Already having made a substantial impact in France, the eccentric music of Les Romanesques is looking to break big in Japan.
I first came across Les Romanesques probably like many other parents in Japan have, as a part of the NHK E-Tele line-up of educational programming along with other celebs exclusive to the parenting-world in Japan like Eric Jacobson and Jonte’ Moaning.
However, Les Romanesques’ show called Otsuta to Denjiro stood out for its main character: a supernatural upper middle-aged man in a princess tiara, yellow wig, and handlebar mustache (played by vocalist Tobi) who would suddenly appear to bored students and help make learning fun.
I would show a video clip of Otsuta to Denjiro here to promote it, but NHK would charge us all for having set eyes on it…so, moving on.
I always thought that it was surprisingly progressive educational programming for Japan, but little did I know that the show was actually capitalizing on the huge star-power of Les Romanesques…huge star power in France that is!
This might come as a surprise to fans of Japanese culture and even Japanese people, but apparently this duo is quite well known in France. It makes sense, as that is where Les Romanesques got their start, gaining recognition in the European club scene and making several appearances at music festivals and on television. It wasn’t until 2011 that they moved back to Japan to build awareness here as well.
As an example of their name-recognition in France, our reporter Ryo asked 50 French people to name a famous Japanese person off the top of their heads, and here are the top answers.
1 – Hayao Miyazaki
2 – Takeshi Kitano
3 – Akira Kurosawa
4 – Les Romanesques
5 – Kano Jigoro
6 – Kei Nishikori
7 – Yuzuru Hanyu
8 – Yoko Ono
9 – Yukio Mishima
10 – Tadanobu Asano
You have to hand it to French people for putting together such a culturally sound list of notable Japanese figures. Had I asked 50 people in my hometown the same question, I’m sure some of those spots would have been taken by Jackie Chan and Mr. Roboto.
Anyway, as we can see, Les Romanesques rank right up there with the likes of Miyazaki, and Kurosawa. Among those who answered “Les Romanesques”, Ryo followed up with the burning question, “Why?”
Their answers were all to the effect of “I like their originality” and “they’re very addictive.” This, of course, leads us to the next question: What does their music sound like anyway?
Well, without further ado, here are some songs by Les Romanesques:
▼ “Iwatteita” (“Was Celebrating”)
▼ Although the first song was quite catchy, the touching ballad “Hitotsubo No Kome” (“A Single Grain of Rice“) gives you a better sense of the guitarist Miya’s vocal ability.
▼ And viewers of their NHK show will surely remember its ending theme “Tsutawarerere”.
We have seen Les Romanesques come a long way over the years and will have to wait and see if their fame can continue to grow. Piko Taro certainly has opened a huge door in the world for quirky Japanese musical acts; if they’ve ever had a chance on the world stage, now would be it.
If you’d like to hear more of Les Romanesques, you can check out the 16 songs on their YouTube page. In the meantime, we admit that 50 people isn’t the most scientific survey in the world, so if some of our French readers would like to confirm or deny the popularity of Les Romanesques there, nous vous serions reconnaissants.