This episode of Shouwa Monogatari introduced a term – and social phenomenon – I was previously unaware of: Miyuki-zoku. This “youth tribe” did in fact first appear in Tokyo in 1964, their origins mysterious. It’s a peculiarly Japanese sort of youth revolt – kids who loitered in front of the high-end stores on Miyuki Street in Ginza, dressed to the nines in Oxfords, khakis, loafers and suit jackets. The changed out of their school uniforms in café bathrooms, rolled them up into a bundle and carried them around in grocery bags. Apparently the idea to dress in Ivy League style came from a magazine called Heibon Punch, influential with the youths of Japan at the time. Horrified that these deviants should thumb their nose at their elders by dressing nicely and standing in front of stores harmlessly while the world’s eyes turned to Tokyo for the Olympics, the police engaged in a series of mass arrests in September, and that was the end of the Miyuki-zoku. Another threat to the social order averted.
The context for all this social drama comes in the form of continued unrest by and for Yuuko, who after her sticky-fingers incident is being kept under tight guard by her parents. She dreads going home every night, dreaming of riding the new monorail to Haneda and boarding a flight for somewhere – anywhere, as long as it isn’t Tokyo. After meeting her boyfriend one night things go from bad to worse, as he reveals himself to be every bit the scoundrel I thought him to be – having turned his sights elsewhere after Yuuko refused to join him in the kapperu kissa. Bad turns to worse for Yuuko, and the later it gets the more scared she is to go home and face her father. A pretty universal feeling for teenagers all over the world, I suspect.
I’m not that crazy about Yuuko as a character generally speaking – she’s a bit too self-involved and vain – but I could definitely feel her pain this time around. If anything she got off pretty easy – she wasn’t arrested after shoplifting, she got away from her wolf of a boyfriend before something really bad happened, and Yuuzou was almost restrained in his reaction to her latest screwup (in fact it was Mom who stepped up and slapped her this time, for the sake of political correctness). She’s just another adolescent who thinks the world revolves around her problems – the privilege of the young, and certainly nothing to condemn her for – but it does maker her somewhat less pleasant to be around than some of the other cast members, and the obsession with her character the last few episodes hasn’t been a positive development for the show. The social observations have been much more interesting, and the series continues to paint quite a believable picture of working-class life in Tokyo in the 60’s.
Casual Stroll: “Haneda Airport”