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Idol Retrospective: Moritaka Chisato – Kono Machi Live November 9, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Idol Retrospective, Jpop.
Tags: , , , , ,

Tonight I’m going to talk about something a little bit different than normal. Instead of discussing the latest Hello! Project release/scandal/picspam, or even AKB48, I’m going to talk about something that happened nearly twenty years ago.

That’s right twenty years ago.

Cruising around Youtube a while back I happened to stumble across a couple of vintage idol performances, one of which I want to share with you guys tonight: Moritaka Chisato’s live performance of “Kono Machi.”

You guys might find that name a bit familiar as she was the one to originally write and sing “Watarasebashi” back in 1993, which is now more often associated with Matsuura Aya and Goto Maki who each released covers much more recently.

Now, I admittedly don’t know exactly when this performance was filmed. The song “Kono Machi” was released on Moritaka’s fifth album Kokon Tozai on 10-17-1990, almost exactly twenty years before this post. Using highly advanced Guesstimation™ techniques I would say this performance probably occurred sometime between 1990 and 1993 (Major hints come from this performance that supposedly occurred in 1993, showing her in significantly shorter hair). UPDATE: Thanks to bode1967, we now know that this performance took place during the “KOKON TOZAI ONI-GA DERUKA JA-GA DERUKA” Tour. This means that this performance took place sometime between December 15,1990 and March 4,1991.

Without further ado, I present to you Moritaka Chisato – “Kono Machi”

I honestly find this performance to be really fascinating. On one hand, you can see how much idols have changed since the late 1980’s/early 1990’s and frankly how similar they are as well.

The first thing that stands out to me is her costume. There’s no doubt that it was inspired by “magical girl” sailor uniforms, and it personally gives me a very Sailor Mars-esque vibe (I think this is primarily from her similar hairstyle and the predominant red tones). There is one part of this costume though, that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen worn by a modern idol: sheer nylons. It’s odd, but I really can’t remember any costume from the more recent live performances I’ve seen where the girls wear nylons. It’s possible that there have been a few, but they certainly aren’t commonplace.

Another neat thing you can see is that she is accompanied by a live band. This too is a bit of a rarity for modern idols. Matsuura Aya has performed with a live band on multiple occasions, such as her Aya The Witch Tour, but she only started doing this quite recently, arguably after she stopped trying to be an idol.

Another aspect of this performance that one can still see in modern idols is her para para dance style. Para para dancing is characterized primarily by the usage of arm movements with basic to no lower body involvement. For a solo idol this style is obviously beneficial in that it induces significantly less physical strain compared to traditional dancing that one would see in more Western music. For a modern equivalent one need look no farther than Morning Musume’s “SEXY BOY ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~,” which while significantly more intricate a dance than what Moritaka performs, is still obviously an example of para para.

The greatest difference that I can tell between this nearly twenty year old performance and a more modern one has nothing to do with the idols on stage but with the crowd. The odd thing to me, is that Moritaka’s crowd is absolutely quiet. Now, we know it’s not due to them being edited out in post production, as you can here them roar slightly when she engages them at the 3:09 mark. As a H!P fan I’m thoroughly used to hearing loud, raging crowds screaming out their wotegei calls. For an example, take a look at Morning Musume’s performance of “Mikan” from Summer of 2008 Wonderful Hearts tour. Certainly a huge difference. This raises an interesting question though, when did wotegei start exactly? It’s certainly possible that other fans of other idols at the time practiced wotegei, but hers did not, but I would find this a little hard to fathom. Certainly something to look into. 😀

And what about the song itself? I think it’s rather enjoyable and quite cute. I really like the synth percussion beat they sprinkle here and there in the song, which is undoubtedly characteristic of it’s era and adds a bit to its overall charm. Another interesting fact was that this song, and the vast majority of her other songs as well, were all written by Moritaka herself. Now, I obviously cannot vouch for how insightful her lyrics are, but this is still quite the accomplishment, and something I would certainly like to see return again for many of today’s modern idols, even if just for a special fan club event or what have you.

As a final note, if you look closely at the 3:50 mark you can see her open her eyes very, very wide (I honestly tried to cap this, but I don’t think it can be done in an even remotely flattering way). This may seem like a really silly thing to point out, but I noticed that she displayed this very same quirk in several of her other performances and PV’s as well. Something neat to keep an eye out for if you plan to look into her other material at all.


I hope you guys enjoyed this post, I certainly had fun writing it. I wouldn’t mind sprinkling a few more of these looks at past idols in between my future updates, so if that sounds like something you guys would like to see again let me know in the comments section!



1. clocutron - November 11, 2010

Very cool share, Nights. I find this fascinating for a number of reasons. First of all, to judge the performance in it’s own right, Moritaka-san was a fantastic performer – incredible beauty and energy, fantastic voice. She was one that set the stage for the j-pop of today and deserves a Hall of Fame induction, should there ever be such a wonderful museum. I suppose this was right around the time some call the “Golden Age” of Momusu. The song is cute, energetic, and rather catchy. And she looks fantastic singing it – she looks like she loves it and wants the audience to love it too.

I really like the ParaPara style – I think it’s way better than some of what you get today. Some modern idols can sing well and dance well but we cannot apparently expect them to do both at the same time? I’ve seen several AKB48 and SKE48 live performances and find them intolerable because of the lip-syncing so they can “focus on their dance moves.” Preposterous. If I go to a live performance, I want to hear you sing.

The crowd is certainly different from modern Japanese venues. Japan has relaxed a lot in recent years but this type of restrained behavior is still evident in Chinese audiences from what I’ve seen of Kelly Chen’s live performances. Very tame by American standards (or my standards anyway – I was in pits in Cleveland for Death in the 80’s before Chuck Schuldiner succumbed to brain cancer – yes, I’m older than you thought).

Btw, you offered a fantastic commentary on this performance and I have little to add. You seem to be quite intelligent and insightful and have quite the open mind. Good for you and keep up the good work. This site will get more traffic some day.

clocutron - November 12, 2010

My head must not have been screwed on straight last night – the timeline in my head was really messed up. So, that comment I made about Momusu is completely wrong.

2. Mattthecat - November 12, 2010

Indeed a very in-depth analysis.
I have almost all of Chisato’s Concert DVDs as she has always been a great performer.
One also notable difference to today’s idols is the fact that she played several instruments (guitar, keyboards, drums) live. Okay, Mano plays the piano a bit, but that’s it (and some of them – like Satoda or Yasuda – can master the keyboards as well).
Oh, and she has great legs 🙂

clocutron - November 12, 2010

That’s awesome that you’ve got her concert DVDs – I’m a bit jealous because I’m sure they’re fantastic.

It is pretty uncommon for today’s idols to display any instrumental talent (meaning, even if they know how to play an instrument, it’s rarely worked into their career – Mano being a notable exception).

And yeah, she does have fantastic legs. But what I like most about watching her perform is, as I mentioned above, how happy she seems to be about performing. It’s impossible to not feel happy watching her sing.

3. Nights4Saturn - November 13, 2010

@clocutron: I have to agree with you about her enthusiasm during her performance, it’s almost mesmerizing. To me, one of the key talents of a truly great idol is how well they can convey a feeling of happiness or joy to their audience, and in this metric Moritaka truly shines.

Also, those are some very kind words. Thank you.

@Mattthecat: I never knew you were such a big fan of hers! Also, very impressive that she could play so many instruments, something else I did not know.

Out of curiosity, do you happen to recognize this performance from any of the DVDs that you own? I must admit, I am still curious about the exact year of this concert.

Also, thanks for reading my blog! 🙂

clocutron - November 14, 2010

You’re welcome. I always enjoy reading your posts though I don’t always get around to commenting.

Mattthecat - November 15, 2010

Well I didn’t really know her before Watarasebashi. Lol
But then I actually bought several concert DVDs (and downloaded the rest from P2P 🙂
My favorites are “Live Rock Alive” and “Lucky 7 Live”.
Unfortunately those DVDs are at my home, and since I’m with the family for the rest of the year an ID will have to wait.
And it’s a very nice blog you have here. I just wish I had more time. Lol

4. bode1967 - January 4, 2011

I’d like to say that I’m a huge fan of Moritaka’s work.
This performance of Kono Machi is from her Kokon Tozai tour, back in 1990. It’s a great concert, maybe her best, in my opinion. Sadly, this dvd is no longer selling in the stores.

greetings from Brazil (and sorry for mistakes in my english)

5. bode1967 - January 4, 2011

Oh, I forgot to say something.
In her performance of Kono Machi at the dvd “DO THE BEST at Yokohama Arena concert”, the entire audience reproduce the arm choreography along with Chisato. In the performance portrayed in this post, the audience is not focused, so we can not tell if they were doing the same or not. But I guess they were participating in the same way, because it was the classic choreography for the song.
And I’d like to congratulate who wrote this post as I find fascinating this whole idol world analysis. Said that, I wish to see more of this idol analysis here, and there are great idol acts such as “Wink”, “Nakayama Miho”, “Nakamori Akina” to work with.

thanks again and keep up the great work!!!
greetings from Brazil.

6. Nights4Saturn - January 5, 2011

@bode1967: Thank you for the very nice comment and identifying the date of this performance!

After you mentioned the arm choreography I went back and re-watched this particular performance, and you are absolutely correct. At the 2:44 mark you can see the silhouettes of the audience following along with her arm movements. I missed this little detail when I first watched this performance, so thanks for pointing it out!

I’m glad you enjoyed this post! I had a lot of fun writing it, and would certainly enjoy doing another. I’ll take a look at the idol acts you suggested and will work on putting up another retrospective post in about a week or so.

bode1967 - January 10, 2011

Oh, I’ll be really looking forward this! It’s great to see people interested in classic idols, like me. We learn a lot from them and it helps us understand the idols of today.

7. bode1967 - January 10, 2011

and I think you’d like to take a look at some performances of “Samishii Nettaigyo” (淋しい熱帯魚) by “Wink”. If I’m not wrong, the Hello! Project unit “W” (Tsuji Nozomi and Kago Ai) covered this tune in 2003 or 2004. It’s a very interesting song, and one of my favourites for sure.

clocutron - January 10, 2011

You’re right, that cover appeared on their first album, which was in fact entirely cover songs. I’ve never gotten around to looking for the originals of any of those songs even though I think it’s a fantastic album.

bode1967 - January 10, 2011

I got this album a while ago and is, indeed, a great album. And the covers made me very happy because I already had some of the original songs, and to see them come alive once more in the voices of other artists was really great. And the best thing is that the essences of the songs were not lost in the new versions.

(sorry for possibles mistakes in my english)

clocutron - January 10, 2011

That’s cool that you already knew some of the songs. When I first heard it, I didn’t even know they were covers. I really loved W’s style and it’s a real shame they were disbanded so early because of Kago Ai’s contract termination. They had another single and their 3rd album set to be released – I imagine they were already recorded but never made it to market.

You don’t have to apologize for your English. You write well enough to be understood and being from Brazil, you’re not likely a native English speaker. I think it’s great that you’ll read blogs and comment in English. Am I correct that your native language would be Portuguese?

8. bode1967 - January 10, 2011

Yes, my native language is portuguese. I finished an english course some years ago, but I don’t practice too much, so my writing is far from being perfect, but gladly you guys understand me.

And I dindn’t know there was a third album planned, It would have been great. I have a performance of Samishii Nettaigyi with “W” and some other Hello! Project girls, ant they sing very well. To be honest, i’m very new in the “Hello! Project” world. A year ago, I just had a 2004 autunm concert DVD from Aya Matsuura and nothing more. But in the last two months I discovered a lot of interesting things, including Morning Musume (I know Morning Musume from quite a while, but I had not given them a chance until now).

9. Nights4Saturn - January 12, 2011

Thanks for the song suggestion bode1967! I’ve found a performance from them that I find quite interesting, and I *should* have it up by Friday.

I just remembered that I actually have Nakamori Akina’s second album! A few years ago on a whim I glanced through the cassette section of my local thrift store and found three old idol albums. One from her, Koizumi Kyoko and Sugiura Miyuki. Definitely unexpected, but not unappreciated =]

Speaking of W, I actually had the chance to see Kago Ai in person at the opening of a KDDI shop down in Torrance, something else I still need to write up! ><

10. bode1967 - January 12, 2011

It’l will be great to read another retrospective post, Nights4Saturn. I’m really anxious for this.

Nakamori Akina is, in my opinion, a great singer with a beautiful and sexy voice. I love her performances to death. I admit that she lost a lot of power in her voice over the years, but, in my opinion, she is still amazing and do a great job in her concerts.

And to be honest, I still don’t know Koizumi’s work yet, and neither Sugiura’s. But I’m really interested in knowing them in a very near future. Luckily, I have my whole college vacation to accomplish this.

Wow, it’s great that you have seen Kago Ai in person, but it was a long time ago, when she was still part of Hello! Project?
I had not listened to her post Hello! Project material, but is something that I want to do someday.
I hope she can have a great career in near future, because until now her new releases are struggling in the ORICON charts.

Thank you a lot for your attention,
greetings from Brazil.

clocutron - January 12, 2011

@bode1967: I liked her in W, Minimoni, and Morning Musume but I wasn’t impressed with her post-H!P music. I guess I just didn’t like the jazz style of that album.

@Nights: Looking forward to hearing about when you met Aibon.

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