I remember her as the member with the crooked teeth. But that was 1 year ago. Now, when i think of Yuipon, i think of someone who slowly but surely amaze me. Fans don’t quickly notice her because her character is the opposite of straightforward; it feels like she willingly try to not make waves in performance and variety. The kind of girl that you find cute in the subway, but forget shortly after. Yuipon can be compared to an old wine. There’s no kick with the first sip, but then a fruity aftertaste. A delicacy that you enjoy over time. Not that i’m explaining you need to be a hipster to be a Yuipon fan, but her overall personality is much more subtile compared to Oda nana (who focus on humor) or Moriya Akane. Therefore, you need to make efforts to know more her. And it’s worth it.
“Yuipon is not your average girl. She has a cute face, long legs and impeccable hair.”
It’s true, to speak boldly during variety show, or behaving differently than others, helps you stand out and leave a huge impression. Not only Yui is the opposite, but in Keyakitte Kakenai, they use this image to characterize her as a loner : there were few segments showing her being alone backstage while the other girls were fooling around. Another segment, she explained she spent christmas alone, with only a red cap to celebrate. Later on, Sawabe (Host of keyakitte show) bought her a christmas gift to make up for it.
But her character in the group evolved in a more interesting turn of event. She incidentally became the target of Oda nana running gag, being chosen to be her love interest in the group. For someone a bit introverted as Yuipon to face the funny creepiness act of Oda involved her in the main act of keyaki variety scene. To make a shy girl embarassed, turning her all red, is the most appealing to fans. Yuipon sweet and innocent character is the best to tease. I personally don’t think you need to be straightforward to succeed in the entertainement world. If everyone were all comics making fun of each other, it would create an oversaturated atmosphere, a pace that the viewer wouldn’t follow. you need girls like Yuipon to balance with Oda nana eccentricity.
But it would be a mistake to say she doesn’t know how to “express” herself. Let’s keep in mind she entered Keyaki being 15 years old, but already had participated in music contest.
“Kobayashi Yui is a talented musician, being able to play Alt Saxophone, Piano, guitar and drums”
In her introduction video in Keyakitte Kakenai, as well as Keyaki introduction performance to fans, she didn’t hesitated to use her guitar skill to catch fans attention. Thanks to her experience, she didn’t waver because of stress and displayed a very convincing live, with a bright smile. Shortly after, fans during handshake event praised her idea to perform with a guitar. You could say she filled her lack of presence in TV show thanks to her musical performance. Something that is a real advantage to the Sakamichi series, is the individual PV. She’s fully using resources available to her to show how much she’s capable of : for example she did a 5-man music session with her on all instruments and singing. A feat that only a few are able to, and deeply impressing fans.
Management was able to witness her potential and decided to use it right on the first single, making the excellent Shibuyagawa. It was a turning point because she would endorse a new side of Keyakizaka, the pop-folk sub unit she embodies with Imaizumi. Her role in Keyakizaka went from the quiet girl to the face of the group raw music. What was the most impressive is undoubtly her “Bob dylan wo kaesanai” performance in Ariake Coliseum, with Imaizumi. It was performed live (but not the guitar) and people noticed how good Yuipon was able to control her voice, even the high pitched part. To sing perfectly her backing part allowed Imaizumi Yui to fully release her powerful voice in her solo, making the chemistry between the two even more striking. What is difficult is not Zuumin solo, but actually Yuipon part to sing accurately and not lose her focus while Zuumin is giving all she’s got. In Matome (japanese newsite) most keyaki fans voted bob dylan as the song they enjoyed the most.
“To be quiet doesn’t mean Yuipon is gloomy. She enjoys her time in the group, always singing with a bright smile with Zuumin”
Yuipon has what it takes to claim Sakamichi DNA. She did few photoshoot and just recently did modeling for Girl’s award 2017 show. But again, what impressed people was not her visual, but her acting. In Keyakitte Kakenai again, she showed she could convey emotion through a “love rejection” (失恋) segment. The quiet Yuipon perfectly played the role of a vulnerable girl confessing her love to the guy she likes. And when she was rejected, to show how heavy her heart was, how oblivious she was to know what to do, and instinctively shouting her hopelesness in the air. Sawabe and Tsuchida praised her for showing a side that fans and member didn’t know of her. You could see the other members were really into it, like it was a real japanese drama. Her acting prowess continue with her 4th individual PV, were she handle 10 min of theater play. She switched from hope, sadness, anger, confusion; reciting by heart more than 4 page of text. Undoubtly Yuipon is talented.
It’s kind of related to her joining Keyakizaka. She wanted to free herself from her natural quiet personality and acting is one of the answer. It’s very convenient as Keyakizaka is blessed with many acting opportunity since they had one drama, and another one coming in late May. Perhaps Yuipon can take a more important role to push her limit even further. To be quiet is not a default to fix, as it has is own charm, but to get out of her comfort zone is the best way to improve, and Yuipon knows it. Since her personality isn’t of someone who would confront others, it’s very unsure to say if Yuipon is someone competitive or not. The thing is, Zuumin and her have already a great responsability holding the artistic side of Keyakizaka46, that she first try to live up what management gave to them before aiming at something higher, like center position.
“It’s true Yuipon is not the kind of girl who actively approach people. But she always welcome other’s friendship with an open heart.”
It’s interesting to see the contrast between Kobayashi’s quiet personality and the role she will have in Keyakizaka future. If the group keep his incredible momemtum, the amount of work related to modeling, acting and original B-side will increase, causing her visibility to increase as well. Ironically, someone who didn’t want to stand out will eventually be in the midst of Keyaki future main project. She doesn’t have the intensity of yurina or the energy of Zuumin, but she does grow in field that goes beyond the standard profile of an idol, and can turn into Keyakizaka best asset.
Even if her natural humility won’t allow her to accept this status, Yuipon is already an irrepleacable existence to Keyakizaka, solely from her duo with Zuumin. Actually, Keyakizaka way to stand out was the style (rebellion) but A-capella singing and Accoustic instrumental is a strength that other idol group have yet to really exploit as much as Yuichanzu.
In AKB, you had member like Acchan who shine brightly to attract people, and member who build the group from behind, step by step like Sasshi. Yuipon is the kind who doesn’t shine much, but build Keyakizaka solid reputation by making good B-sides. Therefore, her role in the group is very important. Lesson to be learn, is that Keyakizaka doesn’t make the same mistake as AKB long ago : they work the group unity, giving a role to everyone. Center, singer, comedian, dancer, actress. You only need to find your path : Yuipon being the orthodox style, will probably let go of comedy and dance to focus on singing and actress. And thanks to her, the group will stand on solid grounds to reach new heights.