Yes I do like my Enka/Kayokyoku, and I'm probably neck-deep in it right now. But let's head back to the beginning for a change, shall we? Back to good old 90's J-pop. Good old Chage and Aska.
A CD with C&A's tunes had heavy rotation in the car's stereo a little over a decade ago. With the passing scenery becoming more mountainous as we neared Malaysia's Cameron Highlands (family vacation), one tune with that easily distinguishable voice as the main vocals made a rather large impression on me.
Although I lost touch with that faithful track, rediscovering it a couple of years later in the 5th grade was like a reunion with an old friend. And it stuck with me, ultimately deciding my musical preferences later in life.
That song happened to be Chage and Aska's 'On Your Mark'. It was released along with 'Heart' and 'Natural' for their 35th single on the 3rd of August 1994, and then again in 1996 as the last track in their 18th album CODE NAME.2 SISTER MOON. I got the album 4 years ago during a trip to Japan, as well as many of their other albums... it was a good trip!
The single did well and peaked at 1st place on the Oricon weekly charts, eventually placing 14th overall in 1994, selling a little over a million copies. As for the album, it peaked at number 2 on the weeklies in 1996. Hmm, they had good years in the 90's! Gotta really tip my hat off to Aska for being able to spawn such hits (he was both the lyricist and composer for majority of their songs).
Anyway, although not as popular as C&A's mega hits 'Say yes' from 1991 or 'Yah Yah Yah' from 1993, 'On Your Mark' had one thing that those two didn't. And that was an animated MV made specially by the well known Studio Ghibli. Hayao Miyazaki must have loved the song... ... Unfortunately, I can't find the MV though I remember watching it quite a while ago. It must have been deleted. Ah well, too bad. If my memory serves, it was rather syfy-ish plus it had the signature weirdness of Studio Ghibli films. Oh, and it had the animated versions of Chage and Aska as the protagonists.
But although 'On Your Mark' has great sentimental value to me and having the novelty of being the very first C&A song I loved, what irks me is how cryptic the lyrics are, a common pattern in the lyrics Aska writes most of the time (kinda wish he'd be more to the point). I've seen the English translation, and I don't even understand that! And you'd think because of its name the song would be about racing... ...
Hold on, maybe it is about racing, figuratively... in life... ... Holey moley, that's deep... ... Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it.
(Just remembered this a day after writing this article) C&A did a self-cover of this song too. And no, it is not a new version..., but an English version, with Aska still singing it! The name of this rendition is called 'Castles in the air' and it was released in 'one voice THE SONGS OF CHAGE & ASKA' in 1996, where it features their songs sung in English by Western singers... and themselves, like this one.
Well, Aska's English doesn't sound too bad... at least you can understand half of it without having to search for the lyrics. You can check it out in the video below where they sang this song on MTV unplugged. "On Your Mark"/"Castles In The Air" is at the 12:43 mark.