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, March 4, 2018

The First: Joana Bernardo

Greetings everyone! My name is Joana and I'm a new collaborator of Kayo Kyoku Plus.
I've been following this blog for the past few years, since I started listening to Showa era Japanese music, and it's a pleasure to be able to write my own posts in it. My thanks once again to J-Canuck for the kind invitation.

As this is my first post, J-Canuck reminded me of this project and I thought it would be the ideal way to start things around as I introduce a little bit about myself.

I was first and foremost an anime fan. Growing up as a kid I watched the series that aired here in Portugal, particularly the classics of the magical girl genre. In 2011 I finally got around to start watching anime in the original Japanese versions and in a regular basis.

In 2015 I was following the anime "Ore Monogatari!!" (俺物語!!) and in an evening of boredom during the Summer holidays, I decided to search about who sang the theme songs. The opening was called "Miraikei Answer" (未来形Answer), from the band TRUSTRICK. I had never heard of them before, but I went on to find out their vocalist was called Sayaka Kanda (神田沙也加) and was the only daughter of a 50-something Japanese singer called... Seiko Matsuda (松田聖子).

To be honest, at the time I didn't really like the opening that much. But with time, and after the unexpected landmark it has become in my life, it grew on me. It's a light-hearted pop tune and Kanda's vocals are pleasant to the ear - as expected, I'd say, of someone who grew up side-by-side with a superstar mom, doing sporadic appearances in Seiko's own career (both albums and concerts).

I sometimes try to find similarities between the two. I think Sayaka looks a bit like her mother when she's smiling. What do you guys think?

I'm sure Seiko-chan doesn't need further introduction. Anyway, I decided to look up for videos of her and the first one that popped up was the above performance of "Tengoku no Kiss" (天国のキッス) in a 1983 broadcast of Yoru no Hit Studio. J-Canuck has already covered this song so I linked his article, and will keep on linking the songs already in the blog.

I was struck with a nostalgic feeling, even though I wasn't born at this time. I didn't feel like I wanted to live at that time; instead, I found it more wonderful that I had the chance to hear this song more than 30 years after it was created. Internet really is an amazing invention - so I thought, and I still do sometimes.

I immediately fell in love with the song and the whole 80's atmosphere. Influenced by my parents' extensive record collection, I always liked music that was older than me. Also, I simply love cute things in general, so nothing better than a cute girl in a cute frilly pink dress singing a cute song, lol. I'm glad my first impression of Seiko was this one.

The next few days were spent following YouTube recommendations and the next artist I started listening to was Momoe Yamaguchi (山口百恵). Legend after legend, right? I wasn't aware I was going backwards on chronological order but Momoe ended up catching my heart even more than Seiko did.

The first song I heard from her, IIRC, was "Yokosuka Story" (横須賀ストーリー), one of her staple songs. Though she had a completely different aura from what I've seen from Seiko-chan, her deep voice and mature tunes captivated me. Maybe because she has considerably less titles in her discography than Seiko does, I ended up listening to all of her albums before I listened to Seiko's.

My passion for Momoe culminated in the purchase of the DVD of her famous last concert in the Budokan, in 1980. It was a day of joy as I still remember coming back from the post office with the order in hand and unpacking it carefully, lol. It was my first Showa idol-related purchase.

Despite all of this, it was Akina Nakamori (中森明菜) who ended up becoming my favorite aidoru and artist overall. I had watched some videos of her while getting to know Seiko and Momoe but she didn't quite strike me at first.

The only song that left an impression on me was "Shoujo A" (少女A) and for some time, that was the only song from Akina I had actually saved to keep on listening. I wonder why that was the one. Well, as a matter of fact, I didn't look up for more Akina tunes until I got to listen almost all of Seiko and Momoe's. Also, maybe because it reminded me of some of the later Momoe hits. Akina the aidoru was modeled after her senpai's image so it's understandable they resembled each other at the beginning.

I got around to know Akina better and now I'm a huge fan of her. I sometimes think whether I do prefer her or Momoe. I usually go with Akina but it's honestly hard to choose. They are comparable, but they aren't; their careers, music style, and themselves as individuals are different. So, I try not to compare them much, and just enjoy each of them for who they are and what they sang.

To finish this post, a slightly different note.

After some years of Japanese Showa aidoru and music in general, I started to feel like exploring something different, but still not completely unrelated. I decided to look up more about currently active aidoru. I already knew AKB48 from their original anime AKB0048 and other bits and pieces from several sources, so I guessed I'd go from there.

My initial favorite member of the group was Sayaka Yamamoto (山本彩) because of her beauty and her voice. She is actually a member of NMB48 but there was some point in the history of 48-groups when they decided to mix members around, so now I (and the management itself) prefer to talk about AKB48Group as the supergroup formed by all the something-forty-eight. But I digress.

"365-nichi no Kamihikouki" (365日の紙飛行機) has become somewhat of a signature song for Yamamoto and it's probably the greatest hit that AKB has landed with the general public in the past few years (let's say, the "post-Atsuko Maeda era"), along with "Koisuru Fortune Cookie". It was included both in the single "Kuchibiru ni Be My Baby" (AKB48) and "Amagami Hime" (NMB48), the latter being the solo version by Yamamoto, which I personally prefer.

From them I got to know several different idols, including one particular girl very similar to Momoe-chan... But that's a story for another time.

Thanks for reading and I hope you'll enjoy my posts from now on. :)


  1. Mixing AKB48 and Showa, here's Hiromi Iwasaki singing 365-nichi no Kamihikouki. It's 5 minutes in.

    And back in her aidoru hey day, she was insanely charming. Hatachi Mae. Momoe is in the background, wearing her Otomeza Kyuu dress.

    1. Thank you for the comment! I love Hiromi as well. She has an absolutely beautiful voice.
      I also follow her on Facebook and she's the cutest 59-year-old I've ever seen, lol.

  2. Hi, Joana!

    Welcome aboard to KKP and thanks for your first article. And here I was thinking that I would be the first to comment but it looks like Anonymous beat me to the punch! :) Hiromi Iwasaki is one of the best singers in any era and one of my favourites as well.

    Had no idea that Sayaka had become a vocalist for a band but it looks like she has settled in nicely. And yep, I think she looks like her mother around the mouth area. Her eyes remind me more of her father, actor Masaki Kanda.

    If you like the whole thing of cute from a past age, then the early 80s period of aidoru is definitely meant for you. All those frilly dresses, hairdos and hoppy choreography!

    No surprises on the comparison (or not) between Akina and Momoe. That was going on for years...I think the former was even being dubbed "The New Momoe" initially. It would have been interesting had Momoe decided to keep on singing well into the 1980s.

    As surprising as it may sound, "365-nichi no Kamihikouki" has yet to be talked about at all as a standalone article so you can get first dibs at it if you want. And don't let the fact that I've written articles on particular songs by Seiko and Akina deter you from writing your articles on those same songs. The songs may be the same but each person's feelings and circumstances surrounding each song are different.

    1. Hello J-Canuck!

      Sayaka's not exactly the vocalist for the band. She has a solo career and the band just follows her around on solo tours. Besides that, she's still a member of NMB48.

      Akina was definitely modeled, at the beginning, to look like the new Momoe, but it's interesting to see the impact Momoe-chan left in the aidoru scene after she retired. On the first appearance of Seiko in Yoru no Hit Studio ("Hadashi no Kisetsu" in 1980), the hosts call her "post-Momoe".

      Thank you for the warm welcome, once again.


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