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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Noriko Sakai -- Aoi Usagi (碧いうさぎ)

Drama related posts are not what I do best, but after spending some nights watching the medical/romance themed “Hoshi no Kinka” (星の金貨) I just had to write something about its theme song, “Aoi Usagi”, and Noriko Sakai (酒井法子).

"Nori-P" was never one of my favorite aidoru singers, although I always agreed that she was extremely cute. In 1995, though, she starred in “Hoshi no Kinka” as the beautiful Aya Kuramoto, which was a mute and deaf nurse (in the music video featured above, Noriko Sakai performs “Aoi Usagi” in both ways, with her actual singing and doing sign language). I’ll not try to explain the story here, mostly because the most interesting part of the drama, for me, was seeing Noriko acting without saying one word during the whole series. In my opinion, she really nailed the facial expressions and was capable of communicating properly with the other characters during all the situations. Among the cast, I can highlight the sexy Minako Tanaka [田中美奈子] (the main reason why I chose to watch “Hoshi no Kinka” in the first place), Yutaka Takenouchi [竹野内豊] (I really liked his acting as the spoiled doctor Takumi Nagai. Because of that I have another one of his dramas on hold here) and Takao Osawa [大沢たかお] (Unlike Yutaka Takenouchi, I didn’t like this one. Well, not him, but his boring Shuichi Nagai, the talented yet hesitant doctor who hurt the lovely Aya). Cute aidoru Tomomi Nishimura (西村知美) and veterans like Raita Ryu (竜雷太), Masato Ibu (伊武雅刀) and Wakako Sakai (酒井和歌子) were also some of the actors featured on the drama.

If "Nori-P" didn’t speak a word during “Hoshi no Kinka”, there was a time when we could actually hear Noriko’s voice very well, and it was when “Aoi Usagi” was played in the opening of each episode. About the song, it’s a ballad about reaching someone’s heart, something that relates directly to “Hoshi no Kinka”. Also, although I’m not the biggest ballad fan, I couldn’t resist Noriko’s beautiful vocals. In this sense, “Aoi Usagi” was a nice example of how much she matured since her aidoru days in the late 80s, even though her image, similar to the Aya character, was still of a virginal and innocent young lady. As for the arrangement, it mixes the usual ballad feel with Latin sounds, resulting in a rich background that helps the conduction of the song and saves it from sounding bland. It’s not the strongest song, and my bond to it is basically because of the drama itself, so let’s see if I’ll keep listening to it after a long time...

And here’s Noriko Sakai, as beautiful as ever, singing “Aoi Usagi” earlier this year in some Chinese show (Apparently, she was big in Taiwan and Hong Kong during the 90s). Also, she still performs it doing the sign language. In the end, it’s great to see that she returned do the stages after all the trouble she faced some years ago.

“Aoi Usagi” ended being Noriko Sakai’s biggest hit. It was released in May 1995, reached #5 and sold around 982,600 copies. It also ended 1995 as the #29 best selling single of the year. Lyrics were written by Emi Makiho (牧穂エミ), while the music was composed by Tetsuro Oda (織田哲郎). As for the arrangement, it was done by Hiroshi Shinkawa (新川博).

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Marcos.

    I remember when "Aoi Usagi" and Nori-P were getting heavy rotation on the music shows way back when. There was a lot more seriousness in the arrangement for this when I recall how she was as an aidoru in the latter half of the 80s. I think the somewhat European exotic sound adds to the song along with her graceful signing in the performance.


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