Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hiroko Yakushimaru - Sailor Fuku To Kikanjū (1981)

"Sailor Suit and Machine Gun", the title's translation, presents an image of tantalizing paradox in that of the bad-ass schoolgirl, an altogether not uncommon theme in Japanese media. The teenage daughter of a yakuza boss inherits her father's clan and finds herself faced with an unbelievable burden of responsibility. Originally a 1978 novel penned by prolific author Jirō Akagawa (赤川次郎), the story was later made into a film, and then into pair of television miniseries filmed over twenty years apart.

But before it all was Hiroko Yakushimaru's titular single, released November 21st, 1981 (exactly one year before this writer's birth). Anticipating the movie's release by about a month, the film's theme song, with it's dramatic keyboard stabs and melancholy air, was written music and lyrics by Takao and Etsuko Kisugi (来生たかお, 来生えつこ), respectively. The brother and sister duo helped produce a multitude of hit records together, with Takao in particular enjoying immense popularity as a singer-songwriter.

However, "Sailor Fuku To Kikanjū" was in fact a cover of sorts, only the Kisugi siblings happened to pen the original as well: Takao's single "Yume No Tochū" (夢の途中). Ultimately released a month after Yakushimaru's offering, Kisugi had originally chosen his own song as the film's theme, but reportedly director Shinji Sōmai (相米慎二) would only accept a version with Yakushimaru singing.

Takao Kisugi - Yume No Tochū (1981)

Luckily for everyone involved both the film and record were hits, and the following summer saw the first of two subsequent television miniseries. Hot on the heels of their previous success, the theme song for the 1982 series featured the same writing and production staff, only with idol Tomoyo Harada (原田知世) assuming lead vocal and actress duties.

With it the 2006 series brought a lackluster remake of the original theme, sung this time around by popular actress and leading lady Masami Nagasawa (長澤まさみ). The single, Nagasawa's first and only thus far, was released under the pseudonym "Izumi Hoshi", the name of the heroine in Sailor Fuku To Kikanjū.

Hiroko Yakushimaru - Sailor Fuku To Kikanjū
薬師丸ひろ子 - セーラー服と機関銃

And here's the film's original trailer from 1981, with Yakushimaru singing over Kisugi's instrumental:

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