By Aki Ikeuchi / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterThe sibling duo Charan-Po-Rantan has an appealingly retro flavor. Cute and humorous, with a slightly bittersweet nature, their somewhat mysterious style is proving to be a hit. “I think we’re like a circus,” said Koharu, the elder of the duo, describing the world they aim to depict.
Koharu, 28, who plays a button accordion on stage, and Momo, 23, on vocals, formed the duo about seven years ago. Koharu’s wistful accordion playing aptly complements the voice of her younger sister, who is always accompanied by her signature stuffed pig.
They made their major debut in 2014. In addition to writing their own songs, they have also created music for commercials and other pop acts, as well as theme songs for TV dramas.
The duo’s lyrics marvelously describe the subtleties of the human condition and the joys and sorrows of life. Their playful wordplay accentuates them. Their music has hints of a typical chanson, with rhythmical melodies that can entertain people of all ages.
“We don’t specifically narrow down our listeners when creating music,” Koharu said, explaining their broad fan base. “They probably watch and listen to us from their own unique perspectives.”
The duo has been gaining fame with its involvement in “Minna no Uta” (Songs for everyone), NHK’s long-standing TV and radio program of children’s songs. “Ginnan Gakudan Karutetto” (Ginkgo nut quartet), one of the songs introduced in the program, features the duo and actor Katsumi Takahashi performing together. The duo’s original “Mayuge Dansu” (Eyebrow dance) was also chosen for the program and is now being broadcast.
“Susume, Tamani Nigetemo” (Move ahead, but sometimes retreat) is an original song by the duo that features Momo’s first lyrical endeavor. The release was used as the opening song of the popular drama “Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu” (We married as a job!) broadcast recently on the TBS network.
“I’m hooked on this drama, honestly,” Momo said, adding that she was simply happy the duo was getting more exposure with the drama’s huge popularity. “I want lots of people to hear our music, whenever there is a possibility.”
“My sister and I probably have personalities that balance well together,” Koharu said. Momo agreed, saying, “We’re also united by blood, so we may be without peer.”
They have mostly performed together as a duo, but in the past year have received various opportunities to work separately.
Koharu has joined Mr.Children on tours and in recording sessions at the invitation of Kazutoshi Sakurai, the popular band’s vocalist, while Momo has appeared in a TV drama.
“We’ve had many new and unexpected experiences, and discovered many things,” Koharu said. “I think these are all naturally absorbed in Charan-Po-Rantan.”
The duo, from Kanagawa Prefecture, was born to a pair of professional illustrators, and most of their stage costumes are handmade by their mother and grandmother.
“If we’re chosen to appear in Kohaku Utagassen [NHK’s Red and White Year-end Song Festival], our family would be delighted,” Momo said. Koharu softens her expression, seeing a beaming Momo talking about her dream.