MAN WITH A MISSION outline a hopeful mission: “We really focused on what the power of music can do”

The mysterious Japanese band speak to NME ahead of their UK and Europe tour about their most recent double album, creating theme songs for ‘Demon Slayer’ and more

MAN WITH A MISSION are having a banner year. Riding on the release of the second part of their double album ‘Break And Cross The Walls’ late last year, the band have risen to new levels of prominence by providing the opening and closing songs for one of the most highly anticipated anime of the year, Demon Slayer Season 3.

The electric opening track, ‘Kizuna no Kiseki’, released on April 10, has already garnered over 18million streams on Spotify, closing in fast on their other top hits.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, the band are now getting ready to embark on their first international tour since 2019, going out into a world that’s in many ways similar to the one they travelled around before the pandemic. They’ll also be playing at venues more familiar to the arenas they regularly fill at home in Japan, a new frontier for the band.


However, they’re armed with a new manifesto of hope that they intend to bring to listeners in UK and Europe this June, as frontman Jean-Ken Johnny tells NME below.

Man With A Mission

This is your first international tour since 2019, before things like the pandemic were a concern. How does it feel to be going off on tour after so long and has anything changed in your touring considerations since the pandemic?

“It’s been quite a long time since we last travelled the world and just performed. Even during this pandemic, some of our friends’ bands went overseas, because the situation [overseas] was totally different from Japan. So I’m just really excited to just go out and feel the atmosphere, to see how different it is from this country.”

MAN WITH A MISSION will also be performing at much bigger venues on this tour compared to your previous outings in the UK. Is there a sense of accomplishment setting out on a tour like this?

“It’s really great to actually see that the venues are getting bigger and more people [are] coming. UK, Europe is definitely a great place to not only perform, but just to visit the country and feel the vibe out there. I’m really excited to just perform. It’s been more than ever since we were last in Europe.”


What’s your favourite thing about touring in the UK/Europe? Is it the energy that the crowds bring? The challenge of trying to communicate to a new audience?

“What you said are all the elements that I enjoy a lot. Ever since we started the band, a lot of my favourite artists are from the UK, so it’s really an honour. Pretty weird thing to say, but it really is a dream come true for us to tour and perform in that region. It’s always challenging to reach new audiences as well. But as far as I’m concerned, what we’re doing right now is pursuing the dreams we had when we started the band.”

What can fans expect from the band on this outing to the UK and Europe? Is there anything you’re looking forward to showing off?

“We [released] a double album during this pandemic that includes almost 30 songs. I’m pretty sure that we haven’t performed a lot of those songs from the last time we were in front of you guys, so I can say we’ll be playing a lot of new songs and I hope you have a chance to actually see us play ‘Kizuna no Kiseki’, the theme song for Demon Slayer season 3.”

What has been your most memorable tour date in the region so far?

“I guess the festivals that we played – Reading, Leeds was a really great experience because I’ve been watching videos of a lot of bands that I admire a lot performing at those festivals. So it was really an honour to be a part of those festivals. Where else? The first time we went to France. You know, France has a really, really big fan base for anime and Japanese culture, so it was really pretty great to see the emotional outpouring.”

MAN WITH A MISSION released ‘Break And Cross The Walls Part One and Two’ back-to-back after a string of singles and an EP. What inspired this chunk of output?

“Since we spent a lot of time in the studio because of the pandemic, we were really thinking about what we could do without performing live. The creation process was pretty tough because 28 songs is quite a lot. But we really focused on what the power of music can do to the crowd, to all the people that weren’t able to enjoy live houses.

We were really satisfied when we made those two albums. It was really full of power and energy, and also hope for the future. I’m really looking forward to the crowd, how they react to all those songs being performed.”

Was that the main message you are trying to get across with the two albums? Because there is this uplifting and hopeful energy that kind of carries across both parts.

“Yeah, it was actually about not losing hope. But at the same time, thinking about the history that all human beings have been through. It was about the [COVID-19] plague, but at the same time, it was about all the people colliding with their views, their ideologies.

There are a lot of things on Twitter, social networking sites that really bothered us a lot, but it was actually a lot of the problems that the human race has been confronting from ancient times that popped up because of that plague. So the album itself was full of those messages.”

Man With A Mission

‘Kizuna no Kiseki’ is well on the way to becoming one of your biggest hits ever. What was it like to get the call to provide the theme song for one of the biggest anime hits in recent memory?

“We were aware of the anime, and of the comic itself. It was a really big honour for us to take part in this huge animation, and all the previously released opening and ending songs are so great. So it was kind of pressuring at the same time and we were a little bit anxious about what we could make, but we were really satisfied with what popped up from our ideas and images.”

Were you guys already fans of the manga or the anime before you got the call to provide the theme?

“Yes. I was not following the whole story, but I had read a part of it. After this opportunity came, I read it one more time and I love the philosophy this animation really holds. It’s probably one of the biggest hits in this decade of Japanese animation, and what most astonishes me is that the comic itself is for kids in Japan, but it has a concrete and solid method and philosophy about the view of death and life. So that was really amazing. Kids read that comic, but at the same time, they have the chance to acknowledge a really unique, original way of thinking about death and life.”

What was involved in the process of creating the themes?

“The idea of a male artist and a female artist collaborating came from the animation side, because this season’s story features main characters who are a boy and a girl, Mitsuri and Muichiro. But besides that, they left the creative ideas to us. But we also had a meeting about how the producer wanted the lyrics to lead the audience.”

How did milet come to mind for a collaboration?

“We were actually not the ones who chose milet to collaborate with us, the whole decision was from the animation side. But it was really a pleasure and honour, because I’m a huge fan of her songs and her voice.

At first, when I heard that she was working together with us, I made a lot of this song, the melodies fit how she sings, and the vibe that she has.”

Is there anything that you’re looking forward to seeing this season?

“It’s really great that the Swordsmith Haganezuka is appearing. I really love that character because he’s so obsessed with creation. I kind of feel that we have that in common, making songs and music; I actually have that same kind of vibe. I’m really glad that the swordsmith village is the main scenery of the season. Those characters, they’re not actually the heroes of this whole animation, but they have a really good role in this whole story.”

MAN WITH A MISSION are set to tour Europe and the UK this June. Get your tickets here

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