Tom Smith reports on the band bucking the Bleach trend.
Many of the artists who perform the many themes of Bleach can attribute their entry to mainstream success to the famous anime series. And if not to Bleach, then to anime in general. That was until the five-strong pop squad Aqua Timez entered the scene.
Even before their first two singles under a major label featured as endings in anime movies (their first being ‘Ketsui no Asa ni’ in Brave Story and ‘Sen no Yoru wo Koete’ in Memories of a Nobody, the second Bleach film), the group already had over a million sales under their belts. Proving that ‘successful indie-pop’ isn’t an oxymoron, Aqua Timez’ independently released EPs were a huge success, with their last one, Sora Ippai ni Kanaderu Inori, entering the official charts at number one before they signed to Epic Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment Japan, in 2006.
Suffice to say, with the backing of a major label, the group went from strength to strength – the single from the Bleach movie alone topped over 1.2 million sales, including mobile phone downloads. Yet, oddly enough, it wasn’t until 2009 that the group, consisting of Futoshi on vocals, TASSHI on drums, mayuko on keyboard and OKP-STAR and Daisuke taking bass and guitar duties, got their first number one album under a major label; The Best of Aqua Timez, a 26-track, two-disc compilation of their most popular songs, released on the unit’s fifth anniversary.
Included in the collection is the band’s fourth single ‘ALONES’, which saw them return to the world of Bleach, and not for the last time. The pop soaked anthem hijacks the opening theme to episodes 121-134, which can be found on the Bleach series 6, part 2 DVD. The song title is a result of Japan’s love for playing with the English language, regardless of its rules. The logic behind it is that ‘alone’, singular, is limited in that it suggests a single person is feeling alone or experiencing loneliness, where as the newly created noun ‘alones’ with an ‘s’, can refer to an large number of people feeling sorry for themselves.
Bleach isn’t the only massive franchise Aqua Timez have contributed their audio-waves to, the group’s more recently credited in Naruto Shippuden with their upbeat ballad ‘Mayonaka no Orchestra’, their first single of 2011 which features way off in the endings of episodes 193-205 of the series. If you can’t wait until then, they have one more Bleach-based romance scheduled to hit the UK, though not until series ten hits the shelves. Their eighth single, the fantastically optimistic ‘Velonica’ features as the series opening and, despite the language barrier, the song still manages to convey a degree of the positivity that Futoshi is famous for penning.
Bleach, season six part 2 is out on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment on 13th June, featuring the Aqua Timez single ‘ALONES’.
Back in the World of the Living, Ichigo Kurosaki has been officially recognized as a Substitute Soul Reaper by the Soul Society. Then trouble comes to Karakura Town in the form of Visoreds, a group of ex-Soul Reapers that have crossed over into the realm of the Hollows. As they try to recruit Ichigo to their side, it is revealed that former Captain Sosuke Aizen is attempting to create an army of Hollows with Soul Reaper powers called Arrancars. It will take Ichigo and friends along with a detachment of Soul Reapers to keep them from destroying the town.
You know Tokyo; you know Neo-Tokyo. Now welcome to San Fransokyo, the mashup metropolis imagined by Disney’s CG cartoon Big Hero 6, released in British cinemas today. It’s a city where the Golden Gate Bridge sports Shinto gates, where ramen bars and lucky cats are as common as Victorian residences and hill-climbing trams. All this is the stage for a team-superhero adventure, which is itself window-dressing for the tale of a grieving boy and a gentle, huggable, cushion-soft robot.
In the dark days between the closure of the first Bandai-Gundam Museum in 2006 and the proliferation of Gundam cafes across Japan’s capital over the past few years, a small glimmer of mecha-shaped light remained for anime fans near Japan’s capital: the Bandai Museum in Mibu, Tochigi Precture. This new “Omocha-no-machi” Bandai Museum opened in 2007, following the demise of the original museum in Chiba, offering a huge collection of toys from the Edo-period to the present day.
Jeremy Clarke on a documentary about Isao Takahata's remarkable feature
There's a real treat in store for all those eagerly awaiting the UK theatrical release on 20th March of Studio Ghibi's Oscar-nominated The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya. In selected cinemas, alongside the film itself, comes a superb documentary entitled Isao Takahata and his Tale of Princess Kaguya.