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Tom Smith on Bleach rockers Kelun

The chupacabra, a goat sucking cryptoid said to inhabit the Americas. CHU-BURA, a Japanese rock song from the band KELUN. Thanks to Manga Entertainment, there is proof that one of these now exists within the UK – and best yet, it poses no known risks to goat-kind. Yes, series nine of Bleach is here and it brings with it a single opening theme, and it would become Kelun’s most popular track to date.

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Back in 2006 the band was known by a very different name. UTARI. The line-up was almost identical to today, with Ryousuke Kojima supplying the vocals, guitar and piano work, Satou Shuusake dropping bass-lines and Masahiro Kajitani keeping everything together on drums. Under that name the trio released a debut EP and were soon rocking up the Oricon indie chart.

By the following year the band made the transition to a major label, signing with Sony Music Entertainment. They emerged with a new name, continuing their activities, this time under the banner of KELUN. Within months their first major CD hit the shelves, entitled Astral Lamp. It featured six tracks, two of which became theme songs. First, opening track ‘SIGNAL’ was used as the sixth ending to the anime series Gintama. Then, album track ‘HEART BEAT’ as the opening theme to the live action vamp-boy drama RH Plus.

The CD peaked at 78 in the charts, and was followed up with their debut single ‘SIXTEEN GIRL’ – which may or may not be an Engrish prophecy as to how many people would buy it.  Either way, it failed to enter the top 100 despite heavy tie-ins with various television shows.

Thankfully KELUN were third time lucky with their follow up single. It was CHU-BURA, and for Bleach fans, the CD came with two songs from their favourite franchise; the title track, from series nine, and the grammar defying B-side ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry’, which featured as the opening to the PSP action RPG Bleach: Soul Carnival.  The single rocketed the band into the charts, landing them a respectable position at 20 in its opening week on sale – still KELUN’s highest ever ranking. Unfortunately, bassist Satou left the band just before the single hit, being quickly replaced by new boy Yukito, completing the group’s current line-up.

CHU-BURA’s success couldn’t have been better timed. Two months after its release KELUN dropped their first full length album, fresh off the success of the track. The whopping 17-track self-titled beast of an album included the single, plus alternative versions of ‘SIXTEEN GIRL’ and ‘SIGNAL’ from their first major EP. It seemed like they were set, they’d finally made it. And then the sales figures came in; KELUN (the album) got as high as 140 in the chart. From there, besides one collaboration single in 2009, the band disappeared from the limelight without a trace (their homepage has also been deleted). A shame, but at the least the legacy that is CHU-BURA lives on in Bleach.

Bleach: Complete Series 9 is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

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