The other day, I was watching NHK's "Kayo Concert"（歌謡コンサート）and the theme for that night was the works of composer Minoru Endo（遠藤実）. And it just so happened that the first performance was by Masako Mori（森昌子）. Up to that point, the biggest song I knew by her was "Sensei"（せんせい...Teacher）, her ode to a beloved teacher and her debut single, also composed by Endo. However that night, she sang her 3rd single from February 1973, "Chuugaku Sannen-sei" (Junior High School Senior)...another school-themed song that I had never heard before.
Endo was also the composer behind "Koukou Sannen-sei"（高校三年生...High School Senior）, the trademark song for Kazuo Funaki（舟木一夫）which came out a decade before Mori's song, so it was interesting comparing the two. Whereas Funaki's classic had that feeling of a proud exhortation by a student leader finishing a key era in his life, "Chuugaku Sannen-sei" was a bit more bittersweet as Mori's junior high school sophomore lamented about the imminent graduation of her beloved sempai...whether her senior was a boy or a girl was not really made clear. In any case, her sadness was so profound that she couldn't even sing "Hotaru no Hikari"（蛍の光）, one of the songs that are sung to see off the graduates during a ceremony that has as much import as the one for senior high school in Japan. Believe me, I've witnessed a few junior high school ceremonies during my time in Gunma, and yep, plenty of tears were shed among the students.
Endo and Aku created Mori's first five singles, and her 3rd managed to reach as high as No. 3 on Oricon. It became the 27th-ranked single for 1973.