Exploring 80s Japanese Pop Culture with Slow Motion wo Moichido, Volume 1

Rie Kanou’s Slow Motion wo Moichido, or Slow Motion Once More, is a boy meets girl romantic comedy about Otaki and Yakushimaru, two awkward, modern day teens with a secret love of 80s pop culture who in each other find solace, and of course, love.

The art is pleasant and the story charming, but the real draw of Kanou’s work is, of course, all the throwbacks. To someone who experienced the 1980s in Japan firsthand, I’m sure there is a lot of rose-tinted nostalgia to love here. For the rest of us, while I suppose still nostalgic at times, as some 80s trends were universal, it can be used as a beginners guide to Japanese 80s pop culture.

In this series I will be attempting to collect as many of these pop culture references as I can and put them all into easy to reference posts. Some pop culture references are explained by Kanou herself within the manga (so if certain sections seem redundant, I apologize in advance), while other times there are just subtle name drops. People who have read the comic will undoubtedly get the most out of these posts, but I’ll be avoiding talking about story events and spoilers to the best of my ability, so even those who have never read the series should get a certain amount of enjoyment out of it.

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Getting started, the first thing we need to talk about is the series’ title. Slow Motion wo Moichido, aka Slow Motion Once More, is a reference to the song Slow Motion, the 1982 debut single of Akina Nakamori, one of Japan’s most iconic 1980s pop artists. Suitably, it also serves as the first 80s pop reference in the comic. In the first, after school scene of Chapter 1, we watch as Otaki listens to the song on the verge of tears in an empty classroom.

Chapter 1

The first chapter’s title, 少女A (Shojo A), Girl A, as it happens, is Akina Nakamori’s second single. Late in the chapter, this is the song Yakushimaru is listening to when Otaki arrives at her house. Additionally, in that first scene where we see Otaki listening to Slow Motion in the classroom, the shot of his phone shows that he’s listening via a concert video of both Slow Motion and Shojo A performed back to back on a streaming video site, which appears to be Kanou referencing the exact YouTube video above.

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In one scene we see Otaki at home flipping through vintage magazines and listening to music. One magazine, pictured various times throughout the series is 明星, The Myojo. The Myojo is a long running pop culture entertainment magazine that began publication in 1952 and is still in publication today. It’s been through various changes and shifts of focus in it’s publication history, but in the 1980s it was primarily a magazine focusing on the hot young idol pop singers and stars of the day.

While looking at one magazine, Otaki sees a girl he thinks is cute and calls her トッポイ (toppoi). Apparently this adjective has various meanings depending on context, but in the 70s and early 80s it was used to describe someone who looked bad, in that punkish, naughty, cool sense of the word. This is the first instance of Otaki using outdated slang, which Kanou probably uses to illustrate the disconnect he has with modern day pop culture.

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Towards the end of the chapter, Otaki visits Yakushimaru in her room, which is filled with 80s memorabilia which I’m not even going to try identify all of, but one thing that can be seen very clearly is a copy ヤングソング (Young Song) magazine, another publication put out by The Myojo that published song lyrics and sheet music to popular songs. You can check out what the contents of an 80s edition copy of the magazine looked like here.

Later, Otaki compliments Yakushimaru on her Nakamichi stereo system. Nakamichi is a stereo equipment company particularly popular in the 1980s for their line of cassette tape recorders.

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We also see them playing with a vintage Water Game toy, a staple kids toy not just in Japan but abroad as well. It was popularized in Japan by the toy company TOMY (now TAKARA TOMY).

Chapter 2

This chapter’s title, 探偵物語 (Tantei MonogatariDetective Story), is a reference to a 1979 – 1980 television drama and 1983 movie of the same name.

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In this chapter there is a scene where Otaki is trying to look inconspicuous. He does this questionably by wearing a face mask and a pair of sunglasses which he says are reminiscent of Yusaku Matsuda, the actor playing the series’ main character. Also of note, Otaki refers to the sunglasses using the slang グラサン (gurasan). While I haven’t been able to find when exactly when this slang originated and when exactly young people stopped saying it, it serves as another example of Otaki using outdated slang.

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Early in the Chapter, Yakushimaru drops her pen at school, which has GOROPIKADON written on it, which is the name of the above Sanrio Characters, popular in the 1980s.

Later in the chapter Yakushimaru buys a スカイホッピー (Sky Hoppy), a popular line of pogo sticks put out by Bandai in the 1980s that had popular kids characters on them.

At the end of the chapter, Otaki gives Yakushimaru a 1980s model beeper, which were called Pocket Bells (or ポケベル, pokeberu for short) in Japan.

Chapter 3

The title of Chapter 3, 君は天然色 (Kimi wa Tennenshoku), Technicolor You, is the title of a 1981 single by Eiichi Otaki. Later in the chapter Otaki is seen singing this song while at karaoke with his school friends, who of course have no idea what the song is.

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Otaki also makes a quick reference in this chapter to The Evil Dead, called 死霊のはらわた (Shiryo no Harawata) in Japanese, and how seeing the poster in an old magazine scared him as a child. No wonder, huh?

Chapter 4

Chapter 3’s title, ドリームドリームドリーム (Dream Dream Dream), is the name of a 1983 single by Sayuri Iwai. In this chapter we see Yakushimaru trying on a custom made replica of the dress Iwai wore to promote her single.

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Yakushimaru also references ピチ (Pichi) in this chapter, which was a crafting magazine for young women published from 1976 to 1986.

Chapter 5

Chapter 5’s title スケバン刑事 (Sukeban Deka), Delinquent Detective, is the name of a popular manga that ran from 1976 to 1982 that has been adapted into numerous TV dramas, movies, and an animated OVA. In this chapter, Yakushimaru gets her hair done to mimic Yuki Saito’s hairstyle in her portrayal of the main character in the the 1985 TV drama.

Chapter 6

Chapter 6’s title 急いで!初恋 (Isoide! Hatsukoi), Hurry up! First Love, is the name of a 1982 single by Yu Hayami. In this chapter Yakushimaru is seen practicing the song repeatedly at Karaoke by herself.

Chapter 7

Volume 1’s final chapter is named after the 1985 movie さびしんぼう (Sabishinbou), or Lonely Heart as it is known in English. Previous to the beginning of this chapter Yakushimaru lends Otaki the DVD of the film, and as the chapter begins we see it in his bag at school, ready to be returned. Later, Otaki quotes the film to Yakushimaru, and tells her the movie made him want to give someone a piggyback ride.

And that’s it for Volume 1! Interesting how the pop culture references slowed down to one or two a chapter after the first few. Still, this took a surprising amount of time to stitch together. I had a lot of fun doing so, though, and I hope you had fun reading it too! 

Slow Motion wo Moichido has not been published in English as of this post’s publication, but if you enjoy this series make sure to support Rie Kanou by purchasing her work in Japanese! You can buy Volume 1 at Amazon Japan here and at Kinokuniya’s English site here.

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