I spoke highly of FanimeCon last year, but FanimeCon 2010 was even better, with a diverse slate of excellent programming that surpassed 09's lineup. Once again, the Asian Film room was a treasure trove for Asian film cinephiles, screening film festival favorites like Bodyguard and Assassins and Sion Sono's epic Love Exposure. What was old became new again in the newly added Nostalgia Room, which screened classic shows like Astro Boy, Ranma ½, and Sailor Moon to new generation anime fans. And I can't forget to mention the fine tradition that is Hentai Nights, where the staff performs timely, tongue-in-cheek hand checks and black light scans to ensure that viewers are not keeping their hands to themselves.
Far from being limited to just anime, this year's FanimeCon had panels and workshops for practically every kind of geek out there. But unlike Anime Expo, which will be charging $30 for each concert this year, FanimeCon's signature concerts remain free to all attendees The first half of FanimeCon Music Fest 2010 featured FLOW, a popular, five member J-rock band.
FLOW was founded in 1998 by two brothers, Koshi (vocals/guitar) and Takeshi (guitar) Asakawa, and were joined by Yasutaro Goto (bass), Keigo Hayashi (vocals), and Hiroshi Iwasaki (drums) the following year. They released their first maxi single in 2001 and their subsequent mini albums lit up Japan's Oricon charts. They would go on to contribute hit songs to popular shows like Naruto, Eureka 7, and Code Geass.
FLOW performed at the San Jose Civic Auditorium on Friday, May 28th, during the first night of the convention. Unfortunately, the venue was only about two-thirds filled, due to the concert taking place on a work-school day, when convention attendance is usually limited. Still, FLOW delivered a high energy, crowd pleasing performance. The two vocalists, Koshi and Keigo, constantly hopped around the stage, encouraging the crowd to sing the chorus. They played all their hit songs from Days to GO!!! and even performed an unexpected, but entertaining, Engrish cover of "Surfing USA," during which they urged the crowd to do the wave. FLOW's performance was definitely the highlight of the first day and a great way to kick off the weekend's festivities.
APA talks to FLOW about music, anime, and of course, otaku culture.
Interview with FLOW
May 29, 2009
Interviewed by William Hong
Interview photographs taken by Sanh Luu
Translated from Japanese into English
APA: Why do you call yourselves FLOW?
Koshi: I have a friend that makes hip hop music. He sang the word "flow" a lot in one of his songs, and I liked the meaning behind it. It has a very refreshing sound like water flowing.
APA: What is your personal favorite FLOW song and why?
Take: I like "Days." It's a good melody.
Koshi: "GO!!!" I like it because it's exciting, and the fans get into it, just like at last night's concert.
Keigo: I like "Re:member."
Gots: "Colors." I like the composition.
APA: What were your primary musical influences?
Koshi: Hide from X-Japan.
Iwasaki: Mötley Crüe.
Keigo: I started my music career with FLOW. The first concert I've been to in Japan was to see Jun Sky Walker(s). They inspired me.
Take: I like West Coast music.
APA: If you could perform with any other musician, alive or dead, who would it be?
Koshi: The Sex Pistols. [laughs] I'd like to see how crazy Sid Vicious was.
Gots: Robert Trujillo, the bass player from Metallica. I'd like to do a bass duet.
Keigo: I went to a John Lennon Music festival in Japan, so I'm curious how great he was. So I'd like to work with him.
Take: Bob Marley. Zebrahead. The West Coast sound is good.
APA: What is the mindset behind creating a new FLOW album?
Koshi: Our latest one is a concept album. The album is like a movie. It has a story from the first song to the last song.
APA: When is your next album coming out?
Koshi: The next one, Microcosm, comes out on June 16.
APA: Describe your music in three words.
Take: Rhythm. Melody. Word.
APA: How did your songs appear in anime like Naruto and Eureka 7? Do the animation companies reach out to you, or do your managers reach out to them?
Koshi: There are times when we are asked to make songs. Sometimes we get offers from animation companies when they don't have any ideas for songs. In those cases, we talk to the animation director. Then we get to know what the anime is about and make our songs based on that.
APA: Do you have any input on how your songs are used in anime?
Koshi: We leave it up to them.
APA: What are your personal favorite anime shows?
Keigo: I liked Dragon Ball when I was in school.
Gots: Mobile Suit Gundam.
Koshi: Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Take: Saint Seiya, Slam Dunk, Captain Tsubasa, Naruto, hmmm? [laughs]
APA: If you were cosplaying at an anime convention, who would you be?
Koshi: Plug suit Asuka from Evangelion.
Keigo: Lelouche from Code Geass.
Iwasaki: Kakashi from Naruto.
GOTs: A Gundam. Zaku model.
Take: Oh, I am Shikamaru from Naruto. [points at his hair]
APA: What is the weirdest gift you've received from a fan?
Koshi: (Laughs) A teddy bear wrapped in bandages. I wasn't injured at the time, so I'm not sure why I got it.
APA: What do you think of otaku culture?
Koshi: It's a good thing. It's good for people to have something they're interested in like sports, movies, or anime.
APA: Are you otaku?
Gots: Close, but my fandom isn't quite at that level.
APA: How are you enjoying America?
Koshi: We're eating a lot of American food.
Take: We're eating a lot of meat.
APA: Any messages you want to pass onto your American fans?
Koshi: Last night's concert had a really different atmosphere than our concerts in Japan. It really inspires us to want to perform in other places in America.
Click here for an APA Fanime interview with Daisuke Ishiwatari and Toshimichi Mori.