I'll be honest: most everything I know about Japanese music has come as a result of the tireless efforts of Taka. If it wasn't for his more-euphony-than-James-Joyce command of the English language and his unquenchable passion for "80' electorical dance sounds", I'd probably still be listening exclusively to mid-90's NYC metallic hardcore (Orange 9MM, Helmet, Quicksand, etc.).
Anyway, I bring up Taka's name again not just because he's been a constant source of entertainment and wisdom for me, but because I recently needed to seek his sage advice once more. I was looking for information on Onyanko Club, but hadn't been able to come up with much. I'd heard that OC used to be big in the 80's, but hadn't been able to get any of their actual music or much other information. Once again, Taka came to the rescue. I'll let him take over:
The most famouse and the origin of group type Aidol will be Onyan-ko club(was active from 1985 to 1987, if include the solo and unit type singers, the number 1 top songs of Japanese chart were about 40 songs, the 10 chart songs were about 100 songs. The reason that Onyanko Club got the incredible sales was the promotion in the mean of commece. Onyanko Club was made in a TV program, Yuu-yake-nyannyan, of channnel 8 Fuji-TV. The program was a valiety show. In the program, many projects were made, thefore Onyanko got big popular, that is, were called "Media Tied-up project". When the program was broadcasted, Tsunku was junior-high or high school students, off course he was a hot Onyanko fan like many boy teenagers at that time.
After Syarankyuu broke up, Tsunku got new ambition, that is, he though that he wanted to make the Onyanko type group Aidol that he devoted to once. And by chance, one day he got his music program in channnel 12, while he used the program very well, he made Morningmusume in the program, and that was "Media tied-up project" certainly.
If you are hot Morning Musume fans, it may be good choice that you listen to Onyanko club songs and understand about Japanese aidol history.
Now I was even more interested...it sounded just like an eighties version of MoMusu, something I definitely wanted to hear. I started to think: why doesn't anyone talk about J-music before 1996 or so? I only started listening a few years back, so it always made sense to me to assume that the 80's and early 90's had just as much good stuff to offer. From here, I picked up some more info:
The enourmous group produced such celebrities as Sayuri Kokusho, Marina Watanabe, Shizuka Kudo, Akiko Ikuina, Makiko Saito, Minayo Watanabe, Mamiko Takai, Satomi Fukunaga, Sonoko Kawai, Eri Nitta, Akie Yoshizawa and Yuuyu (Yukiko Iwai). Three sub-groups also emerged - Nyangilas, Ushiroyubi Sasaregumi and Ushirogami Hikaretai. The Onyanko Club had their own TV show called Yuyake Nyan Nyan (means "sunset meow meow"). Here they would showcase their latest songs and interview other idols. They would also audition new members right on the show and vote in the ones ones they liked. Male audience members could compete in a contest for the opportunity of having their picture taken with their favourite Nyan Nyan. The girls traveled to various locations (even San Francisco and Los Angeles!) for shoots and the later episodes got wackier having contests such as members competing (arm-wrestling!) to see who would get to sing their latest single on the show. The club had 2 strict rules - no smoking and no boyfriends - which is why a few members were expelled or dropped out. In the end, Onyanko Club counted 52 members!
52 members, nice. That's about what Hello! Project's up to now (probably surpassed it, I can't be bothered to check). Note the similarities and exact correspondences: subgroups, television show, even the same rules for dismissal.
Then, the plot thickened. I found this on Marxy's site:
So, for your enjoyment, their [Onyanko Club's] 1985 debut single "Se-ra- fuku wo nugasanaide." Translation: "Don't Make Me Take Off My Sailor Uniform."
The lyrics in English (translation by me):
Don't make me take off my sailor uniform. It's wrong right now. Be patient.
Don't make me take off my sailor uniform It's bad, it's wrong to do it here.
Girls are always "mimidoshima" (a girl who experiences sexual activity vicariously through other people's stories)
I want to "do H" (meaning anywhere from making out to having sex)
before my friends
But I'm too cowardly to go farther than kissing.
'Don't Make Me Take Off My Sailor Uniform' ? Is this for real? Wait, there's more.
"That person is a sexual pervert!" All together!
Let's get rid of him - get rid of the stress!
We're so lucky!
Look! Look! Look!
That confused guy!
It's not like I really care
If my navy blue uniform becomes a mess,
But because it's fun, I screamed on purpose,
And pretended to cry.
If a high-school girl, who couldn't even kill a bug,
is not treated seriously, she'll make him hurt!
The overprotected daughter acts gentle,
but when she does it, she does it.
Let's bully him more!
I thought of something good.
Let's bully him more!
I pinched him hard!"
Jesus, sort of beats 'Nikutai wa Shojiki na Eros', doesn't it?
Needless to say, I'm now desperate to get my hands on some Onyanko music. Does anyone else reading this know anything more about Onyanko Club or other good old-school music? Or, more importantly, does anyone have any of it on .mp3? I'll leave this entry as 'to be continued', since, in the event of getting some Onyanko CDs, I'll have to put them up here for review. But for now, I'll let Taka have the last words:
If I dare to say about the difference, there are many young or adult men fans in J idol, because the idols put on showy and cute dress like men rather than women are tempted, and the idols dare to talk with cute voice. May be many foreigners may dislike the idols because of the difference of culture or the exaggerated cute behaves.
DARE TO TALK WITH CUTE VOICE!!
KICK OFF! and YUME CATALOGUE (their first two albums)
PANIC THE WORLD, SIDE LINE and CIRCLE (their 3rd, 4th and last album)