Ahhh...yes, the old days of tokusatsu fun...high kicks, rubber suits and all. My brother and I remember them well. Of course, the original "Kamen Rider" was one such program from our childhood. In fact, my brother used to have a Halloween costume of the Japanese bug superhero. The neighbours couldn't figure out what he was supposed to be, but hey, he had a cool propeller on his belt.
Cue ahead 40 years or so. Last week my brother and his family came over for dinner. After that, we turned on TV Japan and it turned out the latest incarnation of the franchise "Kamen Rider Fourze" was on. It took me a couple of minutes to convince my brother that this was indeed a Kamen Rider. Couldn't blame him. The first time I saw Fourze, I had to convince myself that this was a Kamen Rider....evolution and rising special effects budget be damned.
I kinda felt the same way with the current Morning Musume（モーニング娘。）. As I've mentioned in past articles on the group, my period of interest in the Girl Group That Tsunku Built was really just within the years 1999-2001, so seeing this present incarnation known as Morning Musume '16, there was no one I could identify in it compared with the MM I knew back then with Yuko, Kaorin, Maki and the rest when they seemed to be all over the media. All I could say up to about a couple of weeks ago was "Wow! They're still alive".
One reason for the shriveling of interest was that I had felt that beyond 2001, Morning Musume started moving away from the disco-influenced tunes whipped up by Tsunku（つんく）and Dance Man. But then on a recent episode of "Uta Kon"（うたコン）, Morning Musume showed up (don't even know how many members there are right now) to perform a number that suddenly re-inflated my memories of the good ol' days.
And that number was "Utakata Saturday Night!" (Ephemeral Saturday Night!), their latest and 61st single from May 2016. Hurrah! I could see a figurative disco ball in that performance and some of that good-time dynamic dancing. Mind you, John Travolta would still look rather pensive at the sight but hey, it was nice to see a let's-have-a-party MM again.
I don't know the current members and in fact, I don't know the person behind the making of the song. I was surprised that it wasn't Tsunku and Dance Man but a guitarist and the leader of another all-female group called Akai Koen（赤い公園...Red Park）by the name of Maisa Tsuno（津野米咲）. But I still like the results. My personal favourites will always be "The Peace!"（ザ☆ピ～ス！）and "Love Machine"（LOVEマシーン）but it's nice for the current franchise to bring back a bit of "Saturday Night Fever" even if it may just be this once.
So far, "Utakata Saturday Night!" has peaked at No. 2 on Oricon and I'll be interested in seeing how it places on the yearly rankings. Actually, this particular song is sandwiched as a single with two other tunes to officially be called "Utakata Saturday Night!/The Vision/Tokyo to Iu Katasumi"（泡沫サタデーナイト!/The Vision/Tokyoという片隅...A Corner Called Tokyo）. Of course, it's still many months away from the Kohaku Utagassen selections but it would be nice to have Morning Musume come to the stage to do this particular number.