As Rakuten Mobile launches its groundbreaking mobile phone carrier service, it makes sense that it would team up with one of Japan’s biggest and most innovative pop sensations: the so-called “Samurai Guitarist,” MIYAVI.
Known for edgy, aggressive electric guitar licks and his dramatic “finger-slapping” play style, MIYAVI burst onto the global music scene with a new album last year and a prominent gig playing the American national anthem at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. He also played a key role in Angelina Jolie’s 2014 film “Unbroken.” But on March 3, at a specially planned press conference in Tokyo, the multi-talented performer was focused 100 percent on Rakuten Mobile and “Bang!,” the rousing new song he penned for the mobile carrier’s “Rakuten UN-LIMIT” plan, which will go live on April 8.
Invited on stage at the event by Rakuten CEO Mickey Mikitani, MIYAVI explained how the song was inspired by Rakuten’s willingness to take on new challenges — in this case in the mobile phone industry. “I witnessed Mikitani’s passion and saw first-hand how he’s a Japanese person who keeps taking on important challenges on the world stage, and I was inspired by that. This song, “Bang!” is inspired by that passion to overcome any obstacle and make a new start,” MIYAVI said.
The high-tempo song will be used in commercials for “Rakuten UN-LIMIT,” an industry-disrupting mobile phone plan for Japan priced at 2,980 yen per month — significantly lower than most competitors’ plans — and offering not only unlimited data within Rakuten network areas but also unlimited domestic calls through Rakuten Link, a communication app developed by Rakuten.
After listening to the song on-stage, Mikitani shared that he is particularly inspired by the lyric “I can hear the future calling me / Only a believer gets to see.”
“It’s so right,” he said, before explaining that Rakuten Mobile will launch using a world-first fully virtualized network, something that detractors initially told him might not be possible. “When I first launched this plan for a fully virtualized network, CEOs of major tech companies and telecom companies around the world told me I should stop, that it was impossible. But everyone in our company came together to make it a reality,” he said.
MIYAVI joked that Mikitani had been so excited about the concept that he had kept him up until 3 a.m. one night talking about it. But that passion stuck with the singer-songwriter.
“It’s that leadership, that ability to pursue dreams, even if they might be considered reckless or too ambitious — that’s what I wanted to represent [with ‘Bang!’],” MIYAVI said.
MIYAVI himself is no stranger to new challenges. After appearing in “Unbroken,” he went on to play roles in “Kong: Skull Island” (2017) and alongside Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” (2019). Since 2017 he has also served as the first Japanese Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“As a musician, as an actor, including the humanitarian assistance activities I do as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, I want to transcend borders and language barriers, and deliver more dreams, excitement and suspense to the world. That’s my main focus now.” he wrote on his @MIYAVI_OFFICIAL Twitter account on December 19, 2019.
MIYAVI has also worked with Rakuten before. Last fall, when the company became the main sponsor of Tokyo’s premier fashion showcase, Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo, it was MIYAVI who was tapped to bring his unique and invigorating sound to the event.
With Rakuten Mobile just gearing up for a big launch, it seems the partnership between these two ambitious innovators is sure to continue.
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