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, April 26, 2014

The Peanuts -- Mothra no Uta (モスラのうた)

One of the many interesting foibles I discovered about the Japanese during my time in the country was the near-fatal dread many of them had about cockroaches. Through various television programs and personal experiences, I've seen friends and colleagues react with the same level of fear that they would have if they came face-to-face with the ALIEN when it came to dealing with the tiny roach (Me? Whenever I came across one, I simply picked it up and threw it out the window. Sorry, I don't kill animals.).

But perhaps the second-most feared insect in Japan is the moth. Again, I've felt people going into fetal positions whenever contact is made with the representatives of the sub-order Heterocera (arigato, Wikipedia), and there are plenty of the little furry rascals at night orbiting the lights like satellites around a planet. From what I've heard, it's the "powder" that the critters give off that grosses so many people out. So, in spite of and/or because of this moth-phobia, this movie below came about decades ago:

Well, Toho Studios had a giant lizard and a giant pterodactyl. Why not a giant moth? "Mothra" came out in 1961, and the world's cutest caterpillar-turned-moth with a thyroid condition was one of my favourite characters whenever Monster Week came on the afternoon matinees on WGRZ-TV (then WGR) in Buffalo. I mean, whenever those monster team-up movies came on, Godzilla and Rodan would be unsubtly wreaking rage and havoc on King Ghidorah, but caterpillar Mothra would nonchalantly skitter across the land before unleashing major SILK. That's one cool cat....for a grub.

Of course, it seems like every monster had a theme song, and Mothra was no exception. What I remember from my first sighting of the giant caterpillar was that it was escorted by those two tiny ladies who sang this tropical ditty which started with "Mo-su-raaa-YA!" Mom helpfully instructed me that the shobijin (小美人...little beauties)were a duo by the name of The Peanuts. Yep, this was my first time getting to know the popular duo, and I thought considering their size in the movie, they were well-named.

The music for "Mothra no Uta" (Mothra's Song) was composed by Yuji Koseki(古関裕而), the same fellow who came up with the Hanshin Tigers march in 1936. As for the lyrics, I was surprised to find out a couple of things. One was that the "lyricist" of Koji Yuki (由起こうじ)was actually a trio of writers under one name: Tomoyuki Tanaka, Ishiro Honda and Shinichi Sekizawa(田中友幸・本田猪四郎・関沢.新一). The other one was that what I heard The Peanuts sang was not even the Japanese language. The gestalt lyricist created the original Japanese lyrics and then they were translated into Indonesian for which Emi and Yumi Ito (伊藤エミ・ユミ)sang phonetically. The J-Wiki article for the song provides the lyrics in Japanese, Indonesian, Chinese and English.

Of course, the big monsters have been popping up now and then for years, and in December 1992, a new version of the battle royale between lizard and moth was presented via "Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth". With a new insect, an updated version of the Mothra song was provided via actresses Keiko Imamura and Sayaka Osawa(今村恵子・大沢さやか). And the passing of the baton has continued through some more monster movies heading into the 21st century.

P.S. I do have to admit that for several years, though, I did have an unfortunate bout of arachnophobia due to my 6-year-old eyes sighting some humongous and ferocious spiders during my first trip to the land of my ancestors, Wakayama Prefecture. I'm OK now, although the odd daddylonglegs may raise my hackles from time to time.

May 24th 2019: Well, whaddya know? Thanks, Bear McCreary!

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