Publish at 2016/05/29
This is a special column for idols to talk about Japanese professional baseball.
This time, Aoki Chiharu of WHY@DOLL told us about Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in her eyes.
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, after a crushing defeat by 17 points to Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, got the second place in 2015. Led by Shohei Otani, the pitcher known for the highest winning percentage and defense rate, it is a young team with leading players mainly aged in their twenties. The ambitious group is fighting for winning the League Title for the first time in 4 years and becoming No. 1 in Japan for the first time in 10 years. Aoki Chiharu of WHY@DOLL, from Hokkaido, told us her anticipation of the team’s performance this season.
----Could you introduce yourself, please?
Aoki: I am Aoki Chiharu of WHY@DOLL. We are a two-person organic girls’ unit from Sapporo, and are now active in Kanto.
---What made you fall in love with Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighter?
---My mom was a super fan of Ham. In my primary school times, I went with her to watch their games, and became a fan of Ham myself. In high school, I was a shop assistant at Sapporo Dome, and liked them more and more.
---A shop girl in the field! Could you share with us more details?
Aoki: I felt my work quite rewarding when my heart was filled with warmth from my customers and the players. Player Inaba was there at that time, and I had an opportunity to see the special Inaba Jump. Above all, I could feel at a close distance fans’ love for the Fighters!
---- Inaba Jump is awesome. There is no exaggeration of the announcer’s words in the Japan baseball tournament that the Inaba Jump was like a 3.0-4.0 degree earthquake. Do you still remember when Fighters moved from Tokyo to Sapporo?
Aoki: I was very excited that the Sapporo Dome was built, and Hokkaido finally had its own baseball team! I watched the parade at the opening ceremony!
---So, what are special about the Fighters?
Aoki: First of all, it is based in Sapporo! As a Sapporo girl, I naturally want to support the team of my hometown! Second, not only baseball players, but also their fans become one before matches. The fighters are working very hard to in return to their fans’ support!
--- How did you feel as a supporter for the team in 2015?
Aoki: Since Kuriyama became the coach, the team has not been No. 1 in Japan yet. I wanted to see its victory and join in the victory parade.
---You know it was a shame that, in the Climax Series last year, the Fighters lost to Chiba Lotte team, which was the third of the season. Hope that the Fighters’ are doing better this season.
Aoki: Indeed. First, we need to win the Pacific League, and then become No. 1 in Japan. I even imagined the victory parade along the avenues in Sapporo.
----Do you have a favorite member?
Aoki: Shohei Otani.
---Of course (laugh). For he is a jewel of baseball! As a great pitcher, his ball speeds over 160km/h, and as batter he had more than 50 home runs in high school. Who will not love such an aggressive baseball player?
---Are there other players you are paying attention to?
Aoki: Kenshi Sugiya! He is a very interesting player, and brings a lot of fun to the game!
----He is a mood maker with his outgoing and benevolent character. He was Takaaki Ishibashi’ junior at Teikyo High School, and a member of Ishibashi Japan (laugh). As the new season is open, what is your forecast of the ranking of the Pacific League?
No.1: Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
No. 2: Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
No. 3: Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
No. 4: Chiba Lotte Marines
No. 5: Saitama Seibu Lions
No. 6: ORIX Buffaloes
--- I believe with Otani, Ham will be number 1. SoftBank, champion of last year, is also very powerful. Let’s say number 2. Lotte led by former Ham coach will be No. 3. My forecast of No. 4, 5, and 6 is based on each other’s historical scores.
---New top players are appearing every year, and half of them are under 29 years old. If you were the coach, how would you deploy this young, promising team?
1. Center fielder: Yoh, Daikan
2. Left wing: Nishikawa, Haruki
3. Second base: Tanaka, Kensuke
4. First base: Nakata, Sho
5. DH: Kondo, Kensuke
6. Third base: Laird
7. Right wing: Taniguchi, Yuya
8. Catcher: Ono, Shouta
9. Shortstop: Nakashima, Takuya
- Pitcher: Otani, Shohei
Aoki: I came up with this sequence against the sequence of the last game! I believe it is the best deployment. To vanquish SoftBank, you must rely on Nakata (No. 4) and Laird (No. 6) to get more home runs.
---Do you think there is anything in common between idols and baseball? If so, what is it?
Aoki: You support your baseball team in uniforms and with loud speakers, and you support your beloved idols in T-shirts and with flashlights. So, I think it is similar for both idols and baseball teams, when it comes to how fans, burning with the most righteous ardor, support their teams or idols! Besides, fans can get the power of dreams and wishes through watching matches or live performances of their favorite teams or idols.
---Do you have anything to say to the Fighters’ fans?
Aoki: Though I am now in Tokyo busy with performances as WHY@DOLL, I will always support the Fighters! Hope they can win this year! In addition, WHY@DOLL is growing very fast, and we will work hard to be invited to Sapporo Dome for baseball match opening ceremony. So, if you are a fan of WHY@DOLL and the Fighters, please continue your support!
---Thank you for joining us today. We hope to see you at Sapporo Dome not only for the opening ceremony of baseball match, but also for your own concert someday. Fighting!
Name: Aoki, Chiharu
Band name: WHY@DOLL
Profile: An organic girls’ unit started from Sapporo. They debuted with a single Magic Motion No. 5. Their music, based on organic sound, is a mixture of western essence in 1970s and 1980s, and Shibuya pop sound in 1990s, and has opened up a new music trend in recent years.
TOP > Aoki and Her Beloved Japanese Professional Baseball Team! What Are the Charming Points of Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in the Eyes of Aoki Chiharu of WHY@DOLL?