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, January 25, 2017

RIO -- Manatsu no Koi (真夏の恋)

Saturday night as a kid was almost always spent at home...mostly watching "Hockey Night In Canada" on CBC with the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadiens. As a young adult in Japan all those years, Saturday night was usually about the variety shows. This was my usual lineup.

At 8pm, it was Fuji-TV's "Mecha-Mecha Iketeru!" (めちゃ×2イケてるッ!...What A COOL We Are!) with the Osakan comedy duo Ninety-Nine leading a motley group of other comedians in all sorts of nutty behaviour. Can't believe it's been on now for over 20 years.

Then at 9 o'clock, I switched over to TV Tokyo to catch "Shutsubotsu! Admatic Tengoku"(出没!アド街ック天国...Pop! Admatic Heaven), an hour-long travelogue focusing on the shops, restaurants and other attractions in a specified neighbourhood of Tokyo, although occasionally it has gone over to other parts of Japan and even overseas.

At 10 in the early days of my stay in Japan, I did watch NTV's "Yoru mo Hippare"(夜もヒッパレ), that one big celeb karaoke blast but that finished its run in the early 2000s so after that, I wasn't quite sure what I caught then. Also in the 1990s, there was a short-lived round of half-hour zaniness at 11 on Fuji-TV again with The Tunnels' "Hammer Price", an auction show for some of the more intriguing pop culture oddities such as a jar containing water that the late porn star-turned-tarento Ai Iijima(飯島愛)had bathed in and even Robert DeNiro's attempt at Japanese calligraphy.

I promise that we are getting close to the song of this article but if you can bear with me for a few more lines. At 11:30 also on Fuji-TV, there was the music-variety show "Love Love Aishiteiru"(Love Love 愛している)with Johnny's Entertainment duo Kinki Kids that had a good run from 1996 to 2001. But when that came to a close, I switched over to TBS for that 11:30 slot to watch a late-night foodie program called "Chuubou desu yo!"(チューボーですよ). The official English title was "Saturday Night Chubaw!" but I don't think that really helps in the translation. The direct translation would come out as "Hey! It's The Kitchen!"

Anyways this show had started up several months before I arrived in Japan for my second stint as an English conversation teacher. Veteran celebrity Masaaki Sakai(堺正章)was the host with a TBS announcer as an assistant and every week, a guest would show up so that everyone could (try to) cook up a theme dish. At the same time, there would be cuts over to the chefs of three different restaurants which specialized in that very dish to show off their distinct approaches to cooking it up nice and tasty. It was a nice way to finish up a Saturday night before retiring unless I was planning to stay up to watch "Countdown TV" on the same channel at 1:30. However, getting hunger pangs after watching "Chuubou desu yo!" wasn't too good.

The opening theme came on for just a mere 30 seconds or so but it was definitely memorable which is the sign of a good opener. And all these years, I had thought that it was just a glorified jingle for the show.

However, there was indeed a full version of the song. It was by a band called RIO and in September 1994, it was released as a single titled "Manatsu no Koi" (Midsummer Love). And it's actually a pretty catchy song. The lyrics were provided by the vocalist Mike (ミケ) with the music composed by the keyboardist Tatsunosuke(たつのすけ). I couldn't find anything about RIO on J-Wiki but on a blog, I found out that the band had first formed among a few university students back in 1984 with their major debut coming in 1991. "Manatsu no Koi" turned out to be their final of 6 singles before they broke up in 1995. Three albums also came out of the relationship with the first one, "Savi Wavi" being released in 1990 when RIO was still an indies band.

Alas, all good things come to an end, and "Chuubou desu yo!" ended its 22-year run on Christmas Eve last year.

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