By Tom Smith.
Fashion and music often go hand-in-hand (Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and 6%DOKIDOKI, Kanye West and Yeezus, Lady Gaga and steak), but Black Butler end theme provider AKIRA takes it one step further by being involved in anime, too; the holy trifecta of Japan’s entertainment industry. She’s appeared on the cover of alternative fashion magazine KERA eight times, she was the front-lady of a visual kei band named DISACODE, and she starred as the military master Kenshin Uesugi in Sengoku Basara’s stage adaptations (yes, there’s more than one), along with a string of other TV and radio dramas based around anime.
Black Butler: Book of Circus marks the next step in AKIRA’s career. It’s the third series of the Black Butler anime and this time round the show’s demonic twosome Ciel and butler Sebastian are trying to crack a case involving missing children. Using their contacts in the underworld, the pair narrow their sights on a mysterious travelling circus and set off to investigate.
The entire series is spread across two discs and features an opening song by the J-rock group SID, and a closing song by AKIRA. That closer is entitled Aoki Tsuki Michite (“The Blue Moon Becomes Full”) and it marked an important point in her career; she was going solo for the first time.
It’s a career that had everything right, on paper. As well as being active in three fields, AKIRA’s new musical outing saw her work with some top J-pop producers. Her debut EP had her recording with members of 90s J-pop heroes JUDY AND MARY, Kill la Kill’s GARNiDELiA and Japanese pop-rock legend Mitsuru Matsuoka of SOPHIA fame.
Yet, despite all of the above, Aoki Tsuki Michite was her only song to achieve a chart ranking. It was swiftly followed by tie-in song Kirie Toroimen no Shirabe, used in the theatre production of Vampire Knight, where she played a leading role of pureblood vamp Kaname Kuran.
A year later AKIRA released her debut EP, bizarrely missing both tracks from Black Butler and Vampire Knight, despite her promo images around the release making her look suspiciously like Black Butler’s Sebastian Michaelis.
One can only assume that the mini album did not perform as well as expected as following its release AKIRA’s activity ground to a halt. Her official website and blog slowly reduced their updates and eventually ceased activity altogether. Two years on, it appears as if AKIRA’s attempt at a solo career remains a remnant of her varied past. These days she’s back with her original band, touring around Japan’s smaller venues and making the odd overseas appearance at conventions.