I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ikimonogakari -- Kaze ga Fuiteiru (風が吹いている)

A few weeks ago, one of the "Anonymous" commenters chimed in about this song by the band Ikimonogakari(いきものがかり)for another article. I had heard "Kaze ga Fuiteiru" (A Wind is Blowing) via TV Japan because of its use as the official NHK song for the 2012 London Olympics but was actually hoping that this particular Anonymous would have been willing to write his/her own take on it since it was obvious from his/her comments that there was a strong love for it. There was no animus from me against the Kanagawa-based group, but it was just that I wasn't very knowledgeable about them and thought that Anonymous would be better with the story. I actually responded to Anonymous with a few questions so that I could glean some insight from the answers after which I would have offered the opportunity. However, the commenter didn't bite so I gather that the need for anonymity was a higher priority.

In any case, allow me to continue. The band did have my attention because of its name. I had never heard of the word ikimono-gakari before, and initially, I mistakenly thought the name meant "disappointed in living things" since I assumed the name was pronounced ikimono-gakkari. Considering that definition, I'd assumed that this was an emo band. However, standing corrected with a bit of crow in my mouth, the term actually refers to elementary school students tasked with taking care of the school flora and fauna...far more optimistic and adorable.

And so it is with Ikimonogakari's 24th single from July 2012. "Kaze ga Fuiteiru", true to its title, is a breezy and inspiring affair....and darn long at around 8 minutes. According to the article for the song on J-Wiki, guitarist and songwriter Yoshiki Mizuno(水野良樹)apparently tuckered himself out completely in giving birth to this one (coming up with a hit Olympic song will do that to one). It's interesting comparing this song as the theme song for the 2012 Games to another Olympic theme song for the NHK coverage back in 1996, Maki Ohguro's "Atsukunare"(熱くなれ). That barnstormer for the Atlanta Games was a musical equivalent of high-octane adrenaline to the system to get all those viewers' blood boiling whereas "Kaze ga Fuiteiru" was able to effectively give gentle encouragement to athletes and non-athletes alike to do their best. Commuters might have felt like plowing through the crowds at Shinjuku Station when "Atsukunare" was all over the airwaves, but "Kaze ga Fuiteiru" was probably able to induce a calmer and happier skip in the step and a desire to stop and smell the bara. Kiyoe Yoshioka's(吉岡聖恵)light and cheerful vocals did a lot to keep those happy feelings up.

One other reason that I hadn't covered "Kaze ga Fuiteiru" was proximity. Since I was no longer living in Japan, I was no longer surrounded by heavy rotation play by Olympic tie-in songs. Due to the usual copyright blather, NHK's coverage of the London Games via TV Japan was restricted to one half-hour of highlight material a day, so it was pretty much just excerpts of the song, the saccharine NHK instrumental arrangement or Ikimono-gakari's performance at the Kohaku Utagassen.

"Kaze ga Fuiteiru" peaked at No. 3 and became the 110th-ranked song of 2012. As for a further description of Ikimonogakari, have a look at the Wikipedia article on the band.

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