Perhaps the biggest news for J-pop in 1997 was that of superstar idol Namie Amuro smashing the record for most copies sold by a female solo artist for a single. Her classic "Can You Celebrate?" (written and produced by Tetsuya Komuro, who pretty much dominated music in the 90s) sold a whopping 2.3 MILLION copies in Japan alone. A record that hasn't even come close to being broken by another female solo artist.
The 90s were a golden era for many anime fans around the world. One of the most (relevant to our stories here, anyway) famous shows to come out in 1997 was Revolutionary Girl Utena, a cult classic that on the surface is about surreal sword fights and roses, but deep down is more about gender roles, existentialism, and lots and lots of phallic imagery.
Oh, and Pokemon came out that year too.
Although 90s dramas from Japan are probably not as well known as their anime counterparts, 1997 was still a monumental year for the format. One of the biggest dramas that year was "Love Generation", a romance starring superstar Takuya Kimura. The drama touched on Japanese business culture, social conformity, and, of course, love triangles. The drama enjoyed very high ratings of 30% and was the first winner of the Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix.
1997 was the year of the Nintendo 64 in Japan. Franchises such as Mario, StarFox, and Zelda all got huge reboots that put them on the 3D map for generations to come. While it's difficult to say what's a "1997 game" due to release lags, one of the most beloved games to make it's mark in 1997 was MarioKart 64. An ultimate party game, MarioKart could have been played by even the most casual of gamers. And probably was. MarioKart has always been a video game staple in parties in Japan!
You know, watching all these clips is making me think 1997 was a pretty awesome year.