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Tom Smith on Naruto Shippuden’s 18th ending theme

As Naruto ups the ante and swears to take on Sasuke alone in box set 18 of Naruto Shippuden, the team responsible for the encompassing episodes’ ending theme have also took it upon themselves to up the pace. Dials have been cranked to 11, leather jackets have been dusted down and Japan’s brand new garage rock hooligans OKAMOTO’S have been unleashed on the unsuspecting Naru-fandom with their debut anthem ‘Yokubou o Sakebe!!!’ (‘Shout Out Your Desires!!!’)

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OKAMOTO’S, like many of the bands covered on the Manga UK blog, have been classmates since junior high school. From day one they had a clear vision of what their band name should represent; something that captures their influences from western rock ‘n roll, but something that doesn’t forget their roots in Japan.

The result was OKAMOTO’S, directly named after Japan’s famous abstract and avant-garde painter and sculptor Tarou Okamoto (famous for his Tower of the Sun building, pictured), and the nod to western influences? The band is big fans of Blitzkrieg Boppers The Ramones, as you can probably guess from listening to them (check out their official YouTube channel here).  As such, they decided that each member should adopt ‘Okamoto’ as their stage ‘surname’, much like their punk-rock heroes Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, et al.

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Apart from guitarist Koki Okamoto, all members are sons of famous figures in the entertainment industry: vocalist Shou Okamoto was born in New York and is the eldest son of jazz saxophonist extraordinaire Scott Hamilton. Bass player Hama Okamoto’s father may be familiar to fans of Japanese comedy duo Downtown (popular for the Gaki No Tsukai TV show, where contestants get physically punished if they laugh), he’s Masatoshi Hamada, or more affectionately known as ‘Super Sadistic Hama-chan’. Lastly, drummer Reiji Okamoto is the son of the frontman to 80s greaser outfit The Privates.

Despite having dads with connections, OKAMOTO’S let their music do the talking. They first started getting attention after a track was featured on a compilation album while they were still unsigned in 2009. They followed up the ensuing hype with their first indie album Here Are Okamoto’s, backed up with an impressive 100-date tour schedule for the year.

It impressed the bods at Ariola Japan (an affiliate of Sony), too. They snapped them up and by 2010 had introduced them to life as a major label act; more touring (this time in America!), a brand new full-length album out less than a year after their previous one, and their first single to be tied in with anime thanks to Naruto Shippuden, as mentioned in the introduction.

Currently the band can be found celebrating their five-year anniversary of being signed with the release of their fifth album, entitled Let It V (see what they did there?), coupled with an anniversary tour and appearance at this year’s Rock In Japan Festival, showcasing the best in Japanese music.

OKAMOTO’S albums Yokubou and Here Are Okamoto’s are out now on iTunes. Naruto Shippuden Box Set 18 (episodes 219-231) is out from 21 July on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment. 

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