Broadcast 3: Yorushika
Welcome back to O!susume RadioBeat with our 3rd broadcast, after a bit of a hiatus! You’ll be happy to hear that a small-ish part of this haitus was spent perusing the rental aisles of Tsutaya and GEOS in Saitama, Japan, and Nagi (that’s me) has returned with a whole new haul of recommendations for y’all.
Years Active: 2017 – Present
Core Members: n-buna (guitar/composer), Suis (vocals)
Point of Origin: Gifu Prefecture
Broadcast 3 is dedicated to Yorushika, a band that snuck up on me like a ragamuffin and has yet to release me from its colorful folds that twist around my eardrums. Having formed just last year in 2017, it’s still hard to say if Yorushika is a permanent band or just a temporary project. n-buna (guitar/composition) and suis (vocals) are the two featured members, with three others supporting them across the two mini albums released so far. (Mitsuru Shimotsuru on guitar, KITANITATSUYA on bass, and Masack on drums).
To understand the band’s origins, it’s best to start with founding member n-buna. Identifying as a male hailing from the Gifu prefecture of Japan, he’s been active since 2012 as a producer of vocaloid songs under the artist name VocaloP. He began working on electronic music in his 2nd year of jr. high school, with his purchase of an electric guitar and some music composition software. In 2013, his songs were charting at #1 in the vocaloid category on Japan’s premier video-sharing site Nico Nico Douga.
There isn’t much information on the web about where n-buna met suis and the other members of the band, or what inspired them to start playing together. Their debut moment was likely their first live performance at Shinjuku BLAZE, in conjunction with the release of their first mini-album, 夏草が邪魔をする (natsukusa ga jama suru: Summer Grass Gets In the Way). Yorushika has found the spotlight again recently with their second mini-album 負け犬にアンコールはいらない (makeinu ni ankōru wa iranai: Losing Dogs Don’t Need an Encore) in May 2018, taking #5 on the Oricon Charts that month, a seriously impressive feat for such a newcomer.
[It is telling how much copy-pasting goes on between websites when you see all the top search results on Google mis-translate アンコール (encore) as アルコール (alcohol), lol. To be fair losing dogs probably don’t need that either.]
With a mini-album of 7 or 8 songs, you might suspect a band of loading a bunch of afterthought “b-sides” behind one or two songs that push the sales. I personally found every single track on both mini-albums worth paying good money for; the fast-paced bangers are bookended by beautiful and lulling instrumental tracks that could underscore the most tear-jerking or heartwarming scenes of a high-production anime. n-buna’s technical skill and range as a composer is expertly showcased here, and suis’s vocals splash across his clean, crisp notes that fall like a microburst of summer rain onto thirsty pavement.
Evocative, in lyric and melody, is the name of Yorushika’s game. n-buna takes inspiration from his home prefecture of Gifu when writing many of the songs, incorporating nostalgic images of “dried-out” August clouds, long waits at sun-bleached bus-stops, and bittersweet young love that, like the old days of summer vacation, always seems to end too soon. According to an interview, even the band’s name was taken from an evocative passage in 雲と幽霊 (kumo to yūrei: Clouds and Ghosts), the final song on their first mini-album: “I could only sleep at night” (yoru= night, shika= only).
Yorushika has established an impressive presence on Youtube as well. They’ve gotten excellent talent in to direct their music videos, and all of them are a treat to watch as the visual styles range from manga-in-motion to composite-reality-fiction. First here’s いって。(itte: Say It.), their most popular upload at 10M views as of July 2018. The video is directed by Otori; if you want more of their style, you should also check out “Hitchcock” to see their charming little heroine grapple with an equally-charming inner demon representing their crushing depression. I decided to omit it from this feature cuz I have other personal favorites I want to spend time on.
“Fireworks Beneath My Shoes” (kutsu no hanabi: 靴の花火) is a warm summer wind following your walk back home, an excellent track to play on a whispery volume as the sun gives up the sky. I’m not sure if there was an intentional collaboration, but it’s striking that this video’s director (Second Origami) instills emotional dysphoria by erasing the character’s face. As you’ll see below, this also happens in the music video for “Just a Sunny Day For You”; I wonder if it was stylistic input by n-buna. Either way, it does a good job of invoking the ephemeral feeling of a photograph whose subjects’ identities have been lost to sun-bleach and the Lethe of time.
Finally, my favorite. “Just a Sunny Day For You” (tada kimi ni hare: ただ君に晴れ) is the epitome of all the bittersweet youthful feelings that n-buna strives for in his lyrics and melodic style, and suis knows how to punctuate her singing to perfectly complement the complexities of his drum, bass and guitar tracks. This video manages to make you long for the time back when you were a Japanese high-school student, of summer loves found and lost, of the conflicting desire for and resistance against your nearing adulthood… Of course, I was never actually a woebegone Japanese schoolkid, but if a song can make you feel those feels, that’s impressive in my book.
That’s all for this broadcast! Stay tuned for more.
Artist Site: http://yorushika.com/
Twitter: @ nbuna_staff
Sources Used: Wikipedia, Yorushika official site, lots of Google Translate