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.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Chage and Aska -- Say Yes

Early this week, I had discovered that Japanese dramas from the 90's are being aired here in Singapore once again, and as of now, they happen to be "Tokyo Love Story" (東京ラブストーリー) and "101st Marriage Proposal" (101回目のプロポーズ) - aw yes! I had watched both about a year ago online (didn't finish the former though), but somehow watching them on TV just felt more special, especially when their equally as popular theme songs were played repeatedly - instrumental and the real thing. It sent shivers down my spine. Watching the shows one after the other allowed me to compare the 2 well-received shows from 1991, and I found myself preferring the latter.

In "Tokyo Love Story", between the 4 main characters, there's just too much of the "I-like-you-but-you-like-the-other-fella" and "I-saw-you-with-someone-else misunderstanding", and that's just in 2 episodes. Makes it quite tedious to watch and I still have about 6 more installments to go. No wonder I never finished it. But I'm determined to watch it to the end this time. "101st Marriage Proposal" on the other hand was a lot more fun to watch. While it does have some of the moments I've mentioned earlier, it's characters are more endearing and there are a number of comedic moments to break the monotony. The only thing that bugs me is amount of crying in this series, most of it brought to you by Atsuko Asano (浅野温子). As long as she's in a scene with Tetsuya Takeda (武田鉄矢), she's bound to shed at least one tear. Such a contrast to her recent role in "Naruyouni Narusa" (なるようになるさ。) as a blunt and flippant amateur cafe owner.

As for the drama theme songs, I like both "Love Story wa Totsuzen ni" (ラブ・ストーリーは突然にー) and "Say Yes", but if I had to choose, I'd go with "Say Yes" without much hesitation as I have a much longer history with it. After "On Your Mark", the next Chage and Aska song that made its mark on my brain was the duo's most successful single though, if my memory serves, I took a slightly longer time to be accustomed to it with it having a slower pace and all.


Moving on, I consider "Say Yes" to be one of Aska's more sweet and sappy works as the lyrics he wrote are literally a profound, heartfelt marriage proposal albeit a trifle deep. Imagine a man saying whatever the duo sung in the song in a declarative fashion to the girl he loves while clasping her hands and gazing fondly into her eyes, hoping that she'll... say yes (the pun was inevitable). This made "Say Yes" the perfect ballad for a drama revolving around a bloke, completely hapless when it comes to love, desperately trying to win the affections of his lady - she's his 100th blind date (quite sad) whom he was completely smitten with upon setting eyes on her.

The video above with Takeda's contorted face shows what is perhaps the most iconic scene from "101st Marriage Proposal", where Tatsuya jumps in front of a lorry to prove to Kaoru that he wouldn't die. I know it's supposed to be an act of passion and to a certain dangerous extent, it was, but I couldn't help but snicker at the sight of the actors' faces as they sobbed and bawled.

 C&A singing the song in 2007.

Released in late July 1991, "Say Yes" was very well-received, staying at 1st place on the Oricon charts for 3 months consecutively, and eventually settled at 2nd place by the end of the year. On the following year, the song continued to stay within the Top 100 by coming it at 64th place, and it allowed the duo to bag numerous awards e.g Gold Disk Award and Composer's Award at the 33rd Japan Record Awards. The album "Say Yes" was released in, "Tree", also did well on the charts, peaking at 1st and becoming 1991's 2nd best-selling album.

 Here's a parody of the show's iconic scene. I love it when "Kaoru" constantly moves her eyebrows (had me paying more attention to Asano's facial expressions) and violently slams her former boyfriend into the grand piano.

I really like their album covers.
Very atmospheric.
Oh, and J-Canuck did an article on "Say Yes", you can check it out here.


  1. Hi, Noelle.

    I have to admit that I think the theme songs have probably dated better than the actual dramas themselves. I actually have the DVD box for "Tokyo Love Story" and all these years I've only gone over a few of the episodes (the ones that don't have as much melodrama). For me, I just like listening to the soundtrack as the actors are doing their thing and reminiscing over the fashion and pop culture of those times such as those neo-Zoot suits. And there were quite a few of us who wanted to slap around Kanji for being so wishy-washy. :)

    I remember "The 101st Proposal" very well for that famous scene of "SHINIMASEN!" and for the fact that it was the final drama that I would see before heading back to Canada in 1991. I wouldn't catch the ending of the show for many years. As for the Utchan-Nanchan parody, Nanbara was hilarious. There was a blooper from it in which his Kaoru unexpectedly smashed his head through the window behind her bed; (s)he played dead while actress Ritsuko Tanaka absolutely lost herself in giggles.

    1. Hi J-Canuck.

      Wanting to slap Kanji (and some other characters, for that matter) for his indecisiveness doesn't even begin to cover it for me. But like I said, I'm determined to watch "Tokyo Love Story" to the end! It really does help that "Love Story wa Totsuzen ni" was its theme song. That aside, these shows give me a look into Japan circa 1990's, and one thing I noted was that there were green pay phones (they were always that colour it seemed) everywhere.

    2. Hi again.

      A friend I used to know in Japan back in early 1991 cottoned me onto "Tokyo Love Story" just when the show was in its last few episodes so I mostly saw the characters in Ehime Prefecture instead of Tokyo but then came the reruns so I got to see the big city in all its glamourous glory.

      Ahhh...the green pay phones. They're still around although far fewer in number. I never had a cellphone so I often relied on those with telephone cards.


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