Tom Smith on Tiger & Bunny’s mysterious schoolgirl Tamaki
They make Peter Andre go ‘wo ooh oh ooh oh’, there are online tutorials for those wishing to be more like them, and Tiger & Bunny has its very own real life one. They are the ever elusive ladies of mystery. Their very persona is one used throughout literature, film, music, video games and countless other media, which of course includes anime and manga. They seemingly capture the hopes, dreams and desires of wishful men and women alike, and, for Japanese record label Toy’s Factory, the charm of a mysterious girl is warrant enough for them to clear space in the overpopulated dragon’s den of J-pop in order to make way for a new artist.
To be fair, J-pop is such a cut-throat business that even the vice of anonymity isn’t really enough to make a dent in the industry these days. So what could Toy’s Factory do to make a new pop sensation, and one that would be noticed? Maybe they could combine the merits of a mysterious girl with that of another archetypical lady type. One which has fans across all ages, is popular with the anime crowd, and one which male J-pop fans can’t seem to ever have enough of? What if… there was… a mysterious… highschool girl? Get the good biscuits out, a Toy’s Factory exec may have just hit the jackpot. Tamaki was born.
She appeared from nowhere, as any self-respecting mistress of mystery should. Without warning her debut album HIKARI was released. Inside was a distinct lack of photos of the newly established. Instead, in their place was 2D anime-inspired representation of Tamaki wearing a black and red seifuku (sailor style school uniform).
Around the same time two tracks from the album were featured as theme songs; ‘Hikari No Naka De Kagayaite’, used in the TV drama Genya, based on a mystery novel by Keigo Higashino; and ‘Yasoukyoku’ in the movie adaptation of the same author’s Byakuyakou, featuring actor Kengo Kora (you might recognise him from Third Window Films’ Fish Story or Soda Pictures’ Norwegian Wood). With both tracks finding their way into iterations belonging to the mystery genre, it was pretty obvious what vibe Toy’s Factory were going for with Tamaki. That, and her homepage was just as elusive as her debut album – it contained barely any information on the her and the only artist profile pic on display was the same anime-like figure from her album artwork.
The music video to ‘Yasoukyoku’ also featured the same artwork as the HIKARI album, revealing nothing on how Tamaki looks in real life. Fans were kept guessing when her next music video made its debut, this time featuring the new pop star – IN THE FLESH. The video, to album title track HIKARI, featured Tamaki in a school (of course), wearing school uniform (of course), but! Her face was hidden behind a surgical mask for the entirety of the video, leaving Tamakites eager to know what was underneath.
Tamaki’s next tie-in saw the release of her first proper single ‘Mind Game’, featuring as the second closing to hit anime Tiger & Bunny. This meant a whole new CD design and cover art would be produced, perhaps revealing more information or clues to the singer’s looks. Nope! It was once again an anime-influenced affair with a matching music video.
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However, this time international fans can get in on the guessing too. The digital version of the single is out now on the iTunes UK store (click here) for your listening pleasure. Or you can catch a glimpse of her in full in the video for The Shade, but where’s the fun in that?
Tiger & Bunny: Part 2, featuring an ending theme by Tamaki, is out 22 April as a UK Blu-ray and DVD combo pack from Manga Entertainment.