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Japanese dance-rockers Flow are the top anime credits band, recognized in both hemispheres for their work for such mainstays of the Japanese cartoon industry as Naruto, Eureka Seven, and Code Geass. That was a long way to go for an X-Japan cover band, and indeed, Flow spent most of their early career in the '90s setting their priorities straight and paving their way to success. The group, initially named Wyburn, then Pinking, was started in 1993 between brothers Koushi and Take and slowly moved from X-Japan worship to Hide (the band's guitarist) worship and finally to original material. Flow proper was born in 1998, with the inclusion of the vocalist Keigo and the bassist Got's [sic] (the drummer Iwasaki joined in 2000), as well as the final change of the band's name and the decision to mix rock and hip-hop/dance elements into their music. Between 2000 and the first half of 2003, Flow had five EPs and singles out, most faring well on the Japanese indie charts, and Okuru Kotoba even made it to number six on the general charts. Their debut full-length album Splash!!!, comprised of previously released material, was out in 2003, reaching number two on the charts and earning Flow a deal with the Ki/oon label, home to Asian Kung-Fu Generation, among others. The band's first major single, "Blaster," was out in 2003, and first major album Game in 2004, followed by another studio release the next year (Golden Coast, 2005). That was also the beginning of the Flow's prolific media spell: they provided tracks for Naruto ("Go!!!," 2004 and "Re:member," 2006), as well as Eureka Seven ("Days," 2005) and Code Geass ("Colors," 2006), not to mention the track "Realize," used in the PS2 video games based on Eureka Seven. Flow's efforts got them their first overseas gig: they played for a crowd of anime fans at Dallas' Anime Fest 2006. In 2007 the band's single, "Answer," was picked for the live action Japanese drama Tantei Gakuen Q, and for another release, Night Parade, Flow collaborated with hip-hoppers Home Made Kazoku; the result appeared on their fourth studio album Airu in 2008, reaching seventh place on the charts). ~ Alexey Eremenko

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