Japanese Music Just Got a Bit Weirder

FANTA, Marty Friedman, Akebono, Tanimura Nana, Takamizawa Toshihiko, Ayanokoji Sho

A couple of bizarre musical groups with a common connection are in the news today. FANTA is a rock quintet with a pretty unusual lineup: former sumo yokozuna (grand champion) Akebono Taro (40) is a Tower of Power on drums; former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman (47), who’s long since defected to the commercial dark side of J-pop; The Alfee guitarist Takamizawa Toshihiko (55), who leads the band and always looks like he’s stuck in the 1970s; J-pop singer Tanimura Nana (22) adds not just vocals but beauty and considerable cleavage; and on bass is Kishiden frontman Ayanokoji Sho (age unknown).

As the name suggests, the group was created first and foremost to promote a certain soft drink, though the TV commercials currently airing didn’t reveal the band members. Ayanokoji said he hopes the band do well enough that NHK let him back in the “Kohaku Uta Gassen” lineup on New Year’s Eve. A couple of years ago in his guise as DJ Ozma, he was banned from the public network after he and his dancers appeared in bodysuits that fooled TV audiences into thinking they were naked.

Yajima Biyoshitsu, Matsuda Seiko

Ayanokoji also provides the common link with another outlandish group, Yajima Biyoshitsu (Yazima Beauty Salon). He and comedy duo Tunnels have enjoyed a string of hits since October 2008, performing as a trio of Vegas showgirls who happen to be a mother and her daughters with the names Margaret (Kinashi Noritake, 48), Strawberry (Ishibashi Takaaki, 48) and Naomi (Ayanokoji). They’ve earned enough commercial success that there is now an album out and a movie spinoff due for release April 29, with none other than Matsuda Seiko (48) singing the theme song. The song “Aidoru Mitaini Utawasete” (Let Me Sing Like an Idol), which harkens back to her heyday as Japan’s top idol singer in the 1980s, will be out as a single on April 21.