Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

The life-sized feelings of Atarashii Gakko!

By Andrea Panaligan, The Philippine STAR Published Mar 15, 2024 5:00 am

Forty minutes past midnight one weekend in February, a blood-curdling scream shook the typically quiet streets of Filinvest City. Japanese girl group Atarashii Gakko! (which translates to “New School”) wouldn’t know how to make an entrance any other way.

The school uniform-clad four-piece closed out the Bobapalooza Music and Arts Festival, preceded by fellow international headliner The Band Camino and surprise back-to-back sets from former IV of Spades members Blaster and Zild.

A sizable portion of the audience sported homemade school uniforms and band shirts—if the crowd was already antsy with anticipation before, it completely transformed once Suzuka, Kanon, Rin, and Mizyu took the stage.

Atarashii Gakko! is one of those groups you have to see to believe. Their choreography, which they do themselves, obliterates our notions of a girl group performance.

Atarashii Gakko! is one of those groups you have to see to believe. They’re known to be crazy—their choreography, which they do themselves, obliterates our notions of a girl group performance. They scream, they jump, they run, they hold up a pineapple from the audience while belting out their hit, Pineapple Kryptonite.

Even the story of how they met is unbelievable. Some sources say it was while standing in a supermarket discount aisle, but at a press conference before their Bobapalooza performance, they claimed they met at a random crosswalk, linked their pinkies together, and whispered, “We are Atarashii Gakko!”

This kind of chaos, of course, can only be achieved through insane technical skill. Their far-out dance sequences are a showcase of endurance and precision. The eccentric yells and raps of their music require almost-inhuman vocal stability. Even their signature school uniforms are laden with personal meaning and attention to detail.

While the group credits the popularity of Japanese culture for people’s interest in them, they believe it’s also their “energy and the seriousness we bring to our songs” that ultimately make listeners stay. “Music,” for Atarashii Gakko!, “is the four of us sending our energy to the listeners.”

“That’s something that crosses boundaries and languages, this energy we put out. And people feel that energy.”

Their music also touches on a universal truth. As they wrote in a mission statement on their website, “In a time when only exemplary citizens are acknowledged, we strive to defy a narrow-minded society by embracing individuality and freedom.” Like all the bands that have come to mean so much to us, Atarashii Gakko! finds us in moments where it’s most difficult to be ourselves.

I’m reminded of the group’s inaugural performance in Japan’s famous indoor arena, the Nippon Budokan, where their main vocalist Suzuka admitted to feeling alone. “But I learned I don’t have to figure it out alone. The four of us have each other.”

Addressing the audience, she said, “If you too feel lost, I hope you can count on us.”

As they approach their first decade together, the group is excited to “make a lot of songs and go around Japan and the rest of the world.” They joined global music powerhouse 88rising in 2021 and kicked off their first worldwide SEISHUN Tour last year, which sold out in the US. They’re slated to make their debut at the famous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this April.

“Looking back to where we started, we could not have imagined (all of this),” they said at the press con, after clapping for their “sugoi” language interpreter. I’m certain this is only the beginning for Atarashii Gakko! These girls are having fun in their own world, and we’re lucky to bear witness.

* * *

Stream their latest single HELLO (from The Tiger's Apprentice) on Spotify and get updates on the group from their website