X Japan Gets Ready For A North American Debut

X JAPAN AND EMI MUSIC ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICAN AGREEMENT

Band In The Studio Recording American Debut Set for a Summer 2011 Release

LOS ANGELES, CA ­ (Thursday, January 27, 2011) — X Japan, one of the most successful rock band in Japanese history, and EMI Music have signed an exclusive three-year manufacturing and distribution agreement that will have EMI Label Services handle the band¹s releases in North America.  The first
release will be the track ³Jade² on March 15, followed by the band¹s as yet untitled American debut set for a Summer, 2011 release.

³We are so honored to have X Japan as part of the EMI Label Services/Caroline family,² commented Mike Harris, Executive Vice President/General Manager, EMI Label Services & Caroline Distribution. ³After the highly successful North American tour last fall, the timing is perfect for the upcoming X Japan release.²

Added Dominic Pandiscia, Executive Vice President EMI Music Services North America, ³We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with X Japan. They have cultivated a strong following in the U.S. and we look forward to working with them, helping to reach even more fans.²

X Japan ­ Yoshiki/band leader/producer/songwriter/drums, piano,Toshi/vocals, Pata/guitar, Sugizo/guitar, violin, and Heath/bass – is in thestudio putting the finishing touches on the album, the band¹s first new studio album since 1996, and fifth overall.  Half of the songs will be culled from some of the band’s Gold and Platinum Japanese singles; the other half are brand-new songs, and an estimated 95% of the lyrics are being sung in English.


³Some of the songs on this new album were originally written with Japanese lyrics,² Yoshiki explained, ³so translating them into English has been challenging.  For some reason, English needs more words, so I ended up re-writing many of the lyrics but kept the same message.”

Most of the album has been recorded in Los Angeles at Yoshiki’s own studio. It’s the same studio where Metallica recorded its classic “Black” album, and artists from Van Halen to Michael Jackson to KISS also recorded there before Yoshiki bought it and turned it into a private facility.  Yoshiki, who lives in Los Angeles, traveled to Japan a handful of times to record with the rest of the band there.  In addition, some of the album has been recorded live over the Internet, with Yoshiki in L.A. and the band’s other members at their studio in Japan.

Added Yoshiki, “X Japan’s music is everything from fast, super-heavy rock to ballads with classical piano – all of those elements are what makes X Japan¹s music.  We don’t play just one kind of music – we want to take
people on a journey.²

The X Japan/EMI agreement comes on the heels of X Japan¹s U.S. concert debut last August at Lollapalooza, and the band¹s first-ever North American tour that wrapped up on October 10 with a sold out show at New York¹s Roseland Ballroom.  Many of the new album¹s tracks were introduced to western fans when they were performed on the tour, including “Rusty Nail,” “Kurenai,” “I.V.,” “Born to Be Free,” and the album’s first single, “Jade.”

Over the course of the tour¹s seven dates, all played in theatre-sized venues, X Japan easily demonstrated why they’ve sold more than 30-million units and filled the 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome a record-setting 18 times.  X Japan hadn’t played venues that small in more than 15 years, so they tailored their “stadium-mindset² production to the theaters, making every effort to bring their take-no-prisoners theatrics and spectacular visuals to America.  As the SF Weekly put it, “All it took was one show to make it very clear why X Japan is such a phenomenon in its homeland.”

Distribution agreements outside of North America, including Japan, will be announced shortly.

To support the new album, X Japan plans to tour extensively in 2011.

Check out some song teasers from the new album here: www.xjapanmusic.com

GANTZ Live-Action Movie Review

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I recently caught the live-action movie version of GANTZ (starring Kazunari Ninomiya & Kenichi Matsuyama)
last night at AMC Empire 25 Times Square.  After watching the film, I have to say is that it’s a good movie, but there was more potential for it to be amazing.

GANTZ is a science-fiction action manga series that focuses on a “game” where people who died are mysteriously summoned by a black orb called Gantz and forces them to go on missions killing aliens. It is also a very violent series. It chronicles two young men, Kei Kurono & Masaru Kato, and their adventures killing aliens. The movie follows the same concept as the source material, but with multiple alterations. The violence was toned down, some characters were scrapped, and the main characters were in college or working (in the manga, they were still in high school).

Overall, the

movie did the manga some justice. The 1st part covered Volumes 1-8 of GANTZ. However, what was missing was the character development & edginess that made the manga the addictive series it is. Joichiro Nishi’s character was not really nihilistic as it was in the manga. He still acts like a prick in the film, but he doesn’t talk
about how humans are pathetic. Kei Kishimoto (Yes, she was naked in the film) wasn’t subjected to abuse in the Gantz room as she was in the man

ga. There was a scene between her and Kei Kurono and I bet some fans wanted to hear the “pet” reference (in the manga, she asked Kurono if she could become his pet). The only super-serious character development was a scene between Kei Kurono & Masaru Kato when they were happy to see each other, after the Tanaka Alien battle. It looked like they were about to make out. Those who saw the movie know what I’m talking about.

The action was done pretty well and the aliens looked nice. Apparently, the budget was $40 million for the two-part movie. The Gantz suits looked amazing & well-detailed. The weapons were very realistic.

The dubbing started out decent at first, but it grew to become very awkward & horrendous. Whose idea was it to dub the movie in English? It’s not really good and it doesn’t do the movie justice. The dub’s flow was very inconsistent with the actors’ mouth movements. Kazunari Ninomiya even said that he didn’t like the idea of dubs. If one of the
main actors has a concern, why don’t you listen to him and release the 2nd part in pure Japanese with subtitles?

Another thing to point out was the theme of the movie. They made it more of a positive, feel-good attitude (everyone has to make the most of life), when the manga has more of a pessimistic, survival-of-the-fittest feeling. I have mixed thoughts about this, but overall, it’s understandable that the theme has to be more cheerful because you don’t want to turn off movie viewers not familiar with GANTZ and you don’t want to give them a ending suggesting that humans are
nothing but selfish beasts.

As I said earlier, I did enjoy the film despite its shortcomings and I’m highly anticipating the 2nd part this April. It appears that the 2nd part will cover the development of the Tae Kojima/Kei Kurono relationship, the Tae Kojima mission, Seiichi Kikuchi (a character who investigates the Gantz incidents), the Vampires (my favorite characters
in the series), and possibly a variation of the Osaka storyline. Basically, Volumes 14-25 of the manga. The Vampires look pretty cool from the trailers.

Overall, Gantz is a movie that appeals to casual folks, but may detract hardcore Gantz fans. What did you guys think?

- Tony