ROF-MAO, the all-male Vtuber unit from NIJISANJI featuring Kagami Hayato, Kenmochi Touya, Fuwa Minato, and Kaida Haru, has released their new mini-album ‘Crack Up!!!!’ on April 13, 2022. As a unit that has been active on Youtube, ROF-MAO has been working hard on producing music as well as running their very own variety show on their Channel every Thursday. Check out this exclusive interview with the boys, where they tell us about their activities as a group and what’s to come in the future as they gear up for their live event coming this July.
Q: The date of April 21 marks the half-year anniversary for ROF-MAO, ever since the group’s official debut back on October 21 of last year. Do you have any thoughts on the group’s activities so far?
Kagami: I think the concept of our videos was to see “what would it be like if we did a variety show content like the ones on TV as Vtubers and see how that’d turn out?”. I think that our fans and the community at large have started to find a liking to the style.
Q: Do you think it is because people are starting to understand the concept behind the videos and are getting acclimated to it?
Kagami: I think so. People are starting to catch on to the idea and are watching our content not because of how ‘strange’ or ‘new’ it is but rather with an attitude more like “The four went there and actually did things in real life!”. I feel that our fans as well as the people looking from the outside are all starting to get used to the notion of content in this style in the past 6 months.
Q: I see. Do you have any comments about this, Kenmochi-san?
Kenmochi: I was kind of nervous at first when I learned that we were going to do this, as I thought the main purpose of this was to get people to like us through different videos.
Q: Get people to like us huh (laugh). How did it turn out after all?
Kenmochi: After we got the ball rolling, I feel that to an extent we did have to back-straighten in a way, but also that we’re just barely getting by with it all. Just like how Shachou (Kagami’s nickname) put it, the vibe I was feeling was that we were experimenting with new ways to express ourselves. When we first revealed that we were going to do a regular series, I think our viewers were taken aback at first. But now I think that we’re getting the hang of running the show and are able to deliver what people have come to know as NIJISANJI content in a whole new way.
Fuwa: I personally found it surprising that we’ve already hit that half-a-year milestone! I feel like I’m still carried by the excitement when ROF-MAO first banded together and started off you know? Until now, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s already been that long.
Kaida: I’ve also felt as though the past 6 months flew by so fast that we’ve been able to work with different people on the show. When we first started as ROF-MAO I think all of us, viewers included, held uncertainty as to what kind of unit we were. I’m glad that over time we’ve been able to cement our image as a group in a way. We’re just getting started, and these past six months are pretty much like the ‘prologue’ of what’s to come and get our fans to know us as ROF-MAO.
Q: What would you say was the most memorable moment so far as a group on or off the air?
Kagami: There’s a lot I can recall in terms of things we did on the show. I especially remember how fun it was when we had a triple-feature video on our channel. Maybe we’ve never mentioned it on record, but the episodes “Go-Kart’, ‘No Plan Road Trip” and “Yakatabune” were all shot on the same day you see. The plan for the day was to go on a full-day trip where we soak up everything we could find in Tokyo and make a video out of it, so having a recording session outside of the studio was exciting and it was all I could think of when we were in the car being driven around by Kaida-san.
Q: And that leads us to Kaida-san, What was the most memorable moment for you?
Kaida: The episode where we were on the yakatabune boat was really fun and I can probably recall exactly how the recording went that day. I don’t see myself as an outdoor kind of guy, so I never thought I’d be getting on a night cruise in my life. Being a Vtuber also makes you quite the shut-in, so watching the nightscape on that boat and taking photos as a part of the video was very memorable to me.
Q: What would you say was your memorable experience, Fuwa-san?
Fuwa: Just like the other two, I’m also more attracted to the outdoor shoots and activities we did for the show, especially since I don’t find the occasion to go outside myself either. In terms of the most fun I had with the group, I’d say it was the go-karts. Episodes, where we have guests are great as well, but I think we act all formal around them too much…
Q: Speaking of guests, that episode with syudou-san comes to mind (laugh)
Fuwa: We were so nervous in that episode but yeah, we had so much fun too.
Fuwa: Probably the worst it’s ever gotten to me was the “Safari Park” episode. In truth, my head wasn’t in the right place since I didn’t get much sleep since I was recording the night before, which was the day we did the ‘Ghost Hunting’ episode. That video shows me tired as heck and it certainly didn’t help that we had to be at the safari park super early in the morning. I was blue sitting in the car, where Kaida was driving and you can tell since I’m not talkative throughout the episode. Check out the video if that interests you though!
Kenmochi: There is a part where we had to escape the animals with a boat at full speed, but it might not come out as a video, as it got a little dicey.
Q: A boat? (laugh)
Kenmochi: Essentially there was a part like that in a recording session where we used a boat. Even though it looked risky from the outside, I think all of us kind of got a kick out of the thrill at the moment when it happened. Maybe we can somehow put that footage out as part of a video soon? If that ever happens, I’d hope our viewers will love it.
Kagami: We really need to get at least that part of the footage out for the world!
Fuwa: Looking back at the moment, I think we all sort of got carried away (laugh)
Q: The show has become something to look forward to every week! Getting back to the topic of the new mini-album ‘Crack Up!!!!’ which was released yesterday, it’s already ranked 1st place on both the Oricon and Billboard charts in the weekly albums section. Quite a promising start for a new unit!
Kagami: It’s weird to say, but the whole “we got 1st place on Oricon & Billboard ” doesn’t feel real to me since people around us didn’t make a fuss about it. At least, that’s how I experienced it. Wasn’t that how it went for you guys as well?
Kenmochi: Seeing ads about it in the train stations and hearing our tracks in anime shops made me realize how big of a deal it was. It made me think, “So this is what it’s like to hit it big…!”.
Kagami: When you put it like that, I did make a conscious effort to avoid CD shops for a while just so I didn’t see how our album did in stores… That’s probably why I didn’t catch on to the news at first.
Fuwa: The ‘Crack Up!!!!’ ads posted on the station platforms were pretty huge, and I did end up seeing those.
Kaida: I felt the exact opposite since when I heard the news I had to take a minute and think “Wait, are we actually that popular!?”. It was a real eye-opening moment (laugh).
Kagami: I see. It’s almost like the early version of the ‘Spirit Gun’ from YuYu Hakusho in that it took all of us and the many staff that worked on the project to inject their efforts into one shot to make such a blow.
Q: Speaking of ROF-MAO as a group, it’s also noteworthy that all four of you were already putting out music content on your YouTube channels. Could you each comment on who is your greatest inspiration in music production?
Kaida: Mine would have to be ryo. His tracks for supercell and EGOIST are a big inspiration, though I’d also say that the vocalists working on the songs are also integral to how I approach music in general.
Kagami: Questions like these are hard for me since I have so many musicians I’d like to mention. But when I have to pinpoint it down to one artist, I’ve always said that it’s Motoo Fujiwara of BUMP OF CHICKEN. Fujiwara-san was the first rock band artist that hooked me in.
Fuwa: I also have a lot of artists I’d love to list, but if there’s only one I can say it’d probably be TAKUYA∞ from UVERworld. Way back then, as a hobby, I would perform at live houses (music clubs), and the staff was talking about how much they, “always give it their all in their performances”. It was all word-of-mouth, so I don’t know the entire story, but their stance and attitude as an artist is a big part of why I kept doing music.
Kenmochi: Recently we’ve been blessed with opportunities to be able to work with many people in the industry, so I would probably say that my inspiration is FLOW since I recently had a chance to perform with them. It was at last year’s “NIJISANJI Anniversary Festival 2021 Zenyasai feat. FLOW”, and being with them on stage convinced me why they continue to be so popular all this time. The many years of experience complete these amazing people, and that’s how they pull it all off. It was a very humbling experience, and it also led me to ponder over “how to present myself on stage” and “where I should be looking up to”.
Q: How is the mini-album actually produced? Is it like recording vocals while the track is already complete?
Kagami: If I recall correctly, the production of the whole thing began around the end of 2021.
Kaida: The voice recording was mostly done by splitting us into two groups. The first group was me and Shachou (Kagami’s nickname), and the other group was Mochi-san (Kenmochi’s nickname) and Fuwa-san. The parts in the tracks where we had to sync up and harmonize became a matter of which group recorded first, and the second team then followed along with the groundwork.
Q: The featured songs have a lot of harmonization and call-and-response segments. Was it challenging to perform those?
Kagami: It did take us a while to get a take we were all satisfied with, that’s for sure.
Kaida: It sure was.
Q: There were some moments where the songs would go into some humorous banter between Kaida-san and Fuwa-san as well.
Fuwa: The banter? Oh, that part?
Q: That part indeed (laugh) It sort of feels like it could break the tone of the song right in the middle.
Kaida: When I was recording that part, I had to basically imagine a Fuwa Minato inside my head and think to myself “What would he be saying to me?”
Kagami: Oh yeah, we had to record those on a completely separate day.
Kaida: Fuwa-san and I were separated into different groups. I remember our schedules being packed when we were recording for it.
Q: Many artists have participated in the production of this album, such as Q-MHz-san, Shutou-san from KEYTALK, syudou-san, Kenichi Maeyamada-san (also known as Hyadain), Noy-san and Keiichi Hirokawa-san from MONACA. Were you able to meet them in person? Did they give any directions and feedback during the recording process?
Kaida: All of the collaborators were there to give us advice. They gave us so many great ideas on what they wanted to do on each track of the album, and it made the recording sessions go along swimmingly.
Fuwa: I especially remember the sessions with Maeyamada-san because of how smoothly everything was set. I remember him just giving the thumbs-up on almost every take we recorded and him saying “OK!”, “OK!!”, “OK!!!” on all of them.
Q: It sounds like your vision for the song was very much aligned with Maeyamada-san. No offense, but conversely, what was the song that took the longest to record?
Kagami: For me, it was “Shitteiru Tegami” (知っている手紙).
Kenmochi: I think it was “Shitteiru Tegami” for me as well.
Kagami: This song has a very literary and novelistic tone in its lyrics, and we had to make sure everything was delivered correctly through our vocal performance. Even for the same phrases, we’d do several takes to change our inflections and nuances, so it took up a lot of time in production. I recall the production process began with us discussing and trying to find a compromise between Hirokawa-san’s vision and what we wanted to do in the song.
Kenmochi: Where the other songs would carry an energetic vibe, this song stands out with it having a more emotional tone to it. We tackled the song with different approaches, like being more conscious about our expression while singing. Outside of that, we took a lot of time experimenting with different ideas.
Q: Out of all the songs in the album, which song would you recommend for first-time listeners?
Fuwa: All of the tracks have a different flavor, so I’d say it’s up to your mood and what you’d want to listen to at any specific moment. But if I had to recommend one, I’d say “Shitteiru Tegami.” It sort of sounds like I’m just going off what the other two already said, but I think the guitar and bass sound awesome at the end of the song.
Kenmochi: I’d recommend “Shitteiru Tegami” to anyone who only knows us from 『木１０！ろふまお塾』(Thursday 10PM! ROF-MAO Cram School). The track expresses a different side and personality of all of us that I think our fans would appreciate.
Kaida: For me, it’d be “Luck Hack.” It has a catchy intro that was done by Vocaloid producer Noy-san. I remember having to go over the song multiple times at home just to wrap my head around its complex composition as well as get the hang of singing the super high notes.
Kagami: Kaida-san sounds nearly perfect on that one(laugh).
Kaida: I remember being praised a lot by Shachou at the recording session and feeling great heading home that day (laugh).
Q: Which song would you recommend, Kagami-san?
Kagami: I would probably suggest “I Wanna! You Wanna!” since it’s my favorite track on the album. It took me by surprise that it was composed by the same Shuto-san from The Cabs. When I heard that he was a band-man for KEYTALK, I didn’t piece it together until much later, and I remember being dumbfounded by the fact.
Q: Even though Shuto-san may work as part of KEYTALK now, his work as the vocal/bass of The Cabs was something else.
Kagami: The song isn’t something The Cabs would perform, but the last pre-chorus of the song has an incredible bass phrase. The performance almost sounds like a Billy Sheehan track.
Q: You mean the bassist from the rock band, Mr.Big?
Kagami: That’s the one (laugh). It just goes on like “Brrrt! Brrrrt!” with the bass going wild. Other than that, the song also has a whole lot of chanting going on, and I recall thinking to myself, “Isn’t this too much?”. I must say that the recording sessions were a blast though.
Q: Has being part of ROF-MAO changed how you go along with daily life? Is there anything that you have become more conscious or even cautious about?
Kagami: There’s a meeting we hold with the staff team once a week where we try to cook up ideas for the weekly videos. If there’s anything I’ve become more conscious of in daily life, it would be the fact that I keep asking myself “What if we film ourselves doing so-and-so?” or “Could this be good video content?”. You have to keep looking for potential material everywhere you look.
Fuwa: For me, doing videos as part of ROF-MAO and filming from morning to midnight taught me one thing – get more sleep before going to the filming sessions! I became a lot more conscious about it in other work as well.
Q: I recall you mentioned something similar to this in another stream too.
Kagami: It must have made a big difference. A while ago, there was a day when he was well-rested, and he wouldn’t stop mentioning how good his body felt. He mentioned it like 13 times or so that day (laugh).
Kaida: I remember it now (laugh). It’s really obvious when Fuwa-san looks like he’s about to zonk out during recording sessions.
Q: (Laugh) Let’s get back to the subject, how about you Kaida-san? Has ROF-MAO changed your daily life?
Kaida: Just like Shachou, I’m always looking for recording material all the time. I even take notes on what other content creators do in their videos. Other than that, I also make sure not to get hurt. The show has us doing a lot of physical stuff, so getting banged up before recordings isn’t great. I’m quite reckless so I need to make myself more conscious of not spraining my legs or jamming my fingers even though the staff and filming crew make sure that things are safe while recording.
Q: Do you have anything that you keep in mind about the average day-by-day Kenmochi-san?
Kenmochi: Things I keep in mind… I do have a rule to “not take things too seriously” nowadays. I try not to overplay the Idol-like behaviors like being too smarmy or biting more than I can chew on and off-set. It’s something I’m careful not to act on since being in showbiz sometimes gets you in situations where you have to sell your soul so to speak. I think it helps with being grounded.
Fuwa: Sort of like a code of honor for ROF-MAO to follow?
Kaida: I think it’s like a thing we should always stand for.
Kenmochi: Yeah yeah. Something like that.
Q: Lastly, do you have any comments regarding the upcoming “Kuzuha & Kanae & ROF-MAO Three-Man Live Aim Higher” live event held on July 27? If so, is there anything in particular that you would want to do on stage?
Kaida: It’d be nice to show everyone some kind of progress, as in “Look what we can do now!”. This live event will be the first time we get up on stage, so I’m really excited to be able to feel that ‘liveliness’ performing in front of our fans.
Fuwa: I sort of picture the event as if it’s going to be a battle between different units. Mainly since the event features 3 artists: us (ROF-MAO), Kanae-kun, and Kuzuha-kun. It’s going to be a good time and we’ll definitely do our best going so as not to get outshined by the others.
Q: Thank you for the input. Do you have anything on the question, Kagami-san?
Kagami: It’s going to sound strange, but I think it’s important for us not to have our fans content with what they experience or think that “It was good just like enjoying a usual live”.
Q: “To have them not completely content,” you said. Why is that?
Kagami: In a sense, I feel as though holding a live performance as NIJISANJI has become much more of an established thing. Everyone except Kaida-san has been on many Live stage events before this, so if we can’t bring something completely new to the table, something unique, I think there won’t be a next time for us (ROF-MAO).
So keeping in line with that thought, I believe it’s important that we don’t sell ourselves short by having our fans just think the live performance was “good like last time”.
Q: That makes sense. Finally, how about you Kenmochi-san?
Kenmochi: Since I’ve experienced the most live performances out of all of us, I’d say events like these have gone a long way since I started as a Vtuber. It’s not because of how stoic Shachou put it about how we as ROF-MAO should aim higher, but because everyone from the lighting crew, sound crew, producers, and every single backstage member has the same mindset. It’s a 3-unit event, as well as the first time for us to step on the stage as a unit. So even though it might be overwhelming, we hope ROF-MAO can deliver something truly unique and brand new as a performance.
Q: I see. It sounds like it’s going to be an exciting July! Thank you so much for your time and input into the mini-album and what to look forward to in the near future!
ROF-MAO: Thank you very much!!
ROF-MAO is an all-male unit of the VTuber group NIJISANJI, featuring four extremely popular male talents, including Kagami Hayato, Kenmochi Toya, Fuwa Minato, and Kaida Haru. The boys star in a new regular series titled ‘Thursday at 10! ROF-MAO Cram School.’ The four VTubers combined have over 1 million subscribers on YouTube.
The original article was written by Kusano Kou and published by SPICE.
The article link can be found here: https://spice.eplus.jp/articles/302719