As the expression goes, "Ignorance is bliss". Some months ago, I discovered this Keiko Mizukoshi（水越けいこ）song called "Ikigai" (Raison D'etre) which was on her 8th album "I'm Fine" from February 1982. However, I'd read from a couple of sources including this "CD Journal" review (that I found on the Amazon page) which basically ranted about Mizukoshi's change in image and forced cheeriness for this particular album.
Well, the bricks thrown at "I'm Fine" rather reminded me of the criticism that Taeko Ohnuki's（大貫妙子）"Mignonne" had gotten back in 1978, but in the last few years, even before the current love for all things Japanese and funky, people like myself have given the album a second look and found it fine after all. I was never aware of Mizukoshi being a rather moody and introspective singer as those reviews had intimated; really, the only song that I've known by her has been "Hoho ni Kiss Shite"（ほほにキスをして）which is a pretty uptempo number in itself.
So, being ignorant of much of Mizukoshi's discography, I was quite happy with "Ikigai". Not quite sure which genre the song truly belongs to...City Pop or J-AOR...but it's a very pleasant number that begins each verse with something similar to bossa nova. However, the rest of "Ikigai"is a nice and refreshing bit of pop to me.
Mizukoshi took care of words and music, but her backing band here is none other than members from the band TOTO. I think that it was the sound of TOTO and other bands/artists from around that time that helped me get into the Japanese urban contemporary and J-AOR genres, so there's something of a full circle feeling on finding out that folks like Jeff Porcaro and Steve Lukather may were helping out in Japan. I think that it's quite the feather in Mizukoshi's cap that the band was behind her in the recording of "Ikigai" since at the time, TOTO was getting their huge album "Toto IV" ready for release in April 1982.