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Tuesday 18th February 2014

Tom Smith on the band behind Be As One


From braving the elements in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park as nobodies, to collaborating with K-pop meister G-DRAGON and selling out shows across Asia; Japanese trio W-inds have come a long way since forming as a vocal group at the turn of the millennium.

Unlike a number of the bands featured on the Manga UK blog, W-inds haven’t had much of a history with anime tie-ins despite their massive success. In fact, in 14 years they’ve only ever done two anime themes; their first in Akira Amano’s Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, and more recently with Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail, where their 29th single Be as One became its sixth ending.

Even without the assistance of anime, W-inds have managed to establish a strong following outside of Japan, particularly Hong Kong, Korea, China, Thailand and Taiwan. In the latter they even managed to have four of their albums consecutively breeze to the top of the country’s charts, a first for a Japanese artist.

As previously mentioned, they have worked with G-DRAGON, the leader of BIGBANG. The track was called Rain is Fallin’, and it sent shock waves through the respective countries’ dance scenes. Some even go as far as suggesting that this song was crucial at establishing BIGBANG in Japan.

They’ve even managed to lend a hand in smoothing relations between Japan and China, playing at an event in Beijing for Japan-China Diplomatic Relations, as well as direct to the Chinese President at a private event whilst his honour was in Japan on business.

W-inds’ achievements are numerous and even more applaudable when you consider that the group began life like so many bands in Tokyo; performing free of charge on the street and in local parks. Surprisingly, all three members were not originally from Tokyo. Keita Tachibana originally came from Fukuoka, closer to Seoul than to Tokyo, while Ryohei Chiba and Ryuichi Ogata were from Hokkaido, the northern tip of Japan.

Keita met the other two members after he became a finalist in the 2000 Kyushu-Okinawa Starlight Auditions. At the time Ryohei and Ryuichi were dancers and unable to match Keita in terms of vocals. Instead, they were versed in the way of rap, so W-inds’ new style was born; an all vocal, all male dance group. Or as their homepage refers to it; ‘A male vocal & dancing group that has been generating a fresh wind in this new age, 21st century’. Whatever floats your boat. From there, the threesome were soon noticed, signed and have been one of the biggest boy bands in Japan that doesn’t belong to the seemingly omnipotent clutches of Johnny’s organisation.

Meanwhile Europe and the UK remains untouched by the group, though the majority of W-inds discography is now available worldwide through your local iTunes store, but as of yet, no performances planned here for fans, or for Boris.
W-inds’ song Be as One is the ending theme to Fairy Tail Part 6, out 24 February 2013 on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Manga Entertainment.

Buy Fairy Tail Part 6


Fairy Tail Part 6 (episodes 61-72)

was £24.99
Nirvana continues its march to destroy Wendy's guild along with a dark secret. Team Natsu and the coalition - as well as an unexpected ally - go full-force against the top sorcerers of Oracion Seis to expel the ancient city's evil curse before it becomes unstoppable!
Then, when Natsu goes on a mission to see a woman about a dragon, his trip becomes a trap that could force him to turn Magnolia into ash and rubble! Can his friends snuff the Salamander's involuntary rampage without torching their friend?
Contains episodes 61-72.



Fairy Tail

Matt Kamen is your guide to the world of Fairy Tail!
Welcome to Earthland, where magic runs rampant and professional wizards sell their talents to the highest bidder! Populated by all kinds of mystical creatures, it’s a place of wonder but also one filled with peril.

Cosplay: Fairy Tail's Obra

Paul Jacques snaps some more Fairy Tail cosplay
Cosplayer Kyle McDonald suits up as Obra from the Raven Tail guild in Fairy Tail, available now in two box sets from Manga Entertainment on UK DVD.

Fairy Tail and Japan's Shonen magazine

Matt Kamen on Japan’s Weekly Shonen Magazine
Mystic action abounds in the second thrilling collection of Fairy Tail, as flame-spewing Natsu, ice-mage Gray, summoner Lucy and the rest of the gang take on sorcerous threats across the world of Earthland. The series is based on the long running manga by Hiro Mashima, and as the anime closes in on its 150th episode in Japan, it’s clearly shaping up to be the next Naruto or Bleach, delivering ongoing adventure to a devoted audience. Unlike a certain orange ninja or black-garbed grim reaper though, Fairy Tail’s roots do not lie in the pages of the famous Weekly Shonen Jump anthology.

Fairy Tail music: MAGIC PARTY

Tom Smith on the music behind Fairy Tail 5
It’s been said that two’s company, three’s a crowd. But for Japanese electro-pop duo AIRI and Koshiro, two is more than enough to party – to MAGIC PARTY! At least if the cutesy name of the pair’s musical project is to be believed.

Fairy Tail Music: Daisy x Daisy

Tom Smith on Fairy Tail Part 7’s opening theme
Little Mika still has a long way to go, but since signing to Pony Canyon she has managed to have a crack at the anime universe, featuring heavily in one series in particular; Fairy Tail.

Unspinning Fairy Tail

Hugh David argues that the treasure is in the detail
The biggest influence on this anime is not tabletop RPGs or even the long-standing fantasy fiction genre itself. No, the stamp of numerous Japanese role-playing videogames is all over Fairy Tail, from the Atelier series to the Final Fantasy franchise, in particular Final Fantasy XII


The World of Hideaki Anno

Evangelion's director in conversation at TIFF
This year's Tokyo Film Festival also included a festival within a festival, an awesomely thorough programme of screenings and live appearances by the maker of Evangelion. It covered Anno’s career from his early amateur films to his live-action, to his work as an animator and anime director.

Ocean Waves

Andrew Osmond on a Studio Ghibli “obscurity”
Ocean Waves is the only feature anime by the world-famous Studio Ghibli which might be called obscure. It wasn’t made for cinemas but television, broadcast on Japan’s NTV network in 1993. And now it's playing as part of the BFI's Ghibli season...

Podcast: A Dingo Stole My Anime

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.

Dragon Radar GT 1

It’s going to be a tough journey – but who’s along for the ride?
Dragon Ball GT presents an all new adventure for Goku and his allies, sending them on an interplanetary quest to find the mysterious Black Star Dragon Balls and save the Earth! It’s going to be a tough journey – but who’s along for the ride?

Bleach music: Fumika

Tom Smith on Bleach’s most powerful voice
What does the anime series Bleach, Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys and grainy mobile phone videos all have in common? For 25-year-old singer Fumika Mitsui, they mark the point where her wildest dreams came true.

Cosplay: Attack on Titan

Eleanor Trace suits up as Mikasa Ackerman from the fan-favourite series
Eleanor Trace suits up as Mikasa Ackerman from the fan-favourite series Attack on Titan

Tezuka's 101 Dalmatians

Andrew Osmond unearths a little-known cross-over
It’s a Japanese translation by Minoru Kume of the classic British children’s book, The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, with about seventy Tezuka illustrations in his characteristically cartoony style.

The Devil is a Part-Timer

There's a difference at MgRonald's
The show is a comment on real life, on the way we’re pressured to give up childish things – like, say, becoming an Evil Dark Lord of the world – and focus on the adult world of work.
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