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Naruto Music: Totalfat

Tom Smith on Naruto’s rising punk-pop stars

Totalfat

‘The next hero in the Japanese rock scene!” boldly claims their press release. Someone certainly believes in Japan’s rising guitar act TOTALFAT, it’s not every day there’s an English language press release accompanying a theme song from Naruto (or most anime for that matter).

In recent years the band’s fandom has exploded. From selling a couple of thousand CDs as an independent band lost in Tokyo’s vast underground scene, to suddenly becoming regulars at all major Japanese music festivals. Part of the reason for their success is the group’s ability to borrow from American influences. In Japan, they have toured with the likes of The Offspring and Good Charlotte, and it’s clear from listening to their music that they’re big fans.  In fact, when they originally formed way back in 2000, they were a cover band of punk legends NOFX. Yet, instead of singing about getting wasted, pretty fly white guys or lifestyles of the rich and/or famous, TOTALFAT set about writing songs that captured the essence of life as a Japanese teenager.

One example of this is noted in the aforementioned press release. TOTALFAT had a song in Naruto Shounen-Hen, the HD remastered edition of the first series, stripped of filler and loaded with all new opening and closing songs, entitled

Good Bye, Good Luck’. As the title suggests, the track is about starting a new adventure – much like the series’ own little jumpsuited protagonist. It had a much deeper meaning to the youth at the time, though. The single was promoted around graduation season in Japan, when students across the country would be saying their own ‘goodbyes’ and wishing ‘good luck’ to their friends and teachers before heading off into the adult world. No prizes for guessing which song was being sung at karaoke booths that night…

TOTALFAT’s label, Ki/oon Records made the rare move to make some international noise about the above release, despite the song not appearing in any versions of Naruto outside of Japan. But! They did use it as a chance to bring attention to the band’s previous single used in Naruto Shippuden between episodes 231-242. The song was ‘Place to Try’, an unusual mix of pop-punk energy and style with elements borrowing from metal (particular guitar solos), while still pertaining easy, sing-a-long lyrics.

Both tracks proved popular, awarding TOTALFAT top five singles twice in a row. The digital EP of ‘Good Bye, Good Luck’ is also their second biggest selling release in the UK. The package includes an additional A-side track ‘Attack or Die’, as well as a ballad version of ‘Place to Try’ featuring pop pianist Atsushi Suemitsu.

Most of TOTALFAT’s back catalogue is out now on iTunes UK with their latest album Wicked and Naked, featuring both Naruto tracks mentioned above, and is currently their biggest seller in this country.

Naruto Shippuden Box Set 19, featuring TOTALFAT’s ‘Place To Try’ as its ending theme, is out on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

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