Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc is currently ongoing, and it’s already reached the climax with 2 episodes left. We’ve had the pleasure to interview Jean-Ken Johnny from MAN WITH A MISSION, the band behind both of the theme songs for the anime. Both the opening theme song “Kizuna no Kiseki” (available platforms) and ending theme song “Koi Kogare” (available platforms) are available for streaming, while the band’s WOLVES ON PARADE world tour is also ongoing and will be reaching Czech Republic next on June 11. You can read our interview with the lead wolf below.
Q: You perform both the opening theme song “Kizuna no Kiseki” and ending theme song “Koi Kogare” for the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Swordsmith Village Arc anime. When did you first know this would happen and how long did the entire process take before the completed songs?
A: I can’t recall the precise date but I believe it was somewhere around last September or October. The entire process ended in the last days of November.
Q: Were you a fan of Demon Slayer before working on the theme songs for the Swordsmith Village Arc?
A: Yes, I’m more of a comic book reader so I’ve read the whole story.
Q: You already have a lot of experience with anime songs, considering you’ve previously created theme songs for shows like Inuyashiki, Log Horizon, VINLAND SAGA, My Hero Academia, etc. Was there anything that stood out with the theme songs for Demon Slayer when compared to your past work?
A: Nothing stood out more, compared to our past work cause every collabs are always a challenge to face. But I believe when there are previous theme songs we always try to make it sound different from those and of course giving it the best we can so this one was indeed quite a challenge because of all of the great songs that have already been released by the others.
Q: Did you work on both of the theme songs at the same time? Is there a connection between the two?
A: The ending song was written by Yuki Kajiura so we worked on the opening first and after that we took part in the band arrangement of Kajiura-san’s song, then sang with it.
Q: Apart from the source material, was there anything specific that you used as an inspiration for “Kizuna no Kiseki” or “Koi Kogare?” What usually inspires you when making music?
A: I’ve listened to Japanese traditional music which use instruments such as shyamisen, wadaiko, shyakuhatchi, shyou, and so on. Trying to understand what kind of sound and melody they flow on to, and at the same time thinking about what kind of approach of rock would fit with those.
I guess reading books, watching movies, animation inspires me a lot.
I think the stimulation that I get from the story of others not only makes me comprehend or interpret the message of the story itself but also makes me think about what kind of music could be connected to each and every scenery.
Q: How different is it to create a song specifically for an anime when compared to creating regular music?
A: I believe it helps me a lot sometimes because there is already a solid theory, image and a story to follow. What I’m aware is to not make the song totally “for” the animation only. I need to try to balance the message of what the animation delivers but also find a common point maybe a common philosophy that I can find that would be natural for our band to deliver as well.
Q: Both of these theme songs were in collaboration with milet. How did that affect the creative process? What about Yuki Kajiura’s involvement?
A: To tell you the truth, I wrote the song imagining how amazing it would sound when she sang it, so the melody was quite made regarding what I think (as a huge fan of her voice) her singing style would fit.
Yuki Kajiura was amazing. Especially the song direction was unique when milet sang. Kajiura-san advised her to always focus on the one and only letter, note, sound you have to hit with your voice and think about the passion and meaning of it. That was astonishing and I feel it’s a golden thing to keep in mind.
Q: Did the fact that the songs needed to fit animation affect the overall process? What was your communication with the anime staff like?
A: Not at all to us because the animation staff and the director was so precise in their requests and respectful to our work. I had a decent conversation with the director about the lyrics and what he was expecting for the song. He wanted the lyrics to deliver the main message really focused on the Swordsmith Village Arc series and not just a summary of the whole story so that leaded us to the title of the song meaning “The miracles of what bonds can make.” We also had a back and forth conversation with the music as well. Not all but the melody of the Verse and also a part of the Chorus was a little different at first. I believe it became more dramatic and powerful with all the conversation we had.
Q: What is your favorite previous theme song from Demon Slayer?
A: That’s a hard one but I’ll vote for “Gurenge.”
Q: Who is your favorite character in Demon Slayer?
A: Haganezuka-san. The swordsmith. He’s hilarious. But also has the divine and noble soul of an artist and a creator.
Q: Thank you for your time! Care to send a message to the international fans of MAN WITH A MISSION ahead of your upcoming WOLVES ON PARADE tour?
A: Great to be back on the road having an opportunity to meet you all over the world. Thank you so much for your support and looking forward to seeing every one of you.
Big thanks to Sony Music and Milan Records for the opportunity to do this interview, as well as to Jean-Ken Johnny from MAN WITH A MISSION for taking the time to answer our questions. The band’s WOLVES ON PARADE tour has finished touring the US, and you can see their upcoming Europe dates here. The official information about the artists and their social accounts can be found below.
ABOUT MAN WITH A MISSION
MAN WITH A MISSION is a rock band consisting of 5 ultimate life forms having wolf heads and human bodies. Suddenly appearing in the music scene in 2010, they (instantly) sold out solo shows in Nippon Budokan, Yokohama Arena, Makuhari Messe, Saitama Super Arena, and Hanshin Koshien. Their powerful live performances are unstoppable. Furthermore, they have done many TV commercial, anime, live-action drama, and movie tie-ins. With fans in all ages, they have debuted in North America following Japan, getting attention from all around the world.
milet made her major label debut on March 6, 2019 with debut single, “inside you.” Produced by Toru (ONE OK ROCK), “inside you” reached No. 1 on 11 music streaming sites. On June 3, 2020, her first album eyes was released and it debuted No. 1 in the Oricon weekly album chart and Oricon weekly digital album chart. She performed at the Closing Ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in August 2021. At the end of 2022, she was selected to appear in the NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen (Red White Song Festival) for three consecutive years.
©Koyoharu Gotoge / SHUEISHA, Aniplex, ufotable