Do you know the song “Haruka Kanata” from Naruto? How about “Rewrite” from Fullmetal Alchemist or “After Dark” from Bleach? If you’ve been an anime fan for a while, chances are you can say yes to at least one of these famous opening songs. Now for one more question - did you know these songs are all by the same band? That’s right; and that band is called Asian Kung-Fu Generation! With a name like that, they’re hard to forget once you learn about them.
Today we are going to take a brief look at Asian Kung-Fu Generation’s humble origins, and how they have grown into the intentionally famous anisong band that they are today. Hopefully, you can learn a bit more about the band behind some incredibly famous anime songs, and find even more of their music to listen to as well!
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION - Haruka Kanata (Video Clip)
From College Friends to Global Fame
Asian Kung-Fu Generation started in 1996 with Masafumi Gotoh (lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist), Kensuke Kita (lead guitarist and backing vocalist), Takahiro Yamada (bassist and backing vocalist), and Kiyoshi Ijichi (drummer) as the original members. Gotoh, Kita, and Yamada all attended the same university in Yokohama, Japan, and because they all liked the same music, they decided to start playing together. Ijichi soon joined them after quitting his university band, and the group started to perform on their campus as well as small, local stages in the city. Asian Kung-Fu Generation continued to perform in small venues around Yokohama and Tokyo in their early years, not releasing a CD until 2000.
Interestingly, Asian Kung-Fu Generation’s first songs were almost completely in English. It wasn’t until they released their first Japanese single, “Konayuki,” that they were picked up by a popular DJ in Japan and their music began to really circulate. In the early 2000s they started to gain momentum, performing at bigger venues as well as rock festivals like Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic. Their blend of indie rock and alternative rock styles, largely inspired by Western bands like Weezer, Radiohead, Beck, and more, continued to gain traction in Japan. They were able to sign a major record label and release more CDs.
And then the chance to do some anime music came knocking…
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION “Blood Circulator” (Short Ver.)
Where Can I Find Asian Kung-Fu Generation in Anime?
Asian Kung-Fu Generation probably could have reached their current level of fame even without doing anime songs, but arguably their contributions to the otaku world gave them that fame faster. Because of their successful anime openings (“Rewrite” even won the Best Anime Theme Song at the American Anime Awards in 2007) Asian Kung-Fu Generation were able to reach international audiences and thus, international fame. Since landing several anime openings the band has gone on to produce a lot more music, much of which has the same “anisong” kind of style. Chances are if you like their anime openings, you’ll like a lot of their music!
But where can you hear Asian Kung-Fu Generation’s music in an anime, though? They have done the openings for Tekkon Kinkreet (“Aru Machi no Gunjou”), The Tatami Galaxy (“Maigo Inu to Ame no Beat”), ERASED (“Re:Re”), Bleach (“After Dark”), Fullmetal Alchemist (“Rewrite”), and two openings for Naruto (“Haruka Kanata” and “Blood Circulator”).
You can also see a parody to them in the Hellsing manga where a group from the Vatican is called the “Vatikung!”
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION “Re:Re:” (Short Ver.)
While there are plenty of Japanese bands out there that have fame both in the otaku realm and outside of it, few have the kind of success and reputation that Asian Kung-Fu Generation boasts. They have a huge international fanbase; and it goes without saying that they have a domestic one, too! They’ve been bringing great openings and endings to anime for years alongside even more great tracks, and here’s hoping they will be doing it for years to come, too. If you don’t already have Asian Kung-Fu Generation on your playlist, it’s time to change that!
What’s your favourite song by Asian Kung-Fu Generation? Did you already know much about them before this, or did we help you discover the band behind some of your favourite anime songs? Is there another anisong band you would love to see a similar write-up about? Let us know in the comments!