The 10 best bands from Japan, as chosen by Man With A Mission

a press shot of man with a mission

As back stories go, Man With A Mission’s tops them all. Here it goes: Half human, half wolf, the J-Rock band were created by “doctor of the guitar and master wolf biologist” Jimi Hendrix to become the “Ultimate Life Form”, before finding themselves frozen in the Antarctic for a number of years. When their icy coffins thawed in 2010, after years of listening to rock music from around the world, they embarked on tearing their way through the Japanese music scene, much like a rock’n’roll Godzilla.

And there you have it. Since their, ahem, “creation”, Man With A Mission have delivered four albums packed with their own blend of J-Rock, punk, pop and dance, and gained recognition across the globe for their far-out, high-intensity live shows.

To mark the band making their way back to London, and to celebrate their place in raising J-Rock’s global profile, we caught up with vocalist and guitarist Jean-Ken Johnny to get his top 10 bands from Japan.


“Experimental, aggressive, dramatic and so beautiful. A truly praised Japanese band who broke out worldwide, especially in Europe. I was shocked and so proud at the same time when I found out they were from Japan, when I first heard their music. Also one of my favourite bands, and the band I respect the most in Japanese [music’s] history.”


“The pioneer of melodic punk in Japan. I believe almost every punk kid admires and recognises them as an [example] of how an indie band can become an influencer, and be in the very middle of the music scene. They are one of the reasons we ever formed MWAM. The festival they organised, Air Jam is truly legendary.”


“New metal, electronic metalcore. The mixture of electronic music, heavy metal and hardcore music is so dramatic and aggressive, it could make you mosh, dance, and blow your mind at the same time. They performed at the main stage of Download Festival, and were the very first Asian Band who took part in the Soundwave Festival.”


”[They’re the] greatest influencer as a mixture of digital hardcore and punk rock band in Japan, who literally showed the potential and the future of rock music. They have followers not only in Japan but around the world, and have successfully headlined in England in front of more than 2000 people in each venue. Not only their music, but I damn love the name of the band.”


“A Japanese punk rock band that definitely is the most important of all time for a lot of people in Japan. The Japanese lyrics they write are simple but philosophical, poetic and so powerful at the same time. They were one of the biggest influences, not only in the punk rock scene, but even in the entire music charts of Japan. You can easily find many Japanese people singing their song in Karaoke, even nowadays.”


“The pioneers and legends of the so-called V-Rock genre, nowadays well-known as a J-Rock genre. I heard that the number one best-selling DVD in England is The Beatles, but but number two is X-Japan. Based on heavy metal and hard rock, but has a genuine and beautiful Japanese blend which I think made them one of the most well-known bands throughout the world, not only because of their make-up or outfits as a V-Rock band.”


“Japanese hardcore, mixture, metalcore funk band. The music is so aggressive, powerful, humorous, funny but cool, and sometimes even sarcastic, in a good way. The music is hardcore, but pop in a way, so it immediately hits your mind. I am a big fan of System Of A Down, and to me they are the only band in Japan I can imagine performing [with SOAD], because they’re such a perfect match.”


“Japanese alternative rock band. I was, and still am, a big fan of the alternative rock scene in the 90s, and Number Girl are like a Japanese Pixies or Sonic Youth in a way to me. Very experimental, noisy guitar, exploding and emotional rock with lyrics that are poetic and literary, full with philosophical message.”


“Straight and decent, pure pop, alternative guitar rock. I put them on my list because I just simply love the songs and the lyrics of this band a lot. To me they are also the perfect example for how huge and successful a guitar rock band of my taste can become in Japan. I believe they are one of the few rock bands of the new age that are hugely supported by both music lovers and the masses.”


“Based on hard rock, emo, pop, heavy alternative rock, they are truly one of the most active and [fastest-growing] Japanese bands in the world. The band members have their [own] ambitions, but I believe many people in Japan and also the whole wide world are definitely looking forward to their activities, and more.”

Catch Man With A Mission on tour at the dates below:

22 Jun: The Underworld, London, UK
24 Jun: Ni Nuu, Berlin, DE
26 Jun: Petit Bain, Paris, FR

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