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, March 17, 2015

Shunsuke Kikuchi -- Theme from G-MEN★75

This morning, one of the movie channels was doing another James Bond marathon so the movie that I managed to catch was "You Only Live Twice", the 1967 entry in the franchise which had 007 encountering the usual supervillains, women and intrigue in Japan. Sean Connery got to meet a pretty laidback chief of the Japanese Secret Service, Tiger Tanaka, played by the late Tetsuro Tanba(丹波哲郎). Indeed it was Tanba but his voice was dubbed by actor Robert Rietti, according to Wikipedia.

Tanba passed away in 2006 at the age of 84. But I saw him fairly often on Japanese TV in previous years as one of the older tarento on variety shows. As the elder statesman, he wasn't quite running around or snarking off at the speed of his fellow younger guests but, if memory serves me correctly, he had that reputation of being that slightly naughty old man with the eye for the ladies.

Also when I hear the name of Tetsuro Tanba, some form of heroic music starts flowing into the brain. Specifically speaking, I'm thinking of the theme song for the 1970s Toei series "G-MEN★75" (1975-1982). Along with "Taiyo ni Hoero!"(太陽にほえろ!)and "Seibu Keisatsu"(西部警察...Police: Western Division), "G-MEN★75" was another Japan-based police procedural  from my memories. There was the usual team of intrepid and sober-sided crime-busting professionals, although the head of this special investigative unit, Superintendant Kuroki (Tanba), had quite the flair for fashion.

Continuing on with the comparison between police shows, whereas the iconic theme of "Taiyo ni Hoero!" had that urban funk groove going on with the sax in the lead, the theme song by composer Shunsuke Kikuchi(菊池俊輔)for "G-MEN★75" seemed to have a connection with the songs for the usual samurai historical drama. After the fanfare of the horns at the beginning, the strings come in a way which says to me that this is "investigative" music as Kuroki and his squad get down to work. The main melody could also describe any lone wolf warrior from the Edo Era, and a lot of those dramas' theme tunes took on that spaghetti western tone with those crisp trumpets slowly tooting the arrival of the hero in a yukata instead of the poncho and hat. But of course in the 1975 era of these G-Men, it's all suits and jeans and leather jackets. And they still look like warriors strolling down that runway.

As for Kikuchi, he's done pretty much everything when it comes to music for TV and movies, He's composed music and themes for jidaigeki, tokusatsu, anime and other dramatic works. In fact, he's the fellow who created the joyful theme for "Doraemon"(ドラえもん). Considering from what I read on him on the English Wikipedia, he must be the equivalent to John Williams judging from the quote to describe him: "...people began to say that 'if Kikuchi Shunsuke is in charge of the music, the show will be a hit.'" High praise indeed.

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