dimanche 16 octobre 2016

Ikimonogakari - いきものがかり (Eng)

From Sakura to Naruto ;-) and Bleach, from the drama GeGeGe no Nyôbô to the movie Your Lie in April, including numberless illustrations in ads, news or entertainment shows, this is the introduction for their 10th year in Major of the trio Ikimonogakari (いきものがかり) ! A pop-rock band who had needed 7 years before blooming in 2006, but for such a marvelous result...

Ikimonogakari - いきものがかり

The hare and the turtle... and Ikkimonkey !

1st English version: 2016/10/16.
Last Updated: 2021/06/03.



The band is created in February 1999 by Mizuno Yoshiki and Yamashita Hotaka, 2 schoolboys friends since always, in the prefecture of Kanagawa (Yokohama...). By the way, they chose their name from the fact that they were assigned to the care of plants and animals, such as red fishes, of their class in primary school in the "small" town of Ebina, while they couldn't make a choice among the activities.
They start like many others by playing in the streets, with Yoshiki as main singer and Hotaka adding harmonica to their guitars, in an original touch. In November of the same year, they recruit Yoshioka Kiyoe as singer, who is the young sister of one of their former school friend, on his recommendation.

Cover of Last Scene / Bokura no yume (2016), superposing 2 pictures with a 10 years gap.
From left to right:

Mizuno Yoshiki (水野 良樹), born on December the 17th 1982, is the band's leader and writes around 2/3  of the songs. He plays electric guitar and, since Kiyoe joined, he just participates in chorus. Volunteer, he doesn't hesitate to make a show with his guitar or to joke, while keeping simple and still in his Relationship with the public. He got married in 2013.

Yoshioka Kiyoe (吉岡 聖恵), born on February the 29th 1984 (yes, she celebrates her birthday once every 4 years 😅 !), is the main singer and sometimes plays tambourine. She writes some songs. She is as credible in her performance of sad ballads as full of energy to light up the public on more rock songs.

Yamashita Hotaka (山下 穂尊), born on August the 27th 1982, plays simultaneously classical guitar and harmonica. He writes a most of the rest of the songs after Yoshiki and participates in chorus. 10 years after, he is still this discreet on stage😁 ; he is the dreamer of the band. In June 2021, he announces his retirement from the band and from all entertainment activity during the coming summer. He feels no longer in the same mood and would like to try a simple life, but he is still friend with the other.

Ikkimonkey (イッキーモンキー) is the mascot of the band 😜 ; it was imagined after the nocturnal encounter of Kiyoe with a tricky monkey at home. It can be found as a silhouette on the collection cards of the band (1 per de single / album / DVD-BR release), as hand puppet, scarf, or like here as a glowstick holder for the 10th year of the band !

The band makes a break to allow the 3 members to concentrate on the university entrance examinations, then Hotaka takes the opportunity to travel abroad. At  the end of this period, Kiyoe, very busy with her new undergrad life and in loss of confidence, refuses at the beginning to start again singing despite the numerous solicitations from Yoshiki, but when Hotaka comes back and talks with her, they finally reband. As they have a growing success in street performances, they decide to try a 1st concert in a Live House in 2003, alone ! That's once again a success as they manage to fill up the 300-person room of the "Thunder Snake" in Atsugi who, after some warnings on the difficulty to fill this capacity for a solo debut, finally gave them their chance. Their 1st indies album is a record of their live songs made by the owner. They are immediately engaged by an artist agency, Cube Inc, where they are still registered, which produces their 2 following albums on its own indies label.

In 2006, they debut in Major with Sony. Their 1st single, Sakura, simply used in a commercial, manages yet to attract quickly attention and, without reaching the top of the famous weekly Oricon charts, it appears there in an extended time thanks to the growing rumor! Their 2nd single, Hanabi, is then to be granted a younger public exposition, through a popular anime, as it becomes the 7th ending of the shounen Bleach and reaches the Top 10 of the famous weekly charts.
By the end of the year, they start their 1st national tour and, in 2007, release their 1st Major album (see Discography). In 2008, Blue Bird becomes the 3rd opening of Naruto Shippuden and stay 1 year in the Oricon Top 100. Just after, they are invited for the 1st time at the Kouhaku 2008, where they sing Sakura and where they participate without interruption until 2016 !

They fulfill indeed their fame among a wide public with 2 other great success which occur in the end of 2009 with YELL/Joyfull and mainly in 2010 with Arigatou, the theme song of a  very popular drama on the famous mangaka Mizuki Shigeru (GeGeGe no Kitarô...), or more precisely on his wife's autobiography, entitled GeGeGe no Nyôbô. By the way, at the Kouhaku 2015, to pay homage to the mangaka who had just died, they performed again this track instead of one of their year's hit. These 2 singles will stay more than 1 year long in the Oricon Top 100 and will be sold at more than one million pieces !

In 2016, while used to fill the biggest stadium of the nation, they choose to celebrate their 10th year in Major with 4 lives on 2 week-ends respectively in the small stadiums of Ebina and Atsugi (and I was there !!), in their birth country ("furusato").
On the 5th of January 2017, after these busy 10 years, they announce a break to allow the members to have some rest and some time for their personal projects, with the will to come back well and go on the story together.  Yoshiki goes on writing and composing but for other artists such as Ohara Sakurako, Itoto You..., and Hotaka holds a radio broadcast. After some silence, Kiyoe comes back in the media with an album of covers in October 2018.

They finally resume activity together from November the 3rd, 2018 on, with a 1st tour (for the fan-club only) in April-May 2019, and a new original album on Christmas day. 😃


Well, let's make it clear, they are one of my favorite bands, thus don't expect any negative point here ;-p More seriously, their success comes from several very objective reasons: first of all, the musical quality of both players, either in small formation or with orchestral arrangements, and the vocal quality of the singer who can claim the same performance level in live and in studio, with  astonishing breathing volume and accuracy. Then the band's universe, very gentle and simple, which offers family-friendly lives.

Generally speaking, the first 2 albums includes some more rock tracks, then there is a more orchestral evolution. From Newtral on, they explorate more brass sounds.
While still "young" in the J-Music landscape, the trio is already strongly associated with the Japanese pop culture of their time, and it's quite impossible not to hear them if you come to watch a bit the Japanese television, speaking of successful animes, popular dramas, movies, daily shows, or just sonor illustrations in commercial spots and reports of variety shows, and even in some train stations ! Some titles are regularly used during graduation ceremonies (sostsugyou) or wedding celebrations. If a Japanese says he doesn't know their name, just reply with a title like Arigatou or Yell ;-) !

Similar Artists

- Japan: Every Little Thing, moumoon, Yuzu, Dreams Come True...
- World: Keane, The Beatles, The Bangles, Police, Shania Twain...

Music Videos (playlist)

Playlist from the official channel of Ikimonogakari, uploaded in 2020 without regional restriction:

Great Standards :

First performers:
- Sakura
- Blue Bird
- Kimagure Romantic
- Yell
- Joyfull
- Arigatou
- ...

- Mirai Yosozu II (de Dreams Come True)
- ...

Discographie (sélection) :

Below, the list of the albums and the main tracks they include. The 3 indies album are very hard to find nowadays; however most of their tracks have been included in the Major albums by now. I would recommend starting with one of the 2 Members Best and by the album Hajimari no uta, awarded best album in 2010, all the more if you are a fan of Naruto ;-). While less mediatized, the album Newtral offers too a good summary of the musical diversity of the band.
All the albums since My Song Your Song arrived 1st place of the weekly Oricon.
Clic on the links below (CD Japan) to listen to samples and buy them if you enjoy them ;-) !

Indies Albums:

08/2003 : Makoto ni sen'etsu nagara First Album wo koshiraemashita... (誠に僭越ながらファーストアルバムを拵えました...)
08/2004 : Nanairo konnyaku (七色こんにゃく)
05/2005 : Jinsei sugorokudabe (人生すごろくだべ)

Singles / EP Majors:

Baku / Ikimonogakari
single of the 8th opening of Boruto, includes the ones of Naruto Shippuden (Blue bird and Hotaru no hikari).

Major Albums:

Sakura Saku Machi Monogatari / Ikimonogakari
includes Sakura, Hanabi (anime Bleach), Nagareboshi Miracle (anime Tenpō ibun ayakashi ayashi)...

Life Album / Ikimonogakari
includes Seishun Line (anime Ōkiku Furikabutte )...

My song Your song / Ikimonogakari
includes Nokori Kaze (game Bleach-The 3rd Phantom), Blue Bird (anime Naruto Shippuden), Planetarium (drama Cat Street), Kimagure Romantic (drama Celeb to Bimbô-tarô - Celeb&Poor)...

Hajimari no Uta / Ikimonogakari
Best Album award from Nippon Record Association in 2010.
inclus Hotaru no Hikari (anime Naruto Shippuden, 5th opening), Yell (concours de chorales collégiennes NHK), Joyfull...

Ikimonobakari -Members' BEST Selection- / Ikimonogakari
includes for the 1st time Nostalgia (movie Toki wo kakeru Shôjo), Arigatou (drama GeGeGe no Nyôbô), Kimi ga iru (drama Hotaru no hikari 2); includes again most of the songs mentioned above, with the noticeable exception of the Naruto opening, Hotaru no Hikari.

Newtral / Ikimonogakari
includes Aruite ikou (drama Runaway)...


includes Haru uta (animation movie Meitantei Conan), Kaze ga fuiteiru (NHK show on the Olympic Games 2012), Egao (animation movie Pokemon)...

Fun ! Fun ! Fanfare ! / Ikimonogakari
includes Netsujou no Spectrum (anime Nanatsu no Taizai - Seven Deadly Sins), Golden Girl (drama Onna wa sore wo yurusanai - Woman won't allow it)

Cho Ikimonobakari - Tennen Kinen Members BEST Selection - / Ikimonogakari
includes for the 1st time Love to Peace (drama Isan souzoku), Sweet sweet music (drama Atashi wa kekkon dekinai janai, shinai'ndesu), Last scene (movie Your Lie in April); includes again most of the songs mentioned above, with the noticeable exceptions of the Naruto opening, Hotaru no Hikari, and the Bleach ending, Hanabi.

Utairo / Kiyoe Yoshioka
Cover album in solo of Yoshioka Kiyoe during the band's break; includes ItoEine Kleine...

We Do / Ikimonogakari
includes We do (comeback single), Identity (ad song)...

Who? / Ikimonogakari
includes BAKU (8th opening of BORUTO), Kira kira ni hikaru (drama Women Document Detectives), Ee janai ka (movie The great Yokai war - Gardians)...


Sources : Official Website, Wiki Japan, TV shows, MC lives, Twitter official account of staff and of Mizuno Yoshiki.

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