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Paul Browne explores the music of Guilty Crown

High school student Shu Ouma finds himself in the middle of a conflict after meeting Inori Yuzuriha, singer of popular music outfit Egoist. The unwitting Shu is dragged into the struggle between a resistance group called Funeral Parlor and a quasi-governmental organization known as the GHQ. Shu also discovers an ability known as ‘The Power Of The Kings’, which enables him to draw out items called ‘Voids’ – weapons of people’s psyche given physical form.

Guilty Crown’s evocative opening theme comes from popular J-Pop outfit Supercell, whose roots lie in Japan’s popular Nico Nico Douga website. Nico Nico serves as a platform for budding musicians and artists to present their own creative works. In 2007 one of these contributors, known as Ryo, submitted a song called ‘Melt’, a catchy multi-layered tune, which was also notable for being one of the early songs to utilise the voice of popular Vocaloid Hatsune Miku. The video received over 5 million views and became the foundation for Supercell – a collaborative project between Ryo and a number of illustrators and designers.

Supercell’s sound draws from a variety of influences, including Massive Attack, Tricky, Boom Boom Satellites and Portishead. It’s a sound that doesn’t immediately adhere to any one particular genre and yet can produce instant and memorable tunes, such as the classic 2008 Hatsune Miku song ‘World Is Mine’. 2008 also saw the release of Supercell’s eponymous debut album at Japan’s hugely popular Comiket fanzine convention. Supercell swiftly signed to the Sony Music label who reissued a remastered version of the Supercell album in 2009. The album reached No. 4 in the Oricon album chart and scored a Gold Disc after selling more than 100,000 copies.

Deciding to move on from the use of Miku for Supercell songs, Ryo recruited singer Nagi Yanagi (already submitting songs to the Nico Nico site under the name of Gazelle) for vocal duties on Supercell’s 2009 debut single, the melodic ‘Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari’. The song reached No. 5 in the Oricon singles charts and also featured as the end theme for anime series Bakemonogatari.

Supercell’s successes continued with the 2010 release of Black Rock Shooter, a video based on the illustration work of Supercell collaborator Ryohei Huke, which had earlier inspired Ryo to compose a song based on Huke’s work. Supercell also showed a gentler side on the single ‘Utakata Hanabi’ with its piano-led melody and wistful vocal delivery by Nagi. The song also featured as the 14th ending theme for popular series Naruto: Shippuden.

Supercell’s second album Today Is A Beautiful Day was released in 2011 and featured material such as the spirited love song ‘Sayonara Memories’.  The album reached No. 3 in the Oricon charts and also marked vocalist Nagi’s last collaboration with Supercell.

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Ryo decided to hold auditions for a replacement singer, which took place in the summer of 2011. Out of 2,000 candidates, the lucky finalists were 15-year-old Koeda and 17-year-old Chelly. Supercell’s 2011 single release, the stirring string-fueled ‘My Dearest’, featuring vocals by Koeda, was chosen as the opening theme to Guilty Crown. Meanwhile, Supercell’s other new singer Chelly, issued her debut single ‘Departures’ under the guise of Egoist (after the fictional band in Guilty Crown) and the song was used as the ending theme for the series.

Chelly’s second single release was the percussive pop of  ‘The Everlasting Guilty Crown’, which featured as Guilty Crown’s second opening theme. Supercell followed up with a double A-Side release: ‘Kokuhaku’/’Bokura no Ashiato’. The stirring multi-instrumental strains of ‘Kokuhaku’ made it a fine choice as Guilty Crown’s second ending theme while the more reflective ‘Bokura no Ashiato’ was used as the ending theme for the new Black Rock Shooter anime series.

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Chelly’s third single ‘Namae no Nai Kaibutsu’ featured as the ending theme to the 2012 anime series Psycho-Pass while her fourth release, the blistering ‘All Alone With You’ was also used as the second ending theme to the series.

Supercell continue to release new material with more anime collaborations in the pipeline – a perfect bond that promises more great music in the future.

Guilty Crown is out on DVD and Blu-ray on 18th November from Manga Entertainment.

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