Saturday, April 6, 2013
The Biomic Woman
On this day in 1984, the Bioman episode "Farewell Yellow" aired. It's one of those episodes that's considered noteworthy, for its sudden killing of one of the regular heroes -- in this case, a heroine, Mika/Yellow Four. I can't really think of many examples of a HEROINE getting killed off of a toku series*, but -- due to reasons still unknown to the masses -- actress Yuki Yajima wanted out, and the easiest solution the show had was to kill her character. Was the way the show went about it lackluster? In my opinion...yes. But it couldn't have been easy to come up with a solution so quickly, at the last minute, and without the actress on top of it all. And Bioman couldn't just gloss over it by writing that Mika left to join the British secret service or whatever off-screen -- not with how Bioman emphasized the heroes leaving their jobs, families and dreams to become Bioman, and not with how a character needed to possess the Bio Particles to be a Bioman.
I just wanted to focus on Mika and Yuki for this post. While I've gone on record over the years as being a bigger fan of Mika's replacement, Jun Yabuki (played by fellow JAC actress Sumiko Tanaka), I think Mika -- and Yuki as an actress -- held a lot of potential.
First off, Mika was a new type of character. Foreshadowing later loners, she was the first Sentai character who was inititally reluctant to be a hero and join the team, which I think is a fresh angle for a Sentai heroine. (Although she wasn't reluctant because she was a troublesome jerk, but mainly because she wanted to carry on her dead brother's work instead.) Mika more than held her own in a fight, and writer Hirohisa Soda has said that he had big plans for Mika, that she was going to be as pivotal as Gou, so...who knows what that could have led to. (Toei also supposedly had the role fashioned to fit Yajima from the start. She had already gained toku fans thanks to her cool, 'tude-filled role as Bell Helen in 1983's Sharivan. Maybe instead of killing Helen off, they should have had her train on Bird and return as the next show's Space Sheriff, and maybe Yajima would have been more satisfied with that...?)
As for Yuki Yajima, I feel sort of bad for the JAC actors who were getting their big breaks in the mid-80s -- by that point, the JAC style of action movies were falling out of fashion, most likely in favor of importing Hollywood shoot-em-ups. So, while actors like Hiroshi Watari and Hikaru Kurosaki were probably hoping to make it as the next Hiroyuki Sanada, women like Naomi Morinaga and Yajima were probably hoping to make names for themselves as the new Etsuko Shihomis. Morinaga's always been said to come closest to filling Shihomi's shoes, but I think Yajima had a different vibe going for her. Yajima has a real tough look -- serious, dark, edgy. I can picture her as, say, the Yasuaki Kurata to Shihomi's Sonny Chiba. I think she would have made an interesting, fierce action heroine -- more than Bioman losing out on a potentially interesting character, the action genre lost out on a potentially interesting action actress.
One can only hope she eventually resurfaces for a nice '80s JAC or Bioman reunion in something like Toei Hero Max -- don't even press her on why she left the show, just let her let the fans know she's OK!
*The only other examples I can think of are the female Riders, who are toku's equivalent of Red Shirts. But since mostly all of them are limited to movies or one-shots, I don't think it's quite the same as having a regular heroine killed off.