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.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Rina Sato & Asuka Ohgame -- Shiawase Graffiti (しあわせグラフィティ) / Gohan no Renshu (ごはんの練習)

Doo-bee do-bah!

Ah, yes....the hire tonkatsu course at Hirata Bokujo. I had that at the Ginza branch of the tonkatsu franchise on the very last day of its operation before closing on a cool Saturday night in October during my trip back to Tokyo. Tender....really tender...pork wrapped in a crispy panko coating dipped into a zesty sauce and eaten with mouthfuls of hot rice and shredded cabbage. One of my wonderful culinary experiences in the country that I used to live in. But it wasn't just Hirata Bokujo alone. Basically, I never had a bad tonkatsu whether it was my neighbourhood eatery, Tonki, underneath the subway station or the fairly upscale place in Takashimaya Times Square across from Shinjuku Station.

Yes, waxing over a slab of tenderloin. Sorry...just can't help my foodie self here since I've been enjoying the Shaft-produced anime from the past winter season, "Koufuku Graffiti"(幸腹グラフィティ)with all of its graphically-depicted enjoyment of the fine dishes in Japan. I've already profiled the opening and ending themes from the show, but I think it is this particular song, a mere excerpt of which was used in the background while the characters of Ryo and Kirin talked about the next episode and did their little jig, that has captivated the fans and YouTube viewers. It's been called the "Taberu" song, a worthy earworm, and with the picture of a dish in the background, a powerful catalyst to grab something to nosh on. It is the tune that has launched a thousand stomachs.

(karaoke version)

The official title is "Shiawase Graffiti". I could translate it as "Happy Graffiti", but considering the languid melody and the lyrics, perhaps describing it as "Contented Graffiti" may be a better option. In any case, voice actors Rina Sato & Asuka Ohgame(佐藤利奈・大亀あすか)sing the whole song as if it were a kayo kyoku from the past. Listening to it the first several times, I was trying to grab the specific genre for it: enka? folk? There was certainly a sepia-toned similarity to it...kinda like the ol' tamagokake gohan that we used to have when we were very little. And in fact, if the producers had decided on making an official music video for "Shiawase Graffiti" and they had asked me for advice, I would have had Ryo and Kirin perform it a la "Enka no Hanamichi"(演歌の花道)style....the girls standing on some gloriously rendered set of a traditional restaurant as they sing wistfully to the heavens.

But strangely enough, I hit upon the idea. Perhaps the song by Akina Shinkoda(新小田明奈)and Ran Kumagaya(熊谷蘭)was a tribute to that 80s singing duo, Aming(あみん), especially when it came to their biggest hit, "Matsu wa"(待つわ). There's certainly a resemblance when it comes to the slow lilt of the melody and the vocal harmonies....although there wasn't that bit of doo-wop that's in "Shiawase Graffiti"

As for Shinkoda's lyrics, "Shiawase Graffiti" doesn't really center on the food so much as it does on the story of Ryo and Kirin's friendship through the food. It's basically the overarching theme for each episode as the girls worry how the other is doing and how warm they feel in each other's company. The food and the friendship provide the warm and fuzzies here. There was one line which was pretty telling from the pilot episode in which they realized that food tastes better when it's shared. Although I'll still enjoy that hamburger or roast chicken sandwich if I'm by myself, I can understand the truth behind having a well-cooked meal with family and friends.

"Gohan no Renshu" (Meal Practice) is a cutesy tune that was used as the background song when the sponsors were announced. It's as light and fluffy as cotton candy as Sato and Ohgame sing about not sweating the particulars of cooking technique and just believing that the meal will come out all right, especially if cooking for loved ones. Listen if you can pick out the various dishes and cuisine-related onomatopoeia that pop up in the lyrics. I also have to admire the musicians' use of kitchen utensils here as well. The song was written by Yosuke Kakegawa(掛川陽介)and composed by drummer Saeko Suzuki(鈴木さえ子).

Well, "Koufuku Graffiti" finished its run last month and I'm kinda hoping that the somewhat open-ended finale may mean a second season (the manga is apparently still continuing). Perhaps Ryo and Kirin may focus on non-Japanese fare such as doner kebab or spaghetti bolognese.

Good ol' karaage at the izakaya

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