April 13, 1967 was a fateful night, when both Shinobu Mastumoto and Chizuko Daimaru were born under the same mysterious star. Their backgrounds couldn’t have been more different. Chizuko was born into a Tokyo family of power and wealth, and her mother died during childbirth. Shinobu grew up in a rural fishing village, and her mother struggled to raise two daughters after her father abandoned the family and became a petty criminal, drifting in and out of jail for years. But despite their differences, Shinobu and Chizuko share a common destiny, intertwined by a secret that could end up tearing both families apart.
Chikyodai (commonly known in English as “Stepsisters”) is one of those wonderfully over the top 1980s J-Dramas produced by Daiei TV. This series was based on the 1934 Nobuko Yoshiya novel “This Road, That Road.” The same novel was also adapted into a movie directed by Yasushi Sasaki in 1936, and a Fuji TV drama titled “A Winter Round Dance” in 2005.
The first episode starts out somewhat slowly with a bit of exposition, but things don’t take very long to get just as bonkers as any of the other Daiei dramas. The show features a moody biker gang leader who expresses his rage through jazz trumpeting, a pastor who loves drinking and fighting, and a theme song that’s a cover (with very different Japanese lyrics) of the cheesy 1980s bubblegum pop-metal classic “Runaway” by Bon Jovi.
This is a joint project with G.U.I.S. (Grown Ups in Spandex), a tokusatsu subtitling group that mostly specializes in 1980s and early 1990s entries in the Toei Super Sentai series (including two of my favorites, Liveman & Jetman). We started work on this together a few years ago, but the project stalled after the first three episodes due to the translator being very busy in real life. Now we’re back on track, with a brand new episode, and new revisions of the first 3. Several more episodes are in the works, so look for those in the near future.