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Meet Keiko Mari Again

1.14.2022 (updated 1.15.2022)

Growing up in late 70s, one mention of the Smog Monster to my friends would trigger a chorus of voices singing “Save the Earth!” Godzilla vs The Smog Monster (1972) was a regular Saturday afternoon Godzilla rerun and albeit strange, was a fan favorite. Its opening sequence is unforgettable featuring the young and beautiful Ms Keiko Mari performing the film’s theme song. Keiko was more than a talented singer but also the film’s lead actress playing the role of the heroine and nightclub performer Miki Fujinomiya (富士宮 ミキ). However, in the U.S. release, her performance was dubbed over with the voice of singer and song writer Adryan Russ performing the English “Save the Earth,” an adaptation inspired by the Japanese original and co-written with Guy Hemric. Her opening song makes the film unique in the history of Godzilla. It was as popular as the film among Godzilla fans and even my childhood friends who parroted its lyrics in play.

It was not until years later in 1984 that I would hear Keiko’s beautiful voice sing『かえせ!太陽を』(Kaese! Taiyō o translated “Return! The Sun!”) in Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971) and『ヘドラをやっつけろ』(Attack Hedorah), released on 『ゴジラ主題歌大全集』”Godzilla Theme Songs Complete Collection” by Victor Records.

Little did I know, she was an accomplished singer in Japan years before her role in Godzilla vs Hedorah. Born in Tokyo, August 1, 1948, Keiko learned and enjoyed dance as a child. She made movie appearances as an extra during her middle school years. In 1967, Keiko made her debut as an enka singer who performed traditional Japanese songs. Later, she appeared on the TV music show『ビートポップス』“Beat Pops,” a Western music program hosted by Kyosen Ohashi, broadcast on Fuji TV in the late 1960s. Mr Ohashi suggested that she turned to pop music. And she was a fit with the release of 『銀色のお月さま』”Silvery Moon,” and 『月影のランデブー』 “Moon Shadow Rendezvous” in 1968. In 1969, she was in charge of the theme song of for the hit『サインはV』”Sign is V,” a live-action TV drama aired on TBS based on the manga by Shiro Jinbo. Shortly after, in 1971, she made her film debut and left her mark in film with her appearance in Godzilla vs Hedorah.

Miki Fujinomiya performs one of four versions of “Save the Sun” used in Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971).

In a recent interview, Keiko described how she came to star in the Showa classic. “At the end of the summer of 1970, I was called to the Toho studio and I visited with the manager. At that time, I met Director Yoshimitsu Banno, who asked, ‘Can you sing a song?’ I had an interview and immediately took a camera test, and my appearance was decided on right the spot. I was so happy when it was decided that I would be in the movie. Of course, I loved Godzilla since I watched the first film. I still remember how so excited I was.” She performed the movie theme with Honey Knights and Moon Drops (ニー・ナイツ & ムーンドロップス). “Save the Sun” was written by Yoshimitsu Banno (坂野 義光), arranged by Hiroshi Takada (高田弘), and composed by Riichiro Manabe (眞鍋 理一郎).

Miki and Ken Yano dance at her boyfriend Yukio Keuchi’s “Pollution Opposition!! 1 Million People Go Go” (公害反対!! 100万人ゴーゴー) party at the foot of Mt Fuji to celebrate one last day of life before Japan before the world succumbs to Hedorah.

Before she prayed for the return of the sun and the save the earth in Godzilla vs Hedorah, she swooned over the moon in her hit pop song『銀色のお月さま』”Silvery Moon,” released along with『そんな夢』”Such a dream” in 1968 by Victor Records. Take a listen!

『銀色のお月さま』”Silvery Moon” and『そんな夢』”Such a dream”

I love her voice and work. Recently, I found the original vinyl “Sivery Moon” single on Buyee Japan. Since, I’ve added her songs to my Godzilla music collection and to in my daily playlist. I’ve long been a diehard fan of the Japanese pop-group Pizzicato Five, whose go-go sound and style are a tribute to the legacy of Keiko’s work and influence.

Keiko Mari’s Discography: Singles

命をかけて / 忘れてほしい Take your life / forget it (August 1967, Victor SV-609)

銀色のお月さま』 / そんな夢 Silvery Moon / Such a dream (February 1968, Victor SV-671)

恋のヴェンダ / 夏の太陽 Koi no Venda / Summer Sun (May 1968, Victor SV-702)

夜はいじわる / すてきな泪 Playing at night / Nice tears (August 1968, Victor SV-739)

月影のランデブー / 恋の天国 Moon Shadow Rendezvous / Love Heaven (January 1969, Victor SV-796)

裸足のままで / 神様の約束 Barefoot / God’s Promise (June 1969, Victor SV-850)

朝にサヨナラ / 黒い想い出 Goodbye in the morning / Black Memories (November 1969, Victor SV-902)

サインはV / この道の果てに The sign is V / At the end of this road (December 1969, Victor BX-69)

危険な春 / 愛した人にDangerous Spring / To a loved one (1970, Victor SV-934)

接吻泥棒 / 悪魔の香水 Kissing Thief / Devil’s Perfume (July 1970, Victor SV-2056)

甘い愛の不信 / 愛の別れ Distrust of Sweet Love / Farewell to Love (November 1970, Victor SV-2098)

ジェル・ジェ / 空と海とわたし Jer Jae / Sky, Sea and Me (June 1971, Victor SV-2166)

かえせ! 太陽を / ヘドラをやっつけろ Return! The Sun! / Defeat Hedora (July 1971, Victor BX-88)

ら・どんな銀座 / 夜霧銀座のバラード What kind of Ginza / Yagiri Ginza ballad (October 1971, Victor SV-2200)

告白 / 忘れられた女 Confession / Forgotten Female (October 1972, AMON AMON-1010)

Albums

フォーク・ソングを歌う Sing a folk song (1969, Victor SJX-23)
サインはV The sign is V (1969, Victor JB-43)
Girl Friend … Baby Doll (May 1971)

Compilations

21世紀のこどもの歌 21st Century Children’s Song (1970, Victor)
Includes “Kentauros Lullaby,” “My Robot,” “Space Circus,” and “Antares Alien Song” 「ケンタウロスの子守唄」「ぼくのうちのロボット君」「宇宙サーカス団」「アンタレス星人のうた」

Movie Appearances

ゴジラ対ヘドラ Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971, Toho) –Miki Fujimiya
ゴジラとヘロイン Godzilla and the Heroin (2020, NHK)

TV Appearances

ビートポップス(Beat Pops (Fuji TV)
ヤング720 Young 720 (June 27, 1968, TBS)
夜のヒットスタジオ Yoru no Hit Studio (February 10, 1969, Fuji TV)

Radio Appearances

林哲司&半田健人 昭和音楽堂 Tetsuji Hayashi & Kento Handa Showa Ongakudo (May 15, 2011, Shizuoka Broadcasting System)

Commercials

ダリヤ・ハイネット Dariya Hi-Net

Today, Godzilla fans can enjoy Keiko’s body of work as well as sing along with her voice and original performance with subtitles with the readily available and frequent broadcast of Japanese original. Follow Mrs Keiko Mari on Twitter and enjoy her official blog (麻里圭子 オフィシャル ブログ).

References
IMDB: Keiko Mari
Wikipedia: 麻里圭子
Hedorah 公害怪獣の映像世界, pp 38, 60-61

Go-go is a style of music with an emphasis on live audience call and response. It is a popular subgenre of funk that originated in the African-American community in the Washington, D.C. area in the mid-60s to late-70s (Source: Wikipedia).