When I got to Japan in the summer of 1989, the era of the 70s/80s ranking shows was coming to a close. The legendary "The Best 10" was closing down in September after nearly 12 years, and "The Top 10" would end its decade-long run in 1990. Shows like "Music Station" and "Music Fair"were still there and still are, but they weren't quite the same.
However, in my second run at living in the country, I found out about another music ranking show. But unlike the "10"s, this one came on in the early, early hours of Sunday morning on TBS, and instead of flesh-and-blood hosts and announcers, the people running the show were actually CG characters. Welcome to the world of "Countdown TV".
It wasn't must-see TV for me, but if I ended up staying up past the midnight hour on Saturday and still had that coffee coursing through my veins, I would catch "CDTV" at its usual time slot of 12:55 a.m. Hosted by Abi-kun, Kikuchi-kun, and a third female character which has changed over the years since its debut in 1993 (currently it's Maki), the three of them would hyper-cheerfully introduce the Top 50 songs of that week, along with lists as specific as the Top 10 ringtone songs or television drama themes.
The lists are given during the first half of its 45 minutes. Then in the second half, there would be the performances of various singers and bands. I remember a lot of folks that I "discovered" by watching the show: Namie Amuro, L'Arc-en-Ciel, Nanase Aikawa, UA, etc. Of course, the final moments would highlight the Top 3 of the week.
As the year comes to a close, there is a 2-hour special of the show, but this one is manned by humans such as professional TBS announcers and tarento.
The glory days of "The Best 10" and "The Top 10" may be gone, but if one is a bit of a night owl over the weekend, there is always "Countdown TV".