By Mishio Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior SpecialistThe last event I organized during the Heisei era (1989-2019), which ended in April, was “Kanreki Matsuri” with 60-year-old or older suit actors, who play superheroes and villains wearing full-body suits and masks. And the first event I did after the Reiwa era arrived on May 1 was the third edition of “340 Rookie Matsuri” (340 is a Japanese pun on my name, Mishio, by the way) featuring three young artists — Shogo Kamada, Daiki Ise and Yohei Onishi.
The three are all known for singing the theme songs of Super Sentai Series tokusatsu sci-fi superhero TV shows: “Juden Sentai Kyoryuger” (Kamada), “Ressha Sentai Toqger” (Ise) and “Shuriken Sentai Ninninger” (Onishi).
They were joined by keyboard player Mizuki Kamada, a good friend of Onishi, as well as Imajo, the guitarist from the music duo Psychic Lover. The five of them gave the audience a refreshing performance fit for the beginning of a new era.
The biggest attraction of this event, in my opinion, is that the three main artists freely perform without a care. They are indeed young but by no means newcomers, having already spent several years in the business since their respective debuts. That said, the anison (anime song) scene still boasts veteran singers who have been singing since the Showa era (1926-89). Compared to those singers, who continue to perform vibrantly, Shogo Kamada, Ise and Onishi are still fresh faces — they made their debuts in the late years of the Heisei era.
Sure, the veteran singers are all friendly and open-minded people, but I’m sure that the three must be feeling a bit anxious when they are joined by the veterans or even awed by the incredible mastery in their performances.
By contrast, the 340 Rookie Matsuri event is like a lab for the trio from the same generation to enjoy the sounds of music together as if they were classmates. They also introduce their new songs to the audience.
Having said that, I am not so generous an event organizer as to let them do only what they want. So I asked them to sing three songs from Super Sentai Series shows, which are rarely performed in concert. I asked Ise to sing the song about Gao White, the only female member of the superhero team in “Hyakuju Sentai Gao Ranger”; Kamada to sing the song about an alien girl adoring superheroes in “Gekiso Sentai Carranger,”; and Onishi to sing the song about the villainess Bandora in “Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger.”
I was really impressed that the three all prepared their numbers superbly, accurately conveying the nature of the songs. Ise’s singing was cute as well as punchy, while Kamada captured well the image of the tricky alien character. And Onishi, whose song contained many spoken lines, was great at both singing and reciting, so much so that he reminded me of the late voice actress Machiko Soga, who played the role of Bandora. By sheer coincidence, the event took place three days after the anniversary of Soga’s death. I felt it was all meant to be.
In Part II of the event, the three sang songs that they wrote and introduced to the audience a new song they created together: “Reiwa da! Dondokodon” (It’s Reiwa! Rub-a-tub). All those songs were their careful portrayals of wavering emotions that are typical of young people. Listening to the songs, I felt refreshed and purified.
Seeing them striving in the anison industry filled with experienced talents, I would like to continue supporting those young artists in various ways as their slightly big sister, because I believe they will be the leaders of the anison scene in the Reiwa era.