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.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Circus -- Toki yo Yuruyaka ni/Ai no Cantata (時よゆるやかに・愛のカンタータ)

Going back to the beginning here with this story, but this happens during that July 1981 Toronto Japanese Language School graduation trip. There was the 5-day tour of Tokyo along with stopovers in Nagoya and Kyoto, and then there was the 3-day homestay with the high school girls of Tezukayama in Nara. This included a day-long trip with us three guys and our respective hosts through Nara and Osaka.

I'm not sure what prompted the decision but all 6 of us ended up catching an anime motion picture two-thirds of the way into the movie! Can't even remember how the staffer even let us in but it was the movie whose trailer you can see above here. It was titled "Syrius no Densetsu"(シリウスの伝説...The Legend of Syrius), and for those folks who think this may have been a riff off of Walt Disney's version of "The Little Mermaid", the former film was actually released a day or two before we saw it in that month of July...almost a decade before Disney's first big success story with animated musicals began.

As I said, we entered the theatre with only less than half an hour left but it was pretty easy to figure out the story. It was all very Romeo & Juliet with the star-crossed lovers of Syrius The Sea Prince and Malta The Fire Child (I heard when they got together, it all got really steamy....ach, made myself laugh). As I remember it and as you can see from above, there was something quite Disney and Nelvana (a Canadian animation company) about it. Of course, once the movie was over, the girls were dabbing tears while we guys suddenly had "allergy attacks". And then we went for parfaits at a cafe nearby.

The predictable story aside, what impressed me about "Syrius no Densetsu" was the music which was created by Koichi Sugiyama (すぎやまこういち), the man behind some of the most famous kayo chestnuts such as Garo's "Gakusei Gai no Kissaten"(学生街の喫茶店)and "Koi no Fuuga"(恋のフーガ)by The Peanuts way back when. The soundtrack was all very orchestral and epic as if Sugiyama had wanted to compose something for the most ambitious ballet musical.

With support by the NHK Symphony Orchestra and the pop vocal group Circus(サーカス), Sugiyama and veteran lyricist Michio Yamagami(山上路夫)created the theme song and the insert song for the movie, "Toki yo Yuruyaka ni" (Slow Down, Time) and "Ai no Cantata" (Love Cantata) respectively.

"Toki yo Yuruyaka ni" as the main theme is a proud but wistful anthem about lovers blocking all sight and sound and stopping time just to see each other. Meanwhile, "Ai no Cantata" (the song is in the video immediately above) is a gently rolling romantic number that accompanies Syrius and Malta during the happier period of their courtship. Both are sung wonderfully by Circus and at the time I had no idea about this group. A couple of years later, I would get to know their most famous hit from 1978, "Mr. Summertime" from "Sounds of Japan".

I gotta say that some of those orchestral treatments of anime flicks back in the 1980s were just tremendous and yet they could also be distinguished from those John Williams scores from around the same time.

Later on, one of the other guys told me that "Syrius no Densetsu" didn't particularly get any great reviews from the critics. Well, so be it. It still provided one of my good memories from the trip to Japan.

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