And here I thought that this was one of Spitz's（スピッツ）later songs. Well, there is a story here.
I got to re-acquaint myself with "Sora mo Toberu Hazu" (I Think I Can Even Fly Into The Sky), a song by the pop group Spitz but since I was just a casual fan, I never got to learn the title. However on hearing it again on NHK's "Banana Zero Music"（バナナ♪ゼロミュージック）music variety show last week, I remembered that it was one of the band's trademark tunes.
And it is a lovely tune filled with the usual Spitz sunniness and optimism, thanks to the writings of vocalist Masamune Kusano（草野正宗）. I'm convinced that he is incapable of creating a depressing ballad. Heck, the original music video for "Sora mo Toberu Hazu" has been compared by YouTube commenters to a laundry detergent commercial! So fresh and clean.
Now, getting back to the topic of the release date of this song. I had thought it was released relatively late in the 1990s so it was with some surprise that I discovered that "Sora mo Toberu Hazu" had actually been released as Spitz's 8th single in April 1994....several months before I even landed in Japan to start my second stint as English teacher there! I had assumed that it was a tune that came out a number of years after my arrival.
But as it turned out, Kusano had been approached by someone to write a theme song for a TV drama, and after looking through the scenario of the show, he was able to create "Sora mo Toberu Hazu" within a few days. After all that effort, though, the producers or whoever was in charge decided not to go with the song but Spitz decided to release it anyways as an official single. It did modestly well on the charts, hitting No. 28.
Still, the second time was the charm. The producers for the Fuji-TV drama "Hakusen Nagashi"（白線流し...Those Were The Days）, another one of those coming-of-age high school dramas that came out in January 1996, selected "Sora mo Toberu Hazu" as its opening theme song as you can see above in the credits. The single got a second pressing and did far better, earning Spitz its very first No. 1 chart-topper and even becoming a million-seller. I bet Kusano and company felt like they could indeed fly into the sky on that news!
It just goes to show how important those tie-ins can be between song and TV show in Japan. The song even became the 6th-ranked single of 1996. I think it's one of those tunes that can immediately put listeners at ease and get those nostalgic juices flowing. "Sora mo Toberu Hazu" became a track on the band's 5th album "Sora no Tobikata"（空の飛び方...How To Fly Into The Sky）, released in September 1994 which went Triple Platinum, peaked at No. 4 on Oricon and was the 46th-ranked album of the year. So even though the original release of that single wasn't a huge hit, Spitz was still doing pretty decently back then.
In 2012, the anime "Tsuritama"（つり球...Fishing Ball）premiered as a part of Fuji-TV's "noitaminA"（ノイタミナ）late-night programming for such shows. The show involved high school kids, aliens and fishing apparently and "Sora mo Toberu Hazu" was selected to be the ending theme.
The vocal group Sayonara Ponytail（さよならポニーテール）covered the Spitz classic and the song was released as their first single under the Epic Record Japan label in May 2012. This version peaked at No. 56 on Oricon. I would have said that I had never heard of this group before but I would be lying. Actually, I was just ignorant. This was the same group who took care of the second ending theme for the over-the-top anime "Kill La Kill" a couple of years later, and that was definitely a show that my buddy and I watched right to the end.