What do you get when you take a group of anthropomorphic wolves that have the backstory of something out of a Saturday morning cartoon plot, give said group some instruments, and let them start a band? Well, the US already did that, but this time they're a Japanese version of that concept.
Said band would be MAN WITH A MISSION, a Japanese Alternative Rock band of five anthropomorphic wolves with both incredible brain power and superhuman physiques.
In the year 19XX, humanity was in a full-on war with itself for wealth and power. Seeing this chaos, a genius biologist named Dr. Jimi Hendrix on an island called "Ladyland" to create the Ultimate Life Form to help save humanity from its greatest threat; itself. Said lifeforms, in Dr. Hendrix's eyes, have the heads of wolves, explaining their appearance. Eventually, they grew a power greater than any single army ever has, but soon were hired by the Principality of Zeon to take on top-secret missions that caused near endless death and destruction.
Doctor Hendrix, seeing this, began to fear his creations. He knew that they were capable of causing some of the most horrible things in history for the time, but he also believed that one day they would bring the end of days. Wracked with guilt, the doctor froze the group within the ice of Antarctica, leaving them with a radio to listen to the music of the modern day to entertain them for the rest of eternity. At least, until 2010, when Global Warming eventually thawed their icy prison, and the group went on a rampage through Tokyo greater than any Kaiju ever has. Not of destruction, however, but of music. And now only time will tell, will they bring our doom...or will they save us from ourselves?
In reality, however, the very much human band was formed in 2010 in Shibuya, Tokyo. To keep up with the band's crazy backstory, however, it's members have created stage names for the wolves.
The band's lineup consists of...
- Tokyo Tanaka (vocalist)
- Jean-Ken Johnny (vocalist and guitarist)
- Kamikaze Boy (bassist and backup vocalist)
- DJ Santa Monica (disc jockey)
- Spear Rib (pronounced like "spare rib"; drummer)
Their music explores a bunch of different genres, usually mixing pop, hard rock, dance, rap, and punk elements. They're mostly known in Japan but have reached a fanbase worldwide with tours the US, Europe, and other Asian countries for both opening acts to popular western bands and their own. They also have received invites to famous music events such as Knotfest (both US and Japan locations) and Download Festival.
They're best known, however, for being the artists behind themes for multiple anime intros, video games, and other products, which include but not limited to...
- "distance" (2012)
- "Emotions" (2013)
- "Wake Myself Again" (2013)
- "database feat.TAKUMA (10-FEET)" (2013)
- "Seven Deadly Sins" (2015)
- "Out of Control feat.ZEBRAHEAD" (2015)
- "Raise your flag" (2015)
- "My Hero" (2017)
- "Take Me Under"/"Winding Road" (2018)
- "Dark Crow" (2019)
- "Into The Deep"note /"Merry-Go-Round" (2021)
- "Blaze" (2022)
- "Kizuna no Kiseki / Koikogare"note (2023)
Man With A Mission contains examples of:
- Animal Motifs: Wolves, Obviously.
- In their music video for Take Me Under, the wolves' oppressors are actual pigs, with the Cyberpunk city the video takes place in being heavy with pig propaganda.
- Anonymous Band: The band is extremely secretive over the identity of the band members. This extends to when they perform live. Jean-Ken Johnny, Tokyo Tanaka, and Kamikaze Boy all don different masks that free their mouths so they can sing more easily, but their faces are painted pitch black◊. Japanese broadcasters go out of their way to avoid showing their faces during live performances, either opting for wide shots of the whole band slightly from behind, closeups of the top half of the wolf masks, bad lighting, or closeups of DJ Santa Monica and Spear Rib instead. All for art.
- It also extends to their touring support guitarist, E.D.Vedder◊ who wears a plain white mask à la Buckethead.
- Rumors abound in the Japanese blogosphere that the band is a reinvention of their previous band Grantz, comprising vocalist Tsuyoshi (Tokyo Tanaka), bassist Nishida (Kamikaze Boy), guitarist and vocalist Hiroshi (Jean-Ken Johnny), DJ Nakajima (DJ Santa Monica), and drummer Yumiza (Spear Rib). Grantz allegedly ceased activities in 2009 and MAN WITH A MISSION formed in 2010, and Yumiza's long-abandoned MySpace page has a demo of Rock in the House, a track eventually released on MAN WITH A MISSION's debut EP.
- Even more rumors suggest the band is on its second person behind Spear Rib, with Yumiza replaced by Atsushi Maehara. People have tried to suss out information by comparing Maehara's abandoned Twitter account with his alleged early performances with the band as Spear Rib.
- Backstory: An official version of their backstory can be found here.
- Bilingual Bonus: They usually switch between English and Japanese in most songs. Some songs like "Dead End in Tokyo" and "2045" are even exclusively in English.
- Catchphrase: "(｢ﾟДﾟ)｢ GAW GAW!".
- Celebrity Endorsement: The video for "Take Me Home" shows the band snowboarding on Yes boards.
- Censored Title: Never Fxxkin' Mind The Rules.
- Cloudcuckoolander: They kinda come across as this when they don't sway from their backstory in interviews."We’re not "wearing" [our masks]. We’re made like this.""We were made in a laboratory on an island which is not on this world anymore."
- Cool Mask: Their most evident characteristic.
- Cover Version:
- Desert Punk: The theme for the "Raise your flag" music video.
- Funny Animal: They claim to actually be wolves.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: They have them in the video for "Feel And Think."
- Some of their live performances have this as well.◊
- Harmless Freezing: They were frozen in the Antarctic for several decades.
- Homage: "Green-Tinted Sixties Mind" is an original song based around the Mr. Big song of the same title (itself a Widget Song of sorts), sampling the guitar intro and making several lyrical nods.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Or in their case, Japanese Rockstar Anthro Wolves.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Raise. Your. FLAAAG!!!"
- Self-Titled Album: Man With A Mission.
- Shout-Out: The band is really fond of them.
- They quote The Beatles in "Fly Again" ("life just comes and goes/tomorrow never knows")
- They quote The Bible of all things in "Emotions" ("you'd always [...] loved your neighbors as yourself").
- The video for "Distance" features an octahedron that looks quite suspiciously like Ramiel from Neon Genesis Evangelion (the song itself seems to sample its scream, or at least features a sample that sounds quite similar, pointing out that it's probably an intentional nod).
- The video for "When My Devil Rises" features an animation of Devilman fighting demons (done as a collaboration with Go Nagai, who contributed album art).
- The Singularity: Both name-dropped and the focus of "2045", where it's indicated that humanity will be completely and inevitably replaced by AI.
- Something Something Leonard Bernstein: Their lyrics can easily fall victim to this, thanks to the random Japanese words and their non-native English.
- Spell My Name with an S: Spear Rib is pronounced as "spare rib" and is probably supposed to be written that way.
- Stage Names: Obviously.
- Vocal Tag Team: All songs feature Tokyo Tanaka and Jean-Ken Johnny in varying amounts.
- The Voiceless: Jean-Ken Johnny is the only member of the band to speak (Japanese and English) in interviews. Apparently, he was the only member of the band "created" to speak. Except Tokyo Tanaka is lead vocalist and Kamikaze Boy sings during choruses and shares lyric writing duties with Johnny. They never quite explain this.
- During a TV interview hosted by Daisuke and Nao of Maximum the Hormone with just Jean-Ken Johnny and DJ Santa Monica on set, DJ Santa Monica accidentally spoke on camera, leading the others to feign surprise and crack a couple jokes that they heard him speak. During this same interview, Johnny complains he cannot speak English very well. All of his subtitles (and tweets) also substitute the katakana writing system where hiragana would be used instead.
- Widget Band: The backstory of the band alone is enough to fit them in this category.