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.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Shigeko Orii -- Kimi no Na wa (君の名は)

OK, first off... this article isn't about the anime "Kimi no Na wa"(君の名は。...Your Name)from this year that has been apparently getting some acclaim. I'm talking about the romantic drama from decades back that had originally been broadcast as a radio drama all the way back in 1952.

As you have probably guessed, I'm not a huge drama watcher although I did have my moments in the 1990s starting with "Tokyo Love Story"(東京ラブストーリー). However, even I knew about this famous drama titled "Kimi no Na wa" (What's Your Name?) that had its origins on NHK Radio and then was adapted into a movie, a TV drama and even a stage play over the decades.

There's a far more polished article on the drama itself along with similar examples of the weepy sure-chigai (two ships passing in the night...the classic analogy for a romance never meant to be) sub-genre from "The Japan Times", but I can provide the brief synopsis here. A woman, Mariko Ujiie(氏家真知子), and a man, Haruki Atomiya(後宮春樹), try to find refuge during the night of the Tokyo Air Raid and spend a brief time together ultimately ending up on the Sukiyabashi Bridge in Ginza. They have to part but promise each other that they will meet again on the same bridge in 6 months' time. Of course, that doesn't come to pass and they don't even give each other their names (D'oh!). In the interim, Mariko and Haruki have to overcome their own surrounding trials and tribulations.

Being a buff of the ancient age of Hollywood, "Kimi no Na wa" reminded me most of "An Affair to Remember" (1957) with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr although the structure of this movie was flipped...not to say that this flick was connected with "Kimi no Na wa" in any way. I'm sure that the final scene for "An Affair to Remember" had the viewers pulling out the hankies, though.

Although the radio broadcast had another singer performing the theme song, it sounds as if "Kimi no Na wa" became famous from the singer performing it for the movie version from 1953 and then recording it onto vinyl, Shigeko Orii(織井茂子). Orii was born in 1926 in Tokyo's Meguro Ward and became a singer of children's songs while in her teens. Coming under the tutelage of composer Nosho Omura(大村能章), she graduated into the world of kayo kyoku under the stage name of Yoshiko Miyako(都能子)debuting in 1947 at King Records. However with no hits during that time, the singer decided to start over again in 1949, this time under her real name at Columbia.

In 1953, with her rendition of "Kimi no Na wa", Orii's ship didn't pass her by, it came into port for her. The mournful theme song written by Kazuo Kikuta(菊田一夫)and composed by Yuji Koseki(古関裕而)struck a national chord and sold anything between 1.1 million to 2 million records. A number of Orii's succeeding singles didn't quite get the same amount of business but still sold very successfully.

Orii would also appear on NHK's Kohaku Utagassen 6 times between 1953 and 1989, each time when the Kohaku was staged at a different place including its current venue of NHK Hall in Shibuya. Two of those times, her first and final appearances, had her singing "Kimi no Na wa".

Orii would continue to work right up until her passing at the age of 70 in 1996. She even ran a nightclub in Tokyo for many years until the Bubble burst.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if RADWIMPS is kayoukyoku (I would put them in the Rock category) but the OST for Kimi No Na Wa is excellent, imo. I was impressed that a rock band could create such diverse sounds for all of the various scenes of the movie. Might be something to consider reviewing at a later date?


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