O!susume – Akiyama Kiro

Broadcast 18: Akiyama Kiro

It’s not always easy deciding who to feature on O!Susume, believe it or not. Both Erin and I have tastes that span several decades of the Japanese music scene. Writing about more established artists provides more to talk about and a larger discography to pull from, but it’s also nice to shine a light on the up-and-comers (relatively speaking. We can’t claim to have insight into the real indie scene in Japan.)

Akiyama Kiro is the freshest face I’ve written about for O! so far; while this gives readers a neat chance to watch him grow, unfortunately that also means there’s less info on him out there, so what you see below is the little I’ve managed to scrape together.

 

Years Active: 2017 – Present (2022)

Core Members: Akiyama Kiro (秋山黄色)

Point of Origin: Utsunomiya, Tochigi

 

Akiyama Kiro’s pro music career is barely five years old as of the time of this writing. As a native of Utsunomiya in the Tochigi prefecture, a few hours away from Tokyo, Akiyama picked up the bass in his high school’s light music club, allegedly being inspired by the anime K-On!. He had an independent start, publishing a good amount of his content on Youtube and SoundCloud, and gained traction from there. His first recognized single “YASAGUREKAIDO” was released in 2017.

Spotify provided Akiyama another ladder to fame, as “YASAGUREKAIDO” and his other popular track “Saruagari City Pop” lifted him up the site’s popularity charts during 2018. The following year he was recognized on the platform’s “Early Noise 2019”, providing him an audience for live performances at summer festivals in Utsunomiya and Tokyo. He was also picked up by Bug Type Records during this time, but switched to Epic Records Japan as a label in 2020.

Akiyama broke into TV with “Monorouge”, featured as the ending theme for the drama 10 Secrets (10の秘密), along with “Searchlight” for the pychological horror miniseries How to Eliminate the Teacher. His song “Identity” was also the opening theme for the ill-fated second season of The Promised Neverland anime (a fantastic track regardless of the project it was attached to).

Despite still being early in his music career, Akiyama already has three full albums under his belt as of 2022 – From Dropout (2020), FIZZY POP SYNDROME (2021) and his latest ONE MORE SHABON (2022). We’ll see how this pattern of yearly album releases holds up; plenty other artists have tried to maintain a similar release schedule and either burned themselves out or had their content become same-y and underwhelming save for the rare hit. Here’s hoping Akiyama’s youth and passion helps him avoid such a fate.

 

Caffeine

Caffeine was my introduction to Akiyama Kiro, and I feel like it should be the same for anyone else. It’s just a great song all around. Akiyama’s fast-paced lyrics pop and fizz along with the spicy guitar riffs until the synths break the chorus open. There’s a great balance of quiet and loud, of humming, twisty instrumentals and straightforward pop progressions, and all together it becomes a song you can’t help but tap the loop button as soon as it ends. I’m not even mad when it get stuck in my head in the hours afterward.

 

Night Dancer

Night Dancer is a bit more of a straightforward pop-rock track, but still with Akiyama’s bright voice and swift vocals carrying the song forward at a running pace. The MV relies on classic elements of youth anthems (high-school girls, school sports tracks, soccer fields), shot through with some pretty dope visual effects that help your mind sink deeper into the world of the music. Reminds me a tiny bit of a few of Radwimps’ earlier MVs, which is always a good thing.

 

Identity

And finally we have Identity, the track he did for The Promised Neverland. To be fair the OP in the anime that this track is set to is pretty good too, but I’m also a fan of the weird grunge sci-fi story Akiyama strolls through in the official MV. People only do great things when a professional costumer is given $100 and told to run to the nearest thrift shop. Overall the bombastic chorus parts are the song’s high points, bursting with energy and melodrama.

 

SOURCES:

https://jpop.fandom.com/wiki/Akiyama_Kiro

https://www.last.fm/music/Kiro+Akiyama/+wiki

https://www.akiyamakiro.com/