Credits

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 30, 2017

Hi-Fi Set -- Saigo no Haru Yasumi(最後の春休み)


A bit of a follow-up from Yumi Matsutoya's(松任谷由実)"OLIVE" album that I have just wrapped up.


I mentioned about Yuming's take on "Saigo no Haru Yasumi" (Last Spring Break), the bittersweet tale of a high school girl who's now mourning the departure of the boy of her dreams due to graduation. Well, Hi-Fi Set(ハイ・ファイ・セット)also covered the ballad in their 7th album "Flash"(閃光)which came out at about the same as "OLIVE" in July 1979.

While Yuming's version has that 50s feeling to it, Hi-Fi Set's take has the more contemporary 70s pop arrangement for the vocal group. I also like this cover but I think I prefer Yuming's "Saigo no Haru Yasumi" since there is a bit more lushness to her arrangement. However, vocalist Junko Yamamoto(山本潤子)still goes for that high note at the very end of the song just like for the writer of the song herself.

Yumi Matsutoya -- OLIVE


Back in the early days of my fascination with kayo kyoku, the singers I knew at the time were separated into two categories: the ones that I could see on television thanks to the wonder of VHS tapes such as Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子), Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)and Naoko Kawai(河合奈保子), and the ones that I had only heard through the radio program, "Sounds of Japan". Those folks included Mariko Takahashi(高橋真梨子), Mariya Takeuchi(竹内まりや)and Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実). I had no idea what the singers who often popped up on my old CHIN-FM broadcast looked like for many years.

This brings me to the topic of this article. I actually had seen the cover for Yumi Matsutoya's 7th original album "OLIVE" many years ago in some magazines without knowing who the singer was. Just from the huge serif font at the top, I naturally assumed the singer below was actually named Olive and she was just a little too much in love with herself posing like that. Of course, that was indeed the divine Yuming(ユーミン)on the cover there.

Now, the very first album by Yuming that I had ever purchased was her "Love Wars" from 1989 so she was fully into her vivacious image and high-stepping performances onstage, and basically my history of collecting her material had me going back and forward in time. My impression is that when she was Yumi Arai(荒井由実)in the early 1970s when she helped start off the New Music boom, she didn't strike me as being the most outgoing person. Her early albums often didn't show her face and when they did, she looked quite dour. So it must have been quite something for her fans when "Olive" was released in July 1979 with that cover of her seemingly out-vogueing Madonna...a few years before the Material Girl even debuted. There was an entertainer about to hatch from the Queen of New Music. According to J-Wiki, photographer Alao Yokogi(横木安良夫)and Yuming came up with the idea to have the cover look like something from a 1960s Italian fashion magazine.

So I finally bought "OLIVE".


 I've listened to the album twice now and I don't think Yuming meant to have any particular overarching theme for "OLIVE". Still it starts off with something that seems to hint at that cover. "Mirai wa Kiri no Naka ni"(未来は霧の中に...The Future's In the Fog)sounds rather French poppy as the singer-songwriter goes autobiographical and sepia when she sings about her memories of the 1960s including the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and the moon landing in 1969.


Arguably the most famous song from "OLIVE" is "Aoi Air Mail"(青いエアメイル...Blue Air Mail)which seems to pop up on a lot of Yuming's BEST compilations. And why not? It's another one of those sweet and wistful ballads that she can concoct so well. In this case, it's about a woman in love with a friend who may have been close by but now is far enough away that pen-and-paper correspondence is necessary (remember the time period here...no LINE messaging). I just want to look out a window and sigh whenever this comes through the headphones.


I think another Yuming trope I've picked up over the decades is how her voice can get playful and coquettish depending on the song. Such is partly the case with "Amai Yokan"(甘い予感...A Sweet Premonition), a happy-go-lucky number about that sunny drive. There is a light tropical beat and Yuming manages to name-drop The Beach Boys. According to J-Wiki, "Amai Yokan" was originally offered by Yuming to Ann Lewis(アン・ルイス)back in 1977 as her 13th single.


"Tsumetai Ame"(冷たい雨...Cold Rain)is another self-cover which had originally been created when the singer was still Yumi Arai. In fact, I had written an article about the song way back in 2012 when Hi-Fi Set(ハイ・ファイ・セット)did their own gentle version a few years earlier. Yuming's next try at the song about a very awkward ending of a relationship has got a bit more brass and pop into it. In fact, at one point in the recorded version, I think the instrumental makes it sound as if it should have been put onto the soundtrack of a Japanese comedy.


"Inazuma no Shojo"(稲妻の少女...Lightning Bolt Girl)comes across as a cheerful tribute to 50s/60s American pop about a girl who's as good with her surfboard as she is with twirling the boys around her pinkie.


My final song for tonight is the track "Saigo no Haru Yasumi"(最後の春休み...Last Spring Break). As with "Tsumetai Ame", this was another Yuming contribution to Hi-Fi Set who recorded it in the same year as her version. Once again, it's all about the bittersweet heartbreak as a girl realizes her beloved senpai will no longer be around the school since he graduated. I will shortly be talking about Hi-Fi Set's version but Yuming's take on it has again that innocent Sandra Dee 50s sheen. When she hits that final high note, it's almost as if she suddenly regressed to the age of that lovelorn kid. Aww, you just wanna get her an ice cream at that point.

"OLIVE" peaked at No. 5 on Oricon and ended the year as the 35th-ranked album for 1979. Yep, she's another Yuming keeper, and despite that glamourous cover, it's really another album of Yuming's feelings about the life of regular young women.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Shinichi Mori -- Inochi Karetemo(命かれても)



I gotta say...that album cover of Shinichi Mori(森進一)cradling that goblet there is priceless! Kudos to Steve in New York City for giving me the album of Mori's best work along with a lot of other kayo records. Just to get that photo in there, I decided to write about another one of his tunes.


Well, I found a classic Mori ballad...his 6th single from September 1967, to be specific, "Inochi Karetemo" which I believe translates to "Even If My Life Dries Up". I posit it as a classic Mori since my impression of his take on enka/Mood Kayo is that there is often a lot of suffering involved, perhaps more so than the average song from those two genres. Perhaps it's because of that near-weepy quaver in his gravelly voice.

The arrangement of "Inochi Karetemo" with the saxophone and guitar seems to place it solidly in the Mood Kayo territory but there is also that feeling of enka underneath as if the protagonist could have easily been living out in the countryside. In any case, Mori sings it from the woman's point of view. The woman has been done wrong by a guy but can't help but still be attached to him. That could explain the odd juxtaposition involved in the video I chose above with Mori singing while pictures of longest-serving Morning Musume(モーニング娘。)member Sayumi Michishige(道重さゆみ)pass by. Perhaps she "betrayed" the uploader by leaving the group.


Minoru Torii(鳥井実)provided the lyrics while Masao Saiki(彩木雅夫)came up with the gentle music. "Inochi Karetemo" became Mori's first million-seller while hitting No. 5 on Oricon (although Oricon didn't officially debut until January 4 1968). Not surprisingly, a little over a year after its release, a movie was made based on the song. Mori even had a small role as himself.


While listening to Mori, a thought came into my head that this would be the ideal song for Keiko Fuji(藤圭子), who knew a thing or two about songs of suffering. Sure enough, she did cover it although I couldn't find out when her version got released. Her take has a bit more defiance in there.

Chakra -- Mada(まだ)


Back at the beginning of the year, I wrote about this song that I had discovered on YouTube called "Myun Myun", the weirdly attractive ditty by technopop/New Wave duo Chakra(チャクラ)from the 1980s. It looks like the song has gotten some traction from the YouTubers, even on Van Paugam's City Pop radio. It has dug in like a Ceti Alpha eel.


Then today, I came across this track from Chakra's last album from 1983, "Nanyo de Yoisho"(南洋でヨイショ...Heave Ho on the South Seas). Titled "Mada" (Not Yet), it hooked me instantly since it sounded like a mix of technopop and whimsy and New Wave that could have been up either Akiko Yano's(矢野顕子)or Taeko Ohnuki's(大貫妙子)alley at the time. Guitarist Bun Itakura(板倉文)came up with the song while pleasantly plaintive vocalist Mishio Ogawa(小川美潮)wrote the lyrics. Always nice to encounter any new techno kayo.

A Hostess Club?!



On the 14th, I returned from Mito back to the Big Sushi and then prepped up to see another old student and friend...this time down in the shitamachi district of Okachimachi near Ueno.




Of course, the Ameyoko market was nearby so I did some of my first souvenir shopping in the form of snacks and sweets. My niece especially wanted some Hi-Chu gum so I dropped by the venerable store Niki to get some stuff.



The entire area has modernized in the last three years since I was there. There's now a huge cineplex just behind the Matsuzakaya Department Store and even the predecessor to all those Don Quixote dollarama outlets, Yoshiike, looked more ready for the 21st century. My friend took me up to the top floor to a restaurant called Yoshiike Shokudo which occupied a huge chunk of the floor. Had some pretty nice yoshoku for dinner.




We were talking about our old karaoke favourites when my friend decided that he was intrigued with my abilities (or lack thereof) as a singer. So he decided to take me down to Ginza to one of his favourite hostess clubs.

Yup, you heard it...a hostess club.

It's a place that I had thought I would never be able to enter at my tax bracket. It's a place that seemed to occupy only a certain place in Japanese TV dramas or comedies. But he was taking me down to one.

I nervously protested to him that I was wearing nothing but UNIQLO. How could I ever get in there? But he ignored me and he got us a taxi to head on down. Might I say though that the ride down from Ueno to Ginza was very revealing. Chuo Dori has gotten a huge makeover and there were some new buildings along the sides. It was looking all very swank. Plus there was the new Ginza Six facility which probably required a Platinum credit card to enter.

We got out of the taxi near the Shiseido store and with the help of the owner of the club herself, we managed to reach this place in a building on one of the side streets. I might have looked like something that looked more at home in a Holiday Inn but I had to respect the ladies' professionalism. The owner and the two hostesses who took care of us, one (in a low-cut gown) and the other (in a kimono), still treated me as if I were one of the other suited (and considerably richer) customers. It was the mix of guys and gals in there in a place that probably has seen better glory days; the lights were dimmer and the walls were yellowed from all of the cigarette smoke that languished in the air throughout the years. My friend and I did our singing for an hour over shochu and some of the sweetest pears that I've ever had.

For obvious reasons, I couldn't take any photos of the place but at least I did receive a memento in the form of that folding fan made up of fake yen as you can see at the very top. J-Canuck finally invaded a very exclusive area. There went the neighbourhood!


And the above is the song that Mika and I sang as a duet.

P.S. I'm writing this a few hours after I posted this article since afterwards I hit myself with the basic question: Did I enjoy myself at the club?

Ultimately, I would have to say no. I mean, the staff that I met (the owner, the bartender, the two hostesses) were all very nice. However, there was that pressure on both me and the hostesses to keep a steady stream of conversation going to the extent that I almost felt like my lungs and brain were gasping for air and ideas. For a person who enjoys observing other people talk as much as he enjoys talking with folks himself, it was somewhat tough.

Plus, there is the whole concept of a hostess club which is to pay a lot of money to be pampered and complimented. For me, that would mean that sincerity is pretty much suspect from the get-go. Perhaps the other customers including my friend didn't worry or didn't care but I was left wondering whether the ladies were actually interested in the fact that I was from Canada or that I was a Canadian who liked and could sing the Japanese oldies. I don't know.

In any case, I'm still glad that I did go if only to experience this aspect of Japanese popular culture that a lot of foreign tourists and residents haven't been able to participate in. However, if my friend or anyone else asks me next time if I would like to go to a hostess club, I will suggest that we save the yen and head for a Cozy Corner instead.

Oarai -- The Town of Girls and Panzers



Well, after 3 glorious nights at Hotel Rob, I checked out of Musashi-Kosugi early in the morning of the 13th and headed out to Mito. Mind you, this was Monday morning which meant rush hour from the station into Tokyo so of course that meant a population density aboard the train that would probably be measured in the millions per square centimetre. And here I was carrying a carry-on and a full suitcase. Not the easiest thing to do.

Since it was an express train, it was only a few stations but it was quite the hellish trip. Yet, I was actually grateful for the crowds packed in the train only because there were so many in there that I was actually cushioned from the worst of the jostling due to their bodies. Yes, indeed, it was the most physically cynical commute that I ever experienced. After that, I treated myself to a Mac breakfast at the Shinagawa Golden Arches across from the station.



It was a 2-hour ride on the semi-express from Shinagawa to Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture. Mito Station was unexpectedly quite lively and filled with stores and restaurants. However, that city wasn't my final destination. Cue music.






Nope, it was to get onto the Kashima-Oarai Line for about the 10 minutes it would take to reach the small town of Oarai...otherwise the setting for the beloved anime "Girls und Panzer". Never did such a deep anime pilgrimage before. But my adventure started in style...the train exterior was all decked out with the characters from the show...and there are a lot of characters in "Girls und Panzer".



"Girls und Panzer" has become a cottage industry of sorts in Oarai since the show's premiere back in the early 2010s. Festivals have been held in the town, there is a tonkatsu restaurant that serves tank-shaped pork cutlet, and Oarai Station has its own little museum devoted to the anime.



I walked the 1km down to the harbour where the Marine Tower was located since there was a small cafe near the top of the tower devoted to "Girls und Panzer". Part of the setup had high school tables with menus in student binders.




Ended up ordering the stewed mackerel course based on one of the characters' preferences. It was OK but nothing to write home about but then again, with these places the quality of the food isn't the main thing.


Heading back on the deserted street back to Oarai Station, I realized that I had seen this very avenue on the anime. All in all, it was a short and sweet experience. Got a few souvenirs for my anime buddy.


For all of you "Girls und Panzer" fans, cherish the above. It is Mako Reizei smiling! Panzer Vor!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

68th (2017) NHK Kohaku Utagassen (第68回NHK紅白歌合戦)


Looks like my 3 signs of an approaching December, as mentioned last year when I put up the list for last year's Kohaku Utagassen have borne fruit: I've already sent out Xmas cards to my friends in Japan, my anime buddy has sent the message for this year's year-ender, and NHK announced the lineup for this year's Kohaku.


My impression is that NHK made their announcement a fair bit earlier than usual for some reason. No problems...just gives the rest of us some more time to absorb and imagine the performances.



There will be two main hosts for the coverage this year. NHK is sending co-anchor of the 9 o'clock news, Maho Kuwako(桑子真帆 ), but the other host is comedian Teruyoshi Uchimura(内村光良)from the duo Utchan/Nanchan(ウッチャンナンチャン).

So once again without further ado, here are the teams for the 68th NHK Kohaku Utagassen brought to you by the good folks at Wikipedia:

Akagumi/Red Team
Captain: Kasumi Arimura (for the 2nd time in a row)

AI (3)
E-Girls (5)
Sayuri Ishikawa (40)
Yukino Ichikawa (2)
AKB48 (10)
Midori Oka (debut)
Mai Kuraki (4)
Keyakizaka 46 (2)
Fuyumi Sakamoto (29)
Ringo Shiina (5)
Shishamo (debut)
Aya Shimazu (4)
Superfly (2)
Mariko Takahashi (5)
Yoshimi Tendo (22)
TWICE (debut...or should I say, once? 😈)
Kana Nishino (8)
Nogizaka 46 (3)
Perfume (10)
Takako Matsu (3)
Seiko Matsuda (21)
Kaori Mizumori (15)
Little Glee Monster (debut)

Shirogumi/White Team
Captain: Kazuya Ninomiya

Arashi (9)
Hiroshi Itsuki (47)
X Japan (8)
Elephant Kashimashi (debut)
Kanjani 8 (6)
Hiromi Go (30)
Sandaime J Soul Brothers (6)
Sekai no Owari (4)
Sexy Zone (5)
Takehara Pistol (debut)
Tortoise Matsumoto (debut)
TOKIO (24)
Kiyoshi Hikawa (18)
Ken Hirai (8)
Kohei Fukuda (4)
Masaharu Fukuyama (10)
Hey! Say! JUMP (debut)
Gen Hoshino (3)
Daichi Miura (debut)
Hiroshi Miyama (3)
Keisuke Yamauchi (3)
Yuzu (8)
Wanima (debut)

It looks like they will keep brushing off that official theme of "Yume wo Utao"(夢を歌おう...Let's Sing The Dream)until the Olympics in 2020. The usual mix of veterans and newbies are in there but I'm especially interested in the latter since I have never heard of Wanima or Takehara Pistol(竹原ピストル)or TWICE. I've only come across the trio Shishamo in passing. Plus, there are Tortoise Matsumoto(トータス松本)and Daichi Miura(三浦大知)on the White team who are appearing for the first time as soloists after their time in 90s groups Ulfuls and Folder respectively.

And this time as the White team captain, Nino is taking the baton from fellow Arashi bandmate Aiba-kun. I've been hearing about the "negotiations" to have Namie Amuro(安室奈美恵)make one last appearance on the Kohaku after announcing her retirement from show business. No luck so far but we shall see.

Anri -- Heaven Beach


Got on my CD-buying binge...coming to the end of the year, y'know. One of the first albums I purchased was Anri's(杏里)"Heaven Beach". It's been a target for some time so I was glad to finally get my hands on it, especially after listening to the mellow groove of "Last Summer Whisper".



This was Anri's 4th album from November 1982, released some 14 months after her last album, the more European-and-exotic-sounding "Kanashimi no Kujaku"(哀しみの孔雀). With "Heaven Beach", according to the J-Wiki write-up on the album, this cemented Ms. Kawashima's status as the summer-sounding pop singer that we Anri fans all know and love.

At first assumption, I had thought that at least half of "Heaven Beach" was handled by musician-songwriter Toshiki Kadomatsu(角松敏生)but he actually just took care of three of the original 10 tracks. Still, this was the beginnings of a good collaboration between him and Anri in terms of the sunny summer pop that would hereafter characterize the singer. Case in point is the opening song "Ni-banme no Affair"(二番目のaffair...The Second Affair)which has all that Kadomatsu goodness with the skippy bass and galloping beat as Anri sings about struggling to keep from falling for the charms of a friend who may be trying to bring their relationship to another level.


Side A of the original 1982 LP seems to have gone more of the City Pop/dance-pop route that Anri would navigate for the next number of years with Kadomatsu's help. However, one of the songs that I've instantly liked from Listen 1 is by Takeshi Kobayashi(小林武史), "Resolution". The ballad not only shows the singer's strength in her vocals but also that when it comes to the genre in question, it isn't always about Anri and Kadomatsu.

"Resolution", which seems to be about a woman in love thinking about things on the harbour at sunset, starts off as a J-AOR ballad but then gradually morphs into something even more old-fashioned and romantic.


"Lonely Driving" is some good on-the-road pop written by singer-songwriter Hiromi Kanda(神田広美)and composed by Anri herself.




Side B of the LP goes more into what Anri was doing in her earlier years with perhaps some of that exotic influence from "Kanashimi no Kujaku". Things start off with a bang with "Flash Back Memories" which was also written and composed by Kobayashi. And unlike the mellowness of "Resolution", "Flash Back Memories" actually flashes back memories of 1980s New Wave and Billboard pop. I love that keyboard in there as I get reminiscings of bands like Hall & Oates.


"Natsu ni Se wo Mukete"(夏に背を向けて...Turning Your Back on Summer)is a melodically sweet if lyrically bittersweet take on the inevitable end of a summer fling. Kanda once again provided the lyrics while Fuyumi Iwasawa(岩沢二弓), one-half of the duo Bread & Butter, came up with the music. The song has that mellow pop sound that I would usually attribute to someone like Ruiko Kurahashi(倉橋ルイ子)but again Anri sounds great here.


She also sounds wonderful for the final and title track, "Heaven Beach". In fact, I would say that she almost has the voice of her younger teen self in tackling this ballad which makes for an appropriate end to the original album. It has that sort of sunset feeling there but Anri, who wrote and composed it, wanted to imbue a good amount of inspiration, in my opinion.


The 2011 re-release of "Heaven Beach" contains a bonus track which originally saw the light as the B-side to Anri's 10th single "Omoikkiri American"(思いきりアメリカン)from April 1982. "Kaze no Naka de Loving You"(風の中でLoving you...Loving You In The Wind)has got that happy light samba beat; Anri has done a number of Latin-tinged songs but although I think the song is fun and all that, it feels as if it has been grafted onto the singer like she is doing more of a cover of a song done by the original singer. Machiko Ryu and Michihiro Kobayashi(竜真知子・小林みちひろ)took care of this one.

As I mentioned in the article for "Last Summer Whisper", "Heaven Beach" the album got no higher than No. 89 on Oricon when it was first released. I gather that folks had yet to cotton onto Anri although better days were just around the corner. However, I think in retrospect, the album is an important one for Anri fans since it was a crossroads of sorts for showing what she had been doing and what she would be capable of in the coming years. Definitely happy to get this one.



Minato Mirai 21


One of the other nice things about living in Musashi-Kosugi is that by train, a resident there is not far from either Tokyo or Yokohama by train. Both cities can be reached easily within 15 minutes by express.


After lunch, Rob and I decided to spend an afternoon down in Yokohama, specifically around the Minato Mirai 21 area. It had been 6 years since I last stepped foot in the great port city, and the district surrounding Yokohama Bay is one of my favourites anywhere in Japan. Landmark Tower, Queen's Square, JR Sakuragicho Station, the Nippon Maru...all lovely places to walk by.





We basically walked a circle around the harbour including taking a dip into the World Porters mall.



We ended our time there by having some coffee in the largest Cafe de Crie that I had ever been in. My one regret is that I didn't get a chance to explore some of the other sights in Yokohama but I figure that will be my next mission for Japan. Perhaps I will set my accommodations more for the big Y.


To be honest, I think "Yokohama Tasogare"(よこはま・たそがれ)by Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし)is more of a night song but along with "Blue Light Yokohama"(ブルーライト・ヨコハマ), I couldn't think of a more representative kayo for Japan's second-largest city in terms of population.

Ramen Tabetai ga...



During my stay at Rob's, I was able to continue enjoying life in the neighbourhood of Musashi-Kosugi in the city of Kawasaki. On the 11th, his family and I had lunch in a dim summy family restaurant in the Grand Tree mall called Dim Joy.

The soup dumplings came out and I also had a nice spicy bowl of tan tan men. Now, folks might assume that I had a perpetual IV in my arm pumping tonkotsu ramen throughout my trip considering how much I love the stuff. However, I only had the dish twice during my entire time in Japan. The reason was that Toronto now has decent ramen restaurants all over the place so I could actually use my time and stomach on other culinary pursuits. So to complete my sentence above that has been acting as the title for this article: ramen tabetai ga sonnani hitsuyo ga nai(ラーメン食べたいがそんなに必要がない...I wanna eat ramen but there isn't that much of a need).


Of course, that's now how Akiko Yano(矢野顕子)would see it.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ritsuko Kurosawa -- Sayonara ga Nemuranai(さよならが眠らない)



Never heard of Ritsuko Kurosawa(黒沢律子)before. But listening to her "Sayonara ga Nemuranai" (Goodbyes Never Sleep), I figure she might have gotten her first Canadian fan. Admittedly, it's from the nostalgic point of view since the arrangement of the song by Toshihiko Miyoshi(三好敏彦)pretty much screams early 1990s with that certain synthesizer and the power pop stylings that are reminiscent of ZARD.

Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of information about Kurosawa aside from the fact that she debuted in 1990. "Sayonara ga Nemuranai", written by singer-songwriter Yui Nishiwaki(西脇唯)and composer Keiko Yokoyama(横山敬子), comes from what was probably her 2nd album, "RITZ" from December 1991. According to this one page, "RITZ" is now out of print and possibly her other albums might be in the same boat. Kurosawa's vocals may not be the most standout but this one song has gotten me on the hook at least.

Rina Chinen -- Love You Close


I guess if Marcos V. can come up with the first Rina Chinen(知念里奈)single for the blog, then I can come up with her 15th and last single to date.


Yep, I bought "Love You Close" on watching the official music video on one of the music channels one sunny Sunday and I got hooked on its gentle melody by Chika Ueda(上田知華). It sounded rather like an old 1980s pop ballad with a hint of R&B despite it being released in March 2001. Hiromi Mori(森浩美)came up with the lyrics.


I only found out today that it had been the ending theme for the first "Doraemon"(ドラえもん)movie of the 21st century, "Doraemon Nobita to Tsubasa no Yūsha-tachi"(ドラえもん のび太と翼の勇者たち...Doraemon: Nobita and the Winged Braves). Chinen even had a minor role in the movie. "Love You Close" made it all the way up to No. 39 on Oricon and was also a track on her 3rd album "breath", released in July 2001. The album peaked at No. 28.