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Tom Smith rings the ch-ch-changes…

Bleach series 13 continues the clash between Soul Society’s Shinigami and Sousuke Aizen’s Arrancar army. It also brings with it a new talent in Japanese pop-rock: miwa. This fresh-faced female, armed with a guitar and an arsenal of upbeat pop-rock songs, provides the series’ twelfth opening theme, ‘chAngE’.

The track was her third major single, a further feature she shares with Bleach’s other young six-stringed songstress YUI, whose third single ‘Life’ was used as the series’ fifth ending theme from episode 52 (read more about her on the MangaUK blog here). Also like YUI, miwa has managed to continue her chain of hit singles right up to present day.

It would seem that Japan very much likes girls and guitars, nearly as much as its obsession with disobeying the proper noun capitalisation conventions – miwa with a little ‘m’, I’m looking at you. Her song title, although annoying to type, does have a method behind the casing madness. The track, as one may have guessed, is all about change. Lyrically it deals with the concept of wanting to change in order to stay true to yourself, backed up with the one English lyric in the entire song ‘I wanna change’.

Musically, ‘chAngE’ lives up to its name. For the first time miwa’s music had switched from the bright and cheery sounds of the acoustic guitar, to having it’s melody rocked out on an electric – the capitalised A (acoustic) and E (electric) represents that transition, apparently. Just in case you still didn’t get it, miwa held an event a few days after the single’s release entitled ‘miwa Keiongakubu’ (miwa’s Light Music Club – think K-On!) where 20 high school guitarists were chosen from the hundred of applicants that applied, and then performed the song in unison. Just in case, you know, you didn’t realise this song had electric guitar in it. It now had 21 of them.

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miwa’s first success came with her debut single ‘Don’t Cry Anymore’ when it was used in the TV drama Nankanai to Kimeta Hi, and went on to win that year’s best drama song award (yes, it’s a thing) at the Television Drama Academy Awards. To put some perspective on that, it’s worth noting she was up against themes from two of Japan’s biggest music producing machines; the multi-million-selling boy-band Arashi and electric guitar demi-gods Mr. Children.

Her first album followed suit and went straight to number one in the Oricon weekly album chart, making young miwa the very first solo singer to reach the coveted spot born in Japan’s Heisei period, which began on 8 January 1989.

Currently iTunes UK has a whole collection of Miwas, but not a single release from this miwa, despite her having music in other franchises that include Full Metal Alchemist, Ouran High School Host Club and most recently Silver Spoon.

Bleach Series xomplete series 13, featuring miwa’s ‘chAngE’ as its opening, is out on from 15th December on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

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