Tom Smith sings the blues for the Casshern theme song
Sendai ballad-rock squad Color Bottle crooned their way to stardom via Casshern Sins. Their upbeat and optimistic fourth single ‘Aoi Hana’ (Blue Flower) proudly plays at the start of each episode of the Casshern reboot, representing hope in the series’ bleak setting of robotic rule.
Guiding the fledging musicians to success on the track was top producer and arranger Masao Akashi. His CV includes a large portion of work with legendary Japanese rock duo B’z (the first Asian band to have their handprints and signatures included in Hollywood’s RockWalk), WANDS (guitarist Hiroshi Shibasaki is rocking away in lowercase outfit abingdon boys school, led by Takanori Nishikawa of T.M.Revolution), 90s pop sensation Zard, and an impressive list of other big names. Anime-wise, he had also been a part of themes for Final Fantasy Unlimited, Rurouni Kenshin and Slam Dunk. Suffice to say, he’s a bit of an expert and the opening theme for Casshern Sins was one of his few co-compositions, written with Color Bottle.
Despite Masao-san’s golden touch, Color Bottle failed to achieve the same heights as some of the other household names Mr. Akashi had worked with, and the group disappeared almost as quickly as they emerged. Or did they? At first glance it seems that way, the only song getting any plays on their last.fm page is ‘Aoi Hana’, yet a deeper look into the group reaps surprises.
For starters, Color Bottle were never a major band, per se. Despite signing to a major label, they still had releases entering the indie charts, as they did in the days when vocalist Masayuki was performing on street corners. The only difference now is that he’s playing to crowds from the warmth of venues and festival stage’s across Japan. Right now the band’s preparing for its next tour, to celebrate the release of their fourth full-length album, COLORBOTTLE, scheduled for February 2012.
Color Bottle first started turning heads when Oricon, the company that supplies statistics and information on the Japanese music charts, ran a feature on the band in 2006. At the time, the group coined the slogan ‘living room lock’ to describe their sound – no one’s had the heart to correct their English since.
The release of their new album marks a year since their last EP ‘Jounetsu no Uta’ (Songs of Passion), which shot to number one in the indie charts and put them back in the spotlight once more. And once again, tie-ins were partly behind its success. The aptly named title track was used as a theme for TVQ’s Super Stadium, Fukuoka’s sporting program dedicated to showing live games of the prefecture’s baseball team. And when it comes to baseball, the Japanese are most definitely passionate. The song’s connection to sport continued with KYT TV also adopted it as the theme for their rookie football coverage.
Color Bottle may not have had the long lasting mainstream success of most other artists used in anime, but they hold their colour, and remain strong and passionate until they do.
Casshern Sins: The Complete Series Collection is out on 12 December on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.
RUIN IS THE SALVATION OF MAN AND MACHINE! CASSHERN SINS is a millennial update of a beloved 1970s classic of Japanese animation, which saw a lone cyborg hero opposing a robot empire that threatened to overthrow the Earth. This darker reimagining mixes frantic action with heartfelt humanity, as Casshern fights to survive a bleak dystopian future – little realising that he caused the end of the world!
Matt Kamen wanders the philosophical wasteland with Casshern Sins.
Casshern Sins is about redemption. The hero – if you can truly call him that – wanders an abandoned wasteland, plagued by amnesia, unaware that his own actions led to the collapse of civilisation. Humanity is all but gone, and their robot heirs are faring little better. Survival is a burden at best, made worse by a plague known as ‘the Ruin’ infecting organic and inorganic alike. Except, that is, for Casshern himself. Clad in gleaming white and seemingly in perfect health, a legend has formed that eating his body will grant rejuvenation and immortality, making him a dark messianic figure in this future wilderness.
Matt Kamen hunts down other appearances of the anti-hero Casshern.
Any media property that survives several decades is bound to leave its mark on generations of viewers. Sometimes, those influences are easy to spot – the countless mecha shows that owe a debt to Go Nagai’s Mazinger or Yoshiyuki Tomino’s Mobile Suit Gundam, or the enduring international legacy of Astro Boy and Speed Racer, for example. For other series, the impact they have isn’t as easy to spot but is by no means any less important. Such is the case with Casshern – despite only a handful of appearances since his 1973 debut, his legacy extends much farther.
Casshern – Tohru Furuya. Furuya is a voice acting legend, bringing Gundam’s Amuro Ray, Dragonball’s Yamcha and Sailor Moon’s Tuxedo Mask all to life. He has returned to the role of Amuro several times, as well as serving as the narrator of Gundam 00. In the same series, he portrayed Ribbons Almark, though he did so under the pseudonym Noboru Sogetsu. Most recently, Furuya has been voicing the ‘legendary hero’ AkaRed in the live action steampunk superhero series Pirate Task Force Gokaiger – a crimson warrior who embodies the combined powers of the 35-year Super Sentai series: the ultimate Power Ranger!
Like the film, this novelisation is intricate and intimate in its details, and universal in its storytelling. The writing is simple enough for readers of around seven or eight to enjoy, without any loss to the emotional impact of the girls’ adventures, while fans of the film will also find new details that were previously unelaborated in the movie.
Jeremy Graves is joined by Jerome Mazandarani and Andrew Hewson for our 23rd podcast., featuring cover woes, delayed shows, and several uses of the word Slash. Your questions answered, dodged or otherwise belittled, while Jerome confesses to his Facebook addiction, and Jeremy is reprimanded for flagging his own segues.
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.
Eric Khoo's film focuses on one of the founders of gekiga, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, who died on 7th March. The framing story is Tatsumi’s account of his life and development, growing up with a difficult family. He had none of the technology and luxuries that we take for granted, no reason to think he could ever make a living from the fledgling manga industry. And yet he was utterly driven to draw comics, like his hero Osamu Tezuka.
The life and legend of Leiji Matsumoto's anti-hero
The new Harlock's ship is positively monstrous, a skull-faced battering ram that smashes other spacecraft to flinders. The press notes suggest the darkening of Harlock is a reflection of the times, and of modern Japan.
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