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, July 10, 2016

Mari Kunitake -- Pokeberu ga Naranakute (ポケベルが鳴らなくて)

In a country that is so catchphrase/buzzword-happy like Japan, there is probably a ton of such now-dead catchphrases and buzzwords existentially piled up as a mountain as high as Mt. Fuji. One of those faddy words was certainly pokeberu. A romaji mashup of the English words pocket bell, it was the Japanese translation of "pager" or "beeper". In the age of pre-cellphone Japan, that was the communications thing for the hip set. But personally, it was only something that I merely witnessed on TV; I never saw it being used in person by anyone in the wilds of the Japanese Alps during my Gunma days nor did I know anyone who had pulled one out in the very early years of my stay in the Tokyo bedroom city of Ichikawa.

So when I came across this title of this song "Pokeberu ga Naranakute" (The Pager Doesn't Ring), I automatically went "Natsukashii~!". This was Mari Kunitake's(国武万里)2nd single from July 1993, and it's one of those delightful discoveries since I had never heard of either the singer nor the song before. I enjoy the melody which symbolizes that certain turn-of-the-decade pop sound consisting of the combination of the champagne synths-laden City Pop sound of the late 1980s and the more rock edge that was picked up by acts such as Zard from the early 1990s.

The lyrics were provided by Yasushi Akimoto(秋元康)with music by Tsugutoshi Goto(後藤次利). This was probably the lone big hit for Kunitake who hails from Hyogo Prefecture, as she only released 7 singles and 4 albums between 1992 and 1997. "Pokeberu ga Naranakute" reached as high as No. 7, and was also a track on her debut album "Kimi wa Aozora ni Niteiru"(君は青空に似ている...You Look Like The Blue Sky)from August 1993. The single sold over half a million copies and won Kunitake a prize for Best New Singer at that year's Japan Record Awards.

"Pokeberu ga Naranakute" was also the theme song for a Saturday-night NTV drama with the same title. It had the provocative plot of a middle-aged businessman played by the late Ken Ogata (緒形拳...who was the title character in the motion picture biography "Mishima") having an illicit May-December affair with a travel agency staffer 29 years his junior played by Nae Yuuki(裕木奈江). It didn't particularly score any great ratings but considering the time slot the drama got, I'm not particularly surprised although according to J-Wiki, the actress Yuuki apparently had a whole lot of abuse heaped on her due to her role. I have never seen the drama before but I can't imagine a happy ending from this.

She pops up in the above video but the wife of Ogata's businessman character is played by Yoko Aki(阿木燿子)who had been well represented on the pages of this blog as being a songwriter for a lot of singers, especially Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵).

But hey, why end on such a bittersweet note? I much rather prefer Ogata in the role that I liked him in the the pitchman for Kirin Beer some years previously.

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