Tom Smith introduces thug life, Japanese style
Lucy, Natsu and the rest of Fairy Tail’s guild of misfits return to DVD this September with the fourth part of their adventure, charting their escapades between episodes 37-48. And joining them through this part of their quest is the brand new opening theme ‘R.P.G.: – Rockin’ Playing Game’, from the visual kei band SuG.
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These rockin’ game players present another example of English being bent beyond recognition by imaginative Japanese minds (you can see other attempts by clicking here). Believe it or not, SuG named themselves after the English word ‘thug’ (say it with a thick Japanese accent…) but thug for life they ain’t – just look at them! The only thing they’re ‘representin’ is most likely some kind of hair spray or the hippest new colourful brand from Harajuku. This bunch of musical, cutesy rascals would much rather be bustin’ bubble gum beats than poppin’ caps in asses.
So why use the word ‘thug’ at all? It stems from the Japanese word ‘akuyuu’, which literally means ‘shady friends / company’, but can be used informally to refer one’s partner/s in crime. It’s this latter, more playful meaning which vocalist Takeru and his bunch of misbehaving vagabonds wanted to capture with SuG.
Any doubts to these chaps’ cheekiness can be rectified by their lyrical content and cheery melodies. One of their newer singles to be released in the UK, ‘Toy Soldiers’, comes slapped with an explicit contents sticker, which is highly unheard of from a Japanese artist. Even creepy metallers DIR EN GREY, whose songs contain the most morbid and controversial of subject matters, rarely make the realm of the warning sticker (their music videos are different story entirely). Instead, SuG’s fluffy little rockers take their self-branded ‘heavy positive rock’ to mischievous levels. The aforementioned single, despite encouraging the listener to be happy with who they are, was also promoted as a ‘hard and naughty military march’ – my Japanese can’t quite fathom exactly how hard or how naughty their march is, but it certainly had the censorship bods wagging their collective finger and shielding the ears of the innocent.
‘R.P.G.’, SuG’s track from Fairy Tail, can be found on their fifth album, Thrill Ride Pirates. The album received a limited release across Europe via CLJ Records, though its singles, and those after it, remain available on iTunes despites the albums falling out of license. ‘R.P.G,’ is also just as encouraging and upbeat as ‘Toy Soldiers’, containing an energetic mix of sped-up punk spirit mixed with unique Japanese pop-rock, and features alongside bouncy tracks such as ‘Crazy Bunny Coaster’, ‘funky idiot’ and ‘Fast Food Hunters’ – a song for our times, indeed.
If only all thugs were like SuG… the world would be a happier, more colourful, and somewhat naughtier place to live in… until then, there’s always Harajuku.