It wasn't too long after I had arrived in Tokyo that I had my first glimpse of the teenaged and deranged force-of-nature that was Tomoe Shinohara（篠原ともえ）. In fact, at about 45 seconds into the above video, that first glimpse can be seen. It was on "HEY!HEY!HEY! MUSIC CHAMP" when Tomoe first appeared within my range of vision as this weird pop-punk figure with the whiny-growly voice and day-glo fashion sense. I could say that she was about as far from Ryoko Shinohara（篠原涼子）as Ryoko Shinohara was from a kodiak bear.
The over-the-top entertainer from the western tip of Tokyo pulled off a cultural coup in that she was unlike anyone who had come before her and anyone who followed her. Pretty soon, she was everywhere on the Japanese tube, and in the age of Amurers (Namie Amuro fans), Shinohara had her own following in the form of Shinorers. Although she was an everywhere-to-be-seen tarento, I saw her regularly on the Saturday-night Fuji-TV music-interview show, "LOVE LOVE Aishiteiru"（LOVE LOVEあいしてる...Love Love I Love You）as not only part of the backing band for the Kinki Kids but also as the overcaffeinated interviewer of the show's guests which included some American celebs (who didn't appear on the show itself to sing thankfully) such as Robin Williams...and to see Shinohara and Robin together in a segment is something to behold.
Of course, being a truly out-there tarento meant that a trip to the recording studio was also a foregone conclusion. Between 1995 and 2011, she released 18 singles. One of the two singles that I actually remember is "Kurukuru Miracle" (Round-and-Round Miracle) from August 1996. Written and composed by Takkyu Ishino（石野卓球）from fun techno unit Denki Groove（電気グルーヴ）, there is that sample of a bunch of histrionic strings that I used to hear in commercials from the States that starts things off as if it were the beginning of some sort of old Western movie. Then it's time for the Tomoe crazy patter. I think the lyrics serve as the grand introduction to the legend that is Shinohara.
However, for the last several years of my time in Japan, she rather disappeared from public view...or at least her profile was nowhere near as huge as it used to be in the 1990s. Then, when I got back to Toronto in 2011, I actually started seeing her again as a guest on various NHK shows via TV Japan. She apparently had focused more on her fashion design business, and now as a TV personality in her mid-30s, although she still has that eclectic style (techno-ojousan?), Tomoe Shinohara is now a whole lot calmer, often discussing about fashion and the more refined aspects of Japanese culture such as visiting temples and shrines.
But, man, what an adolescence...