Tom Smith on the alter egos of Kishidan’s Show Ayanocozey
Nao Baba to his mother, Sumitada Ozumano to his lawyers, Show Ayanocozey to the rockers, Naomi Camellia Yazima to the drag queens, and DJ OZMA to the club kids. Whichever name you know him for best, the chances are that name’s etched into the inner sanctum of your memory box due to him being an utter nutcase, regardless of which persona he’s putting on.
Under his Show Ayanocozey moniker, the barmy star had a track featured in the latest box set of Naruto Shuppiden, however, he first rose to major prominence in 2006 after a performance on NHK’s coveted end of year music show Kouhaku no Gassen with his party project; DJ OZMA. He hit the stage in the live television show wearing just a golden afro and matching golden boxers. If that wasn’t enough to put you off your ramen, he was also accompanied by a sea of seemingly naked female dancers, baring boobies for all. That’s not entirely true though, his lawyers insisted, the lady folk were innocently donning mock nudey bodysuits instead. Besides, their most delicate of places were covered up with an intricately placed mushroom (DJ OZMA’s emblem). Even the OZMA has standards. The backlash from a minority of fist-shaking complainers was worth the price of instant notoriety.
While producing tracks as DJ OZMA, he was also in Kishidan, as mentioned earlier. The group formed in 1996, though you wouldn’t recognise which was OZMA. Taking the name Show Ayanocozey, and having one of the biggest pompadour hairdos in the business, Kishidan’s gimmick was that all members dressed in the style of bousouzoku; Japan’s biker gangs. Check out their style for yourself in the video to ‘Omae Dattanda’ (It Was You), from Naruto Shippuden.
Surprisingly, the track was one of their least successful singles in terms of chart position. Two of their bigger hits, ‘One Night Carnival’ and ‘Zoku’ can be found in the Japanese DS rhythm games Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! and it’s sequel. The band seems to have had quite an impact on the game’s developers as its lead characters share similar outfits and dance moves to those of Kishidan.
His newest project, ‘American’ drag queen trio Yazima Beauty Salon, sees him move on from DJ OZMA (finished as of 2008) to adopt the name Naomi Camellia Yazima, along with fake hair, breasts and a series of sparkly dresses. This vocal group also contains the popular comedians Takaaki Ishibashi and Noritake Kinashi (who usually form the comedy duo known as Tunnels). Perhaps the oddest thing about this coupling is that their debut single, which has the translated title of ‘Friends of Japan: We Come From Nevada’ reached number three in the charts, higher than any of Kishidan’s 13 singles, and the second most request karaoke song of 2008.
Be grateful that not all of Japan’s music makes it overseas.
In two featured episodes, Tales of a Gutsy Ninja: Jiraiya Ninja Scrolls, go back in time to witness how the young Jiraiya meets his destiny at Mount Myoboku and trains to become the Toad Sage! Back in the present, Jiraiya successfully infiltrates the Hidden Rain Village and finds the hideout of the Akatsuki's Pain. But will he be as successful in discovering the secret behind the multiple Pains? Meanwhile, Sasuke heads for the Uchiha hideout, where his brother, Itachi, awaits. The amazing visual prowess of the Uchiha come into full play as the fateful battle begins!
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 13th 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’.
Stephen Turnbull risks nine deaths in the eye of the ninja storm... or does he?
There is more to the ninja myth than meets the eye. By 1638 all wars had ceased under the police state of the Tokugawa family, yet within twenty years armchair generals were busily writing manuals of military theory, including speculations about sneak attacks, night-fighting and backstabbing.
At their production peak, Shaw Studios sanded down some of the historical elements in their epics, concentrating on acrobatics and heavier violence. This, in turn, made them more palatable or at least accessible to non-Chinese audiences, and inadvertently stoked the fires of the Kung Fu Boom.
The director of Ghost in the Shell on being digital
"For the first time in my career I was dealing with something that existed only as data within a machine. In a way, I felt shocked, but at the same time I understood that it was the prelude of what my job as a filmmaker was going to be."
Andrew Osmond on Japan's chances at this year's Academy Awards
There are two anime among this year’s Oscar nominees: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, competing for Best Animated Feature, and Shuhei Morita’s Possessions, vying for Best Animated Short. To date, there has been only one Japanese winner in each category. Miyazaki’s Spirited Away was the winning feature in 2002; Kunio Kato’s La Maison en Petits Cubes won Best Animated Short Film in 2008. What are the new films’ chances?
Arthur Rankin Jr, who died last Thursday, was not often thought of in connection with Japanese animation, though he played a major part in its history. In America, he’s best known as the co-founder of Rankin/Bass Productions. A stateside brand, the Rankin/Bass name is linked with handmade family cartoons as fondly as Oliver Postgate or Aardman are in Britain. But while the studio’s cartoons – especially the stop-motion Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) – are evergreens, few people know their animation was Japanese.