OLDCODEX may not be the oldest anisong band out there, but they’re one of the most successful - both in and outside of the otaku world. You might already know their name from the extremely popular song “Rage on,” the opening from Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club a few years ago. But that’s just one of several hit songs that OLDCODEX has given the anime world. So if you enjoyed the harder, rock style of “Rage on,” get ready to find even more songs to check out.
Not only does OLDCODEX have a unique sound in the anisong world, without seeing them live you might not realise that they’re quite a performance band that does one-of-a-kind shows that aren’t your typical rock concert. Is your curiosity piqued? Read on to find out more!
Listen With Your Eyes
OLDCODEX “Rage on” from Free! Iwatobi Swim Club
OLDCODEX first formed in 2009 as a combination of two distinctly different artists - vocalist Ta_2, and painter YORKE. That’s right; this band’s main duo is formed by a singer and a painter. So how does that work? Ta_2’s intense, loud vocals are complimented on the stage by YORKE’s live painting. As the song goes on, the artwork slowly comes to life along with the lyrics and pace of the music. To truly experience an OLDCODEX song the way it’s meant to be experienced, you have to both hear the music and see the artwork that goes along with it. This unique partnership on the stage really set OLDCODEX apart from other bands, in the anisong world and beyond. But just a singer and a painter can’t make a rock band, so OLDCODEX also Ryo Yamagata on drums, and Taizo Nakamura and Shinji Oumura on the bass and electric guitars respectively. Together, all five people make up OLDCODEX.
Part of OLDCODEX’s vision and hopes as a band can be found in the etymology of their name. A codex is an ancient text, usually considered to be very traditional. In the world of Japanese music, though, rock is thought to be something that Japanese artists borrow from the Western world. It’s not at all traditional. Through their unique presentation and style, OLDCODEX hopes they are creating a kind of rock music that is unique, Japanese, and separate from Western rock. They’re writing a new tradition by bringing something totally new and atypical to the stage - both visually, and in their sound! Instead of being simply a rock band, OLDCODEX combines rock with dance music in an intense, almost aggressive way. They’re working hard to be distinct, and it’s been paying off in their success.
Huge Hits in Sports Anime
Egoist “Sakase ya Sakase” from Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Three years after OLDCODEX debuted, they signed with record label Lantis, who are well-known for their anisong bands. And sure enough, that year OLDCODEX landed their first anime song. “Catal Rhythm” was used as the second ending theme for the sports anime Kuroko’s Basketball. An ending theme may be a humble enough beginning, but it helped get OLDCODEX’s name and unique sound on the otaku market. In 2013 they made their first anime opening theme, “The Misfit Go,” for Arata: The Legend. That same year they also produced “Rage on” for Free - Iwatobi Swim Club. The popularity of both that anime and that song put the otaku spotlight right on OLDCODEX, and suddenly a lot more people were interested in their music in Japan and abroad.
OLDCODEX became synonymous with both Free! and Kuroko’s Basketball. They made “Walk” and “Lantana” in 2013 and 2015, which were also ending themes for Kuroko’s Basketball, as well as “Scribble & Beyond,” the main theme for Kuroko’s Basketball Winter Cup Compilation in 2016. For Free!, OLDCODEX made “Dried Up Youthful Fame” in 2014 for Free! Eternal Summer, and later “Aching Horns” in 2015 for High Speed! -Free! Starting Days-. In 2018, OLDCODEX was still behind the theme music for Free!, releasing “Heading to Over” as the theme for Free! -Dive to the Future-.
Beyond Kuroko’s Basketball and Free!, OLDCODEX has also found other anisong fame. “Feed A” and “Deal With” were the opening themes for God Eater and Servamp respectively. “Take on Fever” came out in 2019 as the main theme for Special 7: Special Crime Investigation Unit. Finally, most recently OLDCODEX contributed to the Netflix version of the incredibly popular series Ultraman in 2020. Their theme song is called “Core Fade,” which is also their most recent release at the time of publication.
OLDCODEX “Core Fade” from Netflix’s Ultraman
OLDCODEX is an anisong band that should be on any otaku’s bucket list to see live at least once. Not only are their songs all powerful anthems that really get your blood pumping and make you feel like the main character of your own anime, but seeing the combination of talented singing along with graffiti painting is so uniquely cool. What other music act can you catch on stage making two different kinds of art like this at the same time - all while celebrating anime? If you ever get a chance to see OLDCODEX in person, don’t miss the opportunity. And until then, support this band by checking out lots of their songs!
You might remember if you read our article about anisong superstar LiSA that she and the vocalist from OLDCODEX, Ta_2, recently got married! Congratulations to them once again from the otaku world.
Did you know much about OLDCODEX before reading this? What’s your favourite song by them? What song are you headed off to download as soon as you finish reading this? We would love to hear your comments!