Shigesato Itoi’s Talk Show

For most people who live outside Japan, Shigesato Itoi is mostly known for creating the Mother series of games that deal with extraterrestrial beings coming to Earth only to be thwarted by a group of kids. In Japan, Itoi-san is known as a copywriter, an essayist, and a lyricist, among all things, and at one point in time, he hosted a youth program titled “YOU”

“YOU” is a youth-oriented talk show that was devised by the Nihon Housou Kyoukai (NHK) as a replacement for the then-declining “Wakai Hiroba” due to young people not watching the show anymore.

Then NHK deputy general Mikio Kawaguchi decided to revamp the youth programming lineup and they decided to create a talk show that specifically deal with issues of the Japanese youth in the 1980s.

Shigesato Itoi, who made his first appearance in Wakai Hiroba in 1979, was selected to be the moderator/host for the show.

Itoi-san was directly involved with the production from the very beginning and each episode would feature a revolving door of guests from YMO (whose member Ryuichi Sakamoto created the opening and ending theme songs for this show), Beat Takeshi Kitano, Antonio Inoki, and other Japanese celebrities.

The show would feature a number of recurring segments as well such as:

Seishun Playback – a segment wherein various Japanese celebrities would revisit the places where their lives turned out for the better. It soon became a separate program moderated by Kyoko Togawa in 1985 due to its immense popularity.

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Music Course – the most popular segment out of the whole show. It debuted on June 12, 1982, with guests Ryuichi Sakamoto and Akiko Yano. Sakamoto would answer some questions about music production and would do some musical experiments.

YMO would also provide some music courses during the show.

YOU Cultural Festival – A segment wherein Itoi-san, the guests, and the co-hosts at the time would ask the audience what would they like to do during a cultural festival at school and then actually do it inside the studio.

Itoi-san has said in his NHK special interview that YOU would center a discussion around one theme but he doesn’t come up with a conclusion at the end so that the conversation would flow more freely compared to other talk shows and he also didn’t want to talk out of a script because he thinks that the audience wouldn’t want to see the performers on set to have “predicted harmony” wherein they all unite under a certain theme because the producers told them to do so.

YOU would run from April 10, 1982, to April 4, 1985, spanning 222 episodes. The show would also have three main moderators throughout its entire run with Itoi-san having the longest tenure of 135 episodes, artist Katsuhiko Hibino being the last host and would serve as the moderator of 65 episodes, and Hiroko Mita being the host with the shortest run of 22 episodes.

Upon reading the comments on episodes uploaded to YouTube, most people, who were the target audience of this show in the 1980s, fondly remember the show and wish that either NHK replay this show on one of their channels or for someone else to do a new show with the same goal, energy, and format as YOU. The show has left a lasting impression on its viewers and continues to be remembered even after several decades. It is a testament to the quality of the show and its impact on the audience.

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