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.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Yasushige Utsunomiya -- Theme from "Seibu Keisatsu"(西部警察)

Yujiro Ishihara(石原裕次郎): Good to see you again! It's been a long time.
Tetsuya Watari(渡哲也): Yeah, why don't we have that drink again?...just like old times, boss.

The above commercial for Shochikubai sake isn't exactly the most seamless in terms of CG but the good intentions for Ishihara Gundan(石原軍団)fans were there. My little conversation above between The Tough Guy and his beloved Lieutenant is my own concoction, but if there were a heaven, then I could imagine that actors/singers Ishihara and Watari are having that most welcoming reunion there right now.

As usual when it comes to these things, I woke up this morning and NHK's "News at 9" started off with the news of the passing of Watari at the age of 78 earlier this week on August 10th of pneumonia. I saw him often in leadership roles and historical ones in which he played military commanders who could reduce hardened drill instructors into puddles with his fierce expressions and exclamations. However, in commercials and interviews, he was always the silver-haired congenial gentleman...very comfortable in shirt, sweater vest and slacks.

The role that I know him the best for, though, is that of Sergeant Keisuke Daimon(大門圭介), the leader of the blood-and-guts Daimon Force in the Tokyo Police Department in the long-running "Seibu Keisatsu" (Western Police) series which began in 1979. He was the veteran cop in the military recruit haircut and sunglasses with his trusty Remington Model 31 at the ready to dispense justice in an alternate-universe Tokyo that apparently tolerated a lot of automobile destruction, explosions and enough bullets flying around like gnats so that even Dirty Harry would have gone "Whoa there!".

Of course, Daimon's own boss was none other than the wise Section Chief Kenzo Kogure(木暮謙三)played by Watari's own senpai, Yujiro Ishihara, a relationship that was probably very similar to the real one that Watari and Ishihara had in the Ishihara Gundan (it's not surprising that Watari became the de facto leader of the pack when Ishihara passed away in 1987 and the second president of Ishihara International Productions, Inc.) Seeing Daimon and Kogure together was like watching Steve McGarrett and Danny Williams on the original "Hawaii Five-O" or Kirk and Spock on "Star Trek".

When it comes to the music of Japanese police shows, the first theme for "Seibu Keisatsu" is in the Big Three for me along with the theme songs for Ishihara's earlier cop program with the funky "Taiyo ni Hoero"(太陽にほえろ)theme and the rapid-fire technopop of the theme for "Odoru Dai Sosasen"(踊る大捜査線)that came out later in the 1990s. Known simply as the theme for "Seibu Keisatsu", the instrumental was composed by the late movie-and-TV soundtrack artist Yasushige Utsunomiya(宇都宮安重), and in contrast with those other two themes, this theme, which adorned the images of mayhem all around in the megalopolis, was a proud, even jaunty, march mixing in some disco and even some cowboy western influences. Perhaps Utsunomiya took that comment by the narrator in the intro about the show being a "concrete western" to heart, and maybe the composer infused the arrangement with that sense of "Love the smell of gunpowder in the morning".

Well, wherever Ishihara and Watari are right now, I hope that they are enjoying the afterlife in that bar while drinking down some of that fine sake.

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