The latest instalment of Bleach sees series protagonist Ichigo on the run. Following the defeat of Aizen, peace had returned to the Soul Society and World of the Living until Soul Reapers began to mysteriously disappear. With the evidence pointing towards a certain ginger-haired hero, Ichigo needs to vanish until his name is cleared.
Part 1 of series 15 also sees another disappearing act: the disappearance of five musicians with hair just as bright as these episodes’ defendant. Together they formed Vivid, the visual kei band responsible for “Blue”, the 14th opening to Bleach, and a band which stopped all activity last month, disappearing just weeks before their track would appear in the latest UK release of Bleach.
It really is unfortunate timing – who knows what could’ve happened if they had held out a little while longer? In Asia, their career rocketed around the time of the single’s original release. They conducted their first Asia tour directly after, which included a comic and video game convention in Hong Kong, as well as Asia’s biggest music festival; Sundown in Singapore.
The festival appearances didn’t end there. Back in Japan the boys were added to the line-up of V Rock Festival 2011, the country’s biggest celebration of all things visual kei. There, they shared the stage with the likes of MUCC, Golden Bomber and Ohio’s own glam rockers Black Veil Brides.
Not bad for all that to happen following the release of a song in Bleach. The band were quickly gaining momentum, and the release of their follow-up single “Fake” marked the pinnacle of their career. No, not because the song (and the band!) featured in questionable mobile dating sim Koi to Shigoto to Kimi no Produce, but because the group managed to pull off a gig at the mighty Nippon Budokan – the equivalent of playing The O2 in London.
Vivid even managed to squeeze in a show in Europe, though it was before they hit the big time, before landing a major record deal. Back then they were rocking the Oricon Indies chart and turning heads of European visual kei fans, partly for belonging to the same management company as visual kei veterans the GazettE. They were invited to perform at Japan Expo in Paris during the summer of 2010, and within a month of the show they were snapped up by Sony and ready to launch their first major single; “Yume Mugen no Kanata”.
With the help of a major label behind them, “Yume Mugen no Kanata” marked a long run of tie-in singles from the group. This was their first with anime, with the track becoming the ending theme for Yoshihiro Togashi’s alien-prince high school comedy Level E. They’d later have themes in Mobile Suit Gundam AGE and Magi: Kingdom of Magic too before eventually calling it quits.
Bleach 15.1 is out on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment from 25 May. Vivid’s album Infinity, which includes Bleach opener “Blue”, is available from iTunes.
With Aizen's defeat, peace has returned to the both the Soul Society and the World of the Living. But soon reports begin to surface of Soul Reapers going missing in the Precipice World, and Ichigo is a prime suspect. He and Rukia go on the run from the 13 Court Guard Squads, while in the World of the Living, Kon finds an unconscious girl lying in the street. When Ichigo and Rukia find out more about the girl, Nozomi, they realize their world, as well as the Soul Society, is in danger, and the Soul Reapers pursuing them and Nozomi are actually imposters known as Reigai, who have switched places with the missing Soul Reapers!
Tom Smith on Aqua Timez, the band from the Bleach 6.2 soundtrack.
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.
Tom Smith reports on YUI, the all-caps rock chick.
It’s been suggested that Japan’s singer, song-writing guitar chick YUI is her country’s answer to Avril Lavigne. Amid an industry manufactured and micro-managed to levels that make England’s best pop efforts seem amateur in comparison, she stands out as beacon of musical delight. For teenage girls, she’s proof that you don’t need to buy into the squeaky clean, plastic smiles of sickeningly sweet J-pop to be a successful female musician; for guys she’s the girl next door, and for anime fans she’s composed and performed themes in some of the most prominent series of recent years, including Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
Tom Smith on the band behind Bleach’s 14th Opening Theme
"The song is based on the singer’s own experiences of forming a band and the hardships endured while keeping the faith for a brighter future, with lyrics just vague enough that they could easily represent the struggles of Ichigo and pals, too."
It’s gratifying to see a generation of people so interested in hygiene – that must be why you’re lining up to buy a series called ‘Bleach’, right? If some orange haired janitor with a fancy mop (mop, magical talking death sword – whatever) excites you, hold on for these other heroes of the Japanese cupboard space!
“Try ‘n boogie, guns n’ tattoo” – there’s no greater embodiment of Kenichi Asai’s work than that opening line. As the words are dragged across the bluesy, rock n’ roll riff of Mad Surfer – the Japanese rebel’s song used as the 20th closing of Bleach – it’s difficult not to imagine smoke filled bars, motorcycles or leather jacketed misfits sporting hairdos your mother wouldn’t approve of.
Tom Smith on the band behind Bleach’s 21st Ending Theme
SunSet Swish held their first-ever live performance on Valentine’s Day 2004, at a small venue in Osaka Prefecture’s Hirakata city. A fitting introduction to the music world for a band whose claim to fame is having quite possibly the soppiest theme in Bleach history: ‘Sakurabito’.
Studio Ghibli, tattoo removal and the San Diego Comic Con in our 26th podcast
Jeremy Graves is joined by Jerome Mazandarani, Andrew Hewson and Jonathan Clements to discuss last week’s Studio Ghibli, the San Diego Comic Con, upcoming releases, and your questions from Twitter and Facebook. Includes an inadvisable impersonation of Meryl Streep, commentary track shenanigans, and Jerome’s skateboarding stunts.
Toei Animation has announced production on Dragon Ball Super, the first all-new Dragon Ball series to be released in 18 years. Following the recent events of the hit feature film Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection, Dragon Ball Super will debut in July 2015 in Japan.