Ikariya Chosuke

Peter M. Grilli grilli
Sat Mar 27 01:35:02 EST 2004


Thanks for posting your message about Ikariya Chosuke.

I arrived in Tokyo last Tuesday evening, and walking out of my hotel that
night I ecountered an incredibly HUGE crowd of people near the funeral hall
near Aoyama-botchi, lining up or the wake (o-tsuya) of Ikariya.  I hadn't
heard that he had died a day or two earlier.
The size of that crowd attests to how much "The Drifters" were loved and how
much he was admired!


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
[mailto:owner-KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu]On Behalf Of Aaron
Sent: Friday, March 26, 2004 9:10 AM
To: KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
Subject: Re: Ikariya Chosuke

As the one who usually does obits on KineJapan, I regret not having
done this myself (Having just got back from Japan, I was swamped with

One thing we mustn't forget with Ikariya is that he was the leader of
the comedy team The Drifters, which was active both in music and
comedy, and featured such prominent entertainers as Kato Cha, Takagi
Boo, and later Shimura Ken. There were about 20 Drifters movies made at
Shochiku from the late 1960s to early 1970s. Most had "Zen'in shugo!"
or "Dorifutazu desu yo!" in the title, and featured the group before
Arai Chu left (Shimura Ken later replaced him). While the films are fun
to watch, they don't have the edge of the early Crazy Cats films, or
the depth of the Shochiku comedies of Maeda Yoichi, Morisaki Azuma,
Segawa Masaharu, or Yamada Yoji (though I think Segawa and Maeda did
one or two of those films). But they do testify, first, to the
dominance of Shochiku in comedy in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as to
the importance of Watanabe Pro in the Japanese entertainment industry
(they managed such other stars as the Crazy Cats, the Peanuts, Kayama
Yuzo, Fuse Akira, and many others--as well as produced numerous films).

The TV "Zen'in shugo" was one of the last truly mass TV shows, getting
on average over 30% in the ratings (the Drifters' "Dorifu daibakusho"
was also a big hit). But the general impression was that their comedy
was thus "good for the whole family" and especially the favorite of
children. (Again, this is not a bad thing per se, but it does serve as
background for some of the more biting humor of the manzai boom in the
1980s, such as that of the Two Beats).

Still, more needs to be done on Japanese comedy in film.

Aaron Gerow
Assistant Professor
Film Studies Program/East Asian Languages and Literatures
Yale University
53 Wall Street, Room 316
PO Box 208363
New Haven, CT 06520-8363
Phone: 1-203-432-7082
Fax: 1-203-432-6764
e-mail: aaron.gerow at yale.edu

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