It was a nice family birthday dinner tonight up north followed up by some birthday cheesecake at my brother's place. Then my niece and I played the updated version of The Game of Life. It's quite different from the one that my brother and I used to have way back when...certainly a fair bit smaller. You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned Game 3 of the American League Division Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers or the other potentially bloody battle tonight, namely the 2nd debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Well, frankly I can do without the increase in my blood pressure so I'm happy just to listen to some jazz and write an article for the blog.
To start off, over the last few years, the latest child actor to make her grand presence known onscreen is Mana Ashida（芦田愛菜）. Actually she's been famous for the past number of years now and she's just on the cusp of becoming a teenager at the age of 12. Doing the usual round of dramas, commercials and even some music, she's even done one Hollywood movie with her short appearance in the sci-fi adventure "Pacific Rim" as the child version of the Mako Mori character portrayed by Rinko Kikuchi（菊地凛子）.
Now if you think the topic of this article deals with Ms. Ashida according to the title, you would be mistaken. Mana-chan was just a helpful segue to introduce twin sisters who were themselves the IT children of the day on TV a couple of decades ago. Mana Mikura and Kana Mikura（三倉茉奈・三倉佳奈）were these brightly smiling siblings from Osaka who hit it big right from the age of 5 in the early 1990s. They also did the round of dramas, commercials and music...
....which included their fourth single, the foodie-inspired "Jaga Bata Kon-san" (Mr. Potato Butter Corn) that became the sixth ending theme for the long-running anime "Chibi Maruko-chan"（ちびまる子ちゃん）. I had completely forgotten about this song which was created by the creator of the original manga Momoko Sakura（さくらももこ）. This came out in July 1998 when ManaKana (the name of their unit when they were singing at the time) were 12 at the time, and it's this wacky fuzzy electro-rock thingie that came with choreography provided by the characters. Anything to get the fans dancing, I guess.
Folks in Idaho can live happily since their fine product of potatoes has been given a shoutout in the song which was arranged by Keigo 'Cornelius' Oyamada（小山田圭吾）, formerly of Flipper's Guitar. I did think that there was a hint of Shibuya-kei in there.
Some eighteen years later, I still see the sisters from time to time on TV Japan mostly through an NHK noon hour variety series "Variety Seikatsu Sho Hyakka"（バラエティー生活笑百科...Laughter & The Law）which features situations that need a legal decision which the celeb guests guess at before the legal eagle of the week provides the correct answer. I can also add that they have retained those wide smiles.