There is a group of people currently working on a project to translate all of Idol Densetsu Eriko! As is the case with any idol story, this series poses great difficulties for any translator, due to the songs used throughout the story. Aside from the regular dialogue, idol stories are always very difficult to translate,because translating song lyrics from Japanese to English is exceptionally difficult - maintaining the emotional meanings is very important for any idol story, and adds a level of complexity not found in any other anime.
The translator's information is given below. If anyone is interested in providing any type of financial support, please contact him. He is a professional translator, and watched Eriko and other series while he was a child, living in Japan. He is doing this in his free time, so any type of support would be much appreciated, I am sure.
Arigatou, minna-san! ^_^
Translator's Email Addresses:
Translator's Mailing Address:
Jong "SNOWMAN" Park (or Tetsuya "SNOWMAN" Park)
Washington State University
203 Scott Hall
Pullman, WA 99163
Translator's Phone Number:
First broadcast in 1989, Idol Densetsu Eriko (or "Legendary Idol Eriko") chronicles the story of Tamura Eriko, a young, blonde, "ojousama" ("cultured girl", or "debutante'") and her rise to be a legendary performer. As is the case with many young, truly talented people, Eriko's story has many ups and downs, and has parallels in the biographies of many popular show business legends throughout history, all over the world. It is a story of triumph and loss, heartache and joy, rivalry and friendship, and - most of all - love. Be forewarned - this review does contain some spoilers, although I have attempted to keep them at a minimum.
Our story begins as Eriko and her parents, Yusuke and Minako, prepare for the Grand Opening of Marine Live Stage, a fabulous new underwater theatre created by Yusuke's record company, Tamura Productions. As they drive to the stage in the limousine, chauffered by the old family friend, Kurazawa-san, Eriko is particularly elated - her father has just informed her that they have purchased a new dress for her to wear to the party tonight! She didn't even know that she was going to be allowed to attend the gala event, let alone in a new evening dress! Secretly, she thought that it was too bad that she couldn't wear the lipstick that she had asked her good friend and sempai, Nakata Yasuko, to buy for her - still, this was a terrific surprise!
Meanwhile, at Marine Live Stage, the technicians were busy performing equipment checks. Asagiri Rei mounted the stage to rehearse her current hit, "Unchained Heart", while Ohgi Shogo lounged in the seats - after all, why should he strain himself before rehearsal? As Rei finished the first verse of her song, a technician waved her off the stage - she slowly shook her head "no". She had no intention of missing this chance to rehearse her song for the man that she had secretly held a crush on for years, the CEO of Tamura Productions himself, Tamura Yusuke. As Rei prepared to launch into the second verse of her number, the technicians decided to test out the various stage lights, especially the lasers. The boss was about to arrive, and they didn't want to disappoint him!
The Tamura family was making its descent to the theatre inside a clear elevator - all the natural beauty and wonder of the undersea world seemed only an arm's reach away. Eriko exclaimed in wonder as fish swam past, right in front of her face, seemingly near enough to kiss! As the elevator pulled to a stop, she could hear music coming from beyond the door - rock music, very powerful, backing a very strong voice...
Suddenly, the doors slid open, and Eriko was awash with music, the sound thrumming through her body! The entire theatre was dark, so she could not see anything - until the stage was suddenly outlined with lasers, lights flashing across a sultry figure belting out the lyrics with a voice even more powerful than the music beating through Eriko's heart. Stunned, she could only breathe "Incredible!" softly - even her mother, no stranger to the stage herself, could only whisper "Darling!" to her husband.
As Rei finished her song, Yusuke applauded her slowly, as the normal stage lights come back on. Everyone gathered around the boss, but Rei immediately took his arm. He turned her around and introduced her to his wife, Minako, and his daughter, Eriko. As the two girls' gazes met, a genuine electricity flashed between them - a sense of rivalry... and, perhaps, destiny?
Later that evening, prior to the party, Eriko tried on her new lipstick, secretly, while waiting in her room. "Well, Pianissimo? What do you think? Is it pretty?" she asked of her female pet poodle, who cavorted around the sleeping Fortissimo. Eriko smiled to herself - the two were as opposite in personality as they were in gender, but they were always able to sense her feelings, especially Pianissimo. They were two of her best friends, just like Asami-chan and Nakata-sempai.
Oh, Asami had not thought that it was a good idea for Eriko to get lipstick! Especially not when Matsura-sensei had almost caught her in the act of receiving it from Nakata-sempai! But Eriko had always dreamed of trying some, to see if it made her feel more adult, just a little bit. Suddenly, she heard the Tamura maid Yuki-san calling her downstairs - she hurriedly wiped off the evidence of her secret, and answered, "Yes, I'm coming!" as she rushed out the door. She hadn't noticed that she had brushed her family picture - Fortissimo jumped as the photo hit the ground, the glass shattering...
Kurazawa-san drove her to the event; her parents would come separately, as they had to attend to some business, first. She arrived to see her Uncle Kosuke rather harriedly trying to oversee the various stages of preparation prior to the actual concert - although, she thought to herself, Uncle Kosuke always seemed to be harried. He rushed up to her, asking about Yusuke and Minako; he wasn't too happy to learn that they hadn't arrived yet. Rushing off, he told the director to have the band begin to warm up.
Hearing her name, Eriko turned around to see her father's right-hand man, Uchida-san, and his son, Kazuki. She always called Kazuki "Ka-chan"; he was a nice boy, but she liked to tease him, anyway. As they listened to the band rehearsing, Eriko wondered what could be delaying her father and mother. As she looked for them, she noticed a rather harried young man darting through the crowd - his name was Ijuin-san, one of the top managers working for Tamura Productions. As he saw her, he hurried in her direction. Reaching her, he leaned over and whispered in her ear...
What!? Her parents had been in a car accident?! Her father was dead, and her mother was in a deep coma?! Eriko's heart froze in shock - she didn't even feel Ijuin-san lead her out of Marine Live Stage. The next thing she knew, she was at her father's bedside in the hospital, with the other family members standing in the doorway. She collapsed in tears, her world crashing around her, not knowing what would happen next - or caring.
Eriko was in a daze - she didn't even really hear the eulogy that her Uncle Kosuke gave at the funeral service. She didn't notice that he seemed a bit preoccupied as they were driving home - and that he was quietly chuckling to himself.
Kosuke was very satisfied with himself. He would never have wished for his brother to die, but since it had happened, and Minako was in a coma, he was left in charge of Tamura Productions. What an excellent opportunity to show that he was much better suited to lead than his brother!
As our story continues, Eriko will have to contend with unexpected fame when she sings at Marine Live Dome to calm the crowd as a seaquake disrupts the rescheduled Grand Opening. Her uncle will groom her to be the next big star of Tamura Productions, hiring grueling instructors to improve her natural talents - without even asking her first. She will endure all of this harshness in the hope that her mother will one day regain consciousness. Eventually, her friends will kidnap her from her uncle's control for her own safety, and will help her train in secret for a debut performance of her own song, "Locomotion Dream", written for her by her father and mother.
After a successful debut, Uchida-san manages to force Kosuke to relinquish legal control of Eriko to himself. This does not sit well with Kosuke, however, who loses some of the best employees for Tamura Productions, as Ijuin-san and others resign their posts due to his abusive behavior.
Kosuke tries various dirty tricks to ruin Eriko's popularity. He arranges for Eriko to be a surprise guest at one of Rei's concerts - without telling Rei, which only aggravates the animosity that Rei feels for Eriko. Despite these feelings, Rei also finds herself strangely drawn to Eriko, unable to help herself from responding to the young girl's charm. But Rei is also a professional - when Kosuke plans to involve Eriko in a dangerous accident at the concert, and almost ruins the entire event, Rei is instrumental in saving Eriko and preventing a complete disaster.
Kosuke also arranges for Eriko's school to believe that she has missed so much class simply to rehearse for her current debut as an idol. The school cannot condone such behavior, and expels her. She is forced to enroll in a "juku" (or "cram school").
Kosuke's persistence eventually bears fruit, and he arranges for a scandal to destroy Eriko's image. In show business, image is often more important than substance, and falsehood more powerful than truth - Eriko and her friends learn this lesson the hard way.
Eriko slowly makes a comeback from this setback, enduring equipment failures, bad weather, vocal strain, perverted boys, and, most of all, the heartening (and heartbreaking) news that her mother has regained consciousness - but has lost her memory. Her genuine charm and talent eventually win Rei's respect and friendship, and the two girls find a common ground in their grief over Yusuke's death. Kosuke cannot allow this, though, and plants the seeds of dischord in Rei's heart by telling her that Yusuke was her father. Rei does not want to believe him, but he shows her pictures from the family album that support his story. She becomes totally confused - she doesn't want to believe Kosuke, but the truth seems inescapable, and she begins to resent Eriko... and her owns feelings for her.
The emotional tug-of-war Rei is putting herself through will be put to the test with the arrival of a famous American musical producer, Arthur Howard. He is very rich, eccentric, and without equal when it comes to judging talent. Unbeknownest to Eriko, she has caught his eye when she performed for the Best New Singer Awards ceremony - and won the award. He is searching for leads all over the world for his new musical production, "Rock 'N' Roots", and comes to Japan to audition the top idols. Rei is a natural choice - and Eriko is invited to audition, as well.
Through the various strenuous audtitions that Mr. Howard puts the girls through, Eriko and Rei both show enormous talent, heart, and endurance. It also becomes apparent that, although she tries very hard to hide it, Rei loves Eriko a great deal. Eriko cannot understand why Rei is treating her so viciously now, except when she is under the most extreme danger, but she believes in Rei, anyway. The final audition for the lead role will be in New York City.
After returning to Japan, Eriko's popularity continues to grow. She rushes from one performance to another, from radio phone-in shows to TV appearances to music video filmings, to signings and guest appearances, and still manages to squeeze in time for school studies. Her "juku" is preparing a terrific play prior to graduation. She wants to help, and accepts the job of creating the tissue paper carnations. This additional responsibility is almost more than she can handle - she makes carnations during every free moment she has, staying up late at night, in the car on the way to various performances, in her dressing room, etc. As Fate would have it, she does not even get to see the actual performance - an appearance is scheduled for the same time, and her obligations to her career and other people make it impossible for her to participate. She fulfills her promise to make the carnations by shipping them to the school - the play is a big success.
After graduating from "juku", she also successfully graduates from her original school. She arranges for a terrific graduation concert at Marine Live Stage - everyone is invited. She has created a very special present for Uchida-san... a song of her own composition, to be performed for him for the first time at the graduation concert. The concert is an incredible success, and Eriko's fame continues to grow.
However, the enormous drain on her is beginning to tell. No one seems to notice, since everyone is so involved with her success. She begins to suffer an emotional crisis, unsure of just who or what she is, and what she is doing. She seems unable to ever have any time for herself, to just be a normal girl. The pressure on her is incredible - eventually, her confusion over her own identity reaches a critical point, and she runs away.
At first, no one is overly concerned. As her absence lengthens, and no one is able to find her, the concern grows. Despite extensive efforts, no one can locate Eriko. Finally, everyone who has ever been touched by this young girl - friends, family, classmates, co-workers, peers, fans... everyone - gathers together in one place in the foothills. They don't care if she ever performs again, they don't want her autograph, they don't want to touch her, or hear her, or see her... they just want her to come back, because they love her. Thousands and thousands of people, gathered together because of their love and respect for this one, lone, young girl... and when she finally appears, mysteriously, they are very anxious to hear what she might have to say. If you are curious, I have provided an editted translation of her final speech (thanks to Zahara Medina for the translation from the Spanish version of the show).
This summarizes many of the high points of this wonderful, moving story, but there are many that I have been forced to leave out, either because of space restraints or because of wanting to avoid too many spoilers. For those of you who are familiar with the incredibly dramatic story elements of shows like Marmalade Boy or Wedding Peach, and enjoyed them, I can only say that you will not be disappointed by Idol Densetsu Eriko.
Since it was first broadcast in 1989, it does not have some of the sophisticated animation techniques that some people are used to seeing in many of the shows created today - this is especially true because it was a TV series created for young girls. However, it was also created to help promote the career of a real-life idol singer, Tamura Eriko, who also does Eriko's singing voice in the series. This series has some of the best J-Pop music I have ever heard. The seiyuuwho does Eriko's speaking voice is Yajima Akiko - this was her debut as a seiyuu, and she turns in an incredible performance. She has gone on to do various other roles, perhaps most notably that of Paffy Pahuriscia in Ryu Knight: Adeue's Legend.
If you see Eriko, you will surely agree - she truly is a legend.
Tamura Eriko - The daughter of Yusuke and Minako, her talents seem to come to her naturally. Although she is only 14 years old at the beginning of the series, her upbringing has given her the opportunity to develop her natural talents, and she is already an excellent singer/keyboardist. She seems to have an almost magical ability with her music; in ep.#3 the cameraman sees "fairy light" shining around her as she sings on stage.
Her music is charged with all the cheerfulness and love of a happy young girl, even after she goes through enormous traumas. After the car accident that kills her father and leaves her mother in a coma in ep.#1, she becomes the ward of her unscrupulous Uncle Kosuke.
Tamura Yusuke - Eriko's father and owner/founder of Tamura Productions, a very successful record company. He is killed in episode #1 in a car accident that also leaves Eriko's mother Minako in a deep coma. He was a well-loved leader; people followed his instructions because they wanted to, not because he was their boss.
Tamura Minako - Eriko's mother and a former famous idol singer. She is a very beautiful and kind woman, and would become Chief Executive of Tamura Pro if she ever came out of her coma. As it happens, she does regain consciousness later in the series - but she has lost her memory...
Elilin - The name of the star pendants that Eriko's mother kept in a special jewel case. Eriko always wears one when rehearsing or performing; it gives her faith and courage. After she becomes famous, it becomes a nickname for her, and is adopted by her fanclub.
Tamura Kosuke - Eriko's uncle who takes control of Tamura Pro after her father's death, and also becomes her legal guardian. After Eriko gives a spontaneous performance to calm the crowd during the seaquake in eps. #2 & #3, he decides she is to be the next big star of the company, and decides to hone and use her talents for his own gains - without even consulting her first.
Yuki-san - The maid at the Tamura household.
Uchida-san - The father of Kazuki ("Ka-chan") who later legally takes control of Eriko's future from Kosuke, ncluding legal custody of her.
Kurazawa-san - The chauffeur of the Tamura household.
Kazuki ("Ka-chan") - Uchida-san's son, and rather obviously enamored of Eriko (although he tries very hard to hide it, and usually succeeds). He's always there to help Eriko, as are her other friends Nakata-sempai and Asami.
Asami - Eriko's best friend and classmate. No one is more surprised at Eriko's sudden catapult to fame - except perhaps Eriko herself. She is a very exhuberant girl, and completely open with her emotions. She is quite possibly Eriko's biggest fan - whether Eriko wants her to be or not...... perhaps Eriko would rather they always just be friends?
Nakata Yasuko ("Nakata-sempai") - Eriko's sempai and very good friend. She's always there to help Eriko or to defend her, and is quite capable of taking on five older guys in hand-to-hand conflict - and win. She's rather a "lone wolf" personality, but also comes from a very well-to-do family. She is quite an accomplished biker, which comes in very handy a couple of times!
Asagiri Ryoko - A very wealthy but snobbish woman who seems to have some hold over Kosuke - he's always defering to her judgements and trying to impress her. She discovers Hiroshi, and promotes him as the newest star against Eriko and Rei. She is Rei's mother, but the two are bitter enemies. Rei harbors very bitter feelings towards her mother because Ryoko refuses to tell Rei her father's identity.
Asagiri Rei - Eriko's rival in many ways, and the planned star of the Marine Live Stage grand opening. She's a very hot-tempered and independent girl - this is understandable, since she's estranged from her mother, Ryoko, and has never known her father. Her music is incredibly powerful, charged with all the pain, sorrow, and loneliness that she has experienced in her young life. She is without a doubt just as powerful a star as Eriko, but her music is derived from very negative feelings rather than positive happiness. She was very enamored of Yusuke, and looked at him as the father she never had - because of this and other factors, she becomes Eriko's rival. Eriko has no fault in this, though, and in fact respects and adores Rei a great deal. Seeing these two together on stage is a very rare treat.
Ohgi Shogo - A young blonde rock star who Rei happens to love, and who also happens to take quite a liking to Eriko. Rei gets very jealous about this - then again, Rei gets jealous of all the young girls who throw themselves at Shogo. He is a good guy, though, and is very supportive of both Eriko and Rei. He is also a very powerful and popular performer in his own right, with good reason.
Hiroshi - A mysterious blue-haired loner who Ryoko discovers. He shows up playing his saxophone at various places around town, singing his own song "Blue Moon" with an incredibly powerful voice and heart, impressing anyone who hears him. After Ryoko discovers him and records his song, it quickly becomes a big hit. He tends to show up in the most unusual places, and in very strange ways, and seems almost emotionless except for his music. He is very much the embodiment of the genius loner musician.
Ijuin-san - Eriko's manager and supporter. He is a very nice young man, but like many of the people around her seems oblivious to her inner feelings.
Pianissimo & Fortissimo - Eriko's two pet poodles. Pianissimo (female) and Fortissimo (male) are very attuned to their mistress's feelings, although they are also very playful, especially Pianissimo.
Sajio-san - A producer who offers Eriko a chance to sing her debut song on a musical show spotlighting young talent. He is also instrumental to several other key offers in Eriko's career. He's a very stern-looking, quiet, professional man, but seems charmed by the young girl's talents.
Kaori-chan - A young girl who calls in to a radio phone-in show that Eriko is hosting. She is very troubled.......
Kunio Firumi - A little girl who Eriko meets in the hospital after a scandal costs her her newly budding career. Firumi is a big fan of Elilin (Eriko), even after the scandal, and helps Eriko to reaffirm her faith in herself and her music.
Matsura-sensei - Eriko and Asami's teacher from Eriko's original school. She is a very strict taskmistress, and does not tolerate ANY infractions of the rules!
Arthur Howard - A famous American producer who is looking for talent for his new musical "Rock 'N' Roots". He is searching for possible stars in every country, and takes immediate notice of Eriko when she is featured in the "Best New Singer" awards. There are many other talented girls, though, auditioning for the lead role - and Rei is one of them......
Tamura Eriko (songs only) - Tamura Eriko
Tamura Eriko - Yajima Akiko (debut role)
Asagiri Rei (songs only) - Hashimoto Maiko
Asagiri Rei - Matsui Naoko
Asagiri Ryoko - Sakakibara Yoshiko
Tamura Yuusuke - Haji Takaya
Tamura Minako - Takizawa Kumiko
Tamura Kosuke - Iizuka Shouzou
Oghi Shogo - Matsumoto Yasunori
Nakata Yasuko - Takamori Yoshino
Uchida Kazuki - Nakahara Shigeru
Uchida Shinya - Nishimura Tomomichi
Ohsawa Hiroshi - Shibamoto Hiroyuki
Yuki - Satou Ai
Ijuin - Suzuki Katsumi
Yamaguchi Kaori - Mizutani Yuko
Narrator - Takizawa Kumiko
"Friends, for two weeks I have been thinking about these questions - who am I? What is an idol? You hear my songs, you care for me, everyone knows me on stage or on TV screens, but I never see your faces. If you know me, I want to know you! I want to touch your hearts, and see your faces."
"What is an idol? Who am I? No matter how many times I asked myself these questions, I couldn't find the answer. So, here I am - your call reached my heart, subconsciously. Now, I know the answer to these questions. I have been selfish, and I am sorry. I humbly beg forgiveness from my family, my friends, and all who have collaborated with me, or who have followed me. I love you, friends! Thank you!"
(song - "May Be Dream")
Narrator (voice-over): (All who cared for Eriko shared the same feeling with her - love. It was the end, and the prelude. This was how this girl became a Legend...)