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Tom Smith sings the blues for the Casshern theme song

Sendai ballad-rock squad Color Bottle crooned their way to stardom via Casshern Sins. Their upbeat and optimistic fourth single ‘Aoi Hana’ (Blue Flower) proudly plays at the start of each episode of the Casshern reboot, representing hope in the series’ bleak setting of robotic rule.

Guiding the fledging musicians to success on the track was top producer and arranger Masao Akashi. His CV includes a large portion of work with legendary Japanese rock duo B’z (the first Asian band to have their handprints and signatures included in Hollywood’s RockWalk), WANDS (guitarist Hiroshi Shibasaki is rocking away in lowercase outfit abingdon boys school, led by Takanori Nishikawa of T.M.Revolution), 90s pop sensation Zard, and an impressive list of other big names. Anime-wise, he had also been a part of themes for Final Fantasy Unlimited, Rurouni Kenshin and Slam Dunk. Suffice to say, he’s a bit of an expert and the opening theme for Casshern Sins was one of his few co-compositions, written with Color Bottle.

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Despite Masao-san’s golden touch, Color Bottle failed to achieve the same heights as some of the other household names Mr. Akashi had worked with, and the group disappeared almost as quickly as they emerged. Or did they? At first glance it seems that way, the only song getting any plays on their page is ‘Aoi Hana’, yet a deeper look into the group reaps surprises.

For starters, Color Bottle were never a major band, per se. Despite signing to a major label, they still had releases entering the indie charts, as they did in the days when vocalist Masayuki was performing on street corners. The only difference now is that he’s playing to crowds from the warmth of venues and festival stage’s across Japan. Right now the band’s preparing for its next tour, to celebrate the release of their fourth full-length album, COLORBOTTLE, scheduled for February 2012.

Color Bottle first started turning heads when Oricon, the company that supplies statistics and information on the Japanese music charts, ran a feature on the band in 2006. At the time, the group coined the slogan ‘living room lock’ to describe their sound – no one’s had the heart to correct their English since.

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The release of their new album marks a year since their last EP ‘Jounetsu no Uta’ (Songs of Passion), which shot to number one in the indie charts and put them back in the spotlight once more.  And once again, tie-ins were partly behind its success. The aptly named title track was used as a theme for TVQ’s Super Stadium, Fukuoka’s sporting program dedicated to showing live games of the prefecture’s baseball team. And when it comes to baseball, the Japanese are most definitely passionate. The song’s connection to sport continued with KYT TV also adopted it as the theme for their rookie football coverage.

Color Bottle may not have had the long lasting mainstream success of most other artists used in anime, but they hold their colour, and remain strong and passionate until they do.

Casshern Sins: The Complete Series Collection is out on 12 December on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

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