X. Uverworld, Orange Range, and Anime Rock
Heads up, in this chapter, you’re going to read a lot of personal details. Because it’s during this time in which I really started to grow.
In April of 2007, I began my six-month leave from film school in order to really find out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. During this time, all I did, almost every day was work at Pizza Hut. That’s right. All I did every day was drive my 1999 red Oldsmobile Alero and deliver pizzas.
I couldn’t have done it without video games, WWE…and anime. Haha! By then I had my own one-bedroom apartment, friggin, finally. No more sharing spaces or coming home to half my bottles of water missing. But this also means that I’d have no one watching me really pig out on all the pizza and wings I could eat every night.
I don’t want to get into how much of a glutton I was. I have other essays for that. But the point is, when you have no direction in life…entertainment gives you something to look forward to.
With the WWE, it’s a continual story line by which you have something to look forward to every week, twice a week. I had just bought a PS3 and was getting down to some Marvel Alliance. I was also jamming out to a Korean hip hop group I just discovered called “Epik High,” with hits like “Fly” and “Paris”.
But the main thing that really put a smile on my face was an anime called “Bleach”.
That’s right, if we have any Bleach fans in the house. Their first season had a catchy theme song for their opening. It was called “Asterisk” by Orange Range. In May of 2007, I remember a lot of blazing hot days listening to Orange Range. My car broke down so many times, Tire Plus became kind of a hangout for me.
The thing about Orange Range that appealed to me…oddly enough was the rapping. They didn’t do metal music like Dir En Grey, nor did they have a heavy-handed edgy sound like Miyavi. It was just rock. They had three vocalists that could sing, rap, and blend their voices. Honestly, I thought that was just so cool.
Mind you, I’m not a rapper. I don’t pretend to be an expert in hip hop or the art of the flow. By then, I’ve come to notice that almost every group has rappers in which one is bass-heavy, and the other is lighter, or more sharper in tone. For instance in Big Bang, you have TOP with his bass-heavy voice, while G-Dragon is sharper. The Korean hip hop group Epik High was the same. You had DJ Tukutz providing the music, Tablo was the sharper, lighter tone, while Mithra Jin had a deeper voice.
Orange Range was the same, except they didn’t just have two. They had three, one bass-heavy, one-middle range, and one high-ranging. A good, clear example of what I’m talking about is with this gem, “Kirikirimai”.
At :10, you have the middle range
At :17, you have the high range
At :26, you have the low, bass heavy rapper.
“Viva Rock,” “Chesto,” and “Twister” were other favorites. It’s peculiar and I’m ashamed to say, I never cared to look up their background or memorize the member’s names.
Perhaps it was because as soon as I discovered Orange Range, it was just a matter of days before I learned about Uverworld. I know that sounds like a diss to Orange Range, but believe me it’s not my intention. Orange Range was awesome…but Uverworld blew me away.
In watching “Bleach,” once you get past episode 25, they have a new theme opening. It’s a song called “D-TecnoLife” by Uverworld.
No lie…I played that song so many times that I can literally sing the lyrics and sing it well. I loved that song. I loved that voice. The lead singer of Uverworld is a man named Takuya, and I’d put him in the top ten of all Japanese vocalists. Not only could he sing, but he was a skilled rapper.
I dug into Uverworlds past albums and dude…Uverworld made my summer of 2007. It was the melody of their songs. Tunes like “Lump of Affection” and “Just Melody”. They weren’t like the kpop hits or heavy rock. Uverworld was more in the veins of L’Arc En Ciel with a chill vibe.
Uverworld “Lump of Affection”
There were many a nights where I’d work a long shift and by the 10pm hour after the rush died down, just needed something to lower my shoulders a bit. To that end, I gotta give a shoutout to Younha, who provided the ending theme of Season 2 of Bleach. As well as High and Might Color’s “Ichirin no Hana” and the opening theme to “Blood +”. But most of the summer belonged to Uverworld.
Uverworld “Shaka Laka Beach”
“Shaka Laka Beach” isn’t a song I’d expect to hear or listen to repeatedly, but I did. It was so strange. Perhaps, I was changing. Growing up and didn’t realize it.
No, I remember what it was. That summer, I was falling in love. At my job, there were these girls straight out of high school who had just started working in May. Up till this point, I had only had one real girlfriend in my life, which lasted only three months of my senior year in high school.
At this point in my life, I was 20-years-old and weighed 378lbs. I didn’t think there was anyone on earth who could possibly find me attractive or desirable. But this girl did. She started as a cook and eventually became an assistant to the manager. I remember people made fun of her, because everytime I returned from a delivery, she’d stop what she was doing to come cash me out. She only did this for me. Haha! I guess that made me feel special.
In so many ways, that girl really changed my life. Before her, I struggled when it came to considering the feelings of others. Other than my friend, Eliza, it’s always been just me since I graduated high school. Now this girl was in my life, making me consider the words I said, how I treated people. Because she was always watching and wasn’t the type to keep her opinions to herself…which is what I needed. Like I said, I was a big dude. I didn’t exactly have a lot of people in my life with the courage to put me in my place the way she did.
The point is, its interesting how the softening of one’s heart can make you more open to different types of music. Don’t get me wrong…I was still a lion at heart. But when you know love and feel that type of way about someone, it makes love songs more bearable to hear.
HOWEVER…I’m not sure if all men are like me. But if love can make soft songs pleasant to the ear. You can bet your ass that a scorned heart is need of therapeutic hard songs. This girl that had a role in changing me…One of her most effective tools was the use of guilt trips. Almost everytime I turned around, I was saying something that offended her and she’d let me have it, calling me every name in the book. Our fights were epic, comical to others, and every time, it was me who walked away feeling whipped and guilty for making her cry.
For instance, one day, I called her pudgy. In my mind, it was like saying she was cute. Like a teddy bear for crap’s sake. Also, she was accurately pudgy in the definition of the word. But first she gave me the cold treatment for most of the night before unloading at the end, telling me that I hurt her feelings and was inconsiderate and mean.
And dude…I get it. I can see her point of view and how she could have taken it that way. At the same time, I knew myself. I knew my intentions. It was to compliment, not insult. And this was just one of many, many episodes in which I’d walk away feeling just horrible.
She had power over me. She had power over my heart. Before I met her, I had crushes and tried in vain to pursue some girls I went to school with…but she was the first who made me believe that it was possible…
And as much as I liked Uverworld’s melodic hits…“Nitro” was just the song to give me a slap in the face. It fires me up every time.
Remember how I mentioned I weighed 378lbs? Well, clearly this wasn’t healthy. And the thing is, when I was that overweight, I didn’t notice. It’s not like I was slow. I could still boogie up and down those steps delivering pizzas like it was nothing. It wasn’t until I legit got stuck in my closet door that I realized I was fat. It wasn’t until I met this girl that I motivated to do something about it.
It was July of 2007, when I joined Anytime Fitness. It worked perfectly for me because it was open 24 hours a day. So I wouldn’t feel self-conscious about going in at 1am when I got off from work and having the whole gym to myself. Baby steps. I started by riding the bike and wouldn’t step on the treadmill until a year later. But it was Uverworld’s “Nitro” that helped me muscle through the burning pain and stick with it in those early days.
Don’t get me wrong. In 2007, there were more good memories of that girl than bad ones. I don’t regret a single thing and I’m glad she was part of my life. Even to this day, I always smile when I think of her. Back then, my name was Reggie Tennie. It wasn’t until I met her that I started to change into the man known as Rock Kitaro.