Tokyo Pop. 1988. USA/Japan. Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui. Screenplay by Rubel Kuzui, Lynn Grossman. With Carrie Hamilton, Diamond Yukai. DCP. 4K restoration North American premiere. In English and Japanese; English subtitles. 99 min.
Bleach-blonde rocker Wendy (Carrie Hamilton) is disillusioned with her life in New York City. After receiving a “wish you were here” postcard from Japan, she spontaneously hops on a plane to Tokyo with dreams of making it big as a singer. Quickly finding herself broke and lost in translation, she moves into a youth hostel for gaijin (foreigners) and takes up work as a hostess at a karaoke bar. Just when she’s at her breaking point, she meets Hiro (Diamond Yukai), a rock ‘n’ roller whose band is looking for their big break. They form a romantic and musical connection and Hiro convinces Wendy to become their lead singer. Through a combination of hustle and luck, they stumble into their 15 minutes of fame, but Wendy soon comes to realize that being a gaijin rocker may be nothing more than a passing fad. She begins to question where her future lies and whether she will hold her bandmates back if she stays. A largely forgotten gem of ’80s American independent cinema by Fran Rubel Kuzui (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Tokyo Pop takes us on a breezy tour through bubble-era Tokyo, replete with tongue-in-cheek nods to the city’s American-influenced pop culture.
New 4K Restoration by IndieCollect, created in association with the Academy Film Archive with funding from Dolly Parton, Carol Burnett, the HFPA Trust, and donors to IndieCollect’s Jane Fonda Fund for Women Directors