Neru Nagahama’s otaku self became an idol! Nijikon’s Mei Ishihama aims to be the “ultimate idol | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Neru Nagahama’s otaku self became an idol! Nijikon’s Mei Ishihama aims to be the “ultimate idol

The new face of Nijikon makes her first appearance in FRIDAY's photogravure section. Please enjoy the special interview along with the magazine!

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It’s only been a year since she entered the entertainment industry. What kind of girl is Mei Ishihama, who just became a regular member of the idol group Niji no Conquistador (commonly known as “Niji Con”)? She was featured for the first time in the August 18-25 issue of FRIDAY, and we asked her to tell us about her life before becoming an idol and the ideal idol she envisions for herself now.

I was an “ordinary girl” who put all her energy into her idol activities.

Until last year, I was an ordinary girl who longed to be an idol. Since I was in junior high school, I had always loved Nagahama Neru (former Keyakizaka46/Keyakizaka46), and when I became a high school student, I devoted all my free time to “guessing life” by working part-time to go to live shows, handshake events, and to buy goods (laughs). (Laughs.) I had a strong desire to “love idols” as much as I wanted to be an idol.

Mei Ishihama / 21 years old, from Ibaraki Prefecture. She is currently a student of Niji no Conquistador.

Mei’s desire to become an idol became clear to her when she was in her second year of junior high school. It was a comment from her homeroom teacher that made her realize her desire to become an idol.

During a career interview, the teacher suddenly asked me, “Aren’t you going to become an idol? I was asked, “Are you going to become an idol? The teacher knew that I liked idols, but I had never said that I wanted to be one, nor had I thought about it clearly. It was only then that my feelings became clear to me and I realized that there was a path for me.

I can’t take my eyes off her! I was drawn to her big, clear eyes.

Ishihama quietly began to embrace her dream of becoming an idol, but from that day on, what she worked hard on was not singing, dancing, or self-polishing ……, but “something” that symbolizes the current era.

She said, “I started to spend my time conscious of ‘not making a black history’ (laugh). I told myself, “I am a person who will become an idol! I told myself, ‘I’m going to be an idol!’ I tried not to put funny faces on SNS or post anything that would be embarrassing when I looked back on it. I never practiced singing or dancing, but I was very professional in that area (laughs). (Laughs.) I think I was trying too hard in the wrong areas, but now that I have made my debut, I don’t have to worry about reliving my embarrassing history because of what I did back then.

A small “misunderstanding” led to the beginning of her life as an idol

Although she had a strong sense of purpose, thinking “for when I become famous someday,” she was continually unsuccessful in her audition attempts. One day, however, a small miracle of “misunderstanding” turned out to be a major turning point in her life.

She says, “I went to so many auditions, but I failed at every single one. Toward the end, for better or worse, I became accustomed to auditioning. I have a bitter memory of raising my hand in the middle of many people and showing off my skill of ‘whitening my lips,’ and the audience was shocked. ……

I was in such a hurry to send in my resume when I found out about the audition for NijiCon. I was in such a hurry that I realized later that the deadline for applications had already passed. …… (laughs).

My nickname is MEME!

Audition entries had closed a year earlier. However, the staff at the office felt that there was “something” about Ishihama, and in an unusual move, decided to interview her and accepted her. A small misunderstanding opened the door to his life as a Nijikon pre-college student. In July of this year, he was promoted to a regular student.

Thanks to a series of miracles and various people, I was able to come this far, and I have finally reached the starting point. I sometimes get depressed because I can’t perform well and there are still many things I need to work on, but I will use my positive personality as a weapon to overcome these difficulties. The other members always help me a lot, so I want to get stronger and be able to help and support those around me.

Ishihama describes his strong point as “being positive. On the other hand, she also told us about a somewhat unexpected problem.

I have always been the only one who is extremely cheerful in a quiet family (laugh). Ever since I was a child, I often thought, ‘I’m going to liven up the house! I often thought, ‘I’m going to liven up the house,’ and that may have influenced my personality. Also, I think I was influenced by “Dragon Ball,” which I love. It’s good that you are energetic ……, but I would like to see a more mature and mysterious side to you. Please look forward to the future (laughs).”

SNS followers are rapidly increasing…! She is sure to be the number one idol to watch this summer!

We want to be an idol that makes people feel happy and “glad to have liked them”!

Now that she is in the position of “being pushed,” she has a clear vision of the “ultimate idol” that she is aiming for.

I want to be an idol who makes people feel happy when they are pushing for someone, and also when they are done pushing for someone.

I was really happy when I was a fan of (Nagahama) Neru when she was an idol. Just remembering the time I spent watching her live performances, traveling long distances to go to handshake events, working hard at part-time jobs to buy goods, standing in long lines, and other seemingly arduous tasks, makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I still love and support Neru-san, but when I think back to those days, I feel as if I could have pushed her more ……! I almost feel like I’m not pushing hard enough (laughs).

I want to become an idol that my fans feel the same way about. I want to be able to do my best at something, to make their lives shine, and to be a catalyst for an irreplaceable time in their lives. To achieve this, I will do my best as a member of Niji-kon. I would be very happy if you could watch us on stage and support us!

Mei Ishihama, age 21.
Born in Ibaraki Prefecture. In 2010, she began her career as a preliminary student of the idol group Niji no Conquistador. Despite having no experience as an idol, she established her popularity in just one year and was promoted to a regular member in July of this year. For the latest information, please visit Dear Stage’s website, her Twitter and Instagram (both @ishihama_mei).

Click here to see Mei Ishihama’s photogravure and 12-minute movie on FRIDAY.

  • Photographed by Akihito Saijo

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