|Fran Rubel Kuzui
Tokyo Pop (トーキョー ポップ , Tōkyō Poppu) is a 1988 musical comedy film directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui, who co-wrote the screenplay with Lynn Grossman. The film follows an American girl (Carrie Hamilton), a Japanese boy (Yutaka Tadokoro) and a briefly successful pop band. It contrasts American customs with Tokyo lifestyles, while presenting an evolving love story between the two main characters.
In real life, Tadokoro fronted the 1980s rock group Red Warriors, who also star in the film as themselves. Other notable actors include Gina Belafonte, Michael Cerveris and Tetsuro Tamba, with an uncredited cameo by Japanese rock band X Japan.
A young American singer named Wendy Reed wants to leave the US and her boyfriend (a musician played by Michael Cerveris) and travel to Tokyo, Japan, after hearing of the success of foreign groups overseas. She plans to visit a girlfriend but cannot find her. Instead she meets a young man named Hiro, who is the leader of an unsuccessful rock band.
Wendy's appeal as a tall blonde American woman draws attention from both the locals and the band themselves. She falls in love with Hiro and develops a music career. They manage to catch the eye of a record label producer and achieve success for a short time with a cover version of John Sebastian's "Do You Believe in Magic". While they top the charts, there is some luxury in their lives, but the blossoming relationship of the main couple starts breaking apart.
A business mogul tells Wendy that being a foreign singer in Japan is looked at as a novelty, and questions the longevity of her career, citing quickly changing trends in pop culture as the reason. Wendy, no longer wanting to be used a gimmick, encourages Hiro to perform his own original songs as frontman for the band, so that their true essence will be the highlight and no longer based on Wendy's looks.
When Hiro does this successfully at the concert, Wendy realizes that "Tokyo Pop" is a one-day business where groups have their fifteen minutes of fame and then vanish forever. Wendy goes back to the US in hopes of finding a more stable career. She appreciates the time she spent with Hiro, and the two inspired one another. However, she believes she can leave him behind because she has given him the hope to believe in himself as a writer.
At the end of the film, during the credits, Wendy is seen in the studio performing an original song inspired by her time with Hiro.
Tokyo Pop was released in New York City on April 15, 1988, by Spectrafilm and in Japan on November 5, 1988, by Shochiku-Fuji Company.
In honor of the film's 35th anniversary, a 4K restoration of Tokyo Pop was released by Kino Lorber in New York City at BAM Rose Cinemas on August 4, 2023, and in Los Angeles at the American Cinematheque on August 11, followed by a national expansion.The restoration was released on Blu-ray on December 5, 2023.
The soundtrack was released in 1988 on CD,cassette and vinyl LP by RIC Records. It features all the original songs written for the film and performed by Hamilton and Tadokoro, as well as other artists featured in the film.
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