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K THE ANIME MUSIC: ANGELA

Paul Browne on the pop duo with multiple anime connections

In the new anime series K, Yashiro Isana’s life is ordinary and uneventful. As a student at Ashinaka High School (notable for its unique location on an island), Yashiro suddenly finds his life turned upside down when he’s implicated in the murder of Tatara Totsuka, prominent member of the infamous HOMRA organisation. Pursued by several factions, Yashiro has to use his wits and guile to stay one step ahead of them.

K’s stirring theme song ‘KINGS’ comes courtesy of J-Pop duo angela. Consisting of vocalist Yamashita Atsuko and multi-instrumentalist Hirasato Katsunori (aka KATSU), angela are a familiar name when it comes to anime theme tunes.

Formed in 1993, angela came together when Atsuko and KATSU met at music school in Tokyo. A debut single titled ‘memories’ arrived in 1999, but it wasn’t until the pair signed to the Starchild label in 2002 that their career really began to take off.

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‘Asu e no Brilliant Road’, the captivating Stellvia theme song, delivered a memorable tune on top of a popular series. It’s Atsuko’s distinctive vocal trills that bring the song to life and the duo also penned several other songs used for the Stellvia series, including the energetic ‘Dear My Best Friend’.

The 2005 mecha-themed series Jinki:EXTEND also saw the talents of angela put to good use. The rousing pop of ‘Mirai to Yuu Na no Kotae’ featured as the ending theme for the series.

They released their debut album Sora no Koe in 2003, which also featured their Stellvia contributions. The popularity in the West of titles such as Stellvia and also Fafner in the Azure (for which angela providing the opening and ending themes, as well as the wistful insert song ‘Proof’) suggested that there was a market for angela’s music. As a result, Sora no Koe enjoyed a US release on the Geneon label. Subsequent albums such as I/O and PRHYTHM were also released in America.

To mix things up a bit, the members of angela also formed an alternative version of their outfit called Domestic Love Band. Under this guise they’ve been known to perform live cover versions of the Evangelion OP and tunes from Nadesico and Negima!

Continuing to build up their extensive catalogue, angela contributed songs to a variety of anime titles, including Heroic Age, Shikabane Hime (Corpse Princess) and Seitokai Yakuindomo. Viewers of the anime Coppelion would also be familiar with angela through the opening and closing themes of the series. Coppelion stirred some controversy due to its themes of nuclear disaster and cities affected by radiation. Originally in production in 2010, the series was put on hold due to the 2011 Fukushima incident, but later revived in 2013.

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2013 also saw angela celebrate their 10th anniversary with the release of their 6th studio album ZERO. The album managed to reach No. 10 in the Oricon charts and features their contributions to K, including ‘KINGS’. The album also includes ‘To be with U!’ (one of the K ending themes) – a tune which illustrated that angela could get to grips with a harder, rock-driven sound.

Aside from their anime work and record releases, angela have also enjoyed popular receptions at many anime conventions, including events outside of Japan.  The outfit have performed at both Otakon and Sakura-con in America in recent years. They also played the Paris Expo for the first time in July 2013.

New anime series Knights of Sidonia is scheduled to air in Japan this spring, a series that will see yet more musical contributions from angela. It’s likely that it won’t be the last.

K is out now on UK Blu-Ray and DVD from Manga Entertainment.

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