Formation and indie releases (1996–2002)
Asian Kung-Fu Generation was first formed in 1996 when Masafumi Gotō, Kensuke Kita, and Takahiro Yamada met in while attending a music club at Kanto Gakuin University, a private university located in Yokohama, Japan. After realizing that they all shared similar musical tastes, the three decided to start their very own band. Masafumi Gotō became the lead vocalist and played rhythm guitar, Kensuke Kita played lead guitar and sang backup and Takahiro Yamada played bass. Drummer Kiyoshi Ijichi joined them later on after parting with another college band he was with at the time. The four then began providing performances at their university as well as throughout the local Yokohama area. After graduating from college, following years of playing in several small venues and having collaborated with fellow Japanese rock musician Caramelman, AKFG released their first indie EP in 2000. The six-track EP contained original lyrics written and sung almost entirely in English. The four spent the remainder of the year playing in multiple clubs and hosting various independent events.
The year after, the band made an attempt to attain airplay on indie radio stations for their first Japanese single, "Konayuki" (粉雪). The song was eventually picked up by a popular radio DJ and put into heavy rotation on the station FM Yokohama upon the demand of listeners. AKG then released another indie EP, I'm Standing Here. This time, however, the band wrote songs which expressed Japanese lyrics. At this time, the band had begun drawing an increasingly large number of audiences to their shows held in various clubs in the districts of Shibuya, Shimokitazawa, Kichijōji, and Tokyo.
Hōkai Amplifier and Kimi Tsunagi Five M (2002–2004)
On November 25, 2002, after contributing to the Under Flowers Records compilation, Whatch You Gonna Do?, Asian Kung-Fu Generation officially released their first major-label mini-album, Hōkai Amplifier (崩壊アンプリファー?). The group enlisted internet radio host and graphic artist Yusuke Nakamura to design and compose their single and album covers. The critically-acclaimed EP topped the High Line Records' weekly chart for two consecutive weeks and peaked at number thirty-five on the Oricon indies sales chart. As a result of its success, Hōkai Amplifier was re-released on April 23, 2003 by the band's new record label, Ki/oon Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music Japan. A month later, AKG held their first headline show at Shimokitazawa Club Shelter. That same summer, the band performed at the annual rock festivals of Fuji Rock Festival 03's "ROOKIE A GO GO" and Summer Sonic '03 in Tokyo and Osaka. On August 6, the band released their major-label debut single, "Mirai no Kakera" (未来の破片?), with their second single, "Kimi to Iu Hana" (君という花?), following shortly after. Days later, AKG held the first of what would come to be many annual concert festivals, entitled, ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION presents NANO-MUGEN FES. The festival took place on August 11 at the Shinjuku LOFT. The band followed it up by releasing their first full-length studio album, Kimi Tsunagi Five M (君繋ファイブエム?) on November 19. The LP sold over 250,000 copies and landed in the number five spot on the Oricon charts in its first week. As their fame and following grew, fans began calling the band simply Ajikan (アジカン?), which is an abridgment of their full name.
As they entered 2004, AKG received the award for Best New Artist while their video for "Kimi to Iu Hana" won the award for Best Music Video at the SPACE SHOWER Music Video Awards. From January 19 to February 25, AKG held their first headlining tour. Entitled, Five Nano Seconds, the tour consisted of thirteen shows. On July 1st, the band held their third ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION presents Nano-Mugen Festival at the Tokyo arena Nippon Budokan. Over the course of the following summer, the band played in more than ten summer rock festivals, including Meet The World Beat, Rock In Japan Fes 04, and Fuji Rock Festival 04.
Over the course of the year, the band would release four more singles: "Siren" (サイレン?), "Loop & Loop" (ループ＆ループ?), "Rewrite" (リライト?) and "Kimi no Machi Made" (君の街まで?), before finally releasing their second full-length album, Sol-fa (ソルファ?) on October 20th. The album debuted at number-one on the Oricon charts where it stayed for two consecutive weeks and eventually went on to sell more than 600,000 copies. The album received critical praised for its honed sound and high production quality, which thoroughly nullified the language barrier that frequently impeded non–Japanese speaking audiences. This notion became evident following the domestic release of Sol-fa, when AKG fans from around the world organized themselves and petitioned for copies of the sophomore album to be distributed outside of Japan. The support for Ajikan eventually resulted in Tofu Records striking a contract to release Sol-fa in the United States on October 18, 2005. Additionally, the song "Rewrite" found immense fame both domestically as well as on an international level when it was chosen as the fourth opening theme for the anime series Fullmetal Alchemist. Around the same time, their song "Haruka Kanata," enjoyed similar recognition after being used for the second opening of the anime series Naruto. Asian Kung-Fu Generation spent the next two months on a national tour consisting of twelve shows called "Tour SUI CUP 2004 -No! Member, November." The tour included a prestigious headliner at Nippon Budokan arena. The four then released a year-end video DVD, Eizō Sakuhinshū Vol. 1 on November 26. The DVD is compilation of the music videos for all singles from "Haruka Kanata" to "Kimi no Machi Made," including a never before seen clip of "Siren." The video also contains audio commentary for each song, a making-of featurette, and live footage derived from their concerts.
Due in part to their growing recognition, Asian Kung-Fu Generation would dedicate a significant amount of time the next couple of years going on extensive national tours. Between March 14 and June 26 of 2005, AKG went on an extensive sold-out Re:Re Tour, performing at forty-eight concerts in thirty-eight cities throughout Japan. At the same time, the band released their second DVD, Eizō Sakuhinshū Vol. 2: Live at Budokan +. The two-disc video was the band's very first live DVD, as the first disc contains live footage of the entirety of the final show of their "Tour Suihai 2004 - No!Member, Novemer-," at Budokan, where they performed before an audience of over 10,000 people on December 5, 2004. Meanwhile, second disc contains clips from their first concert at the Shimokitazawa Shelter Club on November 2, 2004. It also includes behind-the-scenes documentary directed by Toshiaki Toyoda and filmed at Kanto Gakuin University, as well as outtakes from the music video for "Kimi to Iu Hana." Upon its release, the video managed to top the Oricon DVD charts for an entire month. On July 9th, AKG held their fifth Nano-Mugen Festival at Yokohama Arena, where they performed with seven other Japanese and UK bands. To advertise the event, they released a preceding compilation album that retained one song from each band attending the festival. Over the next summer, AKG attended a host of festivals, including Summer Sonic 05, Rising Sun Rock Fes. 2005, and Rock in Japan Fes. 05. They also appeared as guests on GOGOICHI –SPACE SHOWER CHART SHOW– on November 27 on SPACE SHOWER TV. The band closed the year by releasing the single, "Blue Train" (ブルートレイン?), followed up by a brief tour entitled, "Tour SUI CUP 2005 - Winter Dragon" in December.
The band began 2006 with the release of their upcoming albums' second single, "World Apart." The single was unique in that it featured a song in which Kensuke Kita stood as lead singer. It was also AKG's first song to achieve number-one single status. It was also the year that the band was finally able to acquire their very own studio. They then took part in live performances in LIVE SUPERNOVA DX on February 16, 2006. On March 15, AKG released their third full-length album, Fanclub (ファンクラブ?). The album peake at number three and stayed in the Oricon top five for nearly two months. The following month, the band went on a national tour entitled, Count 4 My 8 Beat. Tickets for all thirty-eight shows quickly sold out. AKG's sixth annual Nano-Mugen Fes. was held at Yokohama Arena. For two days, Asian Kung-Fu Generation and eleven other bands, including six Japanese bands, three American bands and two English bands, performed. Like the previous year, a compilation album was released in July to advertise the Nano-Mugen Festival. After three years of attending the Fuji Rock Fes, AKG had the opportunity to perform on its coveted primary Green Stage for the first time at Fuji Rock Festival 06.
Feedback File (2006–2007)
To commemorate their ten-year anniversary, Asian Kung-Fu Generation released their first compilation album, Feedback File on October 25. Rather than featuring hit singles, the nostalgic album was primarily compiled of B-sides, live performances, and old demos from their early indie days. Even though it retained little new material, the compilation was met by commercial success and managed to debut at number two on the Oricon charts. AKG then went on a two-month arena tour entitled, Tour Sui Cup 2006-2007: The Start of a New Season. Well over 100,000 fans attended this tour, which traveled through eight cities and featured guest performances by bands from Japan and the United States. In the midst of the tour, AKG was commissioned by the director of the then-upcoming anime film, Tekkon Kinkreet, to compose a theme song for the movie. The band created a song called, "Aru Machi no Gunjō" (或る街の群青?) and released it as a year-end single prior to the film's debut. As a sign of their increasing cultural prominence, the band came to be parodied in a volume of the popular Hellsing manga by members of the Vatican named, "The Vactikung."
Withdrawal and World World World (2007–2008)
On March 21, the band released another live DVD, entitle, Eizō Sakuhinshū Vol. 3: Tour Sui Cup 2006-2007 The Start of a New Season that contained footage of their previous tour. Although they took part in various domestic summer festivals, AKG gradually became more and more withdrawn over the course of 2007 before ending appearances almost entirely. It was also the year that the band withheld their annual Nano-Mugen Festival. However, they closed the year with the November release of their next albums' second single, "After Dark." The song debuted in the top ten on the Oricon charts and was used as the seventh opening for the anime series Bleach. Additionally, on December 22, AKG held a live concert in Seoul entitled, ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION Tour SUI-CUP 2007 ~Project Beef~ Live In Korea. It was the band's first concert in Korea since their performance five months earlier at Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival, which had received enthusiastic applause from the foreign audience and led to the band being invited to play again.
While they performed at the Japanese New Year countdown, AKG continued to remain withdrawn and spent the next few months working on their fifth studio album. On February 2008, AKG released the album's final single, Korogaru Iwa, Kimi ni Asa ga Furu (転がる岩、君に朝が降る?), before quickly following it up with the actual album, World World World. Despite the lack of media appearances and the significant time-span between their releases, the album topped the debuted Oricon charts on its first week before eventually relapsing the weeks after. Just a few months after the album release, Asian Kung-Fu Generation released their second major-label EP, Mada Minu Ashita ni, on June 11, 2008. The mini-album features songs conceived around the time of the recording of their preceding full-length album. Although the EP didn't give way to any singles, the song "Mustang" managed to peak at number fifteen on the Japan Hot 100. The song was the band's very first entry on the newly established chart.
Surf Bungaku Kamakura (2008–Present)
The band appeared as a supporting act for a show held at Yokohama Bay Hall by American alternative rock band Third Eye Blind on July 18. Incidentally, Third Eye Blind later appeared for the fourth and final lineup of AKG's seventh annual Nano-Mugen Festival held at the Yokohama Arena through July 20-21st. The group was but one of a total of sixteen musical acts, originating from Japan, America, and the UK, who performed at the festival alongside Asian Kung-Fu Generation, who later released their third Nano-Mugen disc, Nano-Mugen Compilation 2008. Peaking at number eighteen on the Oricon charts and retaining one song from each of the sixteen groups, the compilation expressed the largest track number within the Nano-Mugen series as of yet. Additionally, the song "Natsusemi" (夏蝉, Summer Cicada?), composed by AKG just for the compilation, managed to peak at number thirty-six on the Japan Hot 100 despite not being released as a single.
In September, Asian Kung-Fu Generation performed at The WEEZER FESTIVAL, along with fellow Japanese rock band Going Under Ground, in Osaka and Tokyo.
On July 2009, Asian Kung-Fu Generation played live in South Korea's "Jisan Valley Rock Festival" along with WEEZER, Jimmy Eat World, Oasis, and many other well known bands. This was Asian Kung-Fu Generation's 3rd time playing live in Korea.
The band is set to release their new single 'Shinseiki no Love Song' or, Love Song of the New Century on December 2, 2009.