this all by ourselves. Can we do this?’ was something that kind of weighed on me more than I expected it to.
Mizuki: The biggest part that has guided me as an idol is being able to move and inspire so many people. Also being able to see it or hear it directly by watching the faces of the fans during the performance or getting fan letters and getting to read the direct positive feedback from so many people who were touched by what it is we actually do. That direct response reaction is something that is really good for me and is one of the best parts of being in this particular industry. Also specifically due to the infrastructure of the system that we have here as Juniors, being able to do it ourselves and decide for ourselves what we want to do. Rather than being involved in a prepackaged format, being a part of the creative process and being able to decide based on our lived experiences what is the best brand for us, what we want to do, and being able to produce it ourselves is something that I really enjoy.
What is something that you would like to challenge individually or as a group in the near future?
Yuto: I want to do a Hawaiian vacation! Obviously, for work and for filming we’ve been several times since we were young, but it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to do that. Especially as a group, it would be a lot of fun to go. In terms of going to Hawaii, I don’t have much of a plan. It’s not for a particular reason like for marine sports or anything but just being able to go there, take time to breathe, and to come together as a group. Being able to go driving or use ATVs sounds like it would be a lot of fun, too.
Mizuki: When it comes to work, I had an interesting idea. Because we’ve seen so many comments in all the different languages in the comment section of our YouTube videos, being able to do some things that are a little bit easier to digest. For example, we’ve said before that roller skating is something that is very easy to understand. It looks fun and doesn’t require any deep knowledge of Japanese to be able to enjoy. Being able to challenge mini contents that are able to get out there, that anyone can really enjoy, and that we are able to share with our fans no matter where they’re from is something we would be really into trying.
Do you have a message for your international fans?
Yuto: First of all, thank you for reading until the end of this article. Thank you for being so supportive to us from so many different places from afar. We really work hard to give so much energy, and we hope that our energy is able to inspire and lead people no matter where they’re coming from in terms of getting to know us. More than anything, thank you so much for your support.
Mizuki: Fans who have been supportive from all around the world since the beginning we have so much appreciation for. We want to continue to be a group that would be able to reach the level of being able to meet people in person. We are interested in being able to do performances overseas one day and being able to meet all of the people who have been supportive of us in person is something that we want to be able to do. We want to be a group that is big enough to be able to accomplish those sorts of things. So we will continue to do our best and work hard for all of you.
From their Japanese fans to the international fans supporting them from all corners of the globe,
Mizuki, Yuto, and all of the members of HiHi Jets are a well loved group from the Japanese entertainment industry. Whether it’s for their acting roles together or their YouTube content with their group, Mizuki and Yuto can do anything with their adoring fans lifting them up.
For more content from Yuto, Mizuki and HiHi Jets, check out their weekly videos on the YouTube Junior CHANNEL every Sunday at 8:00pm JST!
Yuto and Mizuki’s starring drama, 100 Days Until You Die, is currently not available for streaming overseas at this time, but if you would like to watch it internationally eventually, let the network know by commenting on their official X account at @shindora_ntv!
Read more from Kat on Dumpling Box