Japanese pop band movies

Aaron Gerow gerow at ynu.ac.jp
Thu Aug 16 22:42:46 EDT 2001

Roland gave an excellent list of Group Sounds films, which are 
experiencing a small revival on satellite TV and on video. I sometimes 
show clips of Spiders and Tigers movies in class, and we must remember 
that graduates of these groups are some of the more important 
entertainment people today.  From the Spiders, Sakai Masaaki (the son of 
the comedian Sakai Shunji) is now one of TV's most popular MCs, the 
leader Tanabe Akitomo is a powerful talent agency president, Inoue Jun is 
a well-known character actor, and Inoue Akiyuki, Kamayatsu Hiroshi and 
Ono Katsuo are prominent musicians/composers (sometimes for film).  From 
the Tigers, Sawada Ken'ichi remains one of Japan's top actors, Kishibe 
Ittoku is arguably the best character actor working today, and his 
brother Shiro was a popular wideshow host. From the Tempters, Hagiwara 
Ken'ichi has graduated to become one of Japan's most representative lead 
actors. The Drifters, who were always less a music group than a comedy 
team (apart from "Ii yu da na," I can't think of many of their songs, 
unlike the Crazy Cats, who remain one of my favorites), were also 
extremely popular on TV, and members like Kato Cha, Shimura Ken, Takagi 
Bo, and Ikariya Chosuke are still very active on the tube.

What Roland unfortunately missed was some of the Shochiku Group Sounds 
movies, especially those by Saito Koichi, who was not only the best of 
the GS movie makers, establishing a pop style that fit the age, but went 
on to become one of the most important directors of the 1970s with 
masterpieces like Tabi no omosa and Tsugaru jangarabushi.  I had the 
opportunity to see several of his films at the Asagaya Eiga Mura back in 
the early 1990s with Saito present--this was before GS films experienced 
a revival. His GS films, with the GS group featured, are as follows:

Omoide no yubiwa (Village Singers, Spiders)
Kurenai no naka no remon (Village Singers)
Chiisana sunakku (Village Singers, Purple Shadows)
Rakuba to kuchizuke (Village Singers, Ox)

Chiisana sunakku is his GS masterpiece.

Also at Shochiku, Susume! Jagazu tekizen joriku, starring the Jaguars and 
directed by Maeda Yoichi, is one of the more bizarre and fascinating 
comedies of the 1960s.

Note there are also numerous films where bands are featured, but not 
necessarily in the lead role.  For instance, Koibito to yonde mitai (dir. 
Morinaga Kenjiro) features the Carnabeats in a small role.

I found some info on GS in English on the net:


Aaron Gerow
Associate Professor
International Student Center
Yokohama National University
79-1 Tokiwadai
Hodogaya-ku, Yokohama 240-8501
E-mail: gerow at ynu.ac.jp
Phone: 81-45-339-3170
Fax: 81-45-339-3171

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