Soul Eater Music: Takanori Nishikawa

Japanese pop star Takanori Nishikawa caught in public toilet with foreign journalist… oh, wait, it’s only Tom Smith.

Takanori Nishikawa

“YO!” chirps Takanori Nishikawa, the man behind the J-pop sensation T.M. Revolution. Active since the 1990s, his music spreads much further than the decade that brought us the Spice Girls and Pokémon, and is still proving strong today. One of his newer singles “Save the One, Save the All” is the theme to the fourth Bleach movie, The Hell Verse, and his tenth studio album Cloud Nine hit Japan on the 30th of this month. But that’s not important – not right now. What’s important is his hand. It’s up there, in the air, waiting for me to give it some skin and seal a high-five – and I’m leaving him hanging as I panic with my zipper.

No one ever teaches you how to respond when a pop-star greets you – do you play it cool with a “’sup?” Is a friendly “Hey there!” a bit too familiar and corny? A simple “Hello” sounds far too formal, but what I do know is that not responding to a high-five is a definite no-no. In my defence, it’s not everyday I have one of Japan’s best loved musicians throwing his palm in my direction as I try to finish off what was previously a peaceful and stress-free whizz in the men’s room.

Besides his music, the little fella, barely higher than my shoulder, is renowned for his charisma – after all, it led to him being crowned the cultural ambassador of his home region Shiga – and I’m not surprised. It’s a couple of hours before his first performance in the UK with his rocking side project abingdon boys school (it has to be lower-case, them’s the rules), and he’s standing opposite a stinking urinal, wearing Doc Martins, jeans that have the union jack plastered all over them, a cardigan that is similarly red, white and blue, and a smile almost as wide as that YouTube kid who got an N64 for Christmas. He’s loving every (stinking) minute of his time in Blighty-land.

In 1996, T.M. Revolution (Takanori Makes Revolution) set out to change the Japanese pop world with his debut single “Dokusai – monopolize –“. He captured the flare of Japan’s visual kei scene – notorious for its flamboyant outfits – and combined it with a high energy pop beat and vocals so catchy that it’s impossible to go to a contemporary Japanese karaoke joint and not hear someone murdering a T.M. tune.

While his debut was more mild turbulence than full-blown revolution, his third single “HEART OF SWORD – Yoakemae –“ caused a chart-based uprising when it was chosen as the third ending to the wandering assassin series Rurouni Kenshin (only the videos of which have been released in the UK under the name Samurai X).

That began a long love affair between Nishikawa and the anime industry, most notably seeing the pint-sized popster pen several songs for the Gundam Seed universe – he loved recording the tracks so much that the series producers let him star in the show by voicing ZAFT pilot Miguel Aiman, as well as Heine Westenfluss, whose appearance resembles the singer.

The anime tie-ins don’t stop there! Several recently released series in the UK feature music from the revolution-maker in his abingdon boys school guise, including D.Gray-man, Darker than Black and Sengoku Basara. You can catch him this month in all his pop-based T.M. glory in the opening to Soul Eater with his track ‘Resonance’, the music video to which features clips from his previous videos. Watch out for the water-based segments, they’re originally from “HOT LIMIT” – I still thank the musical gods that he did not turn up to the toilets wearing that outfit from the video…

The Soul Eater complete series box set is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment. Takanori Nishikawa’s antics can be followed on Twitter. His account is @TMR15 and he occasionally tweets in English. He is donating all the proceeds from his 30th March Tokyo concert to Japan Quake charities.

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