The week before, I caught another edition of NHK's "Kayo Concert" and was surprised to see multiple award-winning actress Shinobu Otake（大竹しのぶ）on stage performing a romantic cover version of Hiroshi Mizuhara's（水原弘）"Tasogare no Beguine"（黄昏のビギン）with singer-songwriter Masayoshi Yamazaki（山崎まさよし）. I was struck by the richness of Otake's voice; I just went "Where did she learn to sing like that?", considering that her speaking voice is usually quite squeaky.
To be honest, although the Tokyo-born Otake is listed on J-Wiki as an actress and tarento, I knew that she had released records in the past, something that even my parents were not too cognizant of. In fact, there was an old video I remember in which a teenage Otake was strumming a guitar and singing some kind of cute little ditty.
And I believe this was the song, "Mikan" (An Orange). This was her debut as a 19-year-old singer back in 1976 although she had already broken into show business as an actress a few years earlier in 1973. Written by Yu Aku（阿久悠）and composed by Katsuo Ono（大野克夫）, Otake sang about leaving an orange for a boy she had liked to cheer him up. There was something very wholesome and girl-next-door about Otake when she performed this tune.
In looking up the information, I found out that Otake has released 22 singles and 7 original albums over the decades, so why not add that "singer" label to her? And she released her latest single just last week which is that cover of "Tasogare no Beguine".
Although this doesn't fall under the purview of this blog, I just had to include the above video. I have to admit that though I've never seen any of Otake's movies, I've often seen her appearances on television, and she comes across as this low-key and bashful little sprite who sometimes blurts out something completely adorkable much to her embarrassment and much to our delight (Jan. 19 2017: Unfortunately that particular video has been taken down but at least you can see her give a recent performance of the song).
My case in point is her frequent appearances on a segment of the Fuji-TV Thursday-night variety show, "Tunnels no Minasan no Okage deshita"（とんねるずのみなさんのおかげでした）which involves two celebrity guests battling each other in trying to guess among 4 or 5 dishes which dish is the one that the opponent hates. With the comedic duo, The Tunnels, presiding over the competition, one celeb watches the other go through each dish and looks for visual cues and asks probing questions to figure out which is the disliked food. At the same time, the celeb doing the eating must be able to disguise his/her dislike.
Otake's appearances are probably must-see TV since, although she has won a slew of acting awards, she apparently doesn't have any ability to hide her disdain for any food she hates. The hilarity lies in how she tries to handle the situation...or not. I remember seeing one such battle and after trying the first dish, she unintentionally quipped in a tiny chirp "I give up" to the absolute shock of The Tunnels and the other celeb (I forgot who it was). Once the gales of laughter subsided (part of the fun was watching The Tunnels lose it....a very rare thing), everyone had to figure out how to get through the next several minutes of suddenly useless air. The above video isn't of that amazing scene but it is another appearance of her on that segment.