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.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Shigeru Amachi -- Showa no Blues (昭和のブルース)

When it comes to cop TV nowadays, most of the various series consist of the police procedural teams such as "NCIS" and the now-departed "CSI" franchise. Back when I was a kid growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, though, a lot of those shows were productions starring rebellious lone-wolf detectives with "name" titles such as "Cannon", "Barnaby Jones", "Columbo", "McCloud" and "Banacek". Mind you, Leroy Jethro Gibbs of "NCIS" probably could earn his own show on his supremely crusty personality if he were ever to leave the agency and go solo.

During that same time period, though, there were the Japanese cop shows, and my impression of them has always been of the elite team at the Tokyo police department with the wise commander at headquarters, the field boss and a whole bunch of junior tecs willing to whip out the guns and run for lots and lots of kilometres. I will have to talk with JTM about this since the old shows are more his forte.

However, I have found out that there was at least one show back in the 1970s which dealt with one ippiki ohkami (lone wolf) who looked so hard-boiled that even Dirty Harry would have taken a step back if he were to meet him in a dark alley. The show was titled "Hijo no License"(非情のライセンス...Extraordinary License), no connection to the song performed by the late Yoko Nogiwa(野際陽子)that I had written about recently, and the star was singer-actor Shigeru Amachi(天知茂)as Detective Aida, hero to the defenseless...bane to the police chief. The guy struck me as a particularly seen-it-all, done-it-all Japanese Michael Caine doing his version of Peter Gunn.

Amachi also sang the ending theme "Showa no Blues" (The Showa Blues) which didn't directly reference the Showa Era but just his character's probable philosophy toward life that involved struggling, pushing and slogging through the years toward the inevitability of death that awaits us all. I gather that Detective Aida wasn't exactly the life of the party at the year-end celebrations.

But I gotta say that "Showa no Blues" seems perfect for the character. The music by Masaru Sato(佐藤勝)is languid and oh-so-shibui, and matches Detective Aida's measured strolls through the lonely byways of the city. This is a guy who doesn't need to go anywhere fast since there is nothing novel for him to catch and there is no place where the bad guy can hide from him. His eyes alone could probably take down the perp. Meanwhile, Michio Yamagami's(山上路夫)lyrics repeat Aida's cynical view toward life even at the cost of happiness with the lady who loves him.

I can also say that this is the type of song that Yujiro Ishihara(石原裕次郎)would probably raise his glass of whiskey on the rocks to. Perhaps Amachi and the Tough Guy even met up for drinks at some hole-in-the-wall in shitamachi.

The link below will take you to another rendition of the song but with scenes from "Hijo no License".

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