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.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Plastics -- Top Secret Man/Copy

I'm not sure if too many people remember Plastics, the New Wave/Synthpop unit, but in my musically pliable brain in the late 70s and 80s, they invaded my little melon and have kept up permanent residency there all these years. Now, a lot of folks on YouTube have mentioned that they first saw Plastics on the dearly beloved comedy-variety show "SCTV" via "The Tim Ishimuni Show" (guest-starring Godzilla and an in-studio air attack). But for me, I actually first saw them doing their loopy "Top Secret Man"(1980), the band's 2nd single, on a local show on Toronto's first multicultural channel, "Japanese Panorama" a year previously.

For a guy who grew up hearing enka and 70s aidoru, it was quite a revelation to catch these post-punks hiccuping their lyrics, and sounding like a mix between Devo and The B-52s....although I had seen the mesmerizing video for Yellow Magic Orchestra's "Firecracker"on the same show some months before that. Not that the video for "Top Secret Man" is boring at all. I think it was one of the first times I've seen so much imagery stuffed into a music video whose song was less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds. And Ms. Sato certainly made for some nice eye candy. Considering the title, there did seem to be a bit of "Secret Agent Man" in the melody.

Speaking of Ms. Sato, Plastics were Chica Sato (佐藤チカ...vocal), Toshio Nakanishi (中西俊夫...vocal/guitar), Hajime Tachibana (立花ハジメ....guitar), Masahide Sakuma (佐久間正英.....keyboards) and Takemi Shima (島武美....rhythm box). The band first started up in 1976, centered around Sato (a fashion stylist), Nakanishi (an illustrator) and Tachibana (a graphic designer). Initially, starting as a bit of an oldies(!) group, they started changing into a more punk rock/glam rock direction, and with the addition of Sakuma, Plastics veered further into technopop while trying out the rhythm box, something that was inspired from Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express"(1977). And in turn, Plastics gave inspiration to bands such as Pizzicato Five and Polysics.

At the end of the same episode of "Japanese Panorama", Plastics made another appearance via a video of their debut single, "Copy"(1979), which was fairly minimalist lyrically. Basically what it amounted to was that everybody copies. I'm not sure if the band was trying to make a statement on Japanese society, but I think I'll stick with the first song.


  1. What a fun video! Boy, I really miss early 80's new wave. I think I've mentioned this somewhere once, but My first exposure to old Japanese music was through techno and new wave, and Plastics was another one of those bands I discovered early on. They stuck to me quickly since I already liked Polysics. Nicely quirky. :D

    1. During that graduation trip through Japan in 1981, one of my classmates actually picked up an audio tape of one of Plastics' albums, and we took a listen to it in one of the hotels. Chica and company certainly didn't skimp on the profanity. :)


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.