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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Minako Honda | Today She died of leukemia.

Minako Honda was born Minako Kudo in 1967 in a suburb of Tokyo, and grew up largely in nearby Saitama. She liked singing as a youngster, and got her break into the entertainment world when she was scouted on the streets of Harajuku by the talent agency Bond, which subsequently signed her to Toshiba/EMI. She was groomed to be something along the lines of Madonna, although a cuter teen version. She took the name Minako Honda, because she wanted to be internationally famous like Honda cars, and some theorized the name was a pun indicating she was ready to do battle with Mazda (the Japanese pronunciation of which is the same as the family name of idol superstar Seiko Matsuda). Also she had a cousin who had debuted as a singer and actress named Yuki Kudo, and it was felt to be better that Minako have her own distinct image. Minako’s first single “Satsui No Bakansu” was released in April of 1985, and while it sold well, her follow-up “1986 Nen No Maririn” (“Marilyn of the Year 1986”) was a smash. Part of the song’s success came from the buzz generated by the accompanying outfit she wore. Her “hesodashi” (bellybutton revealed) costume was much talked about, and at the time was considered quite risque’. Incredibly, eight months after her debut, Honda was able to play Budokan, the prestigious 10,000 plus seat venue, where a performance usually marks a pinnacle achieved after years in show business. Other hits for her were “Help”, and “So Sotte” in 1986, and “One Way Generation”, "Kodoku na Hurricane”, “Heartbreak” and “Kanashimi Swing” in 1987, all of which made the top three on the Oricon charts. Having reached a level of success where she was being put on par with super-idols like Seiko Matsuda and Akina Nakamori, Honda's minders started grooming her for international stardom.
She recorded her album Cancel in London, and Oversea in Los Angeles. She was frequently pictured with foreign stars, including the Jackson family, and father Joe Jackson “produced” some of her recordings. Honda also mixed with members of Queen, resulting in Brian May (“Golden Days”) and John Deacon (“No Turning Back”) writing songs for her, as did guitar hero Gary Moore (The Cross”). Honda had material released in the US and UK, although most of the sales were on goods imported back into Japan. Trying to keep her frisky image fresh, she tried on a “street” image and recorded with an all-girl group called the Black Cats. However her superstar level of success did not hold, although she still managed to stay involved in the entertainment field. Since her idol peak she has recorded theme songs for various anime productions, including Magic Knights Rayearth, Hunter x Hunter and Ashita No Nadja. She has also performed in popular stage productions of Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, and even began performing classical music with some level of success. Unfortunately, in January 2005 she was hospitalized with acute myeloid leukemia, and it is not currently known when she might return to the stage.