Sunday, September 20, 2009


[This is the third in a series of three guest posts by the awesome guys from Tokyo Scum Brigade! Dr. Senbei and Voidmare attended the Umezz Carnival 2009 this past weekend and are guest posting here with reports. Please enjoy, and many thanks, guys!! -Ryan]

The latter half of the discussion kicked off with a showing of a rare Geki-mation from the mid 70’s. What is "Geki-mation"? Too stilted to be considered animation but still far enough over the poverty line to entertain the kiddies, its Reading Rainbow-esque production is charmingly rudimentary.

Yokai Den: Nekome Kozo (Legends of Japanese Monsters: The Cat Eyed Boy) was one of the rare gems to use this style of animation. Little is known of its twelve episode run from back in 1976, though it still purportedly exists on a Laser Disk in someone’s attic. Thankfully someone had the forethought to archive it on Youtube before disk rot set in. While this isn’t the episode shown at the event, it does a better job of conveying the mix of live action props over painted backgrounds.


Umezu is infamous for his manga, but few fans outside of Japan, or inside for that matter, are familiar with his musical career. He is an active lyricist, having penned the words for the Nekome Kozo theme song seen above, among others. He is also one hell of a showman.

Kurobe, Umezu’s guitarist, sauntered onto the stage, doing his black cat strut while his cherry red Gibson hollow body mewled out a wah-wah intensive version of the Nekome Kozo theme. Mic in hand, Umezu sprung into action, delivering a non-stop flurry of punches, kicks and jumps in time to the music while belting out his lyrics. For a man of seventy-three, Umezu still has the moves and he’s not shy about showing them off.


Umezu’s work has brought him into musical circles across all genres. He has written songs for Haruo Chikada, a progressive musician who was always one step ahead of the curve during his prime in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s when he collaborated with major players such as ELO.

The two met thirty years ago when Umezu drew Haruo, along with other famous musicians, as a guest character in his serialized manga Makoto-Chan. When Haruo caught wind of his unlicensed appearance he paid a visit to find out what Umezu was up to. Haruo played right into Umezu’s hand—The manga had been a viral marketing scheme to find musicians to record the Makoto-Chan theme song Umezu had written.

The honor eventually went to folk singer Kanbe Toshie of Iruka fame, but Umezu was taken by Haruo’s rambunctious onstage antics—Jumping off amps is right up Makoto-Chan’s alley. Likewise, Haruo was impressed by Umezu’s dreamy, doleful lyrics. The two teamed up to produce hits like Lady Hurricane and Electric Love Song, and in 1977 went on to destroy Japan’s image of the manga artist as a sullen homebody with their legendary Makoto-Chan live at Kyoto’s Doshisha University.

Of course, a concert poster isn’t going to do us any good by itself! Umezu had one last trick up his striped sleeves for us. The staff lined up on stage while Demerin and another assistant, wearing Mushi costumes, flanked Umezu.

Who's ready to do the Makoto-Chan dance!?

We wish that you, the reader, could have been there to experience it firsthand with all your senses. Umezu used musical notation to instill silent pictures with the tension one would find in the soundscape of cinema. We’re taking that one step further. Load up this YTMND VoidMare lost all of his hair trying to make and dance along at home! Originally we had the entire show as one big animated GIF, but the internet just couldn't handle it. If you scan through the Picasa album fast enough you can get the same effect, but don't cry to us after you have an epileptic fit!

Dance steps courtesy of Demerin

Umezu Kazuo is an artist in the truest sense of the word. His voice, both on paper and in song, is peerless in its strength of expression. His words pull you into a weird world that is not unlike your own, one veiled in the darkness of a child’s innocence warped by the realities of adulthood.

Umezu will be unleashing his voice to the world on the 23rd, where he promises to perform Electric Love Song live with his band. TSB will again be on site to bring the spectacle to you! See you after the break.

Umezz Carnival Music Discussion and Presentations

Umezz Carnival Dance 1



Azraelito said...

Cool news all this about Umezz.

Apart from this I started reading Koro Koro Soushi of Shintaro Kago and I remembered you, perhaps because you write about this incredible artist and all the wonderful things he creates with a special magic that makes people said "FUCK I WANT THIS KIND OF MANGA NOW IN MY HANDS" je.

It is really very fun seeing Kago in the feudal Japan and how he shares his macabre vision of that era.

That is all!!

Saludos as always, also to evan!!

Keep up the good work!

Jordan said...

Damn it, I wanted to go! Long live Umezu!