Something a bit different for this Broadcast; since both Erin and Nagi love our featured band ASIAN KUN-FU GENERATION, they decided to combine their thoughts and recommendations into a single article!

Nagi: ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION! Or “Ajikan”, as per their conventional nickname, which I somehow didn’t know about for a decade. Ajikan has the distinction of being what I consider to be the first “real” Japanese band I listened to. I saw their MV for “Loop&Loop” on an on-demand tv channel back around 2006 and was immediately enamored with both the visuals and the music. The seminal moment came when I was looking through some imported J-pop CDs at a local anime/video rental store and found Sol-fa, Ajikan’s 2004 studio album with the signature Yusuke Nakamura cover art. I still have that CD in my car to this day, jewel casing cracked and worn, but still just as beloved.

Erin: Even though I had heard about ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION for years beforehand, I only started listening to them around 2016, when Nagi shared some of their favorite Japanese artists with me, and I, coincidentally watched the anime ERASED, where I fell in love with the theme song, “Re:Re.” After some reconnaissance on what album to start with in their discography, I ended up starting with Sol-Fa (2004), and quickly realized that from start to finish, I loved every song on the album. ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION is incredibly consistent in quality, and they have an accessible pop-rock sound that is understandably adored by so many. So let’s introduce the band!


Years Active: 1996 – Present (2023)

Core Members: Kita Kensuke 喜多建介 (guitar and backup vocals), Gotoh Masafumi 後藤正文 (main vocals, guitar), Yamada Takahiro 山田貴洋 (bass and backup vocals), Ijichi Kiyoshi 伊地知潔(drums)

Point of Origin: Yokohama, Kanagama, Japan



ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, also known by fans as AKFG, or Ajikan (アジカン), originally got their start as a college band in Yokohama in 1996. The rock quartet has held their line-up of members for over 25 years, with Gotoh Masafumi 後藤正文 on vocals and guitar, Kita Kensuke 喜多建介 on guitar and backup vocals, Yamada Takahiro 山田貴洋 on bass and backup vocals, and Ijichi Kiyoshi 伊地知潔 on drums. Their biography on Spotify in 2022 compared them to Weezer with their “punk-tinged sound, enjoying a popularity that even Weezer themselves hardly ever had on their side of the Pacific.” ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s long tenure in the world of Japanese alt rock has allowed them to establish several musical signatures, including powerful, reverberating guitar riffs, a punk-esque singing style alternating between screams and lighter indie vocals, and a knack for catchy hooks.

When they were first starting out, Ajikan released their first few “indies,” or small label releases, almost entirely in English, while also singing cover songs in English at gigs around Yokohama. In 2001 they tried their hand at a Japanese language single with “粉雪” (Konayuki – “Powder Snow”), which got picked up by a popular DJ on FM Yokohama, and soon after they released their first Japanese EP, “I’m Standing Here,” which skyrocketed their popularity in Japan.

In 2002, ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION released their first major label EP on Under Flower Records called Hōkai Amplifier (崩壊アンプリファー, “Destructive Amplifier”), enlisting internet radio host and graphic designer Nakamura Yusuke to do their album artwork, which has come to be an iconic element of the band’s image (seriously don’t forget to check out their album art!) The album landed on the Oricon top 40 indies sales chart, and soon after their first full-length album, Kimi Tsunagi Five M (君繋ファイブエム) reached a top-5 spot on the Oricon charts during its first week.

ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION continued to grow in Japan as well as internationally with their second full-length album topping the Oricon charts for 2 consecutive weeks in 2004. With the release of Sol-Fa, international fans came together to petition for the album to be sold outside of Japan, and Tofu Records signed a deal with the band for US distribution in 2005. Their popularity has continued to soar due to their songs being featured in popular anime such as Fullmetal Alchemist, Bleach, Naruto, as well as eventually Erased (which inspired Erin to listen to more of their music!) Since then, ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION has built on their momentum around the world, and have “continued to lead the music scene with their “Japanese sounding rock” (spotify 2023), while still being representatives of the raw, chaotic early days of the nation’s alt-rock scene at the turn of the century. It’s impossible to deny Ajikan’s status as a giant of the Japanese rock world, with one foot planted in the past, and the other in our present, still stretching forward into the future.


Nagi Rec 1: Loop & Loop

Man, this song is pure nostalgia for me. I still remember being 14 or so, stumbling across the MV on an on-demand program called Bento Beat Box that somehow came with our cable package, and just watching it dozens of times over. Masafumi’s slightly hypnotic, swaying vocals draw you into the song, and you watch as the four band mates interact with junior-high kids representing their younger selves; this song is likely nostalgic for them too, albeit in a much different way. It feels like not only an ode to the shy, quirky kids they once were, but also to all the kids growing up now who could just as easily pick up an instrument and find themselves in their own music.


Erin Rec 1: Blue Train

“ブルートレイン” (“Blue Train”) is a 2006 release under my favorite album from ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION called ファンクラブ (Fan Club). This song, composed by Gotoh Masafumi and Kensuke Kita, starts off with almost a full minute of instrumentals before the vocals come in— chock full of their iconic style on drums and guitar with the feeling of melancholia and nostalgia that I always feel when listening to them. Then, just as memorable, Gotoh’s vocals come in with a feeling of perfect imperfection—I love how his vocals always feel like they are both in control while also bursting with an unbridled feeling. My favorite song from Ajikan is also on this album, “暗号のワルツ” (Angō no Warutsu, “Waltz in Codebook”), so make sure to check out that song as well as the full album if you are interested!


Nagi and Erin Rec: A Town In Blue

“或る街の群青” (Aru Machi no Gunjou – “A Town In Blue”) was originally released as a single in 2006 after being made for the anime, Tekkonkinkreet (Black & White), and eventually made it on ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s 2008 album, ワールド ワールド ワールド (World World World).

Nagi: How do they do it. I feel like there’s something simply magical about the band’s guitars, in the way they build their soundscapes that sink you into a deeper, calmer place in your mind. A Town in Blue makes you nostalgic for a time and place you’ve never experienced, and meets waves of melancholy with a resolve to keep moving forward.

Erin: This song feels quintessential Ajikan to me, although I feel like I can say that for the majority of their music and that still rings true. I can feel the butterflies in my stomach every time I listen to this song, bursting with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia within me. I feel like that’s exactly what makes this band so great—their music undeniably brings about a visceral feeling that taps into something inside of me that’s hard to express with words, yet I’m sure everyone can relate to.


Erin Rec 2: Solanin

ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION is a band that exudes a raw, uninhibited energy that draws me in every time. ソラニン (Solanin) is a single that was released in 2010 that personifies that energy for me and that I go back to again and again. It’s always a pleasure to listen to Ajikan’s full albums from start to finish because they obviously put a lot of thought into the song order, but if you want a single to put on a playlist, this song is a great choice! “Solanin” is technically a substance found in some plants in the nightshade family that becomes poisonous in excess, and the single was composed for a movie of the same name. This song has really stuck with me because at the time I was really getting into yonige, and they did a cover of this song on the AKFG Tribute album with a bunch of other contemporary artists.


Nagi Rec 2: Sore dewa, Mata Ashita

There’s something mesmeric going on between the time-looping visuals and the simmering, blotchy guitar progressions that move you through the song in a state close to a waking dream. The title can be translated as something akin to “see you tomorrow” in a kind of fateful, resigned manner, a tomorrow that never seems to change no matter how many times it comes. Between the aforementioned instrumentals and the funky breakdown, there’s something that feels “historical” within the best of Ajikan’s music. Even while they’re going strong today, I feel like their sound is built upon the same youthful, raw spirit that you don’t see in newer bands, because they’re now standing on the shoulders of giants. Ajikan was around for the rising of alt-rock in Japan, and while bands like ELLEGARDEN and Shonen Knife might get due credit for being the pioneers, Ajikan’s contribution is self-evident in the music they continue to play.



Erin: Overall, I’m really happy to have been introduced to ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION because the band expresses some deep-seated feelings about the human condition that are difficult to put into words, and the experience of listening to the band is as cathartic and revealing as Gotoh’s unrestrained screams in between the layers of musicianship that seem to speak a language of their own. I think in general, Ajikan has such a wonderful discography that there is enough there to explore in depth for years to come, but I’m always interested in the direction such prolific musicians are heading in the future, as I’m here for the long-haul.


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This Broadcast was written by Erin and Nagi; you can find them on instagram at @thekniterin and @arnamantle.