Saturday, June 12, 2010

Yōkai Featured in Kagrra,'s 10th Anniversary Tour, ~Hyakkiyakou~

So it's been over a year since my last ~OFFICIAL~ Kagrra, update, but the themes of many of my recent entries basically makes up for it.  I'd been planning to do something along the lines of this entry since before I reviewed Yoshitoshi's art in Kotodama way back when, but then new circumstances arose and beat me into submission, culminating in this.  But more on that later.

Kagrra,'s new single, the extremely long-winded and traditional "Tsuki ni Murakumo Hana ni Ame" (with bonus "silent" kanji!) is due out the 16th.  The single itself is a much quicker pace than their last single, with a light beat befitting of its summer release.  The B-side I've heard on the main version is startlingly similar to old-school, "Matsuri"-era Kagrra,, as is the PV for "Tsuki ni Murakumo Hana ni Ame" itself, which bears resemblance to their most Visual of PVs, "Yume Izuru Chi", and one of their more popular photoshoots, as Isshi goes and gets his xxxHoLic on in the video with a kiseru, calligraphy, and onmyoji markings on his hands.  Kagrra, really went all-out with the costumes for this one, with a very modern style mixed in with even more vibrant traditional couture.  It's really refreshing for a Visual band to become more Visual, or consistently remain as flamboyantly earnest as they have been since they began, and the PV has many cool elements that you really have to see, rather than just me describing them.  Keeping consistent on this theme, the single to be released after this one has also been announced, and it promises to be just as confusing and abusive to me when it comes to the characters used for the title and, most likely, the lyrics as well.  Obsolete character count so far:  many.  Maybe I'll do an entry on it when it comes out, we'll see.  But anyway, this release seems like it's going to be a great one, so I highly recommend that you check it out and, if possible, please support the band by purchasing it!

But enough shameless promotion.  Let's delve into another new thing Kagrra, is pursuing, and get a bit more insight on the band, the members, and traditional (obscure) old cultural facts about Japan.

This entry was supposed to be about the numerous yōkai that have been featured in Kagrra, videos, songs, interviews, etc. over the years.  For a yōkai-loving band that's been around for over a decade, there were obviously quite a few to choose from.  Luckily (for you, unluckily for me), Kagrra, had the very same idea, and decided to honour their 10th Anniversary with PSC tour with even more yōkai to torment me with.

The idea in itself is pretty ingenious, and well-suited to Kagrra,.  The 10th Anniversary tour takes place nationwide across Japan, and the "wandering" of the band from one location to another across the country inspired them to title the tour after one of their very first songs, "Hyakkiyakou", which not only brings the whole thing together, but, as you'll recall here, encapsulates the point of the tour and the point of Kagrra, the demons making their march each night.  Also included in the tour's name, the kanji for "tour" also has the double-meaning of "pilgrimage", reinforcing that fact, as well as another kanji alluding to "the other side".  So with that, each stop in the tour is named after a yōkai from the area in which the band is performing.  This summons images and stories invoked by the many yōkai undoubtedly learned of by Isshi and Izumi's recent tours and events inviting people all across Japan to submit local folklore and legends of ghosts, yōkai and other such bakemono (monsterous creatures or things) from all over the country.  This has lead to the performances alternatively honouring the most famous of yōkai, and, like the kanji, the most frustratingly obscure.  Thanks a lot, Isshi.

If you missed the last entry, make sure to check it out, because it contains a lot of information explaining yōkai, their popularity, and their purpose.  Many of them have ties to the ones I'll discuss in this one as well, so follow the link here if you're interested.

So, let's get started, shall we?