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, November 13, 2018

Miki Asakura -- Hero(ヒーロー)

I knew that he hadn't been all that well recently, but it was still a bit of a shock to hear of Stan Lee's death yesterday. His name was trending all over Twitter and even his name in katakana was second only to that.

As the heart and soul behind the creation of Marvel Comics and now an entire cinematic universe, I was one of his customers as a kid. My first two comic books happened to be the Spiderman issue introducing The Punisher and an Uncanny X-Men issue featuring the flamboyant assassin Arcade. Since then, I had been buying up a lot of the X-Men and related comics all the way up to coming to Japan when my hobby quickly faded to nothing when I found out how much American comics cost in Tokyo.

Well, at least, I could live vicariously through Lee and Marvel again through the movies, and now I think the next Avengers movie will take on an especially poignant tone; even more so because Stan The Man filmed his final customary cameo there.

Anyways I thought I should give some tribute to Lee via "Kayo Kyoku Plus". To start off, being a kid of 80s music, I remember Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out for a Hero" quite well since I thought the music video was pretty darn cheesy and that opinion rather coloured my image of the song itself. To be honest, I still prefer her earlier "Total Eclipse of the Heart" which seemed to get heavy rotation on the music video shows.

Then, many years later, I bought a movie by Paramount Studios on VHS tape. I couldn't remember the movie but I certainly remembered the trailer preceding it which featured a highly-charged montage of the Paramount set of action and suspense movies in its library. Everything from "Apocalypse Now" to "The Untouchables" was being thrown at me at warp speed while a cover of "Holding Out for a Hero" was playing. Now I started appreciating the song better, and then I even heard it again during the funny climax in "Shrek 2".

Miki Asakura(麻倉未稀)has already made her appearance known on the pages of this blog, but I think that her cover of "Holding Out for a Hero" is arguably her most famous song for most folks who listen to 80s Japanese pop. And she does sound quite right for "Hero".

However, instead of being a part of a soundtrack for a movie which featured a kid who, gosh darn it, needs to dance in a town that has banned the art, Asakura's "Hero" was the theme song for a TBS drama "School Wars" about a tough-as-nails coach whipping a high school rugby team into shape.

Released as her 11th single in November 1984, about 7 months after Tyler's initial release, "Hero" became her 2nd-most successful hit selling a little over 180,000 records and peaking at No. 19 on the Oricon weeklies. It ended up as the 71st-ranked single of 1985 and ended up on her 7th album "Love Again" released in May 1985. Masao Urino(売野雅勇)provided the Japanese lyrics for Asakura's cover of the original Jim Steinman & Dean Pitchford creation.

I will finish off here by stating that I actually got to see Lee once at a Fan Expo held here in Toronto several years ago. I was actually waiting in line for my photo-op with George Takei of "Star Trek" fame when I started hearing this slow wave of gasps and then cheers. At first, I'd assumed that it was either Takei or Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine in "Star Wars") who had the next booth arriving, but it was actually Stan The Man himself walking down beside the lineups. He didn't get close enough for handshakes but he was more than happy to give off that infectious smile and wave heartily back to everyone.


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