The new TV anime series Tokyo Revengers, which began airing in Japan in April, is taking the country by storm. The series ranked No. 1 in June and July on the viewership rankings of major video streaming services in Japan, and the original manga by Ken Wakui has exceeded 35 million copies in print.
Tokyo Revengers tells the story of Takemichi, who travels back in time to his junior high school days to find out the truth about the death of his ex-girlfriend Hinata. His investigation of the Tokyo Manji Gang, a group of delinquents he thinks was involved in the incident, unfolds in the main story arc. In Japan, stories featuring delinquents as the main characters have always been popular for their exciting battle scenes and complex human dramas. This work adds a touch of sci-fi to this beloved trope in the form of time travel, and viewers of every age and gender are enjoying this new type of delinquent-themed saga.
The ending theme of Tokyo Revengers Season 2 is Nakimushi’s “Tokyo Wonder.” The enigmatic artist — whose stage name means “Crybaby” in English — began his mainstream music career with the release of his mini-album Moumoku (“Blind”) in October 2019. The singer-songwriter has kept his real name, face, and age all under wraps since the beginning of his career, and his mysteriousness, bold word sense, and distinctive songwriting have garnered a huge following among the Generation Z crowd.
In addition to the opaqueness of his profile, Nakimushi also makes it a point to not reveal his views on life in his lyrics. In an interview with the Japanese music website Music Natalie, the mystery artist shared that “I have no desire for people to know about me. Not just in my lyrics — I don’t think my face, name, or age are necessary. I’m an aggregation of things that are needed to do music, and that’s it.” He also shared with a laugh in an interview with Billboard Japan: “I want to stay hidden in this world. You know that tool in Men in Black that erases memories? I want to use something like that to erase my existence. Even now, because I haven’t revealed my identity, I can go shopping whenever I want in whatever clothes I feel like wearing and it’s convenient.”
While Official HIGE DANdism’s series opener “Cry Baby” expresses the central elements of the story such as the protagonist and the Tokyo Manji Gang, the blistering rock-meets-digital sound of “Tokyo Wonder” is closer in mood to the members of the opposing gang called Valhalla who appear in Season 2. The word “darui” (meaning listless, lethargic) in the chorus is Valhalla member Shuji Hanma’s trademark phrase, no less. The cutting-edge track that balances pop sensibilities with dark aesthetics is linked to the mood of the anime itself, and has understandably won the hearts of anime fans everywhere — apparent from the fact that it has reached the top 10 on song charts in 28 countries.
Nakimushi says that he didn’t aim for anything in particular when writing the song, but that it was born subconsciously. “I happened to come up with a cool chord progression when I was lying down and playing the guitar,” the singer-songwriter shares. “I sang along to it intuitively and that was how ‘Tokyo Wonder’ came about. I didn’t make too many changes from the first version I wrote. The song’s rhythm and melody suits my performance style, and the aggressive, fast-paced sound is a genre that I personally like.”
The soundscape is a mixture of tension and lethargy, which matches Nakimushi’s aloof, husky vocals. These factors embody the potentially explosive, volatile nature of youth and the fang-like sharpness of the emotions young people hide deep within. In other words, while “Tokyo Wonder” is a song that expresses the overall vibe of the characters in Tokyo Revengers, who fight to carry out their beliefs while dealing with various emotions, it’s also potentially closely linked to Nakimushi as an individual.
“The first song I wrote, ‘Kimi igai gai’ (‘Everything except you is harmful’) took me a long time to write,” reveals the artist. “I put a lot of thought into it and used a lot of calories to do the full song. I didn’t mind that way of producing at all at the time, but lately, the more time it takes, the more it feels like a pain in the neck. I get bored with making the song if I don’t do it as quickly as possible. I guess my super-lazy streak comes out in my songwriting.”
Nakimushi’s impulsive way of production, based solely on his musical sense and instinct, is probably the main reason why “Tokyo Wonder” has shown such an affinity with Tokyo Revengers. The essence of the artist who creates as if in a hurry to live resonated with the characters in the work.
Towards the end of the interview, Nakimushi spoke about his plans for the future. “I have no idea what kind of music my future self will make, or what I’ll feel like doing,” said the nebulous creator. “What I want to do will probably keep changing depending on that particular moment in time. So I’m personally really looking forward to seeing what kind of music I’ll make from now on.”
This article by Sayako Oki first appeared on Billboard Japan.