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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, January 11, 2016

Kanae Ito -- Tokyo Bushi (東京節)




My friend and I had our first Sunday anime meeting of the year yesterday, and as such, we haven't found anything that particularly stands out as of yet. So we tried out a number of new shows yesterday including the suspense-thriller "Boku Dake ga Inai Machi"(僕だけがいない街...ERASED), the loopy countryside comedy "Dagashi Kashi"(だがしかし)and the rakugo drama "Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu"(昭和元禄落語心中). However, the after-dinner wrap-up consisted of the first half of an anime that had actually been broadcast all the way back in 2009, "Taisho Yakyu Musume"(大正野球娘。...Taisho Baseball Girls).

My friend had gotten the DVD set well over a year ago but it was only within the last couple of months that he finally decided to break open the seal and take a gander. As has been the case with a lot of shows ranging from "Sailor Moon"(セーラームーン)to "Girls und Panzer", this particular show has a bunch of young girls getting together haphazardly to eventually achieve a worthy goal...in this case, making a decent high school baseball team to show the guys that girls can play the game, too...all against the backdrop of the prosperous Taisho Era in Japan (1912-1926)....specifically 1925.


Watching the first half of the series was pretty much as expected: the recruitment of the members, the early struggles, the first hints of success and then some setbacks. But a few minutes into the pilot episode, I suddenly had the feeling that I was about to view a musical when the character of Koume Suzukawa(鈴川 小梅)breaks into adorable song about her love for Tokyo as she tries on a sailor-suit school uniform for the first time. For a show that has kept out the usual funny faces and exaggerated actions, Koume's performance of "Tokyo Bushi" (Tokyo Melody) is probably the only example of flat-out goofiness that I've seen in "Taisho Yakyu Musume".


I actually had to find out what the title of the song was via YouTube. I enjoyed the really cheerful arrangement and thought that a contemporary composer and arranger concocted "Tokyo Bushi" to sound like that march without all of the fuzz from an old-fashioned gramophone. As it turned out, though, there is quite a bit of history.

For one thing, "Tokyo Bushi", which is also known as "Pai no Pai no Pai"(パイノパイノパイ), was actually created in the Taisho Era. 1919, to be specific. Although the lyrics were provided by Satsuki Soeda(添田さつき), the original song was based on an American marching song by Henry Clay Work titled "Marching Through Georgia" at the end of the US Civil War in 1865.



It's pretty fascinating comparing "Marching Through Georgia" and "Tokyo Bushi" since the former definitely sounds Sousaesque while I would have sworn that the latter was a pure kayo piece.


And there is a very long list of Japanese entertainers who have covered "Tokyo Bushi" over the decades. Heck, even the comedy team of The Drifters(ザ・ドリフターズ) did their own disco-spiked version called "Dorifu no Pai no Pai no Pai"(ドリフのバイのバイのバイ)which was released as a single in 1976.


The seiyuu behind Koume is Kanae Ito(伊藤かな恵)...a name that I have heard before but not as familiar to me as other folks such as Ami Koshimizu(小清水亜美), Saori Hayami(早見沙織)or Ayane Sakura(佐倉綾音). So I was quite surprised to realize that this was the same actor who would later take care of the character of Sena Kashiwazaki(柏崎星奈)in the hilariously warped "Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai"(僕は友達が少ない).

Asakusa, one of the shout-out places in "Tokyo Bushi"

2 comments:

  1. What a unique setting for a shoujo anime. Was it any good? I'm a baseball fan so this piqued my interest.

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    Replies
    1. I've only seen the first half of the cour but have been enjoying it. It's got a really nice heart to it and the Taisho Era is a nice setting since it was a relatively placid time between two volatile eras.

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