I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ryoko Shinohara -- Itoshisa to Setsunasa to Kokorozuyosa to (恋しさとせつなさと心強さと)

In the months before I left for Japan in the early 90s, I'd heard bits and pieces from some of my anime-loving buddies about this song. As far as I recollect, my friends loved their anime and computer games but were not too much into the music. However, that seemed to have changed when they spoke about "Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie", and its theme song.

I'm not sure what the circumstances were but one night, either my anime friends were having a small presentation of some of their favourite programs or the Japanese drama-viewing segment of the Japanese-Canadian Students Association was having their regular Wednesday-evening meeting at the International Student Centre at the University of Toronto. I stepped into the room and saw a Japanese music video playing in which some fetching young lady was dancing and singing in front of a set of curtains that made it look like she was performing on the set of "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson".

Two decades later, Ryoko Shinohara(篠原涼子) is now a firm fixture on Japanese TV but solely as a dramatic actress and commercial pitchwoman. She was recently the tough-as-nails detective on "Unfair" and had a recurring role in that other police show franchise, "Odoru Dai Sosasen"踊る大捜査線....Bayside Shakedown). However, back in the early 90s, she had been just out of the girl dance-pop group, Tokyo Performance Doll, and making her foray into the solo business. She hit pay dirt with her 4th single, "Itoshisa to Setsunasa to Kokorozuyosa to"(With Yearning and Misery and Reassurance) when it was released in July 1994. It was made for that "Street Fighter"movie, but I think it just took on a life of its own outside of the anison field.

By the way, the above video is Shinohara plugging the "Street Fighter II" game. As I said, "Itoshisa to Setsunasa to Kokorozuyosa to"became a monster hit in J-Pop in general. It hit the top spot on Oricon, and was the 3rd-ranked song of 1994 with only Mr. Children and Kohmi Hirose(広瀬香美) topping her. In fact, Shinohara and her most successful hit ultimately topped the 2 million mark in sales, becoming the very first female solo singer to do so. The song also earned a Japan Record Award and an invitation for the ex-TPD member to appear on that year's Kohaku Utagassen for the first time. Considering where she is now, it seems an eternity ago when she was a commercially successful pop star.

For those who are very familiar with J-Pop of the 90s, the song has that distinctive Tetsuya Komuro(小室哲哉) techno touch which would become the representative pop sound for several years in that decade. The single was also a track on Shinohara's 2nd album, "Lady Generation", released in August 1995. It would also hit No. 1 and be the 45th-ranked album of that year.

Strangely enough, in my early years in Japan in the 90s, although I knew Shinohara's success as a singer and would know her later career as a full-time thespian, I first saw her mostly as one of the zany sketch players in "Downtown's Gottsu 'A' Kanji"ごっつええ感じ....Downtown's Feelin' Good), the wildly popular Sunday night Fuji-TV comedy show of the wildly popular Osaka manzai duo, Downtown. Far from the sexy figure on that music video, Shinohara usually played the (victimized) straightwoman or a cutesy-cutesy character.


  1. Thanks J-Canuck for all your recent posts especially this one for 篠原涼子, one of my favorite J-Dorama actresses. While she is most identified with the hit series アンフェア and its movies, I kind of liked her more in the series 黄金の豚 where she played a similar "tough girl" role but also had a chance to show off her fun side as well. I dunno, a lot of fans have remarked at how voluptuous she is but her スリーサイズ aren't particularly that out of the ordinary (バスト80 - ウエスト60 - ヒップ 85 - C カップ) Hard to believe that she will be 40 this year. She still looks absolutely stunning! She definitely has had a rough and "unfair" life (losing her mother while still a baby and then losing her father only days after getting married in 2005). Speaking of アンフェア, the series will return later this year with 北乃きい headlining the series. I'm hoping that Shinohara makes a guest appearance on the series at some point but as she is currently pregnant with her 2nd child, I'm not sure if that will happen.

    ストリートファイターII MOVIE was absolutely awesome and is the definitive "Street Fighter" film! Shiohara's theme song made the final fight between リュウ, ケン and ベガ all that more exciting and memorable. Definitely was far superior to the American live-action adaptation (abomination) with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia.

    Even though it was mostly a gimmick song, I kind of wished 宮前真樹's 夢へのポジション was also included in the movie soundtrack. It's kind of goofy song but Miyamae (CoCo) looks so cute in her 春麗/Chun-Li costume which she wore when she sang the song.

  2. Hi, JTM.

    I've never found Shinohara to be particularly voluptuous, although she is quite attractive and she was in a fairly racy underwear commercial some years ago.

    I think considering some of her more comedic roots, I wonder what the possibilities would be for her to try out some more comic fare on the tube. As I said, she was more a straightperson to the zanier types on that old Downtown variety show, but I could see her becoming a bit more of the funny woman type.

  3. As I've already taked to J-Canuck sometime ago, I discovered Shinohara in an episode of "Music Station" in the middle of the last year. It ended becoming my "jam" for the rest of 2012. It also made me buy two of Shinohara's three albums in ebay, and, luckily, the single for the song featured in this article. The single, by the way, was very cheap, as I bought it here in Brazil from a guy who were visiting Japan at the time it was released.

    I'm still in love with Shinohara. I agree tha she isn't that voluptuous, but I also agree that she is very attractive.

    I started watching some of her dramas as well. Until now, I finished "Tsuki no Koibito" (2010), "Anego" (2005), and "Haken no Hinkaku". Also, I'm in the middle of "Hanayome wa Yakudoshi" (2006), and "Ogon no Buta" (2010) is just waiting for its time.

    I just loved "Haken no Hinkaku". It was so funny and her acting, very cool. I plan to watch it again later with some friends.

    As for the song "Itoshisa to...", the best part for me is probably the synth melody played at the end of the song. It's pure "Komuro magic". The extended version of the song feature this synth melody more than once, which is great. And her voice is pure magic as well. That's not her best song, vocally speaking. But I came across other songs, like "Rhythm to Rule" (2000), where her vocals were very mature and beautiful.

    Oh, I could spend my day talking about Shinohara and her discography, but J-Canuck would just kill me, haha.


  4. Hi, bode. Good to hear from you again. And no problems about discussing her discography....that's part of the reason I put up this blog in the first place. "Itoshisa" is the only Shinohara song I know, so if you and JTM wanna continue the discussion and make recommendations, please go ahead. Then I can try and listen to them on YouTube.

    I guess the only other song I partially know would be "Lady Generation".

  5. J-Canuck,

    You should try 薔薇が眠れるまで ("Bara ga Nemureru Made"). Put in youtube and you'll find a very old video of an young Shinohara singing this piece. It's one of my favourites from her, and it have a very melancholic feel. It's the last song from her first album, pre-Komuro days.

    Changing topic a little, i always forget to ask you something. Do you know Megumi Hayashibara? She is a famous seiyuu and sings a lot of anime songs, like the opening themes from "Slayers" and "Saber Marionette J". Perhaps she is most famous from voicing Rei Ayanami, the "Neon Genesis Evangelion" character.

  6. Hi, bode.

    I just listened and saw the Shinohara video on YouTube, and yep, she looks positively high school-ian. Nice song and quite different from her work with Komuro...definitely more aidoru-ish from the turn of the decade. Speaking of which, by chance, would you happen to know when this song was released? I couldn't see it in the list of her singles on J-Wiki.

    I have heard the name Megumi Hayashibara thrown about over the years and from my anime buddy. I was not aware that she was the voice behind Ayanami. Over the past year, I've been getting my re-education in anime from my friend, so "Madoka Magica", "Mawaru Penguindrum" and "Joshiraku" have been part of the curriculum.

    1. "Bara ga Nemureru Made" was not a single and it was first released in december 1992 as part of the "CATCH YOUR BEAT!! ~ Cha-DANCE Party Vol.5" album from the aidoru group "Tokyo Performance Doll" which Shinohara was part from 1990 until 1994.

      One month later, in january 1993, the song was included in Shinohara's first album, "Ryoko from Tokyo Performance Doll", as the last track.

      Source of those informations is generasia, if you want to check other things.

      I'm a very big fan of Hayashibara's discography and have been collecting her albums in the last five years. Her early 90s, more aidoru oriented work, always makes me happy, and a bit nostalgic as well, even thought I was a little child when she was releasing most of her music. If you wanna try something, I recommend "Forever Dreamer". It's from her 1995 album "Enfleurage" and one of my favourites too.

  7. Hi, bode, and thanks for the information. Perhaps you may be a better person than me to talk about "Bara ga Nemureru Made". It's always interesting to hear some of these veterans when they first started out, and then comparing them with their more recent material.

    I'll have to check out Hayashibara's material, including "Forever Dreamer". Whenever I hear anime songs at my friend's place, I often think that they're composed as if they were being done about 20 years ago. That's not a criticism against them at all, since I'm starting to enjoy my nostalgia. I'm not as much into the newer stuff as I am into the older stuff.


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