King Gnu on How the Hero and Villain Dynamic Doesn’t Always Have a Right Side
After the first five episodes of JUJUTSU KAISEN Season 2 ( the Hidden Inventory / Premature Death arc ), we shift into the Shibuya Incident arc. The contrast in the two openings is like night and day, the latter taking a much more foreboding tone as the characters march toward an uncertain fate. King Gnu , the band behind the opening, sets a cool, somewhat chilling tone with this theme. That's not always the case with their music, though, if you're familiar with songs like "BOY" from Ranking of Kings or even the faster-paced "Ichizu" from JUJUTSU KAISEN 0 . Maybe that's what vocalist and guitarist Daiki Tsuneta means when he says, "There's a lot of freedom," when it comes to anime music. Welcome to another installment of Have You Heard? from Crunchyroll, the ongoing series where we sit down with iconic musicians worldwide to celebrate thousands of music videos and concerts arriving on Crunchyroll. This month you can check out our conversation with Daiki Tsuneta, Yu Seki, Kazuki Arai and Satoru Iguchi of King Gnu as they talk about their influences, their thoughts on why the oboe is cool and which of them would eat one of Sukuna’s fingers. Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Get To Know King Gnu "There's an animal called the gnu. Tsuneta came up with the idea. The "gnu" symbolizes herd animals, and the "king" represents the leader who guides them." - Kazuki Arai, King Gnu bassist Arai: We are King Gnu. Thank you for having us. I'm bassist Kazuki Arai. Thanks for having me. Tsuneta: I'm Tsuneta. Seki: I'm drummer Yu Seki. Iguchi: I'm keyboardist Iguchi. How did your band form? What are the origins of your band name? Arai: Originally it was a two-man group with Daiki. Strictly speaking, there was something before that, but this four-man group started there, and the two of us on the left joined later. I joined through drummer Yu, and Satoru is Daiki's childhood friend. That's roughly how the band formed. The band was originally called something else, but we decided to change our name when we debuted and became King Gnu. There's an animal called the gnu. Tsuneta came up with the idea. The "gnu" symbolizes herd animals, and the "king" represents the leader who guides them. When the band formed, you named a variety of artists from Igor Stravinsky to Jimi Hendrix as your influences. Have you been influenced by more artists since then? Tsuneta: Yes, on a regular basis. Arai: It changes all the time. Seki: Whoever's hot at the time. Arai: Yeah, whoever's hot or big at the time. Each of us has our own little influences. Yu likes that drummer with the persistent sound. Seki: Chad. Arai: Right, Chad. I feel like your sound shifted at some point, too. Do you have any, Satoru Iguchi: Lately I've been listening to R&B. Arai: Really? What have you been listening to recently? Iguchi: Daniel Caesar. Arai: Daniel Caesar? Really? Iguchi: Yes, really. I make sure to. Recently post J-Pop has been a hidden theme in my sound. Much more than before. Arai: In terms of our music, when did you start thinking about a post J-Pop sound? Iguchi: Since Ceremony I think. Arai: So starting with the songs for our recent album. Iguchi: It really started this year. Seki: Now that you mention it, you're right. I know what you mean. Arai: You're right. You can hear it in our recent recordings. Your music is sometimes described as Tokyo mixture rock. How is King Gnu's music evolving over time? Arai: I'm not sure. But I do sense our sound evolved in this album. I can't express exactly what that is since the album just came out recently, but I definitely feel it. You can sense it. You Are My Special "But... it's true though, in all things. There isn't always a right side. It depends on your perspective." - Yu Seki, King Gnu drummer "SPECIALZ" is the perfect opening theme for the JUJUTSU KAISEN Shibuya Incident arc. Were you fans of the JUJUTSU KAISEN anime or manga before writing the song? Image via the Crunchyroll Store Iguchi : I actually like the Shibuya Incident arc quite a bit. I'm glad we got to write a song for that. Arai: The content is complex, you know? Like the setting and techniques. I actually reread the story from the beginning since it was being animated. It's a lot of fun. I want to know what happens next. Right? Don't you guys? Seki: Yeah, I'm pretty curious to know what will happen. Iguchi: I'm very curious. Arai: Right? Isn't your interest piqued? Tsuneta: My interest is piqued right now. Arai: Right? Isn't it? Tsuneta and Iguchi's vocals produce a beautiful call and response melody in "SPECIALZ.” This sequence in the music video seems to depict a hero-versus-villain dynamic. Was this inspired by JUJUTSU KAISEN ? Tsuneta: Well, the whole thing is. Arai: Right. You're right. The whole thing is. Tsuneta: But it's not really hero versus villain. Maybe they're both villains. Arai: Both of you? Tsuneta: I guess so. Seki: But... it's true though, in all things. There isn't always a right side. It depends on your perspective. Aria: You're right. That's sort of true of the Shibuya Incident arc. Iguchi: Did you go too deep? Seki: Yeah. Tsuneta: That was too much. Iguchi: He jumped in to save you. Arai: Now we can drown together. How King Gnu’s Music Fits Anime You've written songs for other anime including Ranking of Kings , JUJUTSU KAISEN 0 and Banana Fish . How does writing songs for anime differ from writing songs for albums? Tsuneta: The style of my music is more suited to anime than the real world, so it's easier for me to write for anime. Arai: Really? Tsuneta: There's a lot of freedom. Arai: I guess it's true that anime is often a better match for us. Iguchi: Probably because the scale is so large. Tsuneta: Writing for melodramatic Japanese TV shows is pretty difficult. NOTE: The song from Banana Fish is "Prayer X" which was the first ending theme of the series. The music video for “Teenager Forever” gives us a look at the members and their personal lives. Iguchi: No way. Really? Were there any special moments that didn't make it into the final cut? Satoru, you visited a bunch of places. Iguchi: You mean the Philippines? Arai: What did you do there? Iguchi: It was a lot of fun. Tsuneta: What did you do there? Iguchi: What? Seki: Does that mean it's pretty much all in the video? Arai: There's really not that much. Iguchi: I guess the music video features the softest parts. That was all we could show. There were things that were too beautiful to include, like walks on the beach and holding hands. Seki: Holding hands, huh? Iguchi: We couldn't include that. Tsuneta: I see. Your music video for “Hakujitsu” won video of the year at MTV VMAJ 2019. Compared to other King Gnu music videos, the art direction in this video seems different. Why do you think this video won? Tsuneta: Yeah. It was a deliberate choice to make it like that. Arai: Yeah. It's in the style of a public recording or performance. We brought in a pianist. Tsuneta: Including a story felt cheap, so we wanted to do something different. Arai: I think it turned out well since we didn't add any weird additional meaning. What are your current career goals? Arai: As a band, we'd like to have a successful dome tour. We're pouring all our effort into that right now. Tsuneta: Yeah, a dome tour. Arai: There's not much else. Congratulations on releasing your first album in four years. You decided on the title THE GREATEST UNKNOWN four years ago. Could you tell us the meaning behind it? Tsuneta: After finishing Ceremony , I wanted to preserve our offstage perspective. It's the reason I write music, so I wanted to return to that perspective. I really value being outside of the spotlight. Rapid-Fire Questions: Everyone Wants to Learn the Oboe? What's your favorite anime? One answer each. Tsuneta: Ghost in the Shell . Iguchi: Ghost in the Shell ? Arai: Okay. Yu? Seki: Yellow Submarine . Tsuneta: That brings back memories. Iguchi: Studio Ghibli. Isao Takahata's works. Arai: I recently watched and enjoyed Hell's Paradise . Tsuneta: Oh, yeah? It was good? Arai: It was really interesting. What kind of anime did you watch as a child? Seki: Mobile Suit Gundam . ALL: Really? Mobile Suit Gundam Seed ? Seki: No, First. Arai: First? Tsuneta: Pokémon , probably. Pokémon and Ghibli. Iguichi: Probably Detective Conan . Arai: Detective Conan , huh? Inuyasha . Tsuneta: Oh, that brings back memories. Iguchi: It was in that time slot. Arai Yeah, it was always anime. Tsuneta: Right, it was Inuyasha and Detective Conan . That brings back memories. Arai: Inuyasha is my answer. Are there any artists or bands you'd like to collaborate with? Tsuneta: I'd like to be drawn by Inoue-sensei from Slam Dunk and Oda-sensei from One Piece . Arai: So you're looking at artists broadly speaking. Tsuneta: I'd like to be drawn as a character in Eiichiro Oda's style. Image via the Crunchyroll Store Image via the Crunchyroll Store What are three songs you've been listening to recently? Seki: The other day Daiki told me about Ralphie... Tsuneta: Ralphie Choo. Seki: Ralphie Choo. Tsuneta: Ralphie Choo is sick. Seki: He's sick. Also Simon Barker, Scott Tinkler, and Bae il Dong. They're an Australian jazz trio. Tsuneta: Oh, those are their names. Seki: Yeah. I've been listening to that Australian jazz trio. Arai: What about you, Satoru? Iguchi: I've been listening to Sufjan Stevens recently. Tsuneta: The folk artist? Iguchi: Yeah. Kazuki, have you been listening to Bon Iver recently? Arai: Not recently. The new Sampha album, NewJeans, and the Marías. That's what I've been listening to recently. It's hard to narrow it down to three since I listen to entire albums. What did you want to be when you grew up? What was your childhood dream? Tsuneta: In kindergarten I wanted to be a cameraman. Arai: A cameraman? Iguchi: Classy. Arai: That's cool. That's so cool. Tsuneta: Is it? Is being a cameraman really that cool? I guess. Seki: Thomas, I think. Tsuneta: Thomas? Seki: I liked Thomas. Arai: Thomas, huh? Seki: I wanted to be Thomas. Tsuneta: Is that why you chose that look for “SPECIALZ?” Seki: Was there anything Thomas-like about that? Tsuneta: Your face on the rocket. Seki: Oh, you mean the rocket? Tsuneta: You could collab with Thomas. Seki: You're right. Tsuneta: Then your dream came true. Arai: I guess so. Iguchi: I think I wanted to be a hero. Arai: Like a Sentai hero? I wanted to be a basketball player. Iguchi: Really? Arai: Yeah. I wrote about it in an essay. I looked up to Yuta Tabuse. I gave up after about seven months. Do you prefer action or romance? Tsuneta: Action or romance? What does that mean? Iguchi: Like what do you prefer? Arai: Yeah. Tsuneta: That's a weird question. They're both good. Seki: You're right. Any other instruments you'd like to learn? Iguchi: I kind of think the oboe is cool. Tsuneta: You seem like an oboist. Iguchi: I'd like to. Tsuneta: I really like it. Iguchi: It's great. I like the sound. Tsuneta: It's good. Oboe, then? Iguchi: All of us? Arai: Everyone? So we're all choosing the oboe? Iguchi: We're all choosing oboe. The “Most Likely To” Game: Who’d Eat Sukuna’s Fingers? Who's most likely to win an Oscar? Arai: It's split two-two. Tsuneta: It's two-two. Seki: I think it's me. Arai: Yu, then. Tsuneta: I'd like to see him in a weird role. Iguchi: Like Gollum. Seki: That's a supporting role. Tsuneta: And not a leading role? Iguchi: But he has such a strong presence. Tsuneta: So you weren't imagining him in a leading role. Iguchi: He's vital to the movie. Seki: So I'd win Best Supporting Actor. Arai: Yeah. Who seems most likely to eat one of Sukuna's fingers? Iguchi: What is this? What kind of question is this? Who wrote this? Tsuneta: Let's try it. Who's most likely to eat one? Arai: It's Yu. Seki: No way. Tsuneta: I chose Satoru. Arai: There's something going on here. Iguchi: You only picked me because I like to eat. You think I'll eat anything. Tsuneta: He'd probably eat it if you passed it to him. Arai: Like along with some food. Who's funniest or most interesting? Tsuneta: Suddenly a deep question. Arai: What makes a person interesting? Seki: We're all interesting in our own ways. Tsuneta: Wait. I haven't chosen yet. I don't think I can choose. Iguchi: I can't choose. Tsuneta: I can't answer this one. I can't choose. Arai: I thought it might be Satoru, but... Tsuneta: The obvious answer is Satoru. Iguchi: Publicly, yeah. Arai: Publicly? Tsuneta: But he's not nearly as interesting at home. Iguchi: I'm really boring. For real. Arai: He's really boring at home. Iguchi: All I do is talk to my cat. Like, "What is it, kitty?" Who would be first to die in a horror movie? Arai: If the four of us were in a horror movie. Iguchi: In other words, who seems most like a minor character. Seki: It's probably me. Iguchi: Really? Tsuneta: I don't really think so. Iguchi: You seem like you'd be one of the final three. It's always someone interesting. Seki: Suppose there are three people left, and someone has to die for the group to progress. Arai: Right, that trope. Seki: Who would die then? Iguchi: Ugh, that's the worst. Tsuneta: I'll do it. Iguchi: Man, that's not fair. Don't volunteer. That's not fair. Arai: You're volunteering? Who's the best dancer? Tsuneta: Well, this one is easy. ALL: Ready, and... (everyone points to Seki). Arai: That was quick. There were a lot of unusual questions, but we hope you learned something about us. We were King Gnu. Sony Interactive Entertainment has launched a new brand campaign for PlayStation®︎ in Japan in collaboration with King Gnu, starting from November 23rd. The "PlayStation × King Gnu Special Collaboration Movie," featuring the four members of King Gnu along with the original song "Asura", is now available on the official King Gnu YouTube channel. In this campaign, Yu Seki represents "△," Daiki Tsuneta represents "〇," Kazuki Arai represents "×," and Satoru Iguchi represents "□." Each member brings their playful spirit, creating play that transcends norms and limits, embodying the DNA of PlayStation's "Play Has No Limits" brand campaign. Enjoy the collaboration with King Gnu, who continues to expand the world of music and entertainment with unexpected playfulness. Check out the music for this collaboration on Spotify

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