Up till a few years ago, these five handsome young men had never met each other before, but were already Internet celebrities. As “Utaites” on Nico Nico Douga, Japan’s premier video-sharing site, they’ve wowed audiences with their covers of anime openings and endings, as well as popular culture songs, at times collaborating together with the help of other Utaites in a Grand Harmony. Their performances did not go unnoticed, and they were invited to perform “live” on Nico Nico Douga’s roadshows, and impressing folks to finally put them together as a real singing unit.
That was in 2011. Today, ROOT FIVE is on a roll, not only on regular Nico live shows, but now being able to hold their own with original tracks and their very own anime openings as well. Dasoku, Pokota, Koma’n, Mi-chan and Kettaro, the members of ROOT FIVE, have come from voices behind a still avatar to the male idols of today, gaining momentum and confidence with each performance, and gracing the stage of AFA Singapore.
We managed to survive their swooning gazes to bring you a personal interview with the gorgeous quintet.
If you could be someone in your group, who would you be and why?
Dasoku: If it is possible I want to be Koma’n. Because I’ll be younger.
Mi-chan: I want to play the piano. And Koma’n knows how so I would be him.
Koma’n: Differing from them, I want to be Dasoku-san. Because he has a high alcohol tolerance and I like to drink but I couldn’t drink much. If I could enjoy drinking my favourite wine everyday how great that would be.
Kettaro: I want to be Mi-chan, because he’s the tallest among all of us. That’s all. (Laughs)
Pokota: Actually, I plan to be Mi-chan but I will be Kettaro instead. It will be troublesome if everyone’s as tall as Mi-chan. And I tend to sing with a lot of vibrato in it, even when I rap. But Kettaro can rap very well; I want to be able to rap like him without the vibrato.
What do you do in your free time?
Kettaro: Eat delicious food
Pokota: Taking care of my nails
Some of the members in the group have been to Singapore before. What kind of impression do you have on Singapore? And is there anything you wish to do here this time round?
Dasoku: I really love Hainanese chicken rice. I have already eaten it four times in the five days that I’ve been here, and I plan to continue eating it.
Koma’n: Merlion, but I haven’t seen it yet and I didn’t have time to visit. If it’s possible I’d like to come again and visit the Merlion.
Kettaro: For us Japanese, the impression of Singapore is that it’s a clean, beautiful country with strict laws. But that’s not a bad thing after all, because I feel safe here. There are a lot of rubbish bins here on the roads, and I thought to myself if there’s a presence of rubbish bins around people don’t tend to litter. I wish they do this in Japan as well.
Pokota: The security here in Singapore is very good. Unlike in Japan, the culture and security is very messy. Also, Singapore’s weather is always very warm which is good because outdoor activities are not restricted and the productivity level can be constantly higher for the whole year. Our weather conditions back in Japan can change dramatically and the cold could be harsh at times which restrict us on spending time outside.
Is there any difference between as your personal work (“歌ってみた” Utaite at Nico Nico Douga), and as ROOT FIVE?
Dasoku: When I was an Utaite back then I don’t need to get out of my house much. This is the biggest difference. As members of ROOT FIVE we have to attend concerts, to meet your fans. I like both jobs though.
Kettaro: I’m the same as Dasoku-san. (Laugh)
Koma’n: I and Dasoku have the same opinions.
Kettaro: Me too. Basically, I just locked myself at home and do nothing. (Laughs)
Who are your favourite artistes?
Dasoku: Hmm…. I like this band called Extreme, most people probably won’t know about it (laughs). It’s a minor band from America.
Mi-chan: I like Hyde.
Koma’n: I like all idols.
Kettaro: A vocal group called ROOT FIVE!
Pokota: it’s got to be Gackt.
Recently, ROOT FIVE have been frequently going to Taiwan. Did you guys learn any Mandarin from Taiwan?
Dasoku: Although there are a few, the one that I really remember is 「不要」, which means, “I don’t want.”
Koma’n: I remember this phase: 「今天天气真好」which means, “The weather is good today.”
Mi-chan: 「请带我回家」which means, “Please bring me home.”
Kettaro: That’s the only phase he say in Taiwan nothing else. But no one brought him home. I remember 「好吃」which means, “Delicious”. And, 「好好吃」which means, “Really delicious”. I used this phase a lot in Taiwan.
Pokota: 「北京烤鸭」which means, “Beijing roasted duck.”
Pokota: It is very delicious and I really like it a lot.
Is there any interesting experience as ROOT FIVE?
Koma’n: Basically, we are all solo singers. This is very different from some other vocal groups in Japan. The five of us coming together to form a vocal group is a new experience. We sing, dance, compose and hold fan meetings together. Accomplishing our goals and working together feels very fresh and lively.
In all of ROOT FIVE’s activities, are there any difficult experiences?
Kettaro: Dasoku is a person with personality who doesn’t like to move when he sings. When we are dancing and performing, he alone doesn’t. I find it hard to make him look good on stage.
All of you started out as solo singers in Nico Nico Douga, but now you are able to travel to various countries and perform as a group. How do you guys feel?
Pokota: ‘Nico Nico’ also has live and ground activities in conventions around the world. As ‘Nico Nico’ artistes, we get to perform in them so we understand how it feels like to perform in front of an audience. But I find it really surprising that people in Singapore knows about anime, and know about us. And we are very surprised that we have people here that support us.
Do you have any goals or plans in the future for ROOT FIVE?
Koma’n: We have been together as ROOT FIVE for three years and I think it is really time to make some big improvements. There are many other challenges and singers who are better than us so we have to work harder and be more creative. I think it’s the time to think about the direction we are heading and improve in our skills like singing and dancing.
What are your opinions about Nico Nico Douga now past and present?
Dasoku: When ‘Nico Nico’ first started it was only a website for uploading and sharing videos. Then more features were added in like the animation corner, live broadcasts, E-book and news. Now it’s no longer a site just for uploading and sharing video, it’s more known as a Vocaloid site these days.
This is becoming like a culture and people who like this culture visit the site and events. Many students from high school to elementary visit the site frequently. I think there are people with the age gap of 6 years apart who enjoy the same culture here on the site.
What is your favourite anime?
Dasoku: I am a very enthusiastic fan of “Legend of the Galactic Heroes” there are very few people who know about the anime. It’s a very old anime but the seiyuus in it became famous after it. For now, even if there is the same seiyuu in it, I think it would be quite impossible to remake it again. The quality value of it is really high.
Koma’n: During, my middle school days it was the era of ‘Digimon’ and I have watched every series of it.
Mi-chan: Recently, I have been watching the anime ‘Gugure Kokuri-san’.
Kettaro: I really like ‘Slam Dunk’. My parents love it as well. When I was younger, I started playing basketball after watching ‘Slam Dunk’. But, the anime didn’t follow the ending like the manga. It would be great if one day they make the ending similar to the manga.
Pokota: I like Rave.
From the gifts that you’ve received from your fans, which ones do you find the most interesting?
Dasoku: I received a gift wrapped inside a paper bag. When I opened it, I saw a zombie hand in it. I got really scared but when I took it out I realized it was a telephone but it was really scary.
Koma’n: I received a lot of sailor school uniforms. Of course I don’t wear them.
Kettaro: Once I received bean sprouts. Because the presents are not directly given to us but through mail, so when I received it. It had already turned rotten and smelled really bad. I think I am really being hated a lot.
Pokota: I received a package of snacks and clothes with the receipt together with a letter. The letter says, “I’ve ate all the snacks already, but you can have the clothes.”
Mi-chan: Nintendo 3DS with Super Smash Brothers set.
Kettaro: He’s very proud of it.
That’s all we have for ROOT FIVE, stay tuned for more from Ani-Culture.net !