Within the last few hours, I've heard about the passing of one of the big faces of Japanese variety television. But to say that Kin'ya (Kinkin) Aikawa （愛川欽也）was just someone on the prime-time variety show circuit would be giving him short shrift. He's been an actor, a voice actor, a radio DJ, a news commentator and a commercial pitchman, and perhaps my list is still not complete. In any case, he was one ubiquitous figure, and considering how often tarento show up on the tube, that is truly saying something.
He also did some singing as well...something that I hadn't been aware of. And since this is a music blog, I wanted to pay some tribute to him through this medium with his 1978 novelty song, "Man Man March". A parody of the typical tokusatsu hero tune, Aikawa sang this with his new second wife, fellow tarento Midori (Keronpa) Utsumi（うつみ宮土理）. There is some Beethoven (and perhaps some Bond as well) in this dedication to a hero who is supposedly faster than a Bullet Train but cuter than a doll. The lyrics also provide an entire Justice League's worth of heroes featuring everyday objects.
Written by Kogo Hotomi（保富康午）and composed by Asei Kobayashi（小林亜星）, after having listened to the first few bars which provide a variation of the famed Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, I realized that very part has been used in tons of variety programs over the years.
In my time of watching Japanese variety shows over the decades, there have been a few tentpole TV hosts...premier emcees who have become members of the entire viewing public family. Osaka comedian Sanma Akashiya（明石家さんま）strikes me as being that essentially good but obnoxious neighbour who cannot shut up. The dark sunglassed Tamori（タモリ）is that corporate department chief with the sly sense of humour. And Beat Takeshi（ビートたけし）is that amiable but slightly oddball fellow who always hangs out in your favourite nomiya. Kin'ya Aikawa was the truly avuncular kacho (section chief) who could talk up a storm and be the life of the party...and probably was more than happy to organize a few of them, but nothing fancy. It would be him and his section staff enjoying a few rounds in the local izakaya.
Aikawa had been on TV since the early 1970s, but I think one of the big feathers in his cap was as host of the Fuji-TV variety show, "Naruhodo! The World" (1981-1996), the hybrid travel/quiz program dealing with some of the more interesting places around the planet. Before travel truly became open to the masses in Japan, this show fed the audience with plenty of inspiration.
Personally, though, the Aikawa show that meant the most to me was TV Tokyo's "Shubbotsu! Admatic Tengoku"（出没!アド街ック天国...Pop! Admatic Heaven） (1995-present). Not being a party person at all, I stayed at home most Saturday nights, a pattern that was started early in my Ichikawa life since Saturdays were just a regular work day for me. At 9 p.m., "Admatic" came on and featured a certain neighbourhood in Tokyo revealing some of the atmosphere and notable places in a countdown format such as that really nice ramen shop or that odd antique store. Kinkin was our congenial host as he and his panel of tarento and commentators talked about some of their recommendations and stories about the area. Watching the show every week felt like that virtual stroll, and a few times, I actually got to take the literal stroll through places like Nakano which was at the other end of my subway line, the Tozai Line, all because of that show. I ended up taping a number of episodes and sending the tapes back to Toronto for the parentals to watch.
I'm glad that the show is still going on although I'm sure it's not quite the same after Aikawa left in early March. He passed away on April 16th 2015 at the age of 80.
|Good ol' Nakano Broadway|
one of my old haunts in Tokyo!