The genius and ability of Sakurai Kazutoshi was evident from their very first single "Kimi ga ita natsu" which showcases his uncanny ability of producing a perfect song structure, infectious melody, and heartfelt lyrics. As Mr.Children's album releases progressed, so did Sakurai's writing skills and to it an added new approach and thinking was always in constant change. The world is blessed with those few individuals capable of such an art that it breathes perfection and awe where others can only hope to ascend to. Sakurai is truly in this light and is with the exception of just a few songs, Mr.Children's sole music composer & lyricist. The pairing with exceptional producer and composer Kobayashi Takeshi makes for a match of perfect harmony and perhaps their meeting was fate calling.
Through the years Mr.Children has undergone only a single hiatus for one year that occurred after the release of "Bolero" and it's ensuing tour. And from that a fully charged and refreshed group returned along with Sakurai's return to his perfected craft, renewed just when the "circle" had perhaps seemed complete…but yet diversity never sleeps and neither does Sakurai's talent. Exploring known facets as well as breaking new ground in music's vocabulary has been his longtime approach and with this a path through The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, among others are evident in his works but never one to just replicate, Sakurai's vision has always been to make it his own.
To say Mr.Children is one of my favorite bands is an understatement as they are indeed my all time favorite band! My first exposure to their music came when a fellow worker had one of their songs playing in his car while giving me a ride home one day after work. After a short while I had to ask who was playing and the rest is as they say history. 🙂 At the time "Atomic Heart" was their latest album and so began my backtracking from there and my goal to acquire all of their works…luckily everything was still in print! Above is my Mr.Children single collection consisting of 29 singles and just 2 exceptions to note are the absence of 2 of their singles: "Replay" and "Crossroad", both of which are included on albums along with their respective b-sides. I do however hope to one day add these 2 missing singles to my collection as then it may be called officially complete although I am currently not missing any songs due to their absence.
Above is my complete Mr.Children album collection which includes all 16 albums. The album pictured furthest down is actually a compilation in tribute to Ozaki Yutaka, another one of my J-Pop loves. Mr.Children performs an inspired new interpretation of his classic "Bokuga bokude aru tame ni." A great thing to note about their albums is that beginning from just their 2nd album "Kind of Love", the overall style of every succeeding album introduces a new aspect and approach to the songwriting and instrumentation is also explored further.
These next 2 photos include my Mr.Children VHS (some of their releases haven't made it onto DVD yet!) and DVD collection. Most are concert releases along with a pv collection (which is hopefully updated one day soon!) and 2 documentaries. "[es]" covers their "1994 Tour Innocent World" & 1995 "Tour Atomic Heart." With a running time of approximately 118 minutes the film provides a wonderful and in depth look at life on the road, recording, songwriting, and of course some great live performances along the way! Mr.Children's 5th single "Innocent World" was just released prior and this single proved to be a landmark one for the band as their popularity and overall success began to soar to new heights. The film's theme song "[es]~Theme of es~" sold in excess of 1.5 million copies!! The second documentary came in '97 with the release of the film "regress or progress '96-'97 DOCUMENT." Though it has a much shorter running time of approximately 47 minutes the film's coverage is perhaps even more in depth than its predecessor "[es]."
Performing at large venues is a constant when Mr.Children goes on tour…selling out the largest arenas in Japan and covering everything else in between. Their "Discovery" tour in '99 saw the release of a deluxe CD package (pictured 3 photos above) which was named "1/42" in its representation of a single show out of the 42 they had performed on this grueling tour. The set includes 2 CDs, an extensive booklet with lots of concert photos, and all of the lyrics from the shows' play list.
With the following pics I was trying to capture (albeit blurry :P) the incredible magnitude of some of these events. Their 2001 "POPSAURUS" tour saw the creation of a large Dinosaur skeletal structure surrounding the stage above as well as a massive tower mid arena (pictured below)! The tour's theme followed the release of their double greatest hits collections which covers their careers up to that point and with that the tour's play list was a sensational one including just about every Mr.Children song that a fan's heart could desire!
Mr.Children's latest concert release "Home Tour 2007" is a beautiful example of premium packaging…
…which includes a clear decorated slip case housing an impressive 2 CD set, booklet, and…
…a thick high quality puzzle which serves as the cover, also separately slip cased with a clear plastic bearing an additional outline design. At first the puzzle appeared to be missing the middle piece in a permanent sense, that piece being the symbolic shape of a "Home" but upon opening the release I found a little pouch labeled "Home" and within it the missing "Home" shaped piece is included.
So with that the complete image of harmony and all that is representative of "Home" can be completed with this nice and very original touch! 🙂
Next are a couple of clips including a live performance of Mr.Children's beloved and timeless classic "Innocent World" along with a pv clip of their incredible song "Namonaki uta" which also served as a drama theme song for the moving series "Pure." For me it stands as one of the most perfectly matched closing drama theme songs of all time with the visuals and overall feel complimenting each other so perfectly and in complete harmony. "Namonaki uta" sold more than 2.3 million copies and is the fastest selling single of all time in Japan reaching the 1.2 million mark in just a single week!!
Many fan sites offer excellent song translations of Mr.Children songs so be sure to check for them! Just to name a few (because I could ramble on forever otherwise!) songs such as "Kurumi", "Shirushi", "Sign", and "and i love you" offer a great look into the brilliance and heartfelt poetic words of Sakurai.
I've selected just a few songs from Mr.Children's catalog and with the help of 808Monkey they've been uploaded in an effort to help spread the love of their songs and hopefully further grow their fan base. Please enjoy these as they're just a few of my favorites! There's so much more to hear!! 🙂
"Hoshi ni naretara"
"Dakishimetai" Total sales: 60,790
"Innocent World" Total sales: 1,935,830
"[es]~Theme of es~" Total sales: 1,571,890
"Namonaki uta" Total sales: 2,308,790
"Kuchibue" Total sales: 724,070
"and i love you"
"Sign" Total sales: 773,990
"Shirushi" Total sales: 740,080
"Tabidachi no uta" Total sales: 368,288 (pending)