Tom Smith on Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple’s Kana Yazumi
Kana Yazumi is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last – at least in terms of theme songs for Manga Entertainment’s latest fanservice fuelled series Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple
. The singer-songwriter’s second single ‘Be Strong’ was not only the first intro theme to the anime, but it went full circle and become its closer as well.
Don’t let her super-genki, cute pop songs fool you. Underneath the frilly dresses and makeup is a secret metal fan raring to headbang her way out. Her official homepage proudly proclaims that she’s a fan of American acts such as A Perfect Circle and Deftones. I admit, while initially sceptical about her choice in music (I’ve interviewed too many Jpop singers that have had to ask their managers for a reminder on which bands they like). Any suspicions I had were quashed when she revealed who it was that originally opened up her world to ‘hard-rock’ and to pick up a guitar; none other than Nickleback frontman Chad Kroeger – ain’t no one going to make that up to sound cool.
That said, perhaps these rock influences would explain the uncanny Iggy Pop ‘Lust for Life
’ beat driving ‘Be Strong’. Further research also revealed that before her official debut as a singer in 2006, with the release of her first single ‘fall’, Kana had established quite a name for herself on the indie circuit, along with a full rock ‘n roll band, equipped with ripped jeans and bleached hair.
A few blogs feature her set lists from the time which show that the four tracks that made up her debut single used to be part of her live show before getting signed. That may explain the heavier implementation of guitar on the tracks from this time. Post-2006 Kana’s visual style became a lot more produced. Shirts and jeans no longer made the cut, and instead she would be found in a series of different dresses and PVC boots, usually following the Lolita style of fashion, or just straight up goth-inspired.
If the idea of a the same song opening and closing a series seems a bit odd to you, it might make more sense knowing that ‘Be Strong’ was released twice from Kana, Once when it first appeared at the very start of Kenichi
, and then when it resurfaced as at the very end of the series it was released again, this time featuring an alternative B-side entitled ’to HEAVEN’, which was also featured as the theme song to the Su-hyon Lee biopic 26 Years Later
Quite why it was released under ‘Be Strong’ instead of ‘to HEAVEN’ we’ll never know. Thankfully, Kana’s latest single isn’t nearly as confusing. Featuring as the theme to futuristic farm ‘em-up Rune Factory 3
on the DS, the single is simply named after the track used in the game; ‘HAPPINESS’. If only everything could be so simple...
Kana Yazami’s single ‘Be Strong’ can be found as the series finale theme for Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple volume 2, out on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.