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, November 10, 2012

Yusuke Honma -- Theme from Ninzaburo Furuhata(古畑任三郎のテーマ)

Yesterday, I had a chance to catch the latest 007 movie with Daniel Craig, "Skyfall" last night (which is why I couldn't write anything here). Of course, there is the famous theme song by Monty Norman with the guitar and brass that starts the adventures with the proverbial bang.

If I hadn't had already done so a few months back, I would've written about the theme for "Lupin the Third"ルパン三世) since I think it and the Bond theme are somewhat like soulmates. However, what's done is done. But there are still plenty of famous crime-connected theme tunes in Japanese pop culture. I've already profiled the techno theme for "Odoru Dai Sosasen"踊る大捜査線....Bayside Shakedown) (1997), the cop show which takes place in Odaiba, the modern Tokyo Bay area. But there was another one a few years previously.

Unlike "Odoru Dai Sosasen"'s theme, the theme for Japan's most eccentric TV detective is solidly in the jazz genre. Composed by Yusuke Honma(本間勇輔), who has scored the lion's share of TV dramas, anime and movies, "Ninzaburo Furuhata"starts off with urgent strings before something that sounds like a minor-chord intro to "My Favourite Things" and then a jazz riff reminiscent of a 30s crime caper.

The above video is three tracks from the soundtrack album, including the famous theme. I used to watch a number of the episodes from the various series and specials that have appeared since its beginning in 1994. According to Wikipedia, the screenwriter/director Koki Mitani(三谷幸喜) based the character of Furuhata on the American TV lawyer/sleuth Matlock (played by the late Andy Griffith), and his weirdo mannerisms on his old professor of philosophy Yoichiro Murakami. However, the setup is pure Columbo, right down to the way that Furuhata generally annoys the heck out of the suspect before he/she gets his/her comeuppance. It's one of those shows, just like Columbo, where celebrities guest star as the villain of the episode, some of whom are profiled in this blog like Akina Nakamori (who was there right from the premiere episode), Nana Kinomi and Koji Tamaki of Anzen Chitai. Heck, even baseball hero Ichiro Suzuki of the New York Yankees has taken a swing at the legendary detective (and struck out, of course).

The actor behind the detective, Masakazu Tamura(田村正和), has come out and said that he regrets taking on the character since he has now been effectively stereotyped. Sometimes, I think he should get together with some of the cast from the classic "Star Trek" to commiserate.

In any case, the theme song is one of the most recognizable for most Japanese.


  1. I was so ecstatic to watch the first season this year since one of the subbing groups decided to pick it up. This show may be based on Columbo, but the situations in each episode are pure fun and unfold in interesting ways. And Mitani's script is golden.

    The soundtrack and the theme really evoke the mood of a classic detective show, which of course this is. I could almost predict which track was going to play for a given upcoming scene. :) I've watched several Japanese cop/detective shows, including Odoru Daisousasen and SP, but they're more entertaining and lightheaded, whereas this is the real deal.

  2. Hi, nikala.

    Koki Mitani has always come up with some pretty classy fare on Japanese Golden Time. He has never been quiet about his love for the Hollywood director, Billy Wilder, and it has shown in his movies and TV shows. There is a lot of him in the shows as well, since I've seen him a fair bit in interviews. He comes off as being a Japanese version of Woody Allen.

    I remember a Thursday-night drama he did which was supposedly his version of "The Apartment" by Billy Wilder with Masahiko Nishimura playing the schlubby Jack Lemmon role, Naoko Iijima playing Shirley MacClaine and Takaaki Ishibashi playing Fred MacMurray's villainous character. The soundtrack was jazz-influenced; of course, I bought it.:)

    1. Wow, thanks for all the info! I always got the old-school Hollywood vibe from Mitani's shows and films, so it's nice to know who exactly influenced him. :) My personal favorite work of his is "University of Laughs".

      Is that drama called "Konya Uchu no Katasumi de"? I'd love to see it one day.

  3. Yup, you got the title. I could never remember it myself...but when I saw the last word, "katasumi", it clicked. From what I remember of the soundtrack, the tracks centered basically on two pieces: the theme song and the love theme.


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