Meiko Kaji

Meiko Kaji
Meiko Kaji
梶 芽衣子
Born March 24, 1947 (1947-03-24) (age 64)
Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Other names Masako Ota[1]
Occupation Actress, singer

Meiko Kaji (梶 芽衣子 Kaji Meiko?, born March 24, 1947 in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese actress and enka singer.

Contents

Life and career

Meiko Kaji first began work in the film industry under the name Masako Ota at Nikkatsu studio in 1965.[1] Beginning in 1970, with little success but extensive experience in the movie business, under the name Meiko Kaji, she was cast in more or less important roles in director Yasuharu Hasebe‎'s Alleycat Rock series. The films concern juvenile girl gang confrontations and, although inventive, they suffer from poor scripts throughout the series. In 1971 Nikkatsu started moving into the financially lucrative pink film business. To avoid this Kaji moved to Toei where she met director Shunya Itō and made four women in prison films in the Female Prisoner Scorpion series, which made her famous throughout Japan. The films were adapted from a well-known manga by Toru Shinohara. In the fourth installment Toei replaced director Shunya Itō with Yasuharu Hasebe, a decision that Kaji was unhappy about, and she subsequently left the series, which continued until 1998 with six new installments of markedly lesser quality.

In 1973 she took on the role of Yuki in the revenge-themed film Lady Snowblood, which later gained popularity as a cult film in the West. It was based on a manga by Kazuo Koike who also created the Crying Freeman and Lone Wolf and Cub manga series. The film was one of the inspirations for Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films. It was followed by the sequel, Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance.

Kaji went on to appear in several of Kinji Fukasaku's films, most notably Yakuza Graveyard (1976). In 1978, she starred in a film adaptation of Sonezaki Shinjū, for which she earned nominations for Best Actress at five different awards shows, winning four of them.[2] The film had remained unseen by many of her fans, because for many years, it had never been released on video or DVD. However, the film was released on Region 2 DVD on June 25, 2008.[3] Kaji's singing career was closely tied to her movie career, and she often sang on the soundtracks of films in which she starred. The theme song to Lady Snowblood, "Shura no Hana" (修羅の花, lit. "Flower of Carnage"), and the theme song of the Sasori series, "Urami Bushi" (怨み節, lit. "Grudge Melody"), both sung by Kaji, were used in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.[4] Kaji has been active in television since the 1980s. In 1989 she portrayed Omasa, an informant, in the television jidaigeki Onihei Hankachō (the ShochikuFuji Television version starring kabuki actor Nakamura Kichiemon II).

In 2011 Kaji put out her first new album in 31 years, Aitsu no suki-sō-na burūsu (あいつの好きそなブルース).[5]

Select filmography

  • The Blind Woman's Curse (1970) (Kaidan nobori ryu) (d. Teruo Ishii)
  • Stray Cat Rock series
    • Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss (1970) (Onna banchō: Nora-neko rokku) (d. Yasuharu Hasebe)
    • Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo (1970) (Nora-neko rokku: Wairudo janbo) (d. Toshiya Fujita)
    • Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (1970) (Nora-neko rokku: Sekkusu hanta) (d. Yasuharu Hasebe)
    • Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal (1970) (Nora-neko rokku: Mashin animaru) (d. Yasuharu Hasebe)
    • Stray Cat Rock: Crazy Rider '71 (1971) (Nora-neko rokku: Bōsō shudan '71) (d. Toshiya Fujita)
  • Sasori series
    • Female Convict 701: Scorpion (1972) (Joshuu 701-gō: Sasori) (d. Shunya Itō)
    • Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41(1972) (Joshuu sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bō) (d. Shunya Itō)
    • Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable (1973) (Joshuu sasori: Kemono-beya) (d. Shunya Itō)
    • Female Prisoner Scorpion: Grudge Song (1973) (Joshuu sasori: 701-gō urami-bushi) (d. Yasuharu Hasebe)
  • Gincho series
  • Lady Snowblood (1973) (Shurayukihime) (d. Toshiya Fujita)
  • Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Hiroshima Deathmatch (1973) (Jingi naki tatakai: Hiroshima shito hen) (d. Kinji Fukasaku)
  • Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance (1974) (Shurayukihime: Urami Renga) (d. Toshiya Fujita)
  • The Homeless (1974) (Yadonashi) (d. Kōichi Saitō)
  • Yakuza Graveyard (1976) (Yakuza no hakaba: Kuchinashi no hana) (d. Kinji Fukasaku)
  • Lullaby of the Earth (1976) (Daichi no komoriuta) (d. Yasuzo Masumura)
  • Sonezaki Shinju (1978) (Sonezaki Shinju) (d. Yasuzo Masumura)

Television

  • "Hasshū mawari kuwayama jūbei" (2007) TV series (unknown episodes)
  • "Nogaremono orin" (2006) TV series (unknown episodes)
  • "Anata no tonari ni dare ka iru" (2003) TV series .... Shimako Matsumoto (unknown episodes)
  • Kaseifu ha mita! 21 (2003) (TV) .... Mayumi Hirao
  • "Kenkaku Shōbai" (1998) TV series
  • Onihei hankachō (1995) ... aka Onihei's Detective Records (International: English title)
  • "Onihei hankachō" (1989) TV series .... Omasa
  • Aoi sanmyaku '88 (1988) .... Umetaro
  • Tantei Kamizu Kyōsuke no satsujin suiri 8: Izu Shimoda-kaigan ni akai satsui ga hashiru (1988) (TV) .... Shōko Hamano
  • Raku-yo-ju (1986) Woman who comes to the mountain ... aka Tree Without Leaves (International: English title)
  • "Sutaa tanjō" (1985) TV series (unknown episodes)
  • Kaseifu ha mita! 2 (1984) (TV)
  • Sorekara no Musashi (1981) TV series ... Yuri-hime
  • Terauchi Kantarō Ikka (1974) TV series .... Shizue Terauchi

Discography

Awards and nominations

3rd Hochi Film Award[6]

Notes

  1. ^ a b D., Chris (2005). "Meiko Kaji". Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film. London ; New York: I.B. Tauris. p. 59. ISBN 1-84511-086-2. 
  2. ^ "Sonezaki Shinju (1978) Awards". Internet Movie Database. http://imdb.com/title/tt0077463/awards. Retrieved December 19, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Amazon.co.jp: Sonezaki Shinju (1978) DVD". Amazon Japan. http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00186Y9MA. Retrieved December 19, 2008. 
  4. ^ D. (2005) p. 64.
  5. ^ 梶芽衣子、31年ぶりの切れ味 オリジナルアルバム発売, asahi.com, 1 June 2011. Accessed 3 June 2011.
  6. ^ "報知映画賞ヒストリー" (in Japanese). Cinema Hochi. http://cinemahochi.yomiuri.co.jp/h_award/1978/. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 

Further reading

External links


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