A Life Changed by 100 Yen / Maeshima Ami’s “Sincere Words” ②

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QC: Ghostavich, fattoby, Zero

Maeshima Ami started with idol activities and currently focuses on voice work and theater. What are the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of this woman who strives for an honest life? These words will come sincerely from her heart.

Taken just before passing the final audition.

“A Life Changed by 100 Yen”

 In my last column, I talked about karate and the sincerity which forms the core of my being.

 This time, I’ll be writing about a “major turning point in life” for that karate girl.

 At the age of 12, I made my major debut as a member of an idol group under avex.

 I’ve done many interviews since my debut and I think the questions I’ve been asked most are “Why did you apply for the audition?” and “What made you want to become an idol?”.

 In response to these questions, I would answer, “I’ve liked idols ever since I was young”.

 This is also the truth, as I did like Hello! Project and I looked up to Tsugunaga Momoko-san, but the true reason was something else.

 I applied for the audition because of an audition magazine that my older sister bought. At the time, I was completely focused on karate and had no interest in the world of television to the point where I wondered if celebrities really even existed.

 The magazine had a spread for an idol audition by avex. My sister asked me, “Hey, do you want to take this together?”, to which I uninterestedly replied, “No, thanks”.

 My mother then said to me, “Well, if you apply, I’ll let you play that game once”.

 Back then, I was addicted to an arcade game that cost 100 yen per play.

 It was a game called “Love and Berry: Dress Up and Dance!” where you would dress up girls, play a rhythm game, and collect fancy cards.

 I very much looked forward to playing that game even just once whenever we visited a big shopping mall or arcade. I collected hundreds of cards and my long-awaited DS version of the game just happened to be released on my birthday, so the game has a special place in my heart. Back then, I was so addicted to the game that I would have done anything to play it…!

“Fine…I’ll take it”

 I said this just to get a single card from a 100 yen game.

 Hence, “A Life Changed by 100 Yen”.

 By the time I received the notice that I’d passed the first round, I had completely forgotten about the audition and my mom contacted me in the middle of a karate match.

“Hey, there’s a letter here for you”

 Passing even the first round for an audition in the entertainment industry—thinking something like this would never happen again, I took the second round with a mix of bewilderment and a desire to make memories.

 I still remember how my heart pounded as I arrived in Tokyo after a shaky train ride from Saitama.

 I sang in front of judges and had my picture taken by professional photographers for the first time. As I was about to go home after a nerve-wracking but incredible experience, I was yet again surprised when they informed me that I had passed.

“Eh? W-what should I do…”

 Up until this point, I had continued under the assumption that there was no way I’d pass. All the anxiety hit me at once and, after consulting with my parents, I decided to withdraw from the audition.

 However, a staff member from the audition contacted me afterwards and we had a talk.

“……since you’ve made it this far, why not just try and push through to the very end?”

 I remember how, upon heard those words, I suddenly felt “drawn to a world of light” hidden amongst my great anxiety towards the unknown.

 It’s scary, but maybe I do want to give it my best shot. Now that I’d decided “maybe I do want to experience the dream of show business”, I would face it head on.

 I was determined to “definitely have my debut”, and I did my best at the audition that followed.

 Nonetheless, I had no experience with singing and dancing. At first, I couldn’t keep up with the rigorous lessons and footage of me crying “it’s frustrating” was broadcasted nationwide on a morning program. It would be difficult to pass at this rate… and I spent my audition days with feelings of frustration.

 I was completely unable to sing or dance, but the more I did it, the more something within me began to enjoy it. The candidates around me who could do what I could not were so cool. I want to be able to put on “performances that reflect my heart” like them.

 As I became fascinated with the idea of expression, I desired to learn more about it. It ignited my competitive spirit that was fostered by karate.

“Since I’ve made it this far, I definitely want to perform on stage.”

 I’ll never forget how I felt the moment when the results for the final round were announced and my name was called. One of my dreams had come true, and the door to my debut would be opened.

 This is where my history of expression began. It’s already been 10 years, but I still remember every moment in detail. That’s how significant of an event it was to me.

 Sometimes, I think about what my life would be like right now if I hadn’t been so caught up in that game back then.

 I’ve discovered so much because I took that one step: entertainment that brings cheer to people, deep connections with those who support me, and works that give me proof of my existence and affirmation of my life.

 I’m glad I wanted to know how to express my heart, and that I had the courage to do so.

 I like this path of mine that was changed by 100 yen.

 Time has passed and I’m now 23 years old. I hope to continue enjoying the twists and turns that come along and live a life of expression without forgetting how it felt to take the leap back then.

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