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.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

JTM's 80s Playlist - J-Dorama/Anime/Movie Edition

A big thanks go out to Nikala, Marcos V, Jari and especially J-Canuck for giving me the opportunity to participate and contribute to this awesome blog. I am grateful for all their tirelessness in writing their various detailed, informative and entertaining posts this year and eagerly look forward to reading their future posts in the coming 2014 year.

As we come to the close of 2013, it typically is a time for reflection and looking back on the recent year, however in keeping with the spirit of this blog and its focus on covering music from the past four decades of Japanese Kayokyoku and J-Pop, I wanted to share with readers my personal list of favorite songs from the best musical period ever - The 80s, particularly in the area of Anime, J-Dorama and Japanese Movies.

In subsequent weeks, Marcos V, J-Canuck and Nikala will also share their personal favorite 80s music lists and hopefully this combined effort will give everyone a fairly broad and comprehensive overview of the diverse spectrum of music that came out during that amazing decade. 

So without further ado, here is my 80s playlist....
One last thing before I start off, I'd like to first warn that this list is by no means meant to be a definitive or authoritative list and that it just represents songs that I personally love and listen to a lot.  Some may immediately notice a number of significant omissions such as ANRI's seminal Anime hit 「キャッツ・アイ 」/"Cat's Eye" (1983), 岩崎良美 /Iwasaki Yoshimi's chart topping hit 「タッチ 」/"Touch" (1985), うしろゆびさされ組/Ushiroyubi Sasaregumi's fan favorite 「うしろゆびさされ組 」/"Ushiroyubi Sasaregumi" (1985) and 岩崎宏美/Iwasaki Hiromi's stirring 「聖母たちのララバイ」/"Madonna Tachi No Lullaby"  all of which are great theme songs but just particularly aren't my favorites.  Others may also complain why I haven't included such perennial favorites such as 高橋洋樹/Takahashi Hiroki's rousing and fun 「魔訶不思議アドベンチャー!」/"Maka Fushigi Adventure" (1986),  松谷祐子/Matsutani Yuko's super cute 「ラムのラブソング」/ or none of the various theme songs from the 大映テレビドラマ/"Daiei TV Drama" series like 麻倉未稀/Asakura Miki's impressive cover 「HERO」 , 椎名恵 /Shina Megumi's cover 「今夜はANGEL」 or 小比類巻かほる/Kohiruimaki Kahoru's powerful 「Never Say Good-Bye」 or for that matter any instrumental themes like 「おしん」メインテーマ .  However, despite these comissions, I hope that I was able to come up with a list that strikes a good balance among all three categories (Anime, J-Dorama, Film) and covers a wide range of music genres.

10) ブルーな嵐 - 森川美穂 /"Blue Na Arashi" - Morikawa Miho - Theme song to 『妻たちの課外授業』/Tsumatachi No Kagaishugyo (1985.07.21)

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Of all the songs on this list, this is perhaps the most obscure.  ブルーな嵐/"Blue Na Arashi" was not a big hit when it was released but was used as the theme song to a minor Nihon TV family comedy 『妻たちの課外授業』/"Tsumatachi No Kagaishugyo", which aired 1985-1986 and starred Kayo Kyoku singers 和田アキ子/Wada Akiko and 由紀さおり/Yuki Saori and dramatic actress 市毛良枝/Ichige Yoshie as a trio of put-upon housewives who were the best of friends and shared the stresses of raising their respective families while trying to keep their trouble-making children and husbands in check. The drama was not a huge hit but was memorable for its fairly inventive and elaborate dance sequence OP which featured silhouettes of the cast (obviously professional dancer stand-ins) performing a high kicking and Flashdance-inspired dance number.
I wanted to include this song as it featured one of my favorite singers from the 80s-90s, the very much under-appreciated B-Idol singer 森川美穂/Morikawa Miho.  I've always liked Miho as she had a very powerful voice that resembled singers such as 浜田麻里/Hamada Mari and 松田 樹利亜/Mazda Julia and her songs were very much High-NRG-inspired and pop/rock oriented. She seemed to be every bit as much accomplished and talented as some of her peers (Oginome Yoko, Nakayama Miho, Minamino Yoko etc.) but for some reason didn't achieve the same amount of fame or recognition. 

Osaka native Miho was very much a tomboy when a kid but also had a love of singing and music. She idolized singers such as 八神純子/Yagami Junko, 岩崎宏美/Iwasaki Hiromi, 大橋純子/Ohashi Junko and沢田研二/Sawada Kenji and would regularly commute to Tokyo to take vocal lessons to help train her voice. After joining a local Yamaha Music School, she would try out for various music contests but her stern father would disapprove of her musical ambitions. It would not be until High School before Miho would finally gain the attention of Music Talent Scouts when she won a regional Yamaha Singing Contest.  She would join VAP Records using her mother's maiden name "Morikawa" as her stage name.

While Miho would only release a few singles in the 80s, her claim to fame would finally come in the 90s with two Anime Theme songs that would become her signature songs - 「ブルーウォーター」 in 1990 which was the theme song for NHK's 『ふしぎの海のナディア』/"Fushigi No Umi No Nadia" and 「POSITIVE in 1996 which was the theme song for Fuji TV's 『らんま1/2』/"Ranma 1/2".

ブルーな嵐/"Blue Na Arashi" is one of those catchy songs that has a great 80s synth beat and is just made for dancing. Coupled with Morikawa's powerful vocals it is one of my most fondly remembered songs.


9) 「愛をとりもどせ!!」 - クリスタルキング/"Ai O Torimodose" - Crystal King - Theme song to 『北斗の拳』/Hokutou No Ken (1984.10.5)
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No 80s' music playlist can be complete without mentioning クリスタルキング/Crystal King's iconic and hard-hitting theme song for the post-apocalyptic, hyper-violent cult anime series 『北斗の拳』/"Hokuto No Ken AKA Fist of the North Star" (1984). With its "in-your-face" attitude and defiant chorus of "YouはShock!" it proved to be an infectious, rebellious anthem for teens and kids in the 80s. It's dark rock tone had an almost Heavy Metal flavor and yet it's featured soaring (almost operatic) refrains had a lovelorn quality as well. It was the perfect song to accompany Fuji TV's adaptation of writer 武論尊/Bronson and artist 原哲夫/Hara Tetsuo's smash, Kung-Fu and "Mad Max" inspired manga story which ran in 『週刊少年ジャンプ』/Weekly Jump Comics for most of the 80s (1983-1988).

70s J-Rock group Crystal King, which featured the unique dual vocal talents of husky low-voiced, Baratone-singer ムッシュ吉崎/Monsieur Yoshizaki (real name - Yoshizaki Katsumasa) and effeminate high-voiced, Tenor 田中昌之/Tanaka Masayuki, had previously found fame with their classic rock standard 「大都会」/"Dai Dokai" in 1979.

"Ai O Torimodose" (Written by Crystal King pianist Nakahara Kimiharu and composed by Crystal King guitarist Yamashita Michio along with composer Tobisawa Hiramoto) was not only an absolutely perfect and memorable theme for "Hokuto No Ken" but also scored well on the Oricon charts, ranking at No. 53 for its week of release. The song also inspired a host of similarly styled, hard rock songs for other Anime shows of the time including 「汚れっちまった悲しみに…/"Yogarechimatta Kanashimi Ni" by 一世風靡SEPIA/Issei Fuubi SEPIA which was the theme song for the series 魁!!男塾/"Sakigake!! Otoko Juku" in 1985 and 「ペガサス幻想(ファンタジー) by MAKE-UP for the series 『聖闘士星矢』/"Saint Seiya" in 1986 (both of which were also adaptations of popular Manga series in Weekly Jump).  "Ai O Torimodose" (sometimes simply referred affectionately as "You Wa Shock") was usually coupled with their melancholy "love theme" for the series ユリア…永遠に」.

Monsieur Yoshizaki was quite the character with his sunglasses, "Punch Perm" and leather costuming,  looking more like a 50's biker gang member or gangster than rock n' roll singer.  Tanaka on the other looked the 'rocker' part and by his own admission styled his vocals after Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant (although J-Canuck also pointed out similarities to Queen's flamboyant lead singer Freddie Mercury as well). Sadly however Tanaka would suffer a near career-ending injury in 1989 (a few years after leaving the band) when a wild thrown baseball would hit his throat and cause severe vocal chord damage. While he eventually recovered, his vocal range would be forever adversely affected and he would no longer be able to reach the higher octaves he used to.

8) 「白い炎」 - 斉藤由貴/"Shiroi Hono" - Saito Yuki - Theme song to 『スケバン刑事』/Sukeban Deka (1985.05.21)

I debated on which 斉藤由貴/Saito Yuki song to include in my list as I'm a really diehard fan of the Anime series 『めぞん一刻』/"Maison Ikkoku" and absolutely adore her sentimental, touching and inspiring theme song 悲しみよこんにちは/"Kanashimi Yo Konnichiwa" (1986) but ultimately I had to go with the somewhat darker toned and more somber 「白い炎」 which was the ED song to Season One of the teen Action Drama series 『スケバン刑事』/Sukeban Deka.
Maybe it has partly to do with the fact that the song was written/composed by singer/songwriter and 安全地帶 frontman 玉置浩二/Tamaki Koji, with arrangements by producer and "Kōkua" member 武部聡志/Takabe Satoshi (who also produced Yuki's debut single "Sotsugyo") with lyrics by 森雪之丞/Mori Yukinojou of the rock group ピカソ but it is unlike any of Yuki's other songs.
It took all but two weeks to debut in the Top 5 Oricon charts and was another big hit for Yuki. With its melancholy lyrics, somewhat edgier rock sound and killer dynamic intro, it proved to be the ideal song for the cult series. Even the Promotional Video for the song had a decidedly dark tone to it. In 2008 Yuki released a slightly more slowed down and Latin flavored version of the song complete with Spanish guitar accompaniment but I can't say I'm not all too keen for this version. The original for me is much better and certain stands the test of time (the final haunting piano fadeout gets me every time).

7) 探偵物語 - 薬師丸ひろ子/"Tantei Monogatari" - Yakushimaru Hiroko - Theme to 『探偵物語』/Tantei Monogatari - (1983.5.25)

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When I think of the 80s, I can't help but recall all the great Idol-movies of that decade. Kadokawa Publishing and partner Toei were at the top of the Japanese movie world at that time and had a long string of hit movies based on their Kadokawa Publishing's novel publications. 

One of those said movies was the romantic comedy/thriller 『探偵物語』/"Tantei Monogatari" which was a huge hit when it was released in 1983.  This film adaptation of the popular Kadokawa Publishing novel by Akagawa Jiro, has often been confused with the 1979 hard-boiled cult Nihon TV drama series 『探偵物語』/"Tantei Monogatari" which ironically starred the same actor - the late, great  松田優作/Matsuda Yusaku. However there is absolutely no connection between the series and the movie and Matsuda's detective character in the 1979 series (the fedora wearing, 'Kikokusei' (returnee) and counter-culture rebel Kudo Shunsaku) is the near complete opposite to the hero of the movie, the straight-laced and uptight detective Tsujiyama Shunichi.

This was 薬師丸ひろ子/Yakushimaru Hiroko's second hit movie for Kadokawa and Toei, following her smash debut film, the unforgettable and landmark 1981 film 『セーラー服と機関銃』/"Sailor Fuku To Kikanju" which propelled the then 17 year old into instant stardom.

As with that film, Yakushimaru Hiroko again provided the theme song for the film and just like her previous song,  「セーラー服と機関銃」/"Sailor Fuku To Kikanju", her song 探偵物語 became a monster hit, ranking No. 1 on the Oricon charts for seven weeks straight and charting at No. 4 for the 1983 year.

J-Canuck has written a great post about the song in his November 2012 post.

The song was written by prolific song writer Matsumoto Takashi. whose diverse credits include the hits 「ルビーの指環」/"Ruby No Yubiwa" for 寺尾聰/Terao Akira; 「天国のキッス」/"Tengoku No Kiss" for 松田聖子/Matsuda Seiko and 「Romanticが止まらない」/"Romantic Ga Tomaranai" for C-C-B among others. 70s hit Producer Ohtaki Eiichi and 80s composer Inoue Akira also had a hand in the development of the song as well. With this much talent behind this song, it is little wonder why it became such a hug hit for Yakushimaru.

The song is absolutely beautiful in its romantic resonance and delivers both a stirring and emotional punch with its sentimental lyrics . Yakushimaru's great and powerful voice really makes this song unforgettable and I consider it my favorite Yakushimaru song next to her cute love song あなたを・もっと・知りたくて(1985) and the haunting torch song Woman ~Wの悲劇より~」(1984).


6) 「水の星へ愛をこめて」 - 森口博子/Moriguchi Hiroko - Mizu No Hoshi E Ai Wo Komete - Theme to 『機動戦士Zガンダム』/Gundam Z (1985.8.7)   

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When the song 「水の星へ愛をこめて」/"Mizu No Hoshi E Ai O Komete" was released in 1985 it was one of those rare Anime theme songs that didn't invoke or have any lyrics that repeated the name of the Anime show to which it was associated with - in this case Yoshiyuki Tomino's landmark Sunrise anime series 『機動戦士Ζガンダム』/"Kidousenshi Zeta Gundam" (1985).  Prior to that it was usually the norm for Anime theme songs to somehow tie-in the name of the show in its lyrics. Even the preceding show that "Zeta Gundam" was a sequel to 『機動戦士ガンダム』"Kidousenshi Gundam" (1979) had a theme song that repeated the name "Gundam" ad nauseam. 

"Mizu No Hoshi E Ai O Komete" has a rather unique pedigree in that it was written by popular American 60s pop/rock artist and Grammy Award Winning singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka who is most remembered for his American pop standards such as "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" (1966), "Laughter in the Rain" (1975) and the Captain & Tennille song "Love Will Keep Us Together" (1975). Originally entitled "For Us To Decide", "Mizu No Hoshi E Ai O Komete" was one of two songs that Neil Sedaka contributed for the "Zeta Gundam" soundtrack - the other being 「Z・刻をこえて, Zeta 」/"Zeta - Toki Wo Koete" (originally titled in English as "Better Days Are Coming") which was performed by 鮎川麻弥/Ayukawa Mami and was used as the Opening Song for "Zeta Gundam" when it first debuted. While "Zeta - Toki Wo Koete" followed the typical route of having "Zeta" repeated in the song, it was a breathe of fresh air in that it really raised the bar with regards to how traditional Anime songs were perceived and thought of. 

"Mizu No Hoshi E Ai O Komete" was an even more ambitious song and really tugged at the heart-strings with its haunting melody, touching lyrics and infectious synthesizer hooks. It was the debut single for a young 森口博子/Moriguchi Hiroko who was just beginning her music career.  Fukuoka native Moriguchi always dreamt of becoming a pop idol and underwent intensive voice and dance training since she was little. For High School she was admitted to the famed Horikoshi High School (in Nakano, Tokyo) which was a well known elite Private School for fledgling talents and where she was classmates with such future stars as 荻野目洋子/Oginome Yoko、武田久美子/Takeda Kumiko、井森美幸/Imori Miyuki、岩井小百合/Iwai Sayuri、村田恵里/Murata Eri and 高橋美枝/Takahashi Mie. One of Hiroko's first breaks in the entertainment world was as a member of the backup dancing group "The Schoolmates" on the popular variety program 『笑っていいとも!』 /"Waratte Itomo". After appearing in and winning an NHK Song Contest Program, she signed her first recording contract with Star Child Records.  It was there that she recorded the song "Mizu No Hoshi E Ai O Komete".  It was a moderate hit and even charted on the Oricon Singles Ranking at No. 16.  However Hiroko's subsequent other non-Anime singles would not do as well.

Hiroko would venture into other entertainment areas such as game panel appearances, variety program work and celebrity reporting.  She would gain some popularity on various ものまね/celebrity parody programs where she would do a spot-on imitation of fellow singing idol 工藤静香/Kudo Shizuka. 

"Mizu No Hoshi E Ai O Komete" has always been a popular theme song favorite of Anime fanboys and as a result, Hiroko was once again asked to sing the theme song to another entry in the "Gundam" franchise, this time the 1991 feature-length Anime film 『機動戦士ガンダムF91』/"Kidousenshi Gundam F-91".  Her theme song。「ETERNAL WIND〜ほほえみは光る風の中〜」/"Eternal Wind - Hohoemi Na Hikaru Kaze No Naka" became an even greater hit for her and even reached No. 9 in the Oricon Charts.  Hiroko would release other singles with varying degrees of success including the minor hit 「あなたといた時間」 which was the theme song for the show 『夢がMORI MORI』(1995).  In 2012, Hiroko would team up with fellow 80s idols 南野陽子/Minamino Yoko and 西村知美/Nishimura Tomomi to form the musical unit "The Blooming Girls", in parody of some of the current idol groups like AKB48 and Perfume. 

 I think of "Mizu No Hoshi E Ai O Komete" as less an Anime song and more of a mainstream, 80s idol song than anything else. It really reshaped the image of Anime songs and helped to encourage more mainstream artists to contribute their songs to Anime soundtracks such as 中原めいこ/Nakahara Meiko's 「ロ・ロ・ロ・ロシアンルーレット」/"Ro Ro Ro Russian Roulette" (1985), エアメール・フロム・ナガサキ/Airmail from Nagasaki's 「メロスのように-LONELY WAY」/Meiros No Youni Lonely Way (1985) and 小比類巻かほる/Kohiruimaki Kahouru's 「City Hunter〜愛よ消えないで〜」/"City Hunter - Ai You Kienaide" (1987) among others..


5) - TIE -  「今夜はハリケーン」 - 大森絹子/'Konya Wa Hurricane" - Ohmori Kuniko - Theme song to 『バブルガムクライシス』/"Bubblegum Crisis" (1987)

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「今夜はハリケーン」/"Konya Wa Hurricane" was one of those catchy original Anime soundtrack/insert songs that really took a life of its own beyond the series that it was used for.  

Written by singer/songwriter 亜蘭知子/Aran Tomoko (who had a very brief career as an 80s pop singer with song such as Body To Body, Drive To Love and Love Connection) along with Producer 中島正雄/Nakajima Masao and prolific composer 鈴木キサブロー /Suzuki Saburo (who helped compose 中森明菜/Nakamori Akina's signature hit 「DESIRE -情熱-」/"Desire-Jonnetsu" along with Anime theme songs such as MIO's 「不思議CALL ME」/"Fushigi CALL ME" (for the series 『星銃士ビスマルク』/Sei Jyuu Shi Bizmark -1984) and 宮里久美/Miyasato Kumi's 「秘密く・だ・さ・い」/"Himitsu - Kudasai" (for the OVA 『メガゾーン23 PartII 秘密く・だ・さ・い』/"Megazone 23 - Part II -1986"), the song is pure 80s bliss with its hard rocking score, infectious chorus and pulse-pounding beat. It became a fan favorite among Anime fans both in Japan and especially in the U.S. and abroad as one of the insert songs for the direct-to-video series 『バブルガムクライシス』/"Bubblegum Crisis" (produced by Artmic and Youmex) which one of the first wave of 80s Japanese Original Video Anime (OVAs) to be distributed in the States.  

In "Bubblegum Crisis", the song is sung by one of the lead character's Priscilla "Priss" S. Asagiri, a beautiful but tough rock singer who also just happened to be a member of the all-female mercenary group "Knight Sabers" who would don powered armor suits and do battle with "Terminator-like" BOOMERs who were being exploited and controlled by the clandestine multi-national megacorporation GENOM. 

Wikipedia suggests that the song and elaborate opening sequence were inspired by Walter Hill's 1984 cult 'Rock n' Roll Fable' "Street's of Fire" and come to think of it "Konya Wa Hurricane" does seem to have that dynamic Rock Opera-like quality similar to Jim Steinman and Fire Inc.'s "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young" which was sung by the movie's faux pop group "Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) and the Attackers". 

Not much is really published about seiyuu and singer 大森絹子/Ohmori Kinuko. She was a very minor rock/pop artist in the 80s and primarily sung original song for various Anime series. In addition to "Konya Wa Hurricane" she also contributed additional songs to the "Bubblegum Crisis" soundtrack including 「傷だらけのWild」, 「Victory」, 「忘れないで」 and 「Mad Machine」 (all written by Aran Tomoko).  Along with 飯島 真理/Ijima Mari (who voiced the character of Lynn Minmay in 『超時空要塞マクロス』/"Macross") and 宮里久美/Miyasato Kumi (who voiced Eve in 『メガゾーン23』/"Megazone 23") Ohmori would be one of those singers whose Anime counterpart would ironically be more popular than the singer themselves. In subsequent years, the idea of having a fictitious rock group or faux idol singers perform in an Anime series would be used in other OVA and Anime series such as 『超獣機神ダンクーガ』/"Dancougar" (1985), ガルフォース/Gall Force (1986) and 超音戦士ボーグマン/"Borgman" (1988).  Ohmori unfortunately wasn't able to transition from the world of Anime and seemed to just fade into obscurity.  She did re-emerge briefly with her own group "SILK" in 1992 to sing another anime song, this time for the series 『絶対無敵ライジンオー』/"Rai Jin Oh" but that was her last work to date.


5) - TIE -  「風のララバイ」 - 宮里久美/"Kaze No Lullaby" - Miyasato Kumi - Theme song to 『メガゾーン23~』/"Megazone 23 (1985)
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Like Ohmori Kinuko and Ijima Mari, 宮里久美/Miyasato Kumi is primarily known for the character she voiced - the enigmatic Tokimatsuri Eve, the computer-simulated "virtual idol" who was a pivital character in the cult OVA series 『メガゾーン23~』/"Megazone 23".  

Her various song contributions to the Anime's soundtrack were a highlight and perhaps served as a template for similar faux idol characters who would appear in other series such as Sharon Apple in 『マクロスプラス』/"Macross Plus" (1994), Sheryl Nome in 『マクロスF』/"Macross Frontier" and to an extent Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Len, Megurine Luka and the other virtual characters of Yamaha's VOCALOID software program.  

Not much is known about the tall, lanky Kanagawa native. Miyasato was initially scouted by talent agents with Hori Pro's Talent Agency with the intention of marketing her as a model but her singing talent soon changed those plans.  After Junior High School she decided to pursue her dreams of becoming a idol singer.  Her big break came when she was selected to be the voice behind Eve on the OVA 『メガゾーン23~』/"Megazone 23" (1985).  For the OVA's soundtrack she contributed  a number of songs including 「背中ごしにセンチメンタル」/"Senaka Goshi Ni Sentimental" which was released as a single. "Kaze No Lullaby" was actually the B-Side to that single and is my favorite from Miyasato.  With it's haunting and distinctive score and its sad and somber lyrics, it always touched me emotionally.  While Misato's  「秘密く・だ・さ・い」 is perhaps her most famous and recognized song, I always felt that it seemed a bit too reminiscent of Ijima Mari's much more superior "Ai O Oboteimasu Ka". "Kaze No Lullaby" I think is the more memorable song.


4) 「愛・おぼえていますか」- 飯島真理/"Ai O Oboetemasu Ka" - Ijima Mari - Theme song to 『超時空要塞マクロス 愛・おぼえていますか』/"Macross - Do You Remember Love" (1984.6.05)

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・おぼえていますか」/"Ai Oboetei Imasu Ka" was the image song to the Toho's stunning and well received 1984 Anime feature film 『超時空要塞マクロス ・おぼえていますか』/"Chojikuyousai Macross-Ai Oboetei Imasu Ka" (Do You Remember Love), a big budget condensed, reinterpretation of Tatsunoko Pro's popular Sci-Fi Anime series 超時空要塞マクロス』 "Chojikuyousai Macross" AKA "Robotech" (1982).  It was sung by the multi-talented singer/songwriter 飯島真理/Ijima Mari who also voiced the Chinese-Japanese idol singer/heroine of the Anime TV series - Lynn Minmay. It was then 21-year old Ijima's third single release at the time and it forever endeared her to Anime fans.  With its absolutely fantastic melody, heartfelt lyrics and tear-inducing sentimental tone, it is the ultimate torch song and love anthem for a generation of Otaku fanboys.  As J-Canuck mentions in his March 2012 post, it not-surprisingly also found mainstream success becaming one of her biggest hits and ranked No. 7 on the Oricon charts and No. 38 for that year and catapulted Ijima to stardom.  

Ibaraki native Ijima grew up in a musical family and her parents encouraged her musical interests by buying a piano for her early on to further nurture her talents. She began writing songs beginning in the 5th Grade and studied Classical Piano. After graduating from High School, Ijima contemplated going to Germany to continue her musical studies but was instead encouraged by her music teachers to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter.  

In 1982, Ijima submitted a demo tape of her music compositions while studying at Japan's National College of Music to various Record Companies and representatives from Victor eagerly signed up the promising young musician. Prior to releasing her first studio album 『Rose'』 (1983), Ijima auditioned and won the part of voice-actress for the series "Macross".  Ijima has said that she based Lynn Minmay's vocal style after childhood memories of playing with a stuffed doll and remembering using a somewhat high-pitched voice for the voice of the doll. Later when undergoing voice training in the U.S., Ijima strained her vocal chords while practicing reaching deeper ranged octaves and as a result had some difficulty reaching higher ranged notes.

"Ai Oboetei Imasu Ka" (sometimes mistakenly identified as 『愛・おぼえてますか』/"Ai Oboete Masu Ka") was written by famed Kayokyoku songwriter 安井 かずみ AKA "Zuzu" who wrote a number of hit songs in the 60s-70s such as わたしの城下町/"Watashi No Joukamachi" for  小柳ルミ子/Koyanagi Rumiko, あなたへの愛/"Anata E No Ai" for 沢田研二/Sawada Kenji and 「不思議なピーチパイ」/"Fushigi Peach Pie" for 竹内まりや/Takeuchi Mariya.  The late composer and 60s singer 加藤和彦/Kato Kazuhiko who helped compose such songs as 「妖精の詩」/"Yousei No Uta" for アグネス・チャン/Agnes Chan and 「Stay With Me」 for 浅香唯/Asaka Yui helped with producing the song along with 清水信之/Shimizu Nobuyuki who helped arrange songs such as EPO's  「う、ふ、ふ、ふ、」/"U Fu Fu Fu" and 渡辺美里/Watanabe Misato's 「恋したっていいじゃない」/"Koishita Ijanai".  

Ijima worked very closely with "Macross" director 河森 正治/Kawamori Shouji to incorporate the song into the film and the spectacular, emotional and unforgettable finale sequence was deliberately timed to coincide with all the beats and rhythm of the song. You might say, that the battle sequence in the film was in a way structured almost like a full scale music video for the song.

There are two version of the song - the original single version which is 5 minutes/8 sec. and a slightly longer version clocking at 6 minutes/25 sec. (this was the one used in the film).

Ijima has done a number of covers of this song over the years in a variety of different arrangement from slow acoustic piano version, to a slightly up-tempo version but the emotional impact of the song remains the same.  There have also been a number of other artists who have covered this song including Anime tribute Metal Band - AniMetal U.S.A. released an interesting English lyrics, power ballad version, and M.O.V.E. with a techno/dance version.

Like fellow singer/songwriter 八神 純子/Yagami Junko, Ijima left Japan to live in the U.S.  In 1989 Ijima settled in Los Angeles, California to further pursue her music career along with then husband James Studer, an American Music producer (they divorced in 2001). Since then she has released a number of independent albums of both Japanese language and English language songs.

3) 時をかける少女 -原田知世/"Toki O Kakeru Shoujou" - Harada Tomoyo - Theme song to をかける少女』 (1983.4.21)
Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of
「時をかける少女」/"Toki O Kakeru Shoujo" is perhaps one of 80s idol and Kadokawa Publishing film star 原田知世/Harada Tomoyo's most identified songs and over the years has become a fan-favorite signature song for her.  Released in 1983, it was the theme song to Kadokawa Publishing and Toei's film adaptation of novelist Tsutsui Yasutaka's beloved science fiction/romance novel of the same name (often translated as "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time " ).  "Tokikake" is probably the most adapted modern short story in Japanese Literature. As of date, there have been eight different versions of the story in both TV and movies -- the NHK drama "Time Traveler ('72) with 島田淳子/Shimada Junko; the '83 movie with Harada Tomoyo; the Fuji TV Drama special ('84) with 南野陽子/Minamino Yoko; the Fuji TV Drama special ('94) with 内田有紀/Uchida Yuki; the '97 movie with 中本奈奈/Nakamoto Nana; the TBS TV special ('02) with 安倍なつみ/Abe Natsumi, 細田守/Hosoda Mamoru's anime movie ('06) and most recently 谷口正晃/Taniguchi Masaaki's 2010 version with teen star 仲里依紗/Naka Riisa. 

"Tokikake" was a huge hit for Kadokawa Publishing and made an instant star of the then 16 year old Tomoyo.  Tomoyo would along with fellow Kadokawa Publishing stars, 薬師丸ひろ子/Yakushimaru Hiroko and 渡辺典子/Watanabe Minako became collectively known as the "Kadokawa San Nin Musume".

As J-Canuck mentioned in his January 2013 post, the “Tokikake” theme song was a monster hit for Tomoyo, reaching No. 2 on the Oricon Charts (No. 11 for the 1983 Year) and would go on to become a fondly remembered 80s J-Pop Hit standard. Written by prolific singer/song writer 松任谷由実/Matsutoya Yumi with husband and composer 松任谷正隆 /Matsutoya Masataka, Pony Canon initially released the vinyl record in a clear jacket that smelled of lavendar and that had a different cover art than later versions of the release.  There have been at least four different arrangements of the song over the years - 1) the original 1983 single release version; 2) a 1983 version produced by Shinkawa Hiroshi and released on Tomoyo's "Birthday Album" mini-album;  3) a 1987 version produced by Goto Tsugutoshi and released on Tomoyo's "From T" album; and finally 4) a 2007 version produced by Itou Goto and released on Tomoyo's "Music and Me" album.

It has also been covered by a few artists over the years including 清水愛/Shimizu Ai (2003), いきものがかり /Ikimonogakari (2010) which served as the theme song for the 2010 remake and by Yuming herself in 1983.

Tomoyo's path to fame was a bit of a fairy tale in itself. The Nagasaki native entered Kadokawa Publishing's open casting call and contest for "Best New Film Starlet" and while she didn't win the contest (the winner was 渡辺典子/Watanabe Noriko), she did get Special Recognition in the contest and that led to her being scouted by Kadokawa Publishing talent agents who quickly cast her in the TV series 『セーラー服と機関銃』/"Sailor Fuku To Kikanjyu" which was the small-screen adaptation of fellow Kadokawa idol Yakushimaru Hiroko's landmark debut film (1981). While the series did not garner the same popularity and critical acclaim that the movie did, Tomoyo was able to make enough of an impression to get noticed.  Her debut single 『悲しいくらいほんとの話』 which was used as the theme to the series also did respectably well, reaching No. 41 on the Oricon charts at the time. Her follow up single 「ときめきのアクシデント」also did moderately well and was also used for a TV series. 

After the success of "Tokitake", Tomoyo appeared in a string of films for Kadokawa Publishing and Toei including hits such as 『早春物語』(1985). Although her vocals on “Tokikake” were a bit rough in the beginning over time Tomoyo would overcome her "pitchy" singing style to become a truly amazing singer, producing several hit songs over the years including - 「愛情物語」(1984),  「早春物語」(1985), 「雨のプラネタリウム」(1986) and 「太陽になりたい」 (1988年).


2) Dance In The Memories - 中原めいこ/"Dance In The Memories" - Nakahara Meiko - Theme song to 『きまぐれオレンジ☆ロード』/"Kimagure Orange Road" (1988.1.25)
Image courtesy of
In my article for the song Konya Dake Dance Dance Dance - 今夜だけDance Dance Dance) which I posted earlier this year, I mentioned that singer/songwriter 中原めいこ/Nakahara Meiko was one of my personal favorite artists from the 80s.  Nakahara is perhaps most familiar to audiences for her various アニソング/Ani-Song soundtrack contributions during the Anime boom of the 80s. Songs like 「ロ・ロ・ロ・ロシアンルーレット」/"Ro Ro Ro Russian Roulette", 「宇宙恋愛 - スペースファンタジー」/"Uchureiai-Space Fantasy" ( both used for the cult anime series 『ダーティペア』/"Dirty Pair") and  「鏡の中のアクトレス」/"Kagami No Actress"  (which was used for the hugely popular series 『きまぐれオレンジ☆ロード』/"Kimagure Orange Road") have become favorite classics of anime fans. Yet Nakahara Meiko was an accomplished singer/songwriter/lyricist well before finding fame among the Anime crowd.

Born Obara Meiko in May 8, 1959 in Yotsukaido City in Chiba Prefecture, Nakahara learned to play music at a very early age mastering the piano as a child. Nakahara had dreams of becoming an idol as a teen but did not have enough confidence in her abilities at first and thus decided to enroll into composer/arranger 鈴木邦彦/Suzuki Kunihiko's "Pop School" to further prepare for show business. Suzuki has worked with such artists such as ザ・ピーナッツ/The Peanuts and ザ・ゴールデン・カップス/The Golden Cups. She got a small taste of singing professionally as a backup chorus singer for 70s teen idol 郷ひろみ/Go Hiromi for one of his concert tours.

Nakahara eventually made her debut in 1982 with this funky, latin-inspired pop tune 『今夜だけDANCE・DANCE・DANCE』. It was a minor hit in 1982 but it would not be until her 1984 release 『君たちキウイ・パパイヤ・マンゴーだね』 that Nakahara would earn her first hit. The song was selected by カネボウ化粧品/Kanebo Cosmetics to be it's Summer campaign song for that year.

Since then Nakahara has released other songs both as a solo artist and as a producer for such singers as girl group 少女隊/Shojo Tai and Guam/Hawaii raised idol 早見優/Hayami Yu whom she collaborated with on her hits 『PASSION』 and 『Caribbean Night』.

「Dance In The Memories」 was released as the B-Side to her single 鏡の中のアクトレス/"Kagami No Actress" and  was used as the ED song for the final few episodes of the 『きまぐれオレンジ☆ロード』 series and perhaps is my favorite of the songs that made up the Anime's soundtrack.  Written by Nakahara and composed by 西平 彰/Nishira Akira the song has an infectious beat and wonderful melody with sweet, lovelorn lyrics. It reminds me of a lot of ANRI's 「悲しみがとまらない」'"Kanashimi Ga Tomaranai"  which is another great bittersweet love song.  Surprisingly not much information is listed about the song in Wikipedia Japan, so I can only guess that the song was not a major hit for Nakahara which is a shame as it is just as good as (perhaps even better than) some of her non-Anime hits in my opinion.

Nakahara eventually retired to New York in 1992 but has periodically contributed her talents as a producer/song writer for artists such as vocalist 坪倉唯子/Yuiko Tsubokura (of B.B.クィーンズ/BB Queens fame).


1) 「My Revolution」 - 渡辺美里/"My Revolution" - Watanabe Misato - Theme to 『セーラー服通り』/"Sailor Fuku Dori" (1986.1.22)
Image courtesy of

Of all the songs on this list, 渡辺美里/Watanabe Misato’s 「My Revolution」 is probably the one most people would recognize as it was a tremendous hit when it was released in 1985 and catapulted both its young singer Misato as well as its fledgling composer 小室 哲哉/Komuro Tetsuya into instant fame. What may be a surprise is that this song was actually the theme song for a long forgotten and trivial High School comedy entitled 『セーラー服通り』/”Sailor Fuku Douri” which aired on TBS TV in 1985. While the series may not have been that memorable, its theme song certainly made an impression.

Kyoto native Misato began her singing at an early age and continued to refine her skills by singing in various amateur bands throughout High School. One of her early influences at the Tokyo High School she attended was EPO (real name Sato Eiko) who was a Senior classmate of her's. When not singing Misato was very active in Club activities and was the manager of her school’s Rugby team.

In 1984 Misato entered the 3rd Annual “Ms. Seventeen” talent/singing idol contest and won honorable distinction in the Singing category. Among her fellow competitors included future stars 国生さゆり/Kokushou Sayuri (Onyanko Club)、工藤静香/Kudo Shizuka (Onyanko Club)、松本典子/Matsumoto Noriko、網浜直子/Amihama Naoko、藤原理恵/Fujiwara Eri (C.C. Girls) and 斉藤さおり/Sato Saori (who would later take on the stage name麻倉あきら/Asakura Akira).

Her impressive performance in the competition attracted the interest of talent scouts who proceeded to sign her up to a contract with EPIC SONY in 1985. Initially Misato began work as a celebrity Radio DJ on the MBS Radio Program 『ヤングタウン』/”Young Town”.  Her first single release would be the song 「I'm Free」 for the TBS Police Drama 『スーパーポリス』/”Super Police” (1985).  While the Kenny Loggins inspired theme song did well it wasn’t a huge hit, it would be another couple months before she would record “My Revolution”.  Komuro Tetsuya was just beginning to start his recording career at this point (the group he formed along 宇都宮 隆/Utusyama Takashi and 木根 尚登/Kine Naoto – TM Network would still be in its infancy) and when he wrote “My Revotion”, he so absolutely certain it would be a hit he eagerly wanted Misato to sing it (waiting for her outside EPIC Sony’s recording studio to personally pitch the song to her).  When Misato finally agreed to hear his song, she remarked that it was so good that it “gave her goosebumps”. As J-Canuck mentions in his March 2012 post, she and lyricist 川村真澄/Kawamura Masumi envisioned the song talking about a girl walking along the busy and sometimes chaotic streets of Tokyo, defiantly walking against the waves of people determined to live life the way that she wanted.  It was EPIC Sony's Producer 小坂 洋二/Kosaka Rohji who suggested the catchy yet simple title – “My Revolution”.

While many have compared Misato to 白井貴子/Shirai Takako, I kind of think Misato is more similar to singers such vocal powerhouses like Kohiruimaki Kahoru, ANRI, Nakamori Akina, Yagami Junko and her “sempai” EPO.  With her soulful and powerful vocal range she certainly bucked the image of your typical 80s idol.

“My Revolution” has since been covered by such diverse artists including  内藤やす子/Naito Yasuko, 猿岩石/Saruganseki, NIRGILIS, TRF, DJTK, 滝沢乃南/Takizawa Nonami, Purple Days and 川嶋あい/Kawashima Ai among others.

While there have been more than a few notable and successful 80s J-Pop songs that have served as theme songs to 80s dramas such as 石井明美/Ishii Akemi’s 「Cha Cha Cha」 and 森川由加里/Morikawa Yukari's 「Show Me」 (theme songs for the ensemble comedy 『男女7人夏物語』/"Dan Jou Shichinin Natsu Monogatari" (1986), 小比類巻かほる/Kohiruimaki Kahoru's 「Hold On Me」 (theme song to the romantic comedy 『結婚物語』/"Kekon Monogatari" (1987), 中山美穂/Nakayama Miho’s 「派手!!!」/“Hade”(theme song to the family comedy/drama 『ママはアイドル』/"Mama Wa Idol", 井上陽水/Inoue Yosui's 「リバーサイド ホテル」 (theme song to the New York filmed Japanese drama 『ニューヨーク恋物語』/"New York Koi Monogatari" (1988) and BaBe's 「I Don't Know」 (theme song to the comedy 『アナウンサーぷっつん物語』/"Announcer Buttsun Monogatari" (1987) but “My Revolution” is definitely my favorite by far and tops my list of favorite J-Pop TV themes of the 80s..  


  1. Hi, JTM.

    Splendid start to the authors' pick lists. I haven't gotten through your whole list but I felt that I should write down something now. At this point, I've read entries 10 to 7. Miho Morikawa was quite the revelation since I've only known her for "Blue Water"; had no idea that she started life as an aidoru. And I was also unaware that Crystal King was behind one of the most famous rebel yells in anime, "YOU THE SHOCK!"

    Also love the writeup on Yuki Saito. I feel that I have to give her discography a re-hearing after all these years. I'm looking forward to reading the remainder of your list.

  2. Hi, JTM.

    Thanks a lot for posting this list. I took some time to listen to all of the songs and now I think it’s about time to share some of my opinions.

    Morikawa’s “Blue na Arashi” came up as a very nice surprise right from the start. It’s a pity the song isn’t featured in its full form on YouTube. Also, I’ve checked your links for her other songs and could notice how her voice became powerful and very pleasant, just like you said in the article (her “early 90s” beauty was astonishing as well). Overall, I liked her very much and must try some other songs by her. As I’m not a very pop/rock fan, do you know if some of her other songs are more on the synthpop vein?

    And Yuki’s classic “Shiroi Hono” is a song that I keep listening every now and then. Coincidentally, I started watching “Sukeban Deka” some days ago, but I’m a fan of its theme song for a long time. Different from the cheery aidoru tunes, “Shiroi Hono” surely stands out for being a dark song that combines well with the teen detective of the TV series. To be honest, I was almost sure this song would be featured in your list.

    As for Hiroko Yakushimaru, I like both “Tantei Monogatari” and “Sailor Fuku To Kikanju”. Her vocals on both songs were kind of haunting in a certain way. But I like “Sailor Fuku To Kikanju” more because of the very apparent melancholic vibe, even though I didn’t like the movie very much. I still have to watch the Tantei Monogatari movie, though. And Hiroko was so damn cute at the time…

    About “Mizu No Hoshi E Ai Wo Komete”, it’s one of my favorite 80s songs and my favorite song from your playlist, for sure (I also suspected you would include it in your list). Its heavy synthpop arrangement combined with a classic aidoru feel results in a very interesting listening experience. I think of it as a transition sound from the early to the late 80s. And the song was released right at the middle of the decade, in 1985. Also, everything in this song sounds good, from the arrangement to the verses and choruses. Finally, one important factor about it was Hiroko’s godly vocals. She had a strong and very beautiful voice. In “Mizu No Hoshi E Ai Wo Komete”, her aidoru mannerisms were still very prevalent, but late on her career she would develop her voice in a very nice way. It’s a pity she couldn’t achieve a very big success. As for “Mizu No Hoshi E Ai Wo Komete”, it proved to be a classic. I like this song so much that it’s always one of the starter songs of my playlists.

    “Konya Wa Hurricane” was another nice surprise. Although I’m not a rock fan, the song is very energetic and Kuniko’s deeper tone really conquered me. I also liked the heavy drum sound used eventually thorough the song. All in all, nice. Very nice. I’d like to hear more of her songs, but it’s quite difficult to find them.

  3. ~Part II~

    Talking about surprises, “Kaze no Lullaby” was an interesting one too. Kumi quickly got me with her “kaze no lullaby, kaze no lullaby…” lines. It’s the type of line that will frequently come to my mind and make me listen to the song more and more. I’m also not the biggest fan of sad ballads, but I liked this one very much.

    “Ai Oboeteimasu Ka” is not one of my Mari’s favorite songs, but I do agree with its classic status. I especially liked this longer version you posted as I’ve never listened to it. I admit that I’m a sucker for extended versions. It’s probably my favorite characteristic of the 70s and 80s. And Mari was so cute back then. I just love the cover of this single.

    As for “Dance in the Memories”, it’s a song I like very much. It’s synth-heavy and happy without being too sugary like most of the eurobeat songs recorded by aidoru singers during the late 80s. Also, I like this style better than the typical Meiko Nakahara Latin inspired sound. Well, it’s not a surprise for anyone that I enjoy eurobeat songs.

    Finally, Misato’s “My Revolution” is also a song I enjoy every now and then. It’s neither my favorite Misato song nor my favorite Komuro composition, but I’m aware of its classic status. Personally, I prefer Misato’s “Kanashii Ne” (also from Komuro) and the amazing “10 years”. I know J-Canuck is a big fan of Misato Watanabe, but I could not guess that you, JTM, also likes her so much.

    I’m sorry for this big answer, but I had to comment this very well put together list by JTM. Some of the songs were like good old friends, and it was nice to read some new information on them, but, just as I was expecting, a good portion of them were very nice surprises. It was a great year-end present, because helped me discover some interesting J-Pop songs from the 80s. Finally, big thanks to JTM for putting so much effort in this amazing list and for proposing the “Author’s Pick” idea for all the contributors on the blog. I’m also working very hard on my list, and I really hope it ends up as nice as yours. I’m also very excited about J-Canuck’s and Nikala’s lists. They’ll surely deliver a top-notch 80s Japanese Kayo Kyoku/J-Pop landscape, just like JTM did.

  4. Hey J-Canuck and Marcos V,
    Thanks for your great feedback and comments! I'm glad you liked my post and the song selection.

    Morikawa Miho is definitely a favorite of mine and I'm glad you liked her "Blue Na Arashi". Most of Miho's songs fall into the pop/rock genre for the most part with "Blue Na Arashi" being her most synth-pop sounding song although her other song レフト・アローン/"Left Alone" - from the same debut album, might be another candidate (albeit more idol pop). Her later songs definitely show her shift towards a more rock/pop sound.

    I kind of regret not being able to include some other good songs like Nitou Yuko's "Sono Mama No Kimi De Ite" (from "Patlabor"), Tanaka Riyuko's "Lonely Chaser" (from "Galvion") or Kakizawa Miki's "Tattakae Iczer One" (from "Iczer One") among others.

    I'm definitely very eager to read everyone's individual lists and see what songs your guys choose for your lists. Thankfully it sounds like there isn't too much overlap which is good.

    1. Hello, JTM.

      I've gone over entries 6, 5 and 4. I knew about The Ventures having writing some of the popular kayo kyoku from the early 70s, but had no idea about the Neil Sedaka having done any of that writing. And for someone who would be one of my biggest TV memories during my Gunma years, to boot. I knew a much slimmer Hiroko Moriguchi as someone who appeared pretty much everywhere on TV at that time as a tarento and as a vocal impressionist (notably Shizuka Kudo).

      Of course for me, "Ai Oboeteimasuka" is the quintessential 80s anime song. I think that theme and "Macross" are even more inextricably linked together than even the original TV theme songs.

  5. "My Revolution" was quite the powerhouse song for Misato, wasn't it? It just combined her booming vocals and Komuro's triumphant melody to create one of the 80s pop classics.

  6. Very nice list, JTM. I must admit, I haven't heard most of these songs for years so it was refreshing to revisit them. Yuki Saito's "Shiroi Hono" was the biggest surprise for me since I don't remember her music being this melancholic, but I enjoyed it very much. Of course, knowing the songwriters behind it explained the mystery.

    Miho Morikawa was another great choice. Like you said, it's a great dynamic synth-pop track and even as an idol she possessed the charisma that would develop in the subsequent years.

    I was never a big fan of Tomoyo Harada's "Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo" but your write-up helped me appreciate it more. She always had this mysterious aura about her so her voice and presence really suit Obayashi's classic film.

    Of course, I was already a fan of Misato's, Iijima's and Nakahara's songs. Thank you for introducing me to Moriguchi's "Mizu no Hoshi e Ai wo Komete" and Miyasato's "Kaze no Lullaby". I never heard of those singers before but those songs intrigued me to try out more of their stuff. Any recommendations?

  7. Hi Nikala, Sorry for not responding back to your comment. I'm glad you liked this list and found some new songs/artists that you liked. Regarding recommendation on other songs by Moriguchi Hiroko and Miyasato Kumi, here's some other songs from them that you might like. Hope this helps. Sorry again for the late response -

    Moriguchi Hiroko -
    ETERNAL WIND~ほほえみは光る風の中~

    もうひとつの未来~starry spirits~


    Miyasato Kumi -




  8. This is an amazing list!

    And, I also agree 100% on your take on Miho Morikawa. She has an amazing voice, and her songs are amazing. I chanced upon her a couple of years ago when I was looking for 80's aidoru songs; I came across, I don't know if it was her debut single, but it was titled "Princess Zoom In".

    For the love of me, I could not find it again, no data on it, or lyrics whatsoever, and my Nihongo is still in its infancy so I can't do research :(

    1. Hi, Yuie-chan!

      I'm afraid that JTM doesn't appear on the blog too much anymore but I do agree that he's made quite the epic list. :)

      Actually "Princess Zoom In" was Morikawa's 5th single from October 1986. She debuted in July 1985 with "Kyoshitsu".

  9. Hey J-Canuck!

    Shoot, I came to the blog too late again pffft.

    Thanks for the info! I really liked the song. I came across a video of her singing it a music show or something, with all the actions. It was great!

    I also found the PV a while back, but its prolly gone now. :(

    1. Hi, Yuie-chan. Yeah, that's the only down point about the blog. YouTube videos often don't last too long before they are taken down due to copyright issues. :)


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