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.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Miki Imai -- PRIDE

In my early years in Ichikawa, I recollect a Fuji-TV Thursday night romance drama that starred Narumi Yasuda (安田成美)and SMAP's resident goofy guy, Shingo Katori(香取慎吾). Titled "Doc"(ドク), the first scene had Yasuda playing a Japanese-language teacher traveling in Vietnam who wanted to cross a street, only to be wholly intimidated by the crazy traffic. Then, Katori as the titular Vietnamese character rather nonchalantly and suddenly came to her assistance and navigated a miraculous path across. Just as miraculously, the two crossed paths again in Tokyo when Doc decided to go up to Japan to learn the language at Yasuda's school. The drama debuted in December 1996 but it didn't take long for a lot of year-end and New Year's parties to have the resident cut-ups pretend to be Katori pretending to be a young man from Vietnam.

However, I think the more lasting legacy connected with "Doc" was its theme song. Miki Imai's (今井美樹)12th single, "Pride", was actually released some weeks before the premiere of the drama in November. And as written and composed by future hubby Tomoyasu Hotei(布袋寅泰), it's a quietly joyful ballad about the pride of a woman as she is in love with that special somebody. According to the J-Wiki article on the song, the lyrics especially hit a soft spot with young women and karaoke fans which led the song to a No. 1 ranking on Oricon not just once but twice. It first got to the top spot a couple of weeks after its release, and then about a month later, it hit No. 1 again for 2 weeks straight just after "Doc" made its own debut. It ended up selling over 1.6 million copies and would become Imai's greatest hit up to now. To put the cherry on top of things, "Pride" became the 6th-ranked song for 1997.

The song has been covered by a number of other singers and the above video has Hotei himself giving his own piano version. And below is a cover by AKB48 member Misaki Iwasa(岩佐美咲).


  1. Thank you for providing some really interesting facts about Pride! I am SMAP's fan then found out about Doku and I'm also Vietnamese, but when they broadcasted the drama in Vietnam I was too young to notice who Katori Shingo is.

    1. Hi, May. Always a pleasure. When it comes to Miki Imai's long career, I think I will always prefer her earlier songs from the late 80s and early 90s, but I cannot deny that "Pride" is a fine song. By the way, what's your favourite SMAP song?

    2. Pride is her first song I heard so it has a very special place in my heart : )

      "What's my favorite SMAP song?" is a hard question. I guess love is blind, I enjoy bunch of their songs (even though a lot of people say SMAP can't sing). The first song I can think of is Orenji (Orange), it's a couple song of Lion heart. I really like that song, even before I could understand the lyrics. Their performance in 2000 concert is super nice. Another song I like is Boku wa kimi wo tsurete yuku, it's also a couple song of the famous Sekai.

      To be honest, I prefer SMAP earlier songs, like late 90s and early 00s, both their upbeat and ballad songs are really good, most of them fit SMAP voice. Some of their recent songs sounds digital and fake to me.

      How about you? What's your favorite SMAP song?

      p.s. I also love Masha (Fukuyama Masaharu) and Oda Kazumasa-sama. I love Oda-sama's Chirstmas no yokusoku show. Through 70's respect concert of SmaSma ending during 2003-2004, I fall in love with 70s songs and I was extremely excited when I found out this blog : )

    3. Well for me, May, I would probably go with "Sekai ni Hitotsu dake no Hana" , "Celery" and "Shake" as my favourites as far as SMAP is concerned. The first one is simply because it's such a hand-holding-ly happy song and I like "Shake" since it has that old-style jazz in it.

      I've written one song by Fukuyama called "Gang" (again, there is that jazz influence in there) but I'm a big fan of Oda through both his time with Off Course and as a solo artist. The "Tokyo Love Story" theme song will probably be THE song to remember him by for a lot of people.

      Glad that you enjoy the blog and hope to hear from you again.


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