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Tom Smith on Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple’s J-pop duo

What happens when you bring two veterans of J-pop together? Whose name goes first? Would it revert to alphabetical order? Perhaps whoever is the oldest gets the honour of their name in front? Or maybe letting fate decided with a flip of a coin or a round of rock-paper-scissors would be fairer? Whichever option you’d go with, there would most likely be one very angry manager making a flap about their artist not being the first name on the bill… thank goodness that someone came up with DIVA × DIVA for the said duo then  – everybody wins.

One DIVA is Miho Morikawa, the other Akira Asakura. Though, which way round is a matter of debate, and possible quite a bitter one going by the duo’s discography. They only managed to pop out one single together, the divas! It was a single track entitled ‘Yahhou’ (a colloquial way of saying ‘Hello!’ in Japanese) which became the opening theme to the fanservice-drenched fisticuff action of Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple.

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Miho started her career 28 years ago after wowing the judges of a singing contest at the age of 17. Up until then she’d helped her parents and brothers in running the family fish shop. Now she’d have to hang up her rubber gloves for the slightly less fishy music industry. After Miho’s official debut, her releases soon began to increase, as did her involvement in their production. Soon she found herself recording some of the instruments as well as penning lyrics and sorting out arrangements.

To date Miho Morikawa has released more than 30 singles, including a number of hits from anime, including ‘Blue Water’ and ‘Yes I Will’ from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, ‘Positive’ from Ranma ½ and ‘By Yourself’ from Dirty Pair. Oddly, just one of Miho Morikawa’s albums is available from the iTunes UK store; Glad, her latest album – released in 2010.

Like Miho, Akira Asakura also entered into showbiz through a singing contest when aged 17. The competition bore a number of soon-to-be household names in Japan, and Akira managed to make friends with one of her main competitors, Misato Watanabe, who went on to sell over a million copies of her first big hit ‘My Revolution’.

Two years after the contest Akira made her official debut under her real name Saori Saito, before adopting Akira Asakura in 1993. Three years later she became a member of the band ROmantic Mode along with producer Joe Rinoie (who happens to also be behind the music of Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple) and guitarist Masaki Suzukawa. Together they released Gundam X theme ‘DREAMS’ and gained top ten chart success with it.

Akira disappeared for a few years after ROmantic Mode went on hiatus in 2000, resurfacing in 2003 with a new single and new name, SAORI, before reverting back to Akira Asakura in 2005. If you think that’s confusing, just check out her homepage by clicking here, which more or less says ‘Welcome to Akira Asakura / SAORI / Akira Asakura ROMANTIC MODE / Saori Saito’s homepage!’. Suspiciously there’s no mention of DIVA × DIVA. Whatever her reasons for erasing it from her CV might be, Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple will always be evidence that the unit really did exist. Once. For one time only. Divas…

DIVA × DIVA’s single ‘Yahhou’ can be found as the opening theme for Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple 2, out on 5th August from Manga UK.

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