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.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Ayaka Hirahara -- Smile Smile (スマイル スマイル)

When it comes to my family's viewing habits, one thing hasn't changed in over 50 years. We're still suckers for animal documentaries. Yup, when the weekend came during the 60s and 70s, it would often be "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" (Mutual of Omaha being the name of an insurance company; considering some of the animals the cast literally tackled weekly, the producers were really hedging their bets here). The late Marlin Perkins, director of the St. Louis Zoo, would host the show about some of those big animals in the wild while two of his assistants, Jim Fowler and Stan Brock tried to make sure they weren't mauled or eaten.

Now that we're all in the teens of the 21st century, things seemed to have come full circle...or perhaps half of one since my family is watching an animal show on the weekends again but this one is produced in Japan. "Darwin ga Kita! - Ikimono Shin Densetsu"(ダーウィンが来た! 〜生きもの新伝説〜...Darwin Has Come! New Legends of the Animals)has been showing on NHK since 2006, and we get it here on Saturdays on TV Japan at 6:45 p.m. Completely devoid of animal wrestling, it involves an offscreen announcer and a cute anime figure called Hige-ji talking and broadcasting the exploits of animals in the wild ranging from the slow loris of Southeast Asia to the recovering if still endangered cranes in Japan. It's all very comfy viewing after a hearty dinner; I've certainly nodded off at times during the 30 minutes.

The current theme song for the show has been "Smile Smile" by the lovely Ayaka Hirahara(平原綾香)since 2012. And as you can see in the official video above, it's obvious that Hirahara has a love for the animals as well. Her rendition is just as comfortable as the typical episode of "Darwin ga Kita!". I've always liked her voice which I wouldn't say is completely husky; it's a bit lighter, perhaps the term sandy might be a better description.

"Smile Smile" was written by Hirahara and composed by Hidekazu Uchiike(内池秀和)as the singer's 29th single for release in July 2012. It didn't get too high on the Oricon charts, just topping off at No. 87. However, the song is such that I will probably want to pet my local squirrels on the head whenever it gets into my head.

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