It's always quite a thrill for me listening to some of the old kayo kyoku that I've listened to for years and years, and still gleaning something new. Case in point: Hiromi Iwasaki's（岩崎宏美） "Mangekyo" (Kaleidoscope). This was her 18th single from September 1979, and it was a song that I first heard on a BEST tape of hers that I got 30 years ago. At the time I listened to it, aside from the dramatic vibe, it didn't make a huge impression upon me. It wasn't an amazing song but neither was it a bad song (as difficult it is to imagine that Hiromi-chan could ever sing a bad tune).
Then, listening to it again after some years, and of course with all of the blogging here and the knowledge that I've picked up about songwriters and song styles, I've gained a lot more appreciation for it. "Mangekyo" was released at what I thought was a time of reckoning or transition for Iwasaki, at least when it came to her singles. From what I've picked up on through the Net and her early singing career, the late 70s seemed to be a period between her time as the short-haired energetic aidoru with the chart-topping tunes and her time as the long-haired chanteuse singing the chart-topping ballads. It was a time when her singles weren't getting all that high up on Oricon, but she was trying out to mix in music such as disco and City Pop which was quite interesting.
"Mangekyo" has that feeling. Although the song as written on J-Wiki was merely listed as an aidoru kayo kyoku, there was that percolating bass and that certain beat which just said that the song could only relate a story taking place in the big city. Plus, I have to give my new appreciation for the piano player who pulled off that opening riff up the keys. The song was composed by Koji Makaino（馬飼野康二）and the lyrics were by Yoshiko Miura（三浦徳子）.
Speaking of the lyrics, Miura brought together a story that seemed to belong in a haunting romance. Iwasaki sings from the point of view of the woman who is intent on haunting a former beau or even a failed suitor as he sees the mystery woman in a shop window and a rear mirror among other reflective surfaces. However at the end, the last line says that she is so alone, perhaps seen by the man as a dream or as a lie. Both characters are not in a good place. There's something somewhat ghostly or gothic, and Iwasaki's softly, softly delivery enhances that impression which makes for an interesting contrast with the urban contemporary arrangement.
Connected to that spookiness, I read on the J-Wiki article on "Mangekyo" that according to a Japanese-language Excite article, the song has been listed as one of a number of kayo to have "ghost voices". Now, knowing how some of my old students got majorly freaked out over ghost images in photographs although to me, they were obviously double exposures, I could only imagine how the powers-that-be behind the production of the song would have been freaking out if such rumours about "Mangekyo" came out when it came to the business side of things. And supposedly, there was talk that there had been a strange low voice of a man on the recording, but apparently it turned out to be a male backup singer whose contribution was toned down on the master tape. I believe I heard it on the very top video and basically it just sounded like Masayuki Suzuki（鈴木雅之）. Nothing scary about that.
To finish off, "Mangekyo" managed to peak at No. 10 and then become the 64th-ranked song for 1979.