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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Joshiraku Girls/Miku Hatsune -- Hello, Sofmap World

Ahhh...Akihabara. I always liked that neighbourhood although ironically I never considered myself all that technologically inclined. (still don't have a cellphone). Still, it was interesting walking through Electric Town with all of its big and shiny stores on the main drag and the grimier shops on the side streets. That main street, Chuo Dori, had quite the heyday when it was closed down on Sundays and all of the street performers were unleashed. Unfortunately, a psychopath in 2008 went on a rampage on one of those Sundays by ramming his truck into the crowd and then killing seven people and injuring 10 others which led to the stopping of the tradition. Apparently the hokoten has started up again in recent years although I'm not sure if it has been allowed to approach the level of gaiety it once had.

As I said, I wasn't a huge buyer in Akihabara although I did purchase the digital camera that was used to take these photos. In fact, I bought it at the place shown above...the huge Yodobashi Akiba. It was just fun enough for me to browse around within Akiba itself (the store and the neighbourhood).Plus, I often took advantage of the free rubdowns via the demo models of massage chairs in any of the big stores!

When I first got to know Akihabara, food wasn't exactly a large priority, it seemed. The only eating places that I knew about was the McDonalds at the northern edge of Akiba on Chuo Dori and the Mansei Building at the southern edge with its many restaurant floors. However with the trendification of the area last decade, there are plenty of places to attract the foodies including this tsukemen restaurant that my friends took me to in 2014.

Anyways before I wax myself too poetically, I should get onto the music, shouldn't I? Of course, when one goes into any of the major stores of Akiba, there will always be the individual jingles that will greet you. They've all managed to get into my brain as part of my aural memories in Tokyo, including the one for Bic Camera.

Then there is the slightly funky jingle with an 80s dance sensibility from Sato Musen.

Finally, there is this one supremely cheerful jingle. I started watching the anime "Joshiraku"(じょしらく)again for the umpteenth time since its debut in 2012, and one of the things that cheered me up as the show was coming to an end was the above scene of the ladies from that last episode singing out that very jingle that I had heard numerous times when I was walking through Akihabara. I had first thought that they were singing a parody version only to find out that they were singing out the actual lyrics.

The jingle did work in that it now has permanent resident status in my brain but it had failed in that I couldn't remember which company it represented. Go fig! Well, I did some digging and found it is titled "Hello, Sofmap World", and of course, it represents Sofmap, the company selling new and used electronics. I also bought a number of my CDs in one of the branches in Akiba.

Sofmap is also a subsidiary of the aforementioned Bic Camera. However, as cheerful as the jingle for Bic is, "Hello, Sofmap World" has got that extra juice of a hundred My Little Ponys. It was actually released as a single in November 2004, and I was pretty gobsmacked to discover that the super-happy tune was composed by Tetsuji Hayashi(林哲司)who provided all those summery mellow 80s kayo including the happy-go-lucky "September" by Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや)and written by Keisuke Yamakawa(山川啓介)who wrote a lot of songs in that decade as well including tunes for songbird Hiromi Iwasaki(岩崎宏美).

These two songwriting powerhouses must have really gotten into the pure happiness of what a jingle is all about. Not to sound like a jingle sommelier, but I can hear some Disney in "Hello, Sofmap World" via "It's A Small World After All" and perhaps even some of that standard "Happy Days Are Here Again". Whatever inspired Hayashi and Yamakawa, "Hello, Sofmap World" will have customers entering and exiting a Sofmap branch swinging their arms away like the Joshiraku girls. I couldn't really say what the mental state of the staff was after a regular shift of listening to it, though.

Apparently, the song can be sung at karaoke and is even available in English, Korean and Chinese, but the original single only has the Japanese and English versions.

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