Photo: © Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc.

An Interview With Akarin and Kanipan Of Maid Pop Unit @17

As we reported earlier this month, we attended a special public recording at the @home cafe in Akihabara of @17 no Gokitaku Shimasenka? あっとせぶんてぃーんのご帰宅しませんか? (@17's Won't You Come Home?), a weekly short radio show on Nippon Broadcasting System hosted by the members of maid pop unit @17, featuring special guests Masayoshi Ōishi and Tom-H@ck of the musical duo OxT (pronounced "okuto"), who performed "UNION," the amazing opening theme song for this season's popular TV anime series SSSS.GRIDMAN.

After the show, we had a chance to sit down with @17 leader Akarin and Kanipan who was in the center position in the unit's most recent single Natsu no Kanaria 夏のカナリア (A Canary in Summer), to find out more about @17, as well as their hopes and international aspirations for the future.


grape Japan (gJ): So, to begin, may I ask the both of you to introduce yourselves?

Akarin: Sure! I came from the sparkling Kirarin World riding a shooting star. I’m everyone’s brightest star, the leader of @17, Akarin. Nice to meet you! (giggles)

Kanipan: OK! I came from a bread factory in the northern woods. I’m Kanipan, nice to meet you, too!

gJ: Nice to meet you both.

Kanipan: Thank you.

gJ: So then, Akarin, you’re the leader, and Kanipan, what’s your position?

Kanipan: I was in center position for Natsu no Kanaria 夏のカナリア (A Canary in Summer)

Kanipan (L) Akarin (R) | Photo by © Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc.


gJ: I see, thank you. Could you tell us a bit about the concept behind @17?

Kanipan: Our concept is since maids aren’t allowed to leave the mansion, all of us in @17 go out to serve our masters and mistresses by singing songs which will make them feel happy. We’re a pop unit created for that purpose.

gJ: Ah, I get it.

Kanipan: Yes.

gJ: So what kind of activities do you have?

Kanipan (L) Akarin (R) | Photo by © Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc.

Akarin: Well, for example, we have a radio show with our name on it like this one and when it comes to big summer events, there’s the Tokyo Idol Festival, then we have our solo concerts like the one at SHiDAX Culture Hall… which was our second solo concert. Also, we’re a maid group…there are 18 maids, and each one of us has their own activities. Minarin and Chiroru, for example, are models for the fashion magazine tulle.

Kanipan: These activities are all initiated by the maids themselves. Some of us sing songs, others dance, we all have strong individual personalities. Some of us model and do gravure photo shoots, others want to sing or become voice actresses for anime. We all have separate things we want to do. And then, together, we perform at big concerts, release CDs and attend CD release events, that kind of thing.

gJ: I see. As for the both of you, do you have any other activities you’d like to do?

Akarin: Other activities? Hmm, well, there is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. You see, I love to eat!

gJ: Oh, OK.

Akarin: I really love eating, and beef bowls in particular.

Kanipan: (giggles)

gJ: Beef bowls?

Akarin: I want to be in a commercial for Sukiya [a beef bowl restaurant chain] beef bowls (laughs)

Kanipan:(bursts out laughing)

gJ: You get straight to the point, don’t you?

Akarin: Yes, I want to be in a commercial for Sukiya. You know those messages with the theme song that play in the store? “Hello Sukiya customers, it’s Akarin from @17!” It’s my dream to be that voice.

gJ: I see…

Kanipan and Akarin together: Do you get it?

All: (laugh)

Akarin: Um, actually, as long as it’s food, it doesn’t matter, I’ll do a commercial for it.

Kanipan: She’s the one in charge of food in the group so she always wants to have something to do with food…

Akarin: That’s right!

gJ: But don’t you have any other food you like, aside from beef bowls?

Akarin: Anything is good, really… A commercial for curried rice would be fine, too…On second thought, curry… Um, actually, that’s fine. Everything! As long as it’s food, I’m confident I can eat it and make it look more delicious than anyone else can!

gJ: Got it.

Kanipan: That’s right.

gJ: And do you enjoy making food, too?

Akarin: I can’t cook at all! (laughs)

Kanipan: Hey! (laughs)

Akarin: Not one bit, I can’t cook (giggles)

gJ: So, as long as you’re doing the eating…

Akarin: Yes, eating is my specialty.

Akarin | Photo by © Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc.

gJ: Alright, then, so the same question for you, Kanipan.

Kanipan: Me? Hmm, I can’t think of anything too special, but I’ve always enjoyed listening to the radio since I was little, so I think I’d like to do some work in radio.

gJ: Do you mean, your own show?

Kanipan: My own show, or a show with other members of @17 is fine, too. But not a show where we invite guests to talk like we do in @17 no Gokitaku Shimasenka? What I’d like to do is a show in which the members of @17 do most of the talking.

gJ: So, you like working with your voice…

Kanipan: Yes, I’d like to do work using my voice.

gJ: Like being an MC or a voice actress?

Kanipan: Well, since I was little, I’ve always wanted to be a newscaster.

gJ: Really?

Kanipan: Yes!

Kanipan | Photo by © Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc.

Natsu no Kanaria

gJ: Changing subjects, can you talk about your new song, Natsu no Kanaria 夏のカナリア (A Canary in Summer)?

Akarin: In all the singles we released before that song, the view of the world was from a maid’s perspective, which means cute…

Kanipan: You know, cute and pop…

Akarin: Yes, the songs all had that pop kind of vibe. But with Natsu no Kanaria, we tried a completely different mood. We didn’t smile and danced with cold expressions, and the melody was quite different from anything we’d done before.

gJ: I see…

Kanipan: In our previous songs, our dances were cute. Maid clothes are frilly and cute, right? So, the dances were choregraphed to show off those clothes in the cutest way possible. But with “Kanaria,” the dancing was characterized by sharp moves designed to look cool.

gJ: That segues perfectly into my next question. Was the choreography difficult to learn?

Kanipan: Well, when we started out, it was hard to remember the choreography. Akarin is one of the starting members but I’m something like a sophomore member. I had to start by learning the dance moves of all the existing songs, and that took up almost all of my energy. But the more lessons I took, the faster I got at learning new moves, and now I can remember after doing it a few times. But the more members there are, the harder it is to sync up your moves with the rest of them.

gJ: With Natsu no Kanaria, how many times has it been now that your songs have been made into music videos?

Both: This is the second time.

gJ: Was the choreography for the video harder this time than it was for the first one?

Kanipan: Hmm… I wonder…

Akarin: It wasn’t harder but… There are 18 of us, so getting our sharp moves in the choreography to sync up as a team was a challenge.

Kanipan: In the dance we did for the previous one, the choreography was quite difficult but this time it was simple. However, it’s precisely because the moves are so simple that the whole thing looks lame if only one person is out of sync.

gJ: Ah, I see, which is why getting sharp moves is…

Kanipan: We have to all line up…

Akarin: That’s right.

Fans all over the world

gJ: I understand. On a different subject, do you have any fans outside of Japan?

Both: Yes, we do! We do!

Kanipan: We have loads of them, fans.

gJ: So is that when you serve your masters and mistresses directly here at the café or do you make new fans by other means?

Kanipan: Well, there are many who “come home” (maid lingo for visiting a maid café) here directly. Personally, I have fans from Taiwan who are in Japan to study short-term and who come visit me all the time during their stay or fans who come see me all the time during an extended vacation in Japan. There are many of them like that.

Akarin: Once I had an opportunity as an @home café maid to serve new masters and mistresses in Chile…

gJ: Chile, South America?

Akarin: Yes, at a big event in Chile called Japan Expo…

gJ: OK, I see.

Akarin: I had the opportunity to participate in that event, and ever since then, I have Chilean masters who send me replies in Twitter saying: “I read your Tweets and your blog” and “As soon as I have a chance, I want to go to Japan to see you!”

gJ: So, what language do you use to communicate with such fans?

Akarin: Japanese! (laughs)

gJ: Japanese?

Akarin: The language in Chile, I don’t…

gJ: Spanish?

Akarin: Right, Spanish. I can’t speak it…

Kanipan (L) Akarin (R) | Photo by © Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc.

Kanipan: But you know, here at @home café, new maids all have to go through English conversation training…

gJ: So I hear.

Kanipan: …So I think we can speak English to a certain extent.

gJ: That was something I was wondering about. So… [switching to English] How is your English?

Kanipan: A little…

gJ:A little?

Kanipan: Yeah…

Akarin: Oh... gesture, gesture!... (laughs)


Akarin: [switching back to Japanese] Gesture (giggles)

gJ: Well, let’s just leave it there.

All: LOL

gJ: So then, among the foreign masters and mistresses who “come home” here, are there any who speak only in English?

Kanipan: Yes, there are. But I’m able to understand what they’re saying, somehow…

Akarin: Right.

Kanipan: It’s like, I listen to what they say, then I get an idea of what the general gist of what they want and I repeat it back to them in the limited English I know. Then, they’re like “Ahh, ahh” and seem to understand me. Also, these days, smartphones have automatic translation tools…

gJ: That’s right.

Kanipan: So sometimes they do their best with those tools and try to talk to us.

Akarin: Also, the maids here at @home café, there are quite a few more of us now who can speak English, so we also ask one of them to join the conversation…

gJ: I see…

Kanipan: Like an interpreter…

Both: (laugh)

gJ: Are there maids who actually have foreign nationality as well?

Akarin: Yes, that too!

Going abroad?

gJ: In the radio broadcast earlier tonight, the word “Abroad, Abroad” kept coming up. So, you really want to go abroad?

Kanipan and Akarin together: I wanna go!

Kanipan: You know, maids are Japanese culture, right?

gJ: OK.

Akarin: So… I mean Minarin said it earlier but… I think we’d be popular abroad… Really.

Akarin: A whole group of Japanese girls all dressed in maid clothes. Don’t you think that would stand out?

Kanipan (L) Akarin (R) | Photo by © Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc.

gJ: Yes, I’m sure you’d be popular.

Akarin and Kanipan together: Of course we would!

Akarin: So that’s why we’d like to go abroad…

gJ: Do you have a country in mind? I mean if you were to go, where would you go?

Kanipan: Hmm…

Akarin: I wonder where would be best…

Kanipan: I get the impression that there are many masters and mistresses from who “come home” from Hong Kong, so we should probably go somewhere like Hong Kong…

gJ: Or how about Taiwan?

Kanipan: Yes.

gJ: And what about Singapore?

Kanipan: I haven’t heard too much about Singapore but aren’t there quite a few from Taiwan? (looks at Akarin).

Akarin: There are many from Taiwan and Hong Kong, that’s it…

gJ: But what about Europe and North America?

Kanipan: Now that you mention it, recently there’s a master from The Netherlands who’s been coming so often!

Akarin: Oh, that’s right.

gJ: A regular?

Kanipan: Yes, a regular. We have a card system, you see, with ranks that go up in proportion to the number of times you “come home.” And when you’ve reached your 200th visit, you get a crystal card. He has one of those!

gJ: That’s impressive.

Kanipan: That’s right, it’s quite impressive.

Akarin: You know, this is something I realized when I went to Chile. In Chile, there are people who really love Japan, and many cosplayers. But Japan is very far away. So, the only thing preventing them is the distance. They just don’t know about us yet. I think we only need to go over there and we’d be really popular…

gJ: I’m sure.

Kanipan: I totally agree.

Akarin: So I think that would be the best thing for us, if we were able to go abroad…

Message for our readers

gJ: Thank you. OK, well, to wrap things up, would you like to say something to the grape Japan readers enjoying this interview?

Akarin: All of us here in @17, we’re usually all here providing service at @home café just a four-minute walk from Akihabara Station, so if you ever have a chance to come to Japan, please visit us at @home café. And as members of @17, we attend all sorts of events and perform live in various places, so if you’re interested in us, I hope you’ll come and see us there, too.

Kanipan: I think you’ll be able to fully enjoy maids which are a part of Japanese culture here at @home café. I’d be so happy if you decided to “come home” to our “mansion” to enjoy a relaxing time. Please come and see us!

gJ: That wraps it up, then. Thanks to you both.

Akarin and Kanipan together: Thank you very much.

Kanipan (L) Akarin (R) | Photo by © Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc.

NAME: Akarin

Birthday: March 25th
Origin: Kirarin World of idols
Blood Type: Star

Social Media

Twitter: @maid_akarin

NAME: Kanipan

Birthday: November 28th
Origin: Bread factory in the northern woods
Blood Type: crab

Social Media

Twitter: @maid_kanipan

More Information


© Infinia Co., Ltd.

@17 is an idol unit composed of active maids at the @home cafe in Akihabara (who are forever seventeen). It's also a coming-of-age story in which maids leave the fantasy world of @home cafe and bravely set out to follow their dreams.
In hopes of becoming cute and dreamy pop icons who can make everyone smile, the maids of @17 hope to pursue activities in music, fashion, art, anime and more. Using the magic they learned at home, they hope to deliver the best possible service to "masters" and "mistresses" all over the world. The maids' new adventures begin now!

Website: @17.

By - Ben K.