Exploring niche subgenres within rock while having an equal focus on character development, DIG-ROCK has turned into one of the most exciting 2D rock music projects around.
Estimated reading time: 32 minutes
This is an original The Hand That Feeds HQ feature.
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DIG-ROCK is one of the strongest and most interesting 2D rock music projects around, having a perfect marriage between high-quality music and in-depth character development through drama tracks included with its CDs.
Exploring rock music aside from what is common, this franchise brings grunge rock, powerpop, and acid-jazz to the spotlight, making those unique sub-genres shine through exciting and rich performances.
At the time of writing this feature – 2022 – DIG-ROCK franchise is on a good spell, having just announced the release of a game adaptation (not a social/gatcha game but a visual novel style of game) for Nintendo Switch.
In this “A guide to” feature, you and I revisit – or visit (in case it’s your first time coming across this project) – DIG-ROCK, its story, awesome music, unique cast, among other things.
A video feature – more compact about DIG-ROCK – is available on THTFHQ’s YouTube channel. Check it out below!
What is DIG-ROCK?
DIG-ROCK is a 2D rock music franchise created by TEAM Entertainment in 2019. The franchise branches out from the popular drama CD series, MintLip.
This is a mixed media project that incorporates music with drama CDs and even has manga and a visual novel game in production (hopefully to be launched in 2022).
DIG-ROCK counts with 3 rock bands of different backgrounds and music: RUBIA Leopard (Makoto Furukawa on vocals), Impish Crow (Yuma Uchida on vocals), and HOUND ROAR (Toshiyuki Toyonaga on vocals).
DIGNITY PRODUCTION is a talent agency that houses actors, voice actors, models, musicians, idols, and has grown remarkably in the last couple of years. Represented by this talent agency is a popular and very active rock band, RUBIA Leopard.
RUBIA Leopard attracted overwhelming support from young people, with their live tours being very popular, making their presence in the music industry boom. As the series progresses, the band has managed to keep up its momentum and has turned into an overwhelmingly popular band.
Impish Crow, a popular indie band, recently joined DIGNITY PRODUCTION. The beginning of a rivalry between the popular band, RUBIA Leopard, and the rookies, Impish Crow ensues. Through their rivalry with RUBIA Leopard, Impish Crow continues to grow as a rookie rock band.
HOUND ROAR is an up-and-coming mysterious band that was discovered and, ultimately, much to everyone’s surprise – because the band was unknown – won an audition to join the talent agency known for housing idols and musicians, Renown Stage. Since then, the band has become a hot topic.
For those that take the time to check the drama parts in all CDs released in this franchise, you’ll notice how all bands are, in a way connected, especially the vocalists.
Akane (CV: Makoto Furukawa), RUBIA Leopard’s vocal is simultaneously idolized and seen as a rival by Impish Crow’s Tsugumi (CV: Yuma Uchida). Hibiki (CV: Toshiyuki Toyonaga) was a big fan of RUBIA Leopard even before joining HOUND ROAR.
RUBIA Leopard’s members sort of dote on Impish Crow’s members and HOUND ROAR sees Impish Crow as a rival band to beat.
So if you do have the time to check, all drama parts in, at least, the first 3 CDs by Impish Crow and RUBIA Leopard are available for streaming on Spotify.
It is not certain whether the other CDs will have their drama parts available on streaming platforms but as a starting point, you pretty much have free drama parts to check and better get to know the dynamics between members and experience their shenanigans, some of those hilarious.
The main cast: a whole lot of talent ready to impress
If there is one thing that DIG-ROCK didn’t spare its budget in was in the cast.
While the project didn’t seem, initially, like it had a big budget as, for example, VAZZROCK in the TSUKIPRO franchise has, TEAM Entertainment didn’t skimp on the budget to bring in a dynamic cast mixing up-and-coming talents with established singers in the industry among seiyuu as well as veterans.
As a result, RUBIA Leopard, Impish Crow, and HOUND ROAR are fronted by 3 of the best singers in the seiyuu industry. Those are, respectively, Makoto Furukawa, Yuma Uchida, and Toshiyuki Toyonaga.
And for the drama parts, the franchise counts with Takuya Sato, Kaito Ishikawa, Natsuki Hanae, Wataru Hatano, Takuya Eguchi, Shinnosuke Tachibana, Hikaru Midorikawa, Ryohei Kimura, Takashi Kondo, Yuichiro Umehara, Wataru Komada, Kent Ito, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Tarusuke Shingaki, Daisuke Ono and Hiroki Touchi.
This is one hell of an amazing cast that keeps on delivering engaging and natural performances, fleshing out the story and interactions within this franchise.
The Bands: staying true to rock yet not afraid to go niche
For those first coming across DIG-ROCK, you’ll notice that there are 3 bands: RUBIA Leopard, Impish Crow, and HOUND ROAR.
Those bands explore hard-rock, punk-rock, powerpop, jazz-rock, and acid-jazz. At the core of this project lies rock music. This is the music genre that moves all 3 bands, with each having a different approach to the music genre fitting either their style, their vocalists’ style, or an overall mood that suits the band itself.
Contrary to many 2D rock music projects out there or even 2D music projects that have rock bands in their lineup, in DIG-ROCK, all bands have a refreshing sound that you won’t find anywhere else.
And when other projects are either focused on making an easy-listening, almost generic brand of pop-rock or trying to cram electronica into their sound to try to catch the attention of pop music fans, DIG-ROCK went the way that you’d easily say, “this project is never going to be popular”.
Grunge, powerpop, and acid-jazz.
There have been 2D rock bands out there that have flirted with the idea of grunge and even powerpop. But acid-jazz? This franchise managed to bring a niche subgenre of the, already niche, jazz music genre.
This was a massive gamble as jazz music is not popular among fans of 2D music and acid-jazz is a music genre that very few, even non-fans of 2D music, have even come across or would be mildly interested in.
DIG-ROCK was not afraid to go niche in the rock music they wanted to explore through its 3 bands.
Was it hard to garner attention for the project in Japan? Relatively.
Is it hard to garner attention for the project overseas? Definitely.
But staying true to that sound and consistently delivering music with the highest quality imaginable while having 3 of the best singers among male seiyuu has turned this project into a hidden gem that truly deserves your attention.
Let me talk you through each band so that you can get a feel at what I am talking about.
RUBIA Leopard is, easily, the main band in this franchise. They are top of the top in popularity, their music is gripping, gritty, and intense.
It is fronted by AKANE (CV: Makoto Furukawa) and counts with guitarist KURONO (CV: Kaito Ishikawa), bassist MASHIRO (CV: Takuya Sato), and drummer HAIJI (CV: Natsuki Hanae).
Rock takes the form of hard rock with thunderous basslines and powerful drums leading the way. Their sound, as a result, is closer to grunge rock with influences of hard-rock and punk-rock and the vocals… Makoto Furukawa’s vocals – as Akane – are raw, powerful, edgy, and slightly alluring.
The band still has a soft side although it seldom shows. If you’re into acoustic tunes with some melancholy or even love for something or someone, RUBIA Leopard can deliver that and Furukawa can, most definitely, shift from rocking the stage to lullabying you and you won’t even notice the transition.
Charisma overflows in RUBIA Leopard’s performances, with Akane’s personality shining through the band’s music. For a mature take on rock music with a slight nod to 90s grunge, RUBIA Leopard is the band for you.
Makoto Furukawa voices AKANE, RUBIA Leopard’s frontman, and lyricist. He’s incredibly confident, balancing his bad boy self with a childish side which leads to interesting situations in the drama tracks featured on each CD.
AKANE not only is known for his straightforward and powerful lyrics but also for his looks that attract new fans to the band with quite an ease.
Kaito Ishikawa voices KURONO, the band’s guitarist.
He’s, somehow, swore allegiance to AKANE, supporting and protecting him almost like a helicopter parent. He’s a by-the-book type of person and, at the same time, extremely competitive with RUBIA Leopard’s bassist, Mashiro.
Takuya Sato voices MASHIRO, the band’s bassist. He’s passionate about alcohol, cigarettes, and music, things he uses to mask that he actually is really serious and passionate about music.
He’s often named a bass genius, playing by feel, something that, when you listen to the band’s songs, will instantly stand out. He’s also extremely competitive, enjoying bickering with KURONO over their differences.
Natsuki Hanae voices HAIJI, the band’s drummer and despite being the youngest, he ends up being almost like an unofficial leader of the band.
He ends up acting like a mother to the rest of the band, bringing together all members that, actually have strong personalities.
He’s also dubbed a drum genius, having an awesome rhythm sense.
Impish Crow sounds like the complete opposite in terms of sound or even vibe. In the franchise’s story, they are a rookie band but their sound is far from sounding like it.
It is fronted by TSUGUMI (CV: Yuma Uchida) with guitarist TOKI (CV: Takuya Eguchi), bassist MITSURU (CV: Wataru Hatano), and drummer HIBARI (CV: Shinnosuke Tachibana).
The band is known for their fast-paced, intense powerpop sound – a mix of punk rock and pop – that is easy-listening while still retaining that excitement and electrifying feel of what you’d call “textbook rock” music.
Yuma Uchida, as Tsumugi, goes above and beyond to deliver energetic and youthful performances that crank up the intensity and liveliness of Impish Crow’s music. In a way, the band’s music gives off a naïve, freeing vibe, like you can do whatever you want. It’s almost like the type of music that you and your bandmates could create at the whim of the moment.
Their sound is, as a result, considered easy-listening and a good entry point to this franchise for those that don’t fancy heavy rock but, instead, find a fast-paced brand of rock with pop-inspired choruses and a whole lot of energy to be interesting or fun.
Yuma Uchida voices TSUGUMI, the band’s energetic, innocent and passionate frontman. Dubbed by the franchise as a genius, TSUGUMI is best known for his overwhelming singing ability, as well as his bright and honest character.
He’s a soothing genius, but he’s also scary if need be. All in all, he loves singing and being involved in music.
Takuya Eguchi voices TOKI, Impish Crow’s leader, lyricist, and guitarist.
He has a strong personality yet he can’t help but be soft with the others he cares about, letting them go crazy and have fun. However, when it comes to Impish Crow, he’s extremely competitive and intense, mentioning that he doesn’t like to lose. He’s childhood friends with TSUGUMI.
Wataru Hatano voices MITSURU, the groovy bassist and “my pace” type of person. Due to being laidback, letting things and people come to him, and not liking to say “no” to anyone, MITSURU shocks his bandmates with how fast he starts dating someone and how quickly things end.
He tends to look cool however that’s only because he’s calm and a man of few words. He’s a long-time friend with HIBARI.
Shinnosuke Tachibana voices HIBARI, the band’s drummer.
Despite his good looks and seemingly nice and easy-going vibe, HIBARI is sharp-tongued, even poisonous at times. Can be a bit of a womanizer but he’s quite naïve about love.
Loves to give his opinion on the band’s activities and is extremely dedicated to the band.
HOUND ROAR joined the franchise only in 2021 but right from the start, the band has mesmerized a lot of people, even bringing new fans to the franchise either because of their unique acid-jazz sound or because the best singer among male seiyuu, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, is the frontman for this band.
Yes, HOUND ROAR has a unique sound that blends rock with jazz and even orchestral elements. So far, the band has shown how their funky basslines and jazzy melodies work together, creating a bouncy, addictive, and loungy brand of acid-jazz that I reckon could be the soundtrack to my summer or whenever I want to feel like I’m back in a late evening staring at the sunset. Their music is warm, full of life yet it is rather mysterious, reflecting well the personality of the band’s vocal and lyricist, Hibiki.
And, of course, on vocals, you have Toshiyuki Toyonaga. Do I have to say more?
Well, for those of you that are already familiar with him, I don’t need to say more because you know what he is about, however, if it is your first time coming across this project and Toshiyuki Toyonaga himself, then let me tell you: his singing skills are top-tier.
His vocal range, although he’s a natural tenor, taps a little into the baritone range, giving him a lot of options on the vocal end to deliver intricate performances that leave not only seiyuu fans but also fellow voice actors in awe at his skills. He’s not afraid to full-on embrace a character’s personality, no matter how crazy or quiet they are. As soon as he starts singing, Toyonaga is the character he voices.
If you could get a talented singer that has no flaws whatsoever to join your 2D music project, it could only be Toshiyuki Toyonaga. As Hibiki, he breathes life to HOUND ROAR’s songs that put a smile on your face, will make you dance, jam along, and just enjoy.
The band is fronted by HIBIKI (CV: Toshiyuki Toyonaga), with guitarist SHOMA (CV: Ryohei Kimura), bassist TOYA (CV: Hikaru Midorikawa), keyboardist SHION (CV: Yuichiro Umehara), and drummer SOGO (CV: Takashi Kondo).
Toshiyuki Toyonaga voices HIBIKI, the quiet and genius lyricist and HOUND ROAR frontman.
He doesn’t have that big of a presence however his cool appearance, good looks, and always cool and mysterious atmosphere make him quite popular in the world of DIG-ROCK.
Although he’s not conscious about it, he’s a generational talent, being dubbed by everyone as a genius.
While he’s usually passive, he has surprising last-minute courage that leads to him trying new things.
Ryohei Kimura voices SHOMA, the band’s guitarist. He’s both well-known for his good looks as he is for his lack of common sense.
He is impulsive with his actions and may come off as a bit aggressive and uninterested whenever he’s not playing music.
Hikaru Midorikawa voices TOYA, HOUND ROAR’s leader, bassist, and older brother to Impish Crow’s MITSURU.
He’s quite observant, prepares everything ahead of time but he is quite closed to others, not letting anyone read his feelings.
Yuichiro Umehara voices SHION, the band’s keyboardist and music nerd.
Before joining the band, SHION already played the keyboard, being quite famous for his piano videos posted online.
He has an insane passion for musical instrumentals, being incredibly happy whenever he’s involved in music.
Takashi Kondo voices SOGO, the band’s drummer.
SOGO is known for his straightforward personality. Alongside Toya, he’s the oldest in the band, being the resident gentle older brother.
Due to that, he often is consulted by the members for tips on how to do things or which decisions to make. He often scolds the members when something goes wrong.
Although not really actively releasing music – but mentioned in the drama CDs, there is another band in the franchise.
They had a pop-rock sound that, in a way, was close in vibe to Impish Crow’s sound.
For reference, Sora is, within the story in the DIG-ROCK franchise, Impish Crow’s manager. Hayato is still active in the music industry however only as a music producer.
The main frontmen
The DIG-ROCK franchise didn’t really go cheap on their choice of frontmen for their 3 bands.
Team Entertainment picked some of the best singers among male seiyuu to give life to the songs in all 3 bands, with all seiyuu bringing their unique singing skills and tone to create the impressive performances you will – or you do – come across in this franchise.
Let’s talk a bit about each frontman.
Makoto Furukawa gives life to AKANE’s powerful and confident performances.
And what a job he does!
He powers through the songs with his growly vibrato, spreading his charisma through each performance. There’s an allure in his demeanor and delivery that make RUBIA Leopard’s hard-hitting brand of rock sound incredibly addictive.
Due to AKANE’s international upbringing, Furukawa has plenty of English lyrics to tackle in his performances and he does so fairly well.
For those not familiar with Makoto Furukawa, he’s the only male seiyuu – up until the time of writing this feature – to make a debut as a solo artist performing jazz music.
He’s best known for his baritone vocals, blasting, deep vibrato, and sheer raw power in his performance. He loves to put on a show and always delivers consistent performances. In a live setting, Furukawa sounds even better than the recorded songs.
If you want a powerful singer with a warm voice that embodies both allure and power, then Makoto Furukawa is the man for the job and, of course, it was a no-brainer to bring him on to this franchise to give life to RUBIA Leopard’s aggressive brand of rock.
Yuma Uchida lends his versatility as a singer to TSUGUMI’s energetic and youthful performances.
You can feel the raw excitement in his performances; the energy is addictive, the happiness brimming from Uchida’s performances is palpable.
To bring all of that to the spotlight, Yuma Uchida embraces a rawer style of singing, sounding less polished than he does in his solo artist career. That edge enhances the rock sound that is a big part of what the band is all about.
He raises his tone a little bit for some songs, brings a lot of vibrato, and powers his way through with some riffing as he tackles the pop lyrics at the core of the band’s high tension and addictive powerpop sound.
That lack of polish in the vocals gives an indie rock vibe to the performances, with that lack of perfection putting the focus instead on the freeing fun that is Impish Crow’s music.
If you’re not familiar with Yuma Uchida, you’re in for a ride because he’s, easily, one of the best singers among male seiyuu. He’s best known for his R&B style of singing, sounding really smooth and being all about ad-libs and pulling off tricky parts however, there is more to him.
He’s quite versatile, performing a wide variety of music genres and fitting all of those like it’s no problem. After all, he’s completely embracing his performances as a rock frontman when he’s, essentially an R&B-pop star.
Reliability, versatility, and an insane control over his vocals make Yuma Uchida the perfect choice to give life to TSUGUMI’s passionate and genius self.
He’s, literally, the best singer among male seiyuu, still to be dethroned so you know, right from the start, what you’ll be getting from Toshiyuki Toyonaga as HOUND ROAR’s genius singer and lyricist, HIBIKI.
On top of the band’s intricate and bouncy acid-jazz sound, lies the warm, tenor vocals of Toshiyuki Toyonaga, delivering every verse with laser precision, a lot of groove, plenty of vibrato, some head voice, powerful legato, between many other beautiful and tricky things on the vocal end.
At the moment I wrote this feature, the band has only 4 songs to their name so there’s not much to explore in their music so far however, in all performances, Toyonaga delivers the best he has to offer.
He fully embraced HIBIKI’s personality, with his performances being shrouded in mystery, oozing effortless charisma, and having a lot of passion.
That makes HOUND ROAR’s unique brand of acid-jazz stand out even more. There is a lot of dynamic to Toyonaga’s vocals, his versatility, confidence, and control are second to none.
Team Entertainment couldn’t have chosen a better singer among seiyuu because Toyonaga is really the best of the best.
As you can tell, all 3 bands have unique vocals and skills at their disposal so what does each band really sound like?
DIG-ROCK’s music: a quick analysis
Time to talk a bit about DIG-ROCK’s music and, more specifically, show you a couple of previews of the songs released so far by all 3 bands.
As I already mentioned, this project has 3 bands RUBIA Leopard, Impish Crow, and HOUND ROAR.
All three embrace different rock sub-genres, suiting the unique vibes of their frontmen – and also the rest of the members of the band.
And although all 3 bands embrace different subgenres, rock is the centerpiece for DIG-ROCK so if you’re not that into rock music, and quite possibly jazz, you may not enjoy this project that much.
Let me talk you through each band.
The resident hard-rock-meets grunge-rock band in the franchise. RUBIA Leopard’s sound is aggressive, intense, and hard-hitting, capitalizing on Makoto Furukawa’s booming vocals to make a big impression.
The band has a strong bass sound, with their basslines being otherworldly but do know that everything about their sound is absolutely awesome.
2 songs that stand out in the band’s repertoire are:
Chained to You
“Chained to You” is, easily, the grooviest song in RUBIA Leopard’s repertoire up until the time of writing this feature. The bassline is massive, punching its way through the song.
This is a song that, early on, showed that the band can also perform slow-paced rock tunes with an alluring vibe with Makoto Furukawa excelling in this type of performance.
With “Identity”, I bring you a shredding hard-rock tune with one of the most insane guitar parts I’ve heard in 2D music. This is a high-octane rock tune that will have you singing and headbanging along.
Everything about their sound is rugged. The guitars are explosive, the bassline is a driving force, and the drums explosive, groovy to an extent.
The guitar solo in this song is insanely complex and fast, going from the bridge until the last chorus shredding its way through the song. And Makoto Furukawa unleashes his powerful vibrato to deliver a memorable, raw performance.
So far, the band released the following CDs:
- Chained to You
- Never End
- Higher Ground
- NO LIMIT
The powerpop band is known for its exciting and youthful brand of rock. However, there is more to them than what meets the eye/ear. They can shred their way with aggressive, fast-paced rock, create pure punk-rock fun and perform a good old ballad, suiting all those styles pretty easily.
2 songs that stand out in the band’s repertoire are:
Until the release of “Grow”, Impish Crow was releasing powerpop tunes, some of those leaning a lot towards punk-rock with a youthful vibe. “Grow” arrived as a big change in the band’s sound, getting slightly close to that of RUBIA Leopard’s.
The groove is big on this one and the guitar work is incredibly dirty on top of those massive drums. On the vocal end, Yuma Uchida showcases his versatility as a singer, delivering a comfortable performance overflowing with vibrato and a unique raw twist on top.
One of the songs that best illustrates the style of music that Impish Crow is all about is “Be Ambitious!!!”. This is a youthful powerpop song with a simple punk-rock beat provided by the insane drums.
This song is about exploration, going on a trip with friends, learn new things.
It is mindless youthful fun in the form of a song. Yuma Uchida goes for an energetic performance that further enhances that excitement that comes with going on a trip while making the chorus one of the most addictive in the DIG-ROCK franchise.
So far, the band released the following CDs:
- Pump It!!
- Beyond the Sky
- Be Ambitious!!
- Ride the Wind
- Sky is the limit
- TAKE OFF
The band only joined the franchise in the DIG-ROCK ―dice― CD series thus, in comparison, it barely has any music released at the time of writing this feature.
HOUND ROAR is a jazz-rock band with orchestral, funk, and soul influences. You can safely say that their sound is more aligned with acid-jazz, being responsible for creating laidback, elegant soundscapes in which Toshiyuki Toyonaga’s vocals shine.
2 songs that stand out in the band’s repertoire are:
Classy and elegant at all times, “Eyes” is a downtempo loungy acid-jazz song that has allure at its core. The bassline and piano work in this song is so groovy to the point you’ll find yourself dancing to this song.
On top, Toshiyuki Toyonaga delivers a whisper-style performance, further enhancing the seductive, slightly intimate vibe in this song.
Groovy, insanely groovy. I’m a sucker for a good bassline and HOUND ROAR more than delivers that in this song.
“Syndrome” is a jazz-funk song that can be used to describe what a classy summer evening can be all about.
The soundscape is cozy, fun yet contained. The sun is setting in the background, you’re comfortably sat while watching the performance unfold in front of your eyes and ears.
“Syndrome” is all about its “feel good” vibes, letting the unpredictability of jazz take over on the drums, leading to crazy drums work while the guitars embrace funk and the piano brings the beauty to this mix.
Despite being an, apparently, quiet performance by Toshiyuki Toyonaga, he’s actually delivering everything in this song with a lot of emotion and power, making you literally sing along with the chorus (“Night Fliiiiiiiight”).
So far, the band has released the following CDs:
Since its inception, the DIG-ROCK franchise has held 2 cast events – not counting live recordings of the regular shows hosted by Takuya Sato titled “DIGP CHANNEL” (2020) and “DIG-ROCK CHANNEL” (2021).
DIG-ROCK ーDIZZY GIGー was held in September 2020. The event included live reading and variety corners.
In January 2022, DIG-ROCK BLAZE GIG was held, being the first franchise event to include members of all 3 bands – Impish Crow, RUBIA Leopard, and HOUND ROAR – as well as some of the band managers.
In this event, counting with live reading and variety corners, the music video for HOUND ROAR’s “Eyes” was premiered, and details on the upcoming Nintendo Switch game, DIG-ROCK -Documentary of Youthful Sounds.
At the time of writing this feature, the DIG-ROCK franchise has yet to hold a live event focused on the music only.
In 2021, it was announced that the DIG-ROCK franchise was going to get a game adaptation.
To ease everyone’s worries, Team Entertainment emphasized that this game was not going to have any social capabilities nor be a gatcha or rhythm game.
Instead, Team Entertainment teamed up with Idea Factory, a well-known otome game developer, to create a visual novel style of game for the franchise.
DIG-ROCK -Documentary of Youthful Sounds– was then confirmed at DIG-ROCK BLAZE GIG in January 2022, heading for Nintendo Switch and without a release date.
At the time of creating this feature, the game didn’t have a set date of release.
Its status: the rising popularity
Although not as popular as the big idol and hip-hop projects out there, especially among international fans, the DIG-ROCK franchise has been picking up a lot of interest in the last couple of years, something that is noticeable how the franchise welcomed a new band – HOUND ROAR – as well as kicked off ambitious CD collections and, most recently, announced the release of a Nintendo Switch game.
Popularity in Japan has been growing and due to the music from the DIG-ROCK franchise being, in a way, available on streaming platforms (not all but at least the first CDs), international fans have started to find and follow the music and adventures of the members of Impish Crow, RUBIA Leopard and HOUND ROAR.
I can see this project growing a whole lot in the following years, especially if the quality of the music continues to be as high as it now is, and hopefully, the game will bring in more fans to this awesome franchise.
Why should you check DIG-ROCK and its bands? What is so unique about it? Will casual rock or pop fans enjoy it?
First off, this is all about rock music. That should go without saying that 2D rock music projects are usually overlooked but the whole thing about rock is closely tied with wanting to surpass yourself, overcome fears, be bold, be loud, have rivalries, and, ultimately, enjoy life as a band.
In DIG-ROCK you get to experience each band – Impish Crow, RUBIA Leopard, and HOUND ROAR – going through ups and downs in their career, struggling with inspiration, with the bandmates and their family – to some extent – being sources of inspiration.
If you’re the type of person that loves to dive deep into the stories behind each character in 2D music projects, then DIG-ROCK has rich storytelling.
Each character has a unique background, not necessarily tragic, but a background that, when told to you within the story, will make the actions and behavior of some characters make a lot of sense. Their backgrounds also influence the way they approach music and, at times, can lead to crazy or hilarious shenanigans.
A good example of that is how Mashiro, a womanizer, was going to be a Buddhist monk. That story, just for itself is well worth paying attention to as the turnaround is quite interesting and some of the band members end up teasing Mashiro about a specific hairstyle he’d have.
Each band feels unique, their motivations and dreams different but, in a way, all connected to their want to create music, to perform on stage. The dynamics between bandmates are entertaining, making the drama parts a treat to listen to.
Now, if you’re not that big of a fan of drama CDs and only check 2D music projects for the music, rest assured that DIG-ROCK has high-quality rock and acid-jazz music waiting for you.
RUBIA Leopard has an aggressive, intoxicating, and slightly alluring brand of rock. It may not be the most welcoming sound within the franchise, at least if you’re new to rock music, but they are surely a band to check out, if not for the powerful rock instrumentals, at least for Makoto Furukawa’s outstanding performances.
Impish Crow has an easy-listening powerpop sound which is to say, the band is all about punk-rock but pop has a big presence in the lyrics as well as in how catchy their choruses are. Fast-paced, intense and a lot of fun, Impish Crow’s music is a good entry point for those not that familiar with rock music or that do not fancy aggressive rock. Also, Yuma Uchida is on vocals so you can expect stellar performances all the time, some of those using a different technique from what you may know of him as a solo artist.
And HOUND ROAR is the funkiest band in this franchise. Acid-jazz, a fusion music genre that blends jazz, rock, soul, and funk, is their bread and butter, making this band’s sound incredibly addictive, catchy, and loungy. If you’re looking for unpredictability in the music you listen to – thus you love to be surprised when listening to music -, fancy elegant funky music and Toshiyuki Toyonaga’s top-tier vocals, then HOUND ROAR will pique your interest.
HOUND ROAR is, easily, the band with the most easy-listening sound in the franchise. It is simultaneously, the band with the most complex sound, that is if you start breaking it down.
As it is, the DIG-ROCK franchise presents itself as an entertaining journey through the crazy life of being in a rock band.
The drama tracks give life to this franchise, covering the intentions, dreams, and passions that motivate each band. The characters are all likable, something that is usually rare in 2D music projects. Their ambitions aren’t necessarily clichéd, and the leaders are pretty much geniuses in their own thing.
The music illustrates the excitement, passion, and ambitions of each band while providing incredibly high-quality performances (and songs) for listeners to enjoy.
Regardless if you’re just coming across the project or are just curious about one of the bands, DIG-ROCK is a 2D music project well worth diving into.
As the franchise is slowly expanding its reach to games and manga serialization, this is the perfect time to pick up this project, dive a bit into each character, and enjoy the awesome rock music – some of it quite niche and elegant – all bands have to offer.
DIG-ROCK is, easily, one of the best 2D music projects currently around and I can’t recommend it enough for you to check it out.
Make sure to check the music from DIG-ROCK and if you do enjoy it, spread the word about it!
“A guide to” special features are released every 2 months at The Hand That Feeds HQ.
DIG-ROCK on social media:
- Website: http://www.team-e.co.jp/digrock/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/digrock_ml
- YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9UIzmqI9wSUnvHUr3N14ew
- RUBIA Leopard on Spotify (3 drama CDs + music): https://open.spotify.com/artist/2DbFQQCbftY1JfCQVAJKRZ?si=Da8drWRsSmmC-rm1em-8Xg
- Impish Crow on Spotify (3 drama CDs + music): https://open.spotify.com/artist/3gRSC6x3SV65csRE8cl68i?si=DXDi8UzhQyqjZPcxpsbThA
- HOUND ROAR on Spotify (music only): https://open.spotify.com/artist/0nwawhQ9Gz3ADW3x1r3HXi?si=mmQUaGpPST-n-asWf5EVJg