Naruto Shippuuden’s Opening Analysis: Opening #3

Third Opening – Blue Bird by Ikimono-gakari

An overview on the band and song:

This is probably one of the most interesting bands i’m going to cover there. Ikimono-gakari were founded on 1999 by Hotaka Yamashita and Yoshiki Mizuno, both of them being the main lyricists of the band, and the ones that play the instruments, while a third member was added latter on, Kiyoe Yoshioka, that is the girl who sings all of their songs. They started doing Masayoshi Yamazaki’s covers on the street, and so, after Yoshioka joining, they were two 16-year olds with their classmate’s little sister doing covers of One More Time, One More Chance on the street. Also, their name was because they did “Ikimono-gatari” duties on the school and that’s where they meet, being on charge of their local school’s plants and animals when they were 6 years old.

The band went on hiatus on the year 2000.

Then how they did this opening if they went on hiatus eight years before?

The band during this hiatus period with their two main lyricists working hard on the university and Yoshioka having issues with her throat, they started to increase their fame on Japan, and around 2003, they reunited again.

Their first show was a street show in front of a train station.

Their manager was someone that had seen them once on a live venue.

This sounds like an anime, it isn’t.

They finally released their first indie album on Summer of 2003 and performed their first normal show on 2005 and they continued to publish indie music, that’s until Epic Records signed them on 2007, with their first major record album, The Story Of A Town Where Cherry Blossoms Bloom, being released on March of 2007 to great results, sold 260,000 copies on Japan, reached #4 on the charts, they were a sucess from the beginning, even if they had to change their guitar-harmonica sound of their indie work for a more polished pop rock edge.

They have an impressive CV, 5 consecutive #1 albums and 27 top ten hit singles on Japan, until they finally decided to go on a hiatus on 2017, to rest a little from all their overexposure, since they are one of the biggest bands on Japan, even having their own fan club Ikimonogatari Fan Class 1-2, they made music for sport evens, for anime, for movies, they won all kind of prizes and recognition from everywhere, they were big.

Yoshioka decided to go solo, realising her first album Utairo on October 2018, Mizuno is an happy married man living peacefully, probably making use of his Sociology title, and so is Yamashita, Sociology title too and everything.

This song was the biggest song of their third studio album, it sold 90,000 copies and reached #3 on the japanese charts, an overall success for an already giant band at this point.

An overview on the creators:

Toshiyuki Tsuru directed it. Hirofumi Suzuki sakkan’d it. Water is wet. Also, most of the animators of the previous opening also appear on this one, the main difference there is the KA work from legendary animators Tetsuya Nishio and Norio Matsumoto, altrough other interesting creators such as Gainax-breed Hirokazu Kojima, Tsuru’s friend Hiroto Tanaka, who has such a talent for layouts that has been consistently through the episodes Boruto’s main “Layout Animation Director” and series regular animator Seiko Asai.

The Song:

The music on this is very interesting, as it stray away from the normal j-pop song, Yoshioka has a very distinctive tone of voice that differentiate itself from the slog of half-baked j-pop singers around there, and interesting mixture of violins, harmonicas and acoustic guitars with the more traditional Pop Rock sounds of drums (that for once, sounds like a real person is playing the drums and is not computer-generated by some hack on FruityLoops) and electric guitars.

The lyrics are quite interesting as well, for once, they sound a lot more poetic and structured once they are translated that your usual j-pop lyrics

"Vowing never to return once I have taken flight, 
what I aim for is that blue cerulean sky.

Having yet to remember "grief", I have begun to understand "agony". 
The feelings I hold towards you are now starting to change into "words".

As I awaken from my wandering in this unknown world's dreams, 
I spread my wings, and take off into the sky."

The theme of this song is pretty clear as well, is a song about freedom and taking off any limitations that you may have, to go on with your life and go to a bright future, with freedom and peace, even being aware of your own personal failures but still trying to reach the best that you can be, find peace, love, and solace on the fact that, at least, you tried to fly.

The Video:

The video starts right after the last opening, with Sasuke refusing to go back to the village and Naruto’s feeling sad about it.

As a lot of Naruto’s openings show, this opening’s main visual motif is Naruto’s falling, remembering the people that he meet on the way and then coming back to his senses, this motif gets played as well on the eight and thirteen openings, and i understand it very well, Naruto is always tiptoeing the idea of entering the darkness, falling to it, of becoming a villain, but in a true hero fashion, his moral convictions wouldn’t let him fall on those dark waters, he has always trived to fly, go higher than he ever did, and his friends, the people that he meet on the way, are the ones that keep him always by the bright side.

The second part of this opening is just fighting with filler randos.

However, on that second part, i find the most exciting piece of animation on the entire opening, Sora’s animation around the 0:52 mark, the expression and the volume of Sora’s body movements just constantly impresses me, i think this may be Tetsuya Nishio’s work, but since people always tell me he did a different part of this opening and that that is actually Hiroyuki Yamashita’s, i don’t know.

On pretty wide terms, this is good, altrough a large chunk of the opening is useless.