Tom Smith on the London-bound rock god Tomoyasu Hotei
In his home country, he’s the alpha and the omega of guitar. No other solo star has ever come close to touching his career. He’s collaborated with the world’s most influential musical figures, and has had his music featured in some of the last decade’s biggest blockbusters. Some go as far as saying he’s the original driving force in establishing J-rock (and yes, it is a genre). He is Tomoyasu Hotei, and he will be holding a very special live show in London on 18 December 2012.
The chances are that you’re already familiar with one of his songs; “Battle Without Honor or Humanity”. It became the star’s international claim to fame when a director known as Quentin Tarentino used it as the theme to his film Kill Bill Volume One, instantly shooting Hotei back into western pop-culture.
It wasn’t the first time the now iconic track has been used in film. At the turn of the millennium it featured originally in Junji Sakamoto’s yakuza flick Shin Jingi Naki Tatakai (also released as Another Battle), alongside Hotei himself, co-starring with Etsushi Toyokawa (20th Century Boys, Moon Child). This film was a remake of the 1973 film Jingi Naki Tatakai – or directly translated into (American) English; ‘Battle Without Honor or Humanity’, from which the instrumental track received its name.
These weren’t the only films to include the piece. It also appears in Michael Bay’s Transformers during Bumblebee’s transformation sequence. Notice anything familiar about the robot in disguise’s colour scheme? It’s exactly the same yellow as Uma Thurman’s infamous biker suit in Kill Bill – it even has the stripe!
Long before Kill Bill, or even his solo career, Tomoyasu Hotei was part of the pioneering rock act BOØWY during the 80s. The group caused one of the biggest spikes in musical instrument sales that Japan has ever experienced, inspiring a whole generation of music lovers to pick up a guitar of their own, long before Yui and the K-On! crew had girls running to the shops to start bands.
BOØWY even made it to London, with a show at the Marquee Club in 1985. However, by 1988 the band had broken up and Hotei pursued a solo career which led to him collaborating with the likes of Hugh Cornwell from The Stranglers, Andy Mackay of Roxy Music, Jesus Jones, Sugue Sigue Sputnik, Asia, INXS, Joni Mitchell, Ray Cooper, David Sanborn and Chicago. He’s even worked with the Starman himself David Bowie, after whom BOØWY was named.
He also played guitar under the baton of Michael Kamen at the closing ceremony for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and more recently arranged the theme Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. All in all, Hotei is possibly Japan’s most internationally renowned artist, ever. And that’s not even the most exciting news. The star has just relocated to London with his family. The possibilities for his career, which has been going for more than 30 years, are well and truly endless.
Tomoyasu Hotei will perform at the Camden Roundhouse on 18 December. Tickets are on sale now.
For the first time ever! Never before available in the UK! Collect One Piece The Movie 1, 2 and 3 before anyone else in the English speaking world.
- One Piece - The Movie: Years after his disappearance, The legend of the Great Gold Pirate Woonan and his hidden treasure map remain. Many pirates search for his mountain of hidden gold on a remote island. Among them are Captain El Drago and his men who have taken possession of a map to that hidden island. On their way there, they meet and decide to rob the Straw Hat Pirates, who, still lacking a cook, are close to starvation. Our heroes, Luffy, Zoro, and Tobio survive and go on the hunt, hoping to beat Captain El Drago and his crew to the treasure horde. Will Luffy and his crew find the treasure in time? And will they find a cook for their ship before they all starve death. And what is oden and what does it smell like?
- One Piece - The Movie 2: The Adventure Island Clock : While the Straw Hats enjoy a warm day at the beach, their ship with all their equipment and weapons is stolen. As Luffy and his fearless crew mates go in search of their beloved ship they will encounter the mysterious Thief Brothers and embark on a whole new treasure hunting adventure. The quest for the fabled Diaomond Clock from Clockwork Island.
- One Piece - The Movie 3: Chopper Kingdom - Strange Animal Island : With Chopper as their newest member, the Straw Hats arrive at the Island of Strange Animals. Before they can land, a geyser-like fountain sends their ship flying. Chopper falls off and lands in the middle of a gathering of strange animals who conducting a mystical ritual! According to local legend, a king will fall from the heavens and become the ruler of the island! Unbeknownst to Chopper the evil hunter, Count Butler and his team of despicable henchmen, led by General Hot Dog and President Snake are searching this very island for the magical horn of the fabled King of the Animals! Oh oh! Will Luffy and his motley crew of Straw Hats find their new crew mate in time or is Chopper about to become more extinct than a giant rhino?
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.
“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.
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-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.
An important change to the Psycho-Pass DVD/Blu-ray release
For all of you looking forward to the release of Psycho-Pass we have some news for you. Today we can confirm that due to high demand we will be combining the upcoming Part 1 and Part 2 releases of Psycho-Pass into one Complete Series Collection!
Pacific Rim opened a new gateway to ’bot sagas for youngsters, and for oldsters too. They’ll see del Toro’s film, learn how much he was inspired by Japanese cartoons, and then check out the originals. If they choose Eureka Seven Ao, they’ll find elements also seen in Pacific Rim, embedded in a very different show.
Animation for the old... there's only one way to settle this... FIGHT!
Wrinkles is a new grown-up Spanish animated film about elderly people in a care home. Hang on a bit, that can’t be right. Animation and the elderly; they’re two things which have nothing to do with each other. Well, except for...
“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.
Ever wonder just how Goku and friends became the greatest heroes on Earth? Wonder no more, as the original Dragon Ball reveals the origins of Akira Toriyama’s beloved creations! The faces may look familiar, but everything else is different in this classic series!
Tom Smith on the newest numero-enchanted musicians
It may sound odd to English ears, but 7!!’s choice of pronunciation makes sense (well, a tiny bit of sense) when put into the context of where the band grew up; Okinawa. It’s an area that’s closer to Taiwan than mainland Japan, and one that’s had a heavy US military presence since the Second World War. These factors, among plenty of others, have had an affect on the cultural evolution of the islands, and one of the most evident examples can be found in local popular music scene.