Visual Kei&Anime – MUCC

Nice to see you again if you’re returning, but if you’re new here welcome! This is Visual Kei&Anime, hosted by none other than me, Rise! This month we’re exploring a band with an impressive world-wide following, twenty four years of music under their belt, and many collaborations in the world of anime world, none other than MUCC!

MUCC got their start in 1997 as a cover band of The Blue Hearts and GLAY, in Ibaraki prefecture. Their original line-up consisted of Miya as a guitarist, Tatsurou as the lead vocals and harmonica, Satochi as a drummer, and Hiro as the bassist. A fun fact, is that MUCC was named after the character MUCC in Hirake! Ponkikki a children’s TV program. In their early years, they distributed their music as demo tapes, and played limited live performances. In 1999, bassist Hiro left the group and was replaced by Yukke who was Miya’s childhood friend. After this line-up change, the group embarked on their first major tour and in 2002 officially signed with Danger Crue after their first album release.

Hirake! Ponkikki‘s Gachapin (L), and Mucc (R)

The group would have an extended history of signing with Danger Crue, leaving and coming back to the label, to my knowledge they’re still signed with them. The group would be known for touring throughout the America’s, Europe, and more throughout the late 2000’s into the early 2010’s as well as appearing at anime conventions. This would be joined by the group’s stream of regular releases of media and music, and extensive touring in Japan as well. Which garnered them an extensive and dedicated fanbase that would follow the group even as they began to transition out of Visual Kei and more into the metal scene.

Their impact can not be understated, as they paved the way for other Japanese artists for touring and international promotions, as well as inspired a new generation of musicians. This cumulating in many invitations for charity events, and tribute albums for some of the biggest names in the industry. My personal stand out moments being that their track “fuzz” is part of the American film Cloverfield (2008) ‘s soundtrack, and that they did a track on the tribute album for the fictional manga metal band Detroit Metal City that same year.

Most recently in December of 2020, it was annouced that Satochi, the original drummer would be leaving the band and retiring from music after their spring 2021 tour. That tour would be post-poned until fall 2021, and afterwards MUCC decided to continue as a trio.

The group who is till very much active have released a ton of media since their formation. This includes roughly, 15 demo tapes, 42 singles, 3 EP’s , 15 full albums, and so much more. As always I highly encourage you to check them out on Spotify, and be sure to dig in deep after we get a small sampling in this feature!

MUCC would have their first anime tie-in in 2007, with the series ZOMBIE-LOAN. Their song “Chain Ring” off their single FUZZ would serve as the ending theme for all twelve episodes and the subsequent specials. For those not in the know, ZOMBIE-LOAN‘s story goes a little something like this:

“Michiru Kita knows exactly when you’re going to die, due to her ability to see the ‘ring of death’ on people. The darker the ring, the closer you are to dying. At least that’s what she thinks until she notices that Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana, two boys in her class already have completely black rings. Yet, they are very much alive. Michiru attempts to warn them of their incoming demise, but they already know, because they are already dead. They are kept alive with something known as a Zombie-Loan, given to them by a strange office, and they have to pay it off by killing zombies of course! Which now knowing Michiru’s abilities, they immediately rope her into their shenanigans” (Paraphrased from the MAL Entry)

As the earliest entry into this feature, but 10 years into MUCC’s career “Chain Ring” has a special type of magic going on here. I for sure feel more of the punky, Visual Kei-esque vibes in terms of the gritty sounding guitar work, and frantic undertones. It’s very intentional kind of energy that lends itself well to this tie-in. What’s nice about it is despite the frantic undertones, Satochi’s drumming lends itself to some really energetic but doesn’t let the beat get away from him.

I am curious if this song was commissioned from ZOMBIE-LOAN. Lyrically, the song is pretty on par with mid-2000’s VKei, but also seem surprisingly on the mark regarding the series’ theme. (I mean that name is pretty obvious) I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I’m more curious then anything. For those also curious, I referenced this translation when making this observation.

My only grip is that “CHAIN RING” wasn’t the best showcase of Tatsuro’s actual vocal prowess. While we got a surprisingly show of his range, we also heard his growl abilities. I’ll give MUCC the benefit of the doubt that, at the time, it was a good idea. In retrospect, they were not Tatsuro’s best moment. There’s a certain amount of charm to them, and they do break up the monotony of other anime tie-in’s of that era.

MUCC would get their second shot at an opening in 2010 with Night Raid 1903. Their single “Yakusoku” i.e. “Promise” would be the opening theme for all thirteen episodes. This series is pretty under the radar, so let’s give a plot synopsis a once over, shall we?

Ten years before America entering WWII, in Shanghai the ‘hydra’ something developed in WWI have begun to cause major conflict. They cause a seemingly complex web of events and conspiracies that are intended to fall entire nations. The Sakurai Kikan, the intelligence agency staffed by the worlds top spies, with abilities beyond mere humans. The group of clairvoyants, telepaths, espers and more are the only thing standing between the destiny of ‘hydra’ and their threatening plots”. (Paraphrased from the MAL Entry)

The difference between “Yakusoku” and “CHAIN RING” is drastic, but in a good way. It shows the contrast and MUCC’s ability to adapt to a variety of sub-genres. It’s soft, but I think it plays a lot more into Tatsuro’s strengths as a vocalist. We get to hear his full range, in it’s peak stability. In addition to his ability to adapt his pacing, while still maintaining a clear delivery. Trust me that refrain has some parts that get native speakers tongue tied just speaking it!

It’s clear that MUCC picked up more hints about how to make a good anisong at this point. There’s a lot of earlier established hallmarks: the decrescendo on piano early in the song, mimicking an orchestral feel, and so much more. It’s nothing new in terms of Visual Kei&Anime, with many before MUCC using the same techniques and styles, and many more to follow. But MUCC put their own spin on it via the bassline and piano. Lyrically, they played it safe so it’s not so obvious if it was commissioned or not, but nonetheless a pretty touching track.

In 2012, MUCC would land their most famous tie-in yet with Inu X Boku SS. Their song “Nirvana” would serve as not only the opening theme for all episodes, but as the ending theme for episodes 1, 11, and 12 in addition to being the opening theme for the follow-up special. I don’t know too much about Inu X Boku SS, so join me in this plot summary:

“Ririchiyo Shirakinn in a sheltered, dependent, and overly protected daughter of her family. She decides to change this by moving out, the only major caviate being that she has a sharp tongue she’s never been able to control, and terrible communication skills. She ends up moving to Maison de Ayakashi for some independence, only to realize all the residents are weird. The weirdest part being that everyone, including her is half-human and half-youkai. With this realization, Ririchiyo might have bit off more then she can chew, since she’s required to live with a Secret Service agent. Her agent, Soushi Miketsukami, is handsome and quiet, but also clingy to the point of being annoying and creepily submissive to her. Coupled with her beginning high school – Ririchiyo has a lot of changes to make”. (Paraphrased from the MAL Entry)

I need to be completely honest; this is the most anisong of anisong’s I’ve heard so far. Both for MUCC’s own profile, and for Visual Kei&Anime as section. That’s not an insult either, MUCC’s musicality and sensibilities are on full display with this track. The the problem is that it’s so… safe. Personally, it’s rather unremarkable in my opinion. So instead of trying to fluff this section, I’m going to keep it moving.

One major tie-in would lead to another, and MUCC would be united to one of the biggest shonen series of all time. Their song “MOTHER” would be the ending theme for none other then Naruto: Shippuden, for episodes 282 through 295. The original Japanese airing dates being October 4th 2012, through January 13th 2013 for clarity. I doubt many are unfamiliar at this point, but just in case-

“We rejoin Naruto two and a half years after the original series, where he’s been steadily training all along. The Akatsuki are beginning to make their moves even more, which threatens the entire shinobi world. Naruto, now older and slightly wiser, is determined to fight to protect the village he loves, and continues his quest to become Hokage”. (Paraphrased from the MAL Entry)

I can’t tell you how jarring this song is when I was listening just to their anisong’s on Spotify is. The the opening notes of this track are almost haunting with the rather relaxed nature of the ‘ohh’ vocals. I really liked how the band was scaled back, but present, so the track really focused on Tatsuro’s vocals to carry it.

“MOTHER” really plays into a more mature, established sense of presence the band has. MUCC don’t need to prove themselves worthy of a tie-in, but just delivery a strong piece. At this point it’s to be expected since the group had been together over ten years at the time. But I like making the parallel that in this point of Naruto as a series, and MUCC as a band that both were well established and could afford to push themselves further.

It’s worth acknowledging that lyrically “MOTHER” is one of the most condensed offerings MUCC has shown yet. It’s only four stanza’s long, with no chorus or refrain lyrically. Despite that, it really packs a punch and has some lasting impact. Out of all the songs in this feature, “MOTHER” is my personal favorite.

Following that wild success, MUCC would be recruited for another tie-in to a significantly smaller anime known as Meganebu! in 2013. Their song “World’s End” would be used as the opening theme for all episodes. Since this one was quite under the radar, here’s a quick summary:

“The members of the Glasses club are nothing short of crazy about eyewear. Akira Souma, their leader, founded the club with the goal to develop X-ray glasses. Unfortunately, their pesky student body president keeps cutting their budget and other events keep happening to them so research has been slow. The five members remain passionate about their project and resolve to make it a success regardless!”. (Paraphrased from the MAL Entry)

I have to admit this… while I didn’t have much regarding “Nirvana”, “World’s End” has a similar vibe for me. Except, “World’s End” is for sure the weakest showing that MUCC has so far. The lyrics are pretty cheesy and interchangeable with a lot of other anisongs. The song fits more into JRock then VKei at this point, which isn’t bad, but does lean to it being boring. It has some almost ska-like pops to it, but not a ton of other flavor to it otherwise. I don’t hate this track, and by no means is it bad. It does, at least to me, feel a bit phoned in between all the prior mentioned reasons and it’s overall execution especially in comparison their prior tie-in’s.

In 2014, MUCC would provide the second opening for The File of Young Kindaichi Returns. A sequel of the 90’s series that many Visual Kei bands before MUCC have contributed to. MUCC would provide their own flavor to this series with their song “故に、摩天楼” i.e. “Therefore, Skyscraper”. While I’ve talked about the original many times, it’s my policy to include a synopsis so here we go:

“Hajime Kindaichi is the alleged grandson of famous private detective Kosuke Kindaichi. Hajime is visiting Hong Kong with his girlfriend Miyuki when she’s abducted by a stranger due to mistaken identity. One crime leads to another as he begins his quest to save Miyuki…” (Paraphased from the MAL Entry)

This track is nice return to showing what MUCC can do. It’s got a distinct opening between the guitar, and the bouncy bassline that lends a lot of fun to the track. Ironically, this is the one track where I can say that MUCC did their research on making a good anisong, but also is almost an homage.

As I mentioned, a lot of late 90’s/early 2000’s Vkei contributed themes to the original anime. Ironically, MUCC not only is part of that generation (debut was 1997) but also pulled inspiration from their senior groups. It makes sense that MUCC would not only be able to take inspiration, but repackage those feelings and dynamics but with more modern sensibilities, and recording capabilities. In a sense “故に、摩天楼” feels like to shows a bit of where they came from, and now where they are without being too bloated with nostalgia.

Admittedly, I’m also biased as hell in that regard since it’s no secret how much I love 90’s era VKei. Also, it’s such whiplash listening to “Conquest” the coupling track for this song right after. I do recommend giving this a shot if you haven’t been queuing MUCC up yet while reading.

The last tie-in that MUCC currently have under their belt is in 2016 with The Seven Deadly Sins: Signs of Holy War. Their song song “Classic” was used as the opening theme for all four episodes of this mini-series. And just a little refresher on this bite-sized anime:

“The Seven Deadly Sins, along with Elizabeth and Hawk, have finally won back the Kingdom of Leones. So they get to indulge in peace time antics… at least until the signs of Holy War start to arise”. (Paraphrased from the MAL Entry)

I really like the percussion and piano opening for this track, especially when the guitar-work kicks in. There’s such a strong driving force behind the song that’s pretty infectious that reminds me just a little bit of “CHAIN RING” but much more mature and refined.

Lyrically, I was really impressed with the song. The chorus and refrain is super catchy, that I caught myself humming it even after only a handful of listens. The translation and from my own understanding actually leans pretty heavily back into their VKei roots, but also transitioning them into their most recent sound. I really liked the 2:20 mark where there’s a spoken dialogue break. It almost feels like an emergency radio broadcast interruption, but much more sublime if that makes sense? It’s a shame that part of the song doesn’t make it into the TV version.

Unrelated to the song, but I can’t help myself, the cover for this album was done by Takato Yamamoto whose one of my favorite artists ever. Fair warning his works are erotic grotesque with emphasis on body horror so fair warning before you click that link.

And with that aside finished; we’ve covered MUCC in their entirety, as of writing, with the anime song tie-ins! I think of all the profiles, MUCC’s covers the most ground while still be succinct even if they’re a bit more hit-or-miss then other’s. I hope you’ll check them out at the links above, and comeback next month for another round with a new band!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s