Arts Music Culture

Band of Colors

There is such a thing as language of the soul. Regardless of culture, belief, age, gender and social status, we are all joined by a single medium of human expression that is music. However general, music is above all relative. So let me share my opinion on the matter as I present to you one of the greatest set of musicians in the world (at least for me) and why this Japanese band draw a spectrum of dream in my heart.*

The L'arc~en~Ciel Conundrum
The L’arc~en~Ciel Conundrum

L’Arc~en~Ciel, whose name means rainbow or arc in the sky, is best described by their name itself. A rainbow caused by sunlight always form in the section of sky directly opposite the sun. This multicolor trajectory appears after the rain and then disappears after scattering a hint of magic.

Like the elusive band of vivid colors that is the rainbow, though away from the limelight, L’Arc~en~Ciel comes out more enchanting and bewitching than the brightest of stars.

Now, let’s see why LARC‘s whimsical alias suits them well in this quirky name game. I can’t believe I *literally* have to spell things out for you…backwards though. (^_^)v

C for Cool.  Their stylized French name is perplexing to the music store attendant you’ve asked their latest album from. Even avid Cielers are having a hard time typing this label idiosyncrasy. As an artist, their status is of a rare gem: An underground rock band with smashing world tours plus a vast array of activities apt for mainstream bands. Admit it, you want your favorite band to be a well-known star but not so famous that you share them with everyone else in the bus. And did I mention their lyrics are in Japanese? Now, tell me, just how cool is that?

Vocalist Hyde performing live
Vocalist Hyde performing live

R for Real. From the moment of their inception in Osaka two decades ago, to the time they’ve started conquering our senses, L’arc leaves no trace of eclecticism whatsoever.  From the offset, they were an androgynous-slash-horror-looking Visual Kei band but has gradually emancipated as a rock royalty that they currently are. Their music genre is a mix of rock, alternative, indie, electric, techno, metal, avant-garde, soundtrack, anime, and sometimes, even pop. Long braided locks, neon-colored high-heeled wedges, plaid overcoat, hip-swinging and banana-throwing acts are just some of L’arc’s authentic styles. And as for the best originality test, which is well, listening to their music, it lets you in a neo universe you’ve never been before.

L'Arc~en~ciel is Hyde (Hideto Takarai) on vocals, Ken (Ken Kitamura) on lead guitar, leader Tetsuya (Tetsuya Ogawa) on bass, and Yukihiro (Yukihiro Awaji) on drums.
L’Arc~en~ciel is Hyde (Hideto Takarai) on vocals, Ken (Ken Kitamura) on lead guitar, leader Tetsuya (Tetsuya Ogawa) on bass, and Yukihiro (Yukihiro Awaji) on drums.

A for Awesome.  We all have eureka moments.  That instance when you’ve discovered something wonderful, amazing, you bask in euphoria. Discovering L’arc is one of those moments (As for me, the credit goes to my two good friends who are avid Cielers). With Tetsuya’s strict leadership and playing of the bass guitar as if his fingers have a life of their own, Ken’s effortless guitar and composition prowess, Yuki’s unconventional drum smashing tricks, and Hyde’s sexiness and vocal virtuoso, L’arc is nothing but an awesome feat. This quadrivium ensemble of raw talent, sheer discipline, and pure craziness has produced over a hundred and twenty amazing songs and singles (not including remixes, songs from their alter ego P’unk~en~ciel, songs from L’acoustic and other demo tracks) each having its own story to tell. L’arc has proven itself to be not just a temporary madness but a living legend.

Laruku's 12 Studio Albums: Dune, Tierra, Heavenly, True, Heart, Ray, Ark, Real, Smile, Awake, Kiss, and Butterfly
Laruku’s 12 Studio Albums:
Dune, Tierra, Heavenly, True, Heart, Ray, Ark, Real, Smile, Awake, Kiss, Butterfly

L for Legendary. From their name, genre and style, to their musicality and artistry, this quintessential rock band is one borne out of pure creativity. Okay, so much babbling from me and it’s time to let the records do the talking. 21 years of existence. 12 one-word entitled studio albums released. Roughly 43 concerts. Over 15 million albums, 16 million singles, and millions of merchandise, including videos sold. For your trivia-viewing pleasure, I’ve compiled some of Laruku’s claim to fame~

***

1994
~Theme song for NTV animation program “DNA²” = Blurry Eyes (Tierra)
1995
~Ending theme for NTV “Guru Guru Ninety Nine” and “Shin Dora” = Vivid Colors (Heavenly)
~Ending theme for TBS “M=Navi” = Natsu no yu-utsu (Heavenly)
1996
~Theme song for “Professional Baseball News” = Flower (True)
~Theme song for “Tower Count Down” = Lies and Truth (True)
~Ending theme for “Moretsu Ataro” and “Music Park” = Kaze ni kienaide (True)
1997
~The 4th ending theme to the “Rurouni Kenshin” anime = The Fourth Avenue Café (True)
~Opening theme of the “Rurouni Kenshin” movie “Ishin Shishi e no Requiem” = Niji (Heart)
1998
~Image song for TV Asahi Network drama “Chicago Hope 2” = Winter Fall (Heart)
~Commercial image song for Daihatsu “move” = Shout at the Devil (Heart)
~Theme song for TBS Network “Wonderful” = Milky Way (Heart)
~Ending theme of TV Asahi’s “Shinsou Kyumei! Uwasa no File” = Kasou (Ray)
~The song was used briefly in the background of the American film “Godzilla” and was included on the Japanese edition of the soundtrack, “Godzilla: The Album”= Lose Control – Shinshoku (Ray)
~Theme song for the TV drama “Hashire Koumuin!” = Snow Drop (Ray)
~Commercial image song for “NTT Personal Kansai”; theme for TBS “Super Soccer” = Honey (Ray)
~Commercial image song for “NTT Personal Kansai” and ending theme song for TBS Network “Tokusou! Geinou Police kun”= Dive to Blue (Ark)
~Theme song for Nihon TV Network “Shitterutsumori!?= Forbidden Lover (Ark)
1999
~Commercial image song for Playstation game “Grandia” = It’s The End (Ray)
~Commercial image song for TU-KA Cellular Tokyo = Trick (Ray)
~Theme song for the anime “Great Teacher Onizuka” = Driver’s High (Ark)
~Theme song for TBS Network “Express” = What is Love (Ark)
~Commercial image song for “SOTEC PC e-one” = Pieces (Ark)
~Commercial image song for Canon “Wonder BJ” = Love Flies (Real)
2000
~These songs were used in the commercials of a major Japanese hair care and cosmetics producer, SHISEIDO “Pienu” = Neo Universe (Real) and Stay Away (Real)
~Used in the Toyota – Passion Road CM broadcast in Asia = Get out from the Shell (Real)
~Ending song for Toho movie “Ring 0: Birthday” = Finale (Real)
2001
~ Ending theme song for “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” = Spirit Dreams Inside – Another Dream (Smile)
2004 (-05)
~This song is the second opening song for “Full Metal Alchemist” anime series, was also featured as a song in the Japan-exclusive Nintendo DS launch music video game, Daigasso! Band Brothers and was featured in the Japan-exclusive 2005 iNiS music video game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan as the last stage.  Last but definitely not the least, it was also used in the Chinese commercial of the probiotic drink, YAKULT! (watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_kTQ9aAOsM) = Ready Steady Go (Smile)
~Commercial film song for Daihatsu “MOVE CUSTOM” = Jiyuu eno shoutai (Awake)
2005
~Image song for Nihon TV Network baseball broadcasting “THE LIVE 2005” = New world (Awake)
~Ending theme song for Nihon TV Network “Super TV Joho Saizensen” = Jojoushi (Awake)
~Ending theme song for TV Asahi Network “Matthew’s Best Hit TV” = Killing Me (Awake)
~O.A. as ending theme for movie “Hagane no Renkinjutsushi – Shanbara wo iku mono” (Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa) = Lost Heaven (Awake)
~Opening theme of “Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa” = Link (Kiss)
2006
~Commercial song for Glico in China = Hitomi No Juuin (Smile)
2007
~ First opening song for the anime “Mobile Suit Gundam 00” = Daybreak’s Bell (Kiss)
~Image song for Subaru Legacy TV-CM = My Heart Draws a Dream (Kiss)
~Used as a commercial song for Kirin Beer in Taiwan = Feeling Fine (Smile)
2008
~Theme song for “Devil May Cry 4” video game = Drink it Down (Butterfly)
~ Used in a commercial for the Subaru Legacy= Nexus 4 (Butterfly)
~Used for NHK Educational Channel, opening song for “Seirei no Moribito (Guardian of the Sacred Spirit)” = Shine (Butterfly)
2010
~The band performs in a “PEPSI NEX” TV commercial! Part of a “PEPSI NEX” series – “L’arc~en~Ciel” Edition (Nationwide Broadcast) and “PEPSI NEX” TV-CM tie-up single “I Love Rock’n Roll” released as a limited-edition Chaku-Uta (watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BudKwQf8U8A)
~Theme song for the NHK broadcast of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics = Bless (Butterfly)
2011
~ Closing theme song for “Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: The Sacred Star of Milos” = Good Luck My Way (Butterfly)
~Theme song for “Wild 7” live action movie = Chase (Butterfly)

***

Although the J-Rock community in the Philippines is relatively small, the L’Arc~en~Ciel Philippines Street Team has managed to conduct several activities and events: First Fan Meet, Hyde Night and L’Arcoustic First Anniversary Celebration.

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*Through this raving review of L’Arc~en~Ciel, I have expressed and shared some facts and opinions about this Japanese band. Yes, there is no denying my love for L’Arc~en~Ciel. Currently, however, I personally chose to lay low on fandom as to refocus on the things that matter the most.

References and related links:
http://www.larc-en-ciel.com/en/bio.swf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Arc-en-Ciel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Arc-en-Ciel_discography
http://www.larc-en-ciel.com/en/index2.html
http://larcmnl.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/LArc.Pilipinas

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