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.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Takashi Fujii -- Nandakanda (ナンダカンダ)

For the third episode of "Uta Kon" (うたコン) which was broadcast last week, I saw a tarento that I hadn't seen in some years suddenly appear in Kyoto to do something which I expected that a regular NHK announcer would have done. This was Takashi Fujii(藤井隆)who has apparently become a serious actor but for that show, he quietly and graciously interviewed a priest at some temple or shrine. Quite a shift in my perception.

Fujii comes from the famed comedy conglomerate Yoshimoto Kogyo based in Osaka but instead of being one-half of the usual duos doing a routine behind an old-fashioned microphone, he blasted onto the scene like cold water being thrown onto hot oil as a solo performer. Just imagine an especially deranged fusion of Canadian comedian Jim Carrey and Japanese comedian Ken Shimura(志村けん), and you've got a bit of what Fujii is...or was. The first and most memorable routine by him was his "HOT, HOT" gag that you can see above (sorry that video has been taken down). He was truly a nut and the folks ate him up.

Of course, the music world would come knocking. And in March 2000, he came out with his first single "Nandakanda" (One Thing or Another) whose video I remember seeing fairly often on TV. Looking at that video, he was surprisingly serious about the singing thing, I found. He did the singing and dancing thing with nary a funny face or "HOT, HOT". MC-GAKU wrote the lyrics but Daisuke Asakura's(浅倉大介)music and arrangement had me thinking some old-style Eurobeat and Rick Astley.

"Nandakanda" was his most successful single out of the 8 he has released between then and 2013. It went Platinum when it peaked at No. 9 on the weekly rankings and sold close to 300,000 copies. Ending up as the 94th-ranked single on the yearly charts, Fujii even got to be the first batter on the White Team for that year's Kohaku Utagassen.

His career got an even bigger second-stage boost when he took on the persona of the effeminate and haughty Matthew Minami for his own late-night show, "Matthew's Best Hit TV" on TV Asahi which lasted from 2001 to 2006. I regret not having seen more of the show during my time in Japan since from watching some of the YouTube videos, the hilarity is everywhere at every moment.

For those of you who are not too up on Japanese TV, you may have still caught sight of the flamboyant Matthew if you had seen the movie "Lost In Translation" when a bemused Bill Murray appeared on the show in the movie. Yup, it was indeed a real variety show and probably lodged the meme about variety shows there being completely unhinged...and yup, they sure can be.

But it might be the case that Fujii has gone the Tom Hanks or Jim Carrey route and become a more sober sided thespian. After all, it can be rather exhausting doing "HOT, HOT" for several years.

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