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.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Joe Yamanaka -- Ningen no Shomei (人間の証明)

The above photo is of the late Joe Yamanaka(ジョー山中)who was born Akira Yamanaka(山中明)in Yokohama back in 1946. He was a singer and an actor who I knew for just one song. I first heard it when I was watching an episode of "19XX Bokutachi no Natsukashii Melody"(僕たちの懐かしいメロディー), a late-night Fuji-TV half-hour without any hosts which provided excerpts of news from a certain year along with the popular music at that time.

The song was "Ningen no Shomei" (Proof of the Man) and at the time I heard the song on "19XX", the video which accompanied it was apparently from the 1977 movie of the same name with a hat flying off into the sky. I had no idea what it was all about but later found out that it involved the death of a young man at the hands of his own mother.

"Ningen no Shomei" has a synopsis on Wikipedia but the story sounds like a neo-film noir which starred Yusaku Matsuda(松田優作), George Kennedy and Joe Yamanaka himself as the victim which starts the plot off.

I never saw the movie but it's the theme song that has stayed with me all those years since it is such a soulful elegy. The lyrics by Yaso Saijo(西条八十), Haruki Kadokawa(角川春樹)and Yamanaka rather reflect the latter's character's message to his mother from heaven, perhaps with some forgiveness for the heinous act that she had committed. Yuji Ohno(大野雄二)provided the music that would probably have folks in a bar contemplate life.

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