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One Piece Music: Bon Bon Blanco

Sunday 2nd November 2014

Tom Smith on the band behind One Piece’s fourth opening theme

Bon Bon BlancoNeed more cowbell? Have five! Japanese pop quintet Bon Bon Blanco (or B3 for short) is made up of 80% percussionists – and whilst its vocalist Anna Santos is the only member without an instrument to bash, I’m pretty sure she could work her way around a cowbell if pushed.

As you can likely guess from such an ensemble, B3’s music has a distinct focus on rhythm. There’s often a steady rumba beat driving the pop songs, accompanied by a cheery, carnival vibe. You can hear it for yourself in their smash hit single Bon Voyage!, used as the fourth opening theme in One Piece.

The girl group originally formed in 2002 when the members were around 14 years old. Back then they were known as the Nansho Kids, and singer Anna juggled homework and band practice while starring in a Japanese version of the classic musical Annie. Because of their age, and the unusually high count of percussionists per capita, the young teens managed to generate a considerable amount of press attention – including gracing the cover of magazines – despite being indie.

Their first single was entitled Ai Want You (not to be confused with the chorus of AKB48’s Heavy Rotation, “I want you…”), and was composed by former Wands keyboard player Kousuke Oshima. To support the release, the girls performed every week at local venue Harajuku Ruido, free of charge! Punters just needed to cover the joint’s 500 yen (£3) drink coupon policy – a standard procedure at gigs where venues make up for poor bar sales by forcing everyone to buy a drink at the start, whether they actually want it or not. The low price worked, by the end of the year, security couldn’t even close the doors of the venue anymore – there were that many people crammed inside for some B3 action.

It was around this time that the girls experimented with being a dance group, and dropped their instrument duties on stage for a period. They had their first brush with anime during this time too, with their single Namida no Hurricane becoming the second ending theme in Get Backers.

With great fame comes great responsibility, and following the runaway success of One Piece single Bon Voyage!, the ladies and their management  had to contend with the wants and needs of B3’s existing fans, as well as of those newcomers. Unfortunately, they couldn’t please both groups and decided it was best to take a break and rethink their strategy.

A year and a half later, they return donning a new look: bikinis! Sexing up the ladies didn’t entirely work, though… Little over a year on and they pretty much disappeared from everyone’s radar, never to be seen again. Let that be a lesson to you; bikinis do not fix everything.

One Piece (Uncut) Collection 8 is out now on UK DVD courtesy of Manga Entertainment.



One Piece (uncut) Collection 8 (episodes 183-205)

was £34.99
Lightning bolts rain from the heavens and cloud-dwelling citizens run for their lives as Luffy and Eneru go toe to toe to determine the fate of Skypiea! The rubber-man is determined to make this exceedingly evil villain pay for his sins against the innocent, but Eneru won't be easily defeated. With his electric ark chock full of gold, the heinous holy man sets in motion a petrifying plan to obliterate life on Angel Island!
Luffy is ready to rumble, but his shipmates are falling one by one, and his punching power bottoms out after Eneru encases his hand in a giant ball of gold. Only one hope remains: Nami and Luffy must risk their lives in a desperate attempt to ring the sacred bell of Shandora - and chase away Eneru's looming cloud of death!



One Piece. Pieces of Hate

Been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt....
Of the anime titles turned into T-shirts by Uniqlo, One Piece is the biggest – the reigning king of all the anime and manga franchises, pretty much unchallenged in the 16 years since Eiichiro Oda began the manga, and 14 since Toei Animation started animating it. But perhaps Uniqlo would have turned One Piece into a line of shirts even if the saga hadn’t been a world hit. Just look at those pirate designs – brash, cartoony, uncompromising. There’s no whiff of a committee, no hint of a five-year product plan reliant on changing a heroine’s hair colour (or deepening her cleavage). It just helps that the pictures are as commercial when they move as they are when they’re a cool static graphic in a manga, or on the front of a T-shirt.

One Piece: Strong World

The Straw Hats Pirates come together for an adventure like no other...
Written by One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda himself, Strong World leads the Straw Hats into the deadly path of Golden Lion Shiki.

One Piece - ninja or pirates?

Matt Kamen turns video pirate!
“Ninja or pirates?” While Naruto – representing the ninja corner, of course – has proven hugely popular, UK fans have long been unable to weigh in on the other side. With the long-awaited arrival of One Piece on DVD this May, that finally changes.

One piece: Crew Manifest #1

Matt Kamen finds out who’s who in the One Piece anime
Monkey D. Luffy: The founder and captain of the Straw Hats, Luffy is a carefree soul who wants to become king of the pirates. After eating the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit, he gained an elastic body, making him near-invulnerable and able to stretch but paradoxically making him unable to swim.

One Piece: Crew Manifest #2

Back at sea for volume two of One Piece
Before you set sail on the second round of voyages for One Piece, brush up on who you’ll be encountering in this latest volume of nautical nonsense

One Piece music: TOMATO CUBE

Tom Smith on One Piece’s TOMATO CUBE
One-hit wonders. Every country has them. And, as PSY can most likely attest, very few musicians really want to be labelled as one. Sure, it’s all fun, games and fancy dinners when that royalty cheque floats through the letter box. The one with all the zeroes from that single from yesteryear that went massive. But what about the rest of your work? It must be somewhat unsatisfying as an artist to be known for one track, while everything else remains relatively overlooked, and expectations are high for that difficult follow up single. If you’re TOMATO CUBE, you do nothing. Ever again.


As 2015 is coming to an end, we look ahead to 2016. Last month we asked you which our upcoming releases you are most looking forward to.

Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple

The first rule of Kenichi is: big eyes and kick ass.
In the real world, mastering a martial art takes years of devotion. All require a harsh physical regimen that pushes the body to the limit. Of course, we’re dealing with the world of anime, so we have a sneaking suspicion that Kenichi Shirahama might be able to go from shy, quiet bookworm to martial arts prodigy in a matter of weeks. All it takes to send him on the path to becoming Chuck Norris’ worst nightmare is falling for the new girl in class after he sees her single-handedly demolishing a group of thugs.

Men Creating Women

Andrew Osmond on anime’s gender gap…
Miyazaki said that women “who are striving for their independence” despise such fantasy females. “They feel this ideal is a one-sided attack on the part of men who are trying to fit women into a mold.
Charlotte visits the Himouto! Umaru-chan cafe in Tokyo.


Andrew Osmond says, if you like that, you might like this…
Summer Wars and Sword Art Online are made for a generation who’ve grown up with and within virtuality: social networks, video streaming, games without borders or ends. Both anime are adventures about things going wrong in cyberspace, but neither are technophobic; on the contrary, they’re all about hugging the avatar.
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