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.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Kayo Ishuu & Hiroshi Okazaki -- Theme from "11 PM"

The "song" here is a mere 23 seconds long. However, most likely for those purveyors of Japanese TV born in the 80s and earlier, the rapid-fire scat will get that tinge of nostalgic recognition...and a slight leer on a number of faces.

When I landed in Japan in 1989 for my JET tour, I had already known that late-night TV there could get pretty weird and racy. Case in point: one time I was watching a video in Toronto from Nippon Video which featured a late-night suspense program. Before the suspense began, there was a first-person interview segment in which a pretty woman sitting on one of those Hollywood director chairs was babbling about something. A minute later, the scene faded out and back in. This time, the babbling continued but this time, the woman was completely naked and unfazed. Go figure!

Anyways, one of the slightly more normal programs that was fixture on the Japanese late-night TV circuit was the legendary "Wide Show 11 PM".  Broadcast weeknights on NTV from November 1965 to  March 1990, "11 PM" was the first late-night variety-and-information program in Japan which had the atmosphere of something that Playboy's Hugh Hefner would have created if he had ever emigrated to Tokyo. According to the J-Wiki article on the show, the hosts and guests covered the news of the day and leisure topics, did foreign location shoots, played games, showed some stuff that was definitely not for the kids, etc. And from the times I've caught the show near the end of its life, it did all that with a certain ring-a-ding style and with a lot of scantily-clad women.

And to top it all off, there was the theme song for "11 PM" itself. Composed by Keitaro Miho(三保敬太郎), veteran session singers Kayo Ishuu and Hiroshi Okazaki(伊集加代・岡崎広志)scatted themselves into a lather each night as the old-fashioned animation flashed across the screen while various beauties were draped across the screen. With those brief opening credits, viewers were treated to a visual version of visiting the Playboy Mansion.

While the footage at the very top is from an 1989 show, the one right above these words is from 1983. The raciness of late-night TV continued for some more years after the end of "11 PM", but by the turn of the century, I think most of the titillation disappeared from the wee hours.

Now, for something completely different....speaking about old TV programs, I just had to include NHK's "Renso Game" which was the Japanese equivalent of the American game show "Password". Game shows in Japan almost exclusively have featured only celebrities as the contestants since as one TV official I read in an interview so snarkily put it, "Why would we ever put on boring ordinary people?" Ouch!

So the guys above in the video are all celebs. "Renso Game"(連想ゲーム...Association Game)had a similarly long life on TV, lasting from 1969 to 1991. And it just happened to be the 2nd TV program that I viewed in a tiny restaurant near the Tokyo Prince Hotel on an even tinier TV set. Yup, I'm feeling nostalgic.

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