Japanese girl group ATARASHII GAKKO! return with “The Edge,” an ebullient, high-octane track that fits perfectly in Crunchyroll’s latest seasonal trailer.
Known in Japan as Atarashii Gakkou no Leaders (New School Leaders), the quartet made their Japanese debut in 2017 and took the world by storm under the 88rising banner in January 2021 with their single “NAINAINAI.” Their EP “SNACKTIME,” released in November 2021, was produced by the legendary Money Mark, best known for his work with the American hip hop group Beastie Boys.
Last year, ATARASHII GAKKO! released the delightfully off-kilter and creepy song “HANAKO,” which was inspired by tales of a school bathroom ghost — typical girl group stuff. Since then, they have sold out multiple U.S. shows and become fan favorites at 88rising’s Head in the Clouds festival.
Known for their wonderfully whimsical and capricious style, members Suzuka, Mizyu, Kanon and Rin meld the infectious electricity of J-pop with robust raps and a spunky street hip-hop sensibility, all while garbed in sailor-fuku (Japanese school girl uniforms based on sailor suits).
The 88rising act spoke with NextShark via email ahead of the release of their hyper-pop track “The Edge” to chat about superpowers, superheroes, their new song and all things anime. NextShark: What can you tell me about how “The Edge” came together? Were there any unique challenges or highlights you encountered while recording the track?
ATARASHII GAKKO!: “It was the last day of recording for us in 2022, and we wanted to close out the year with something high energy and fun. And because we were recording in the U.S., we wanted to try singing mostly in English. Singing in a foreign language is always a challenge because you need to have the lyric[s] not only translated but also have its meaning and emotion explained to you.”
What messages and feelings do you want people to get from listening to your latest song?
“We want people listening to the song to get up and move! And run towards achieving your dreams. We’re cheering you on! You got this!”
The song has been described as fitting for a superhero movie. Who are some of your favorite superheroes?
“Let’s list some of our favorite Japanese superheroes! Do you know them in the U.S.? Ultraman, Sailor Moon, Kamen Rider, Pretty Cure, Anpanman.”
For each of the members, what do you think is your “superpower” that you bring to the group?
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Suzuka: “For the group, my superpower would be to bring joy through laughter.”
Mizyu: “I will protect everyone with my Mizyucopter pigtails. I’m kawaii but equally fierce!”
Rin: “I bring comfort to the group in the form of onigiri! Especially before a performance.”
Kanon: “I bring power! You’ve seen me carry Suzuka on my shoulders at every performance!”
“The Edge” will be featured in a Crunchyroll seasonal trailer. For each of the members, if you could live in any anime world, which one would you choose and why?
Suzuka: “‘One Piece.’ Going on a pirate adventure with your team? I feel like I already am in that world!”
Mizyu: “‘Pretty Cure’ because I look like I’m from that world! Why am I not in it?”
Rin: “‘Dragon Ball.’˜ I want to fly on Goku’s cloud. I think I can.”
Kanon: “I love anime, so this is difficult to decide! Let me live in ‘SPY x FAMILY.’ I can be Yor Forger. And that classic European setting is gorgeous!”Your group has become known for the youthful and chaotic energy you bring into all of your releases. How do you balance spreading this energy with your own growth and maturity as artists and people?
“As artists and performers, that youthful energy kicks in the moment we set foot onstage. It’s like an instinct. To counterbalance that, offstage and when not recording music, each of us is actually pretty chill and have pretty different interests. Suzuka draws and paints. You can often find Mizyu napping. Rin would be in the kitchen cooking or on the couch knitting. Kanon would likely be watching anime if not studying.”
Have you encountered any moments where people may have misconceptions about your group or not take your artistry seriously because of your youthful image?
“That may happen until the moment they see us perform. We love a good challenge and always strive to gain a person’s interest. The stage is like our natural habitat. We’re confident that we can make you turn around and get into the show. ”
Why do you think it’s important for people to embrace that youthful side of themselves?
“It is important because it’s in all of us. Seishun (used to describe the enthusiasm and energy young people typically have) is not just that youthful side, it’s a state of mind when you strive to live life to the fullest. Do whatever you love with conviction. When you absorb everything life gives you like a sponge.”
With every release, you guys just get bigger and bigger. What was a surreal moment for you last year?
“One of the most surreal moments of 2022 was when we had the opportunity to perform in Jakarta and Manila. We had never been to either place before, so it was incredible to see our fans there, singing along and dancing to our music. It was hard to imagine how they knew so much about us, but it was a humbling feeling nonetheless. And if that wasn’t surreal enough, being recognized at the airport was the icing on the cake. It was amazing to think that our music had reached so many people, and we were truly grateful for every fan we had.”
Lastly, what is a goal you hope to achieve this year?
“Our ultimate goal for this exciting year ahead is to keep creating more music. And to take our show on the road to a place we’ve never been before and connect with all the awesome fans there. Because let’s be real, our fans are like the magic fuel that powers our energy and passion. So let’s keep spreading that Seishun spirit far and wide!”