Looking back over ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s past 20 years

19.June.2016 | MUSIC

【MOSHI MOSHI pick up artists!】
This year marks 20 years since the formation of ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION. The band have continued to lead the guitar rock scene since their debut, and will celebrate their 20-years of activity in 2016, including playing on the EARTH STAGE at “COUNTDOWN JAPAN 15/16” on December 28th. Let’s take a look back over their 20-year reign.

ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION: Leaving the corporate world behind
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION is a 4-member band consisting of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Masafumi Gotoh (Gotch), lead guitarist Kensuke Kita, bassist Takahiro Yamada, and drummer Kiyoshi Ijichi. They met in 1996 in the music club of their university where they formed ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION.

The band made their first official release in November 2002 with their mini-album “Hokai Amplifier”. The song “Haruka Kanata” from the same album become an opening theme for the hit anime series “NARUTO” which instantly garnered them huge attention. They subsequently re-released “Hokai Amplifier” from Ki/oon Records on April 23rd, 2003. In the same year, they performed at FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL and SUMMER SONIC. The band went on to release their first full-album “Kimi Tsunagi Five M” on November 19th, and their second album “Sol-fa” the following year ono October 20th, which reached number 1 on the Album Charts, the first time the group had taken the spot.

ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION have become an absolutely crucial and influential existence in the rock scene. But did you know that they actually worked as salary men for a time after they graduated from university? Not only that, but they even experienced insecure incomes, and so began thinking that they would focus on their music. That kind of sound judgement is something amazing, and gives even more depths to the songs of an artist who has gone through such experiences.

How do ASIAN KUNG-FU GENRATION come up with their lyrics?
All of ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s lyrics for their original songs made around the time of their formation have been translated into English. When talking about this band, you might highlight their catchy melody and superb Japanese lyrics. But there’s actually more to it. Masafumi Gotoh is in fact in charge of all of the lyric writing and song composition. Gotch is the chief editor of the free newspaper “THE FUTURE TIMES”, and has serialised columns in “Weekly Pia” in the past, all of which have been compiled into a book that you can buy. Gotch has no doubt demonstrated great writing ability as a professional writer.

Let’s take a look at the lyrics at the start of their song “Rewrite”.

Kishinda omoi wo hakidashitai no wa sonzai no shoumei ga hoka ni nai kara
Tsukanda hazu no boku no mirai wa “songen” to “jiyuu” de mujun shiteru yo

(Why these feelings are grating at me so much I want to vomit them out/Is because I have no other proof of my own existence/I thought I had a hold on my future/But “dignity” and “freedom” are contradicting each other)


Yuganda zanzou wo keshisaritai no wa jibun no genkai wo soko ni miru kara
Jiishiki kajou na boku no mado ni wa kyonen no karendaa, hizuke ga nai yo

(Why I want to erase the distorted afterimage/Is because I can see it there in my limitations/I’m just too self-conscious/And there’s no dates in last year’s calendar up in my window)

Even in the chorus, the lyrics of “Rewrite” make conscious use of words referring to one recovering from a hopeless situation and one’s heart and soul. From the start, once Gotch has come up with the melody, he goes ahead with writing the lyrics while thinking of syllables that fit the feeling of the rhythm. ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s unique worldview is weaved deep within these words; it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it is born from the lyrics themselves.

The ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION World – there’s no stopping them
Another highlighter celebrating ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s worldview is the band’s CD jacket illustrations. The talent in charge of them is Yusuke Nakamura, a very popular illustrator in Japan. As the band release new songs, the fans’ anticipation even for the jacket illustrations is high.

On March 16th, 2016, ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION released their new single “Re:Re” which is a self-cover of their previously released song of the same name. They are a band who easily drown in their large crowds of fans at big festivals. Part of the band’s charm might be that however big they might grow, they will always stay relaxed and in a natural stance. Let’s look forward to whatever they have coming next and the continuation of the skilful world that is ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION.




Original Text: Noriko Ishimizu (SHUTTER)