“I really want to win the Grammy Award.
That’s what singer and actor Reibo Akanishi (33) said at the beginning of the interview. “Reibo Akanishi, 33, is the younger brother of former KAT-TUN member Jin Akanishi, 37, and has been active in the entertainment industry for 17 years. He spoke to this magazine about his memories of his adolescence, the days when he struggled with the presence of his brother who was too big for him, and the identity he gained by overcoming it.
“My father was a movie buff. Maybe it was because he worked in the air-conditioning industry, but he especially liked movies with a masculine flavor. When I was in elementary school, we used to watch a movie called “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise together. It was this family time that made me long to become an actor.
I think my brother was already a member of Johnny’s at that time. When I was watching “Music Station,” my brother came out as a nervous backup dancer for Kinki Kids, and I was like, “What? I was so surprised. I was so surprised.
A Youthful Period of Conflict with My Brother’s Presence
During my adolescence, I did not spend a lot of time with my brother due to my busy schedule. Despite this, Reibo felt uncomfortable with her brother’s presence in her life as a high school student. Even when she entered high school, when she left the classroom after the first day of school, there were about 30 students crowding the hallway to get a glimpse of “Jin Akanishi’s younger brother. In high school, he did not make any friends and became shy.
She said, “My parents told me, ‘You can do whatever you want. My parents were the kind of people who said, ‘Do whatever you want,’ and my brother jumped into the entertainment industry in different ways, in ’98 and me later, in ’02.
While she witnessed her older brother’s debut in the entertainment industry by joining Johnny’s, Reibo herself entered the entertainment industry in a different way. Perhaps subconsciously avoiding comparisons, he seemed to be following in his brother’s footsteps, but in fact, he has had a completely different life in the entertainment industry.
“When I was 17 years old, an acquaintance introduced me to a woman who was Stevie Wonder’s interpreter, and I was placed under her care at her agency.
At the time of my debut, I didn’t know what to expect, and when I went to the
When I was 20 years old, I consulted with my agency and decided to work under the stage name ”
(laughs)” He decided to hide his surname in order to survive in the entertainment industry, but it was not an easy task, and even here, being “Jin Akanishi’s younger brother” became a kind of shackle.
“One time, I was introduced as ‘Jin Akanishi’s younger brother’ in the media. I was introduced as ‘Jin Akanishi’s younger brother’ in the media, and that may have triggered some strangers to chase me, saying, ‘Hey Akanishi! or even harassed me by putting natto (fermented soybeans) in the mailbox of the Akanishi family.
Growing sense of responsibility and change in sibling friendship
For three years from the age of 17, he continued to worry about his own abilities and the existence of his older brother. However, soon after he came of age, a turning point came with a job.
“When I was 20, I got the lead role in a play, which gave me a sense of responsibility and made me think I should take my time in establishing myself. When I was a teenager, I thought I was the only one who was different from everyone else, but I think I was still using the same words that other people were using.
At that time, she began to feel her own growth and at the same time, her relationship with her brother changed.
“When I came of age, my brother started asking me, ‘Are you okay? Is he alive? I was happy to hear that. We used to be sharp and bitter, but he invited me to have a drink with him at his parents’ house. My brother said to me, “You’re already 20 years old. I don’t spend as much time with him as I did when we lived together, but I think we’ve developed a good relationship.
After accepting my brother’s existence
After accepting her brother’s existence, Reibo gained confidence in her own activities and moved to New York by herself at the age of 23.
“To be honest, for my first four years as an actor, I earned about 250,000 yen a year. To be honest, for the first four years of my acting career, I earned about 250,000 yen a year, even if I played the lead role in a play with 200 to 300 audience members. After the performance was over, I worked part-time as a day laborer for moving at midnight, slept for an hour or two, and then went into the theater every day. I got about 18,000 yen as a midnight allowance for moving. That’s how I was able to make ends meet. After saving up some money, I went to New York by myself to test my abilities.
For about three months, I lived in the dormitory of a language school and went around asking the street performers of musicals if they had any auditions. I was even robbed of all my money by a man I befriended in the dorm, but now it’s a good memory.
While gaining these experiences and growing as an actor, in 2004 he decided to become an artist.
“It was a good decision, but it was quite an adversity until I made my debut. I was offered a chance to be an artist, but it didn’t go well and I had to drop out. During the two years I was there, there was no way I could get paid, so I had no savings. I was at my wits’ end with only one song left that I had recorded.
At that time, my older brother, who had already been working as an artist, gave me a push and said, “Why don’t you just start performing? That gave me the courage to do so. I had never been on stage as a singer before, but an artist I was good friends with gave me an opportunity to sing as a guest at a live house in Yokohama. That concert was the catalyst for my first live performance, which took place about a month and a half later.
However, as she continued her activities as an artist, Reibo felt that she was not giving her all, and in 2007 she made a decision.
“I decided that I wouldn’t return to Tokyo until I sold 2,000 albums at 3,000 yen a piece, and I did street gigs and ticket-free gigs. My manager and I drove all the way from Tokyo to Fukuoka for about four months, and we sold out of 3,000 copies. After that, we came back to Tokyo and held a live concert, and the number of audience members had quadrupled. I was so happy.
Just as I was about to do that, I was struck by the Covid-19 disease, and I had to cancel five or six gigs, and I was in debt. It was really tough. Even so, we were still releasing singles every month. This album, “Re:Start,” is a collection of those songs.
I want to take this opportunity to deepen my trust with my fans again. This is truly a fresh start.”
The band has vowed to restart from the Covid-19 disaster, and they plan to expand their activities even further in the future.
“I’ve been concentrating on music for the past five years, but next year, I’ll be playing the lead role in a musical. If you ask me what my big goal is, I would like to win a Grammy. I can’t think of anything too difficult (laughs), so I’ll be very happy if many people enjoy listening to my music and watching me perform, making their daily lives more enjoyable.
I’m going to make a new album for the 5th anniversary of my debut, produced by a certain person. I will do my best to live up to the expectations of my fans, managers, and those who follow me!
At the age of 33, her life-size challenge to become a threat to her older brother is about to begin.