Although I did watch the Saturday night program "Yoru mo Hippare"（夜もヒッパレ） from time to time on the telly, I hadn't been aware that the phenomenal girl group, SPEED, was basically born on the show. Apparently the name was chosen on it, and considering the potential alternatives of Habu and Mongoose, Ryukyu Girls or Super Monchicchi, I think we're all glad for the final choice.
I remember my first sighting of Hiroko Shimabukuro（島袋寛子）, Eriko Imai（今井絵里子）, Takako Uehara（上原多香子） and Hitoe Aragaki（新垣仁絵） from this video for their debut single, "Body & Soul". Now, Namie Amuro（安室奈美恵） and the Super Monkeys had already launched their career rocket into space, but their kohai from The Okinawa Actors School especially stood out since they were pulling some Amuro & Monkeys moves while they obviously looked like (and were) elementary school students. I could actually feel my hair graying as I saw the video. The group name of SPEED was well chosen, but just for their energy I would've also easily dubbed them as SPUNK!
"Body & Soul" was released back in August 1996, and was written and composed by Hiromasa Ijichi（伊秩弘将）. He would continue to write many of the group's songs, and in the past, he was also responsible for several of Chisato Moritaka's（森高千里） and Misato Watanabe's（渡辺美里） tunes. As for their debut, it, and SPEED, were instant hits. It peaked at No. 4 on Oricon and became the 45th-ranked song of the year, selling over 600,000 copies. Personally, I think SPEED was definitely given its royal jelly for stardom, considering the dynamism of these young kids, the length of the song itself (at over 5 minutes), and a pretty elaborate video....perhaps there was an uptick in tourism to the Golden State after the song had been released. The single would also be included in their debut album, "Starting Over" which was released in May 1997. The album would hit No. 1 on the Oricon weeklies and then end up at the 8th position by the end of the year, eventually selling about 2.5 million copies.
In any case, it was only the beginning of what would be an eventful 1st phase in their career, and probably a huge number of applications to the Okinawa Actors School.