In a culture dominated by sickly sweet ‘idol’ pop, one is always quick to dismiss the Japanese music scene as exhaustive, lacklustre with little insistence towards creativity and innovation. Fortunately, SEKAI NO OWARI is here as the agent of change, peaking at just the right time to expose the audience in musical alchemy.

Initially launching their career as an indie pop band, the quartet from Tokyo were slowly finding their voice in the Japanese indie scene. They set a quirky first impression with their debut single ‘幻の命’ (‘Maboroshi no Inochi’, meaning ‘an imaginary life’). Their individual character is represented through Satoshi Fukase’s pleasant, down-to-earth vocal nature, a subtle injection of android textures and a witty mascot, in the form of a clown masked DJ.

Despite making a considerable move to the major label Toys Factory, they continue to assert their eccentric personality, not only through innovative music making, but also differentiating themselves from other bands with their extravagant, ‘fantasy-world’ themed music videos. ‘RPG’, a hit tune that instantly grabbed full attention of the Japanese cultural consciousness is a visual spectacle that enhances the irresistible jamboree groove, electronic embellishments on the vocals and the grand choral waves that elevate the chorus.

The youthful quartet is not only respected for their visually striking performances. With songs like スターライトパレード (‘Starlight Parade’), they have the ability to touch the emotions of listeners. The more intimate setting gives the Christmassy instrumental colour, the foot-tapping four-on-the-floor beat and Fukase’s charming voice the chance to sparkle and create a sense of camaraderie between the listener and himself.

SEKAI NO OWARI are four fearless musicians that have re-defined the Japanese music scene. The global interest they gained, partly from their recent collaboration with Owl City is a testament to their visionary musical flair. Their ambitious visual imagery, ability to arouse emotional resonance, and their imaginative sound world has transcended the expectation of J-Pop listeners for a breath of fresh air in the Japanese musical mainstream.

Other Listening:

  • Dragon Night
  • 炎と森のカーニバル (‘The Flame and Forest Carnival’)
  • Tokyo (Written by Owl City, featuring SEKAI NO OWARI)

© Isaku Takahashi