If you’ve watched much anime over the past two decades, you’ll have run into the music of Flow. From Code Geass to Naruto via Dragon Ball, this legendary band has contributed some of the most memorable opening and closing themes to some of the most iconic shows out there. And for those two decades, Flow has been one of the most diverse and fun groups in JRock, so it is only right that we give them their proper due in this month’s feature.
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The essential Flow
Flow started in 1998 by brothers Kohshi and Take Asakawa. Kohshi was on lead vocals and rhythm guitar while Take handled lead guitar. Within a few years, they were joined by Keigo Hayashi as a second vocalist, plus Kotaro Goto and Hiroshi Iwasaki on bass and drums. This line-up has stayed together since 2000, a remarkable run for any rock band and a big reason for the band’s success. Their chemistry together gives all their songs great energy.
They had their first taste of success way back in 2003 when their cover of Okuru Kotoba stayed on the Japanese Oricon indie charts for seven straight weeks and reached No. 6 on the overall singles chart. This success helped their first full-length album get to No. 2 on the Oricon rock album chart, and within a year they were signed to a major label.
From there, Flow released a string of hits, many of them becoming the opening and ending themes to some of the most popular anime of the time. Six of their singles have been used in the Naruto series alone, including “Gold” which was the tenth opening to Boruto.
With such a huge catalogue of music, it can be tough to know where to start when it comes to Flow, but here are a few of our favourite tracks from the band.
One of the most enduring aspects of the Naruto anime was the fantastic opening themes that it featured. Though most of them were some of the best of their time, Go!!! – the exclamation marks are important – remains my favourite to this day. Full of energy, with a spirit of rebellion seeping into the lyrics and sound, this one holds up even if you’re not familiar with the series. There is an element of fun to all the best Flow tracks, and this is a great example of that aspect of their music.
Kaze no Uta
This is another song from an anime, this time from the Tales of Zestiria the X anime. The single itself is one of the more dramatic examples in their catalogue, with different sections and singing parts flowing together in a way that only happens when you’ve spent a lot of time together recording. However, the video shows the kind of tongue-in-cheek humour that they’ve become known for over the years. Flow isn’t always a band that takes itself too seriously, but that sense of playfulness never stops them from making awesome JRock.
This was the insert song for the Dragon Ball: Battle of Gods film, playing as Goku and Beerus darted across the screen in an epic battle to decide the fate of the Earth, which happens worryingly often in the Dragon Ball universe. This track showcases the advantage that having two lead singers provides a band. Kohshi — with his trademark trilby — and Keigo trade lines back and forth with each other before Take gives us some great guitar riffs. It is the perfect high-energy song to give you that burst of motivation at the gym.
Flow is the band that first got me into JRock so many years ago. They are effortlessly cool, with a great sense of fun and excitement in their music and performances. Definitely one worth digging into other albums and celebrating.
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