The following is a translation of HuffPost Japan’s interview with Goro, Tsuyoshi, and Shingo on December 31, 2017, just before the live AbemaTV broadcast.
Beginning in 2017, Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Shingo Katori began walking a new path together.
The three appeared on the Internet TV network, AbemaTV, for the New Year’s Day broadcast of “27Hun Honno Chotto TV.” Their work began at 12:45 AM, for a live broadcast lasting 27 minutes.
Before the broadcast, on the night of December 31st, they answered questions from the press. Looking back on their activities during 2017, we discuss their mental state one year since the disbandment of SMAP and what their hopes are for 2018.
What are your thoughts looking back on the year?
Goro Inagaki (G): Then we’ll start with me. It truly became an unforgettable year. Even though various things occurred, many people lent us their love and power. With the power of our staff and fans, we were able to start Atarashii Chizu in September.
I believe we were able to have a great start with “72 Hour Honne TV.”
From here on out, there are many unknowns, but step by step, with this map in hand, it would be nice if we can be trailblazers of unexplored regions together with everyone. From now on, I want to make many dreams come true. 2017, thank you.
Shingo Katori (S): Before I look back on 2017, when Goro-chan started talking, he was making eye contact. Are your legs okay? *laugh*
(Editor’s Note: It looks like sitting in seiza is painful.)
*laughter from the press*
S: Goro-chan, it looks like you’re thinking “I have to keep sitting like this?” *laugh* Sorry…
(Tsuyoshi is watching and says, “What? It’s fine, right?”)
Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (T): I train for this every day, so I’m fine!
*laughter from the press*
S: We started new things in 2017. Today is December 31, 2017, and I didn’t think we’d be able to gather here with all of you from the press. Everyone, I really appreciate the work you do.
We’ve had many chances like this before, but this is the year where I really think “thank you very much” to everyone.
Without knowing what 2017 would hold in store for me, I took a giant step forward with many people supporting me. It truly wasn’t just my own power alone. 2017 is a year I will relish more than any other year in my life. I’m grateful. Thank you.
T: It’s just as Shingo said. I’m so grateful for everyone gathered here today on their busy New Year’s Eve. Thank you.
Throughout the year, I took it step by step, but I believe we were able to take a really big step.
And recently, Shingo uploaded what looked like a very colorful painting to Instagram, and I thought that colorful painting symbolizes our year.
And there’s Goro’s blog. The other day, he uploaded a framed picture of “Atarashii Chizu.” There’s the framed picture together with the wonderful supportive comments, and the words I wanted to say today are written there. Especially since I rarely can say things like that, please read and it’d be nice if you’d write them as my own. *laugh*
*laughter from the press*
G: Isn’t that strange? *laugh*
S: If you don’t say it, we won’t know, right? *laugh*
T: Can I change sitting position? *laugh*
*roaring laughter from the press*
S: If you don’t tell us, we won’t know, right? What was written?
T: A lot was written, so I can’t remember… *laugh*
But he said, “I will fill up the loss in everyone’s hearts.” Can we properly do that? Those words were a glimpse into an open Goro and were impressive. Even so, he said we’re in a place full of solace. I also empathize with the feelings written there.
This year, starting SNS, we’re able to know the current state and feelings right away. We’ve truly stood on a new stage.
One thing I can say is that YouTube is the hardest…
G: You say hardest, but it’s hard for everyone, right? *laugh* And didn’t you say “we can do this at home with papa?”
T: I never said such a thing. *laugh* Videos are hard!
G: Kurumi-chan (Tsuyoshi’s dog) is very popular.
T: With new things, there’s confusion, but with everyone’s support, I feel we’ll be able to welcome 2018. We’re very grateful. Thank you.
…my legs are asleep. *laugh*
2018 is beginning with AbemaTV’s “27Hun Honno Chotto TV,” but what are your goals for 2018?
T: We’re [heading foward] at a rapid pace. First, we’re going to take care of the big project, Atarashii Chizu, and the movie. There are definitely people who want to watch, and many NAKAMA will be there, so I want us to treat each and every connection with care.
This is by no means about us doing really big things, but if we’re able to make our projects I think we’ll take care of the connections we have right now.
S: For 2018, I want to be excited with everyone. We’re beginning with “27Hun Honne Chotto TV,” and it was the same with “72 Hour Honne TV,” but the feeling is “I wonder what we’ll be doing.” There’s a lot they haven’t told us [before the live broadcast.]
I heard we’ll be on air for “27 Hun Honno Chotto TV” with one smartphone on a selfie stick. We can do something like that [in today’s day and age].
*pointing* Isn’t there a camera over there? We’re not going to use it, but they said it’s there just in case. It looks like I’ll be using the single phone for 27 minutes. And I just heard something that really surprised me. When the staff was holding it for a small test, they told me “it’s difficult to handle, good luck!” Even though we put on that large-scale 72-hour program, we’re using a single cell phone for 27 minutes! *laugh*
Trying new things without knowing what’s going to happen until the last minute is exciting and fun. I hope for 2018, every day can be exciting for us and everyone that supports us.
G: They already said it, but from now on we’re starting. After this, our first project is the film with all three of us, Kusoyaro to Utsukushiki Sekai. I’m very much looking forward to it. It’s our first attempt, and I want us to live up to everyone’s expectations. I love acting together and want to make a great film.
We gathered together like this already in 2017, and many gave us their attention for the award acceptance in a magazine and many watched 72 Hour Honne TV.
Nonetheless, as a result, it’s not that we still left behind our accomplishments or there’s something to show the world once again. From now on, we must brace ourselves and try our best for the things that “can be seen.” We have to try to gather everyone like this again next year for an interview.
We started SNS. I thought I was close to these two, but I discovered unexpected things about them I didn’t know. Until now, I had failed to notice I’d been in a bit of a rut, but this year we started again and rediscovered many things. I’ll never forget how I feel now. In 2018, I want to keep moving forward but we’ll also take it step by step.
It’s December 31, 2017, exactly one year has passed since SMAP’s disbandment. Could you have imagined your current situation back at that time?
S: I didn’t imagine this at all. I never thought that I’d be able to have a smile like this and say “I didn’t imagine this at all!”
Lately, it’s been a joke, but “Shingo Katori is retiring?” was being said over and over. I said “No, no, that’s not true. I’m still looking forward, I’ll [work]”, but to be here smiling in front of these golden screens? And to be able to do a New Year’s broadcast? I didn’t think this day would come.
Were you worried a year ago?
There was uneasiness, but we felt “well, we have to start.” But I really didn’t think it would be like this.
You’ve tried things like the Internet and SNS and discovered new things. Is it fun?
T: There’s a strong sense of connection since we get back thoughts directly. For example, before now, even if a project has been decided, there’s a lag. Now, we can directly announce it and let people know. That really feels nice.
G: It’s really enjoyable. It’s something we haven’t had until now. Of course, I think there have been many people who have been waiting for this, but there’s also many who are doing this for the first time with us. I realized that we’re learning about SNS together.
Once I [tweeted] my GPS information and [fans] taught me about that. Shingo also often asks questions on Twitter. There will be much more happening from now on, but right now I’m having fun.
I’m really glad to be connected with fans through SNS realtime. That brings us joy. We are able to really communicate with our wonderful fans.
S: It’s a ton of fun.
I use Twitter and Instagram. I love taking and uploading pictures, but I think Kusanagi’s YouTube channel is trouble.
I want to do more and more but I wonder how much is too much. I do about 1 Instagram photo a day. I’m often awake in the middle of the night and wonder even if I update a lot, will people wake up? Questions like that, I ask on Twitter.
But YouTube is nothing but Kurumi-chan.
T: That’s true. Kurumi saves me.
S: I recently saw the video for Kurumi-chan’s birthday, with this it’s a temporary conclusion for Kurumi-chan? Well, I’m looking forward to YouTuber Kusanagi from now on.
T: I’m planning to upload a New Years greetings with Kurumi tomorrow.
Everything is Kurumi. She’s more popular than me. Kurumi gets more retweets than me. I’m kind of jealous that she’s more popular. Even going for walks, people ask “can I shake Kurumi’s paw?” What about me? I’m thinking about various different projects to upload so I don’t lose to her.
Today is New Year’s Eve. Did you watch NHK’s Kouhaku?
T: Mirko Filipovic was strong. (He appeared on RIZIN FIGHTING WORLD GRAND-PRIX 2017）
*laughter from press*
S: I watched Naomi (Watanabe) dancing a little while ago. It wasn’t as Beyonce, but Lady Gaga?
Do you want to appear on Kouhaku again?
S: We were able to appear many times, for a long time. Thinking about it once again now, it was an honor and a wonderful time. It’s really awe-inspiring. It’s an awe-inspiring feeling.
G: Things are really brand new. I think we’re starting from zero, without anything. Isn’t appearing something everyone aims for? Up until now, we were able to (stand on the Kouhaku stage), and Shingo put it perfectly, it’s awe-inspiring.
S: When you say New Year’s Eve, it was a strange routine to head over there and have a performance. It was natural to think that way back then, but thinking about it now, we were there on an amazing stage. But, I just saw earlier there was a Naomi Lady Gaga. *laugh*
On December 24th, “72” was released.
T: Even though it’s taken the shape of the something like a theme song for “72 Hour Honne TV,” it has lyrics like “from now on we’ll upload your favorite moments,” and overlaps our current feelings and with the program. It’s a really fitting song.
Do you want to do things like releasing music from now on?
S: Since I love singing, I think I want to sing. But… I wonder if I can start a YouTube channel too and be able to sing what I like.
T: Let’s see… Do it? Okay, let’s switch next year.
*laughter from the press*
T: I’ll do Instagram, Shingo will do YouTube, and Goro-chan will…
G: I’ll keep blogging like I am? *laugh*
T: No matter what, everyone will do what they like and I think that’s okay. Do things without getting carried away. Since I love guitar, I do things like getting carried away by my passions.
G: If we get the chance, of course, I want to [sing], since everyone loves singing and dancing and acting.