By Bryan Saxton
If you paid attention to Japanese rock and pop music at all during the 90’s, you are bound to have run across the band Judy and Mary. If you’re a fan of the Anime Ruroni Kenshin, you’re likely familiar with the band’s only Number 1 hit Sobakasu.And if you’ve been paying close attention to Japanese music, you’ve probably run across Yuki of Judy and Mary’s solo music.
Judy and Mary were at their career’s apex when they broke up in 2001. In fact, many fans and critics revere their final album “Warp” as the band’s best overall album.
Why the breakup
Guitarist Takuya, bass player Onda and Yuki were all involved in side projects besides Judy and Mary.
Takuya was quoted by some as saying that he wanted to to play in his side project “Robots” full time, and that he liked being in Judy and Mary because of the money it provided. However, sources say he said this some time before the recording of their final album “Warp,” and after looking at some of Judy and Mary’s later video footage, I think Takuya was sad that Judy and Mary was coming to an end.
According to an interview with Yuki, Onda wanted to leave the band, which made Yuki decide to bring Judy and Mary to an end.
Interviewer: I want to go back for a moment. You said that you brought up the break up of JAM, but basically it was because Onda had said he was leaving.
YUKI: That’s true, yes.
Interviewer: Since then, you had to think about it a lot, and it brought you to that decision, right?
YUKI: Yes… yeah, he was in a state where he would like JAM to go on, and not. It was as if he didn’t care. He did say something about how he want’s it to end for his own reasons. Then we all had a talk about it. But the moment On-chan said what he said, the only thing that ran through my mind was “JAM is over.”
The desire to end a band in Japan when the band is at the height of its success is not uncommon (read this articlefor an explanation).
Between Warp and the breakup
If you want to get a sense of the general mood of Judy and Mary’s breakup, take a look at some of the footage of live concerts, music videos and interviews released during that period.
In a video released right after the band made the decision to break up (and shot before the official announcement; this also explains why Yuki cries in the beginning and throughout the video), Yuki and Takuya discuss what their initial plans are after the band ends.
Here’s the discussion (via Youtuber ryotarok )
Yuki: When I sang this song in front of the audience, I felt like this song is not only mine but also all listeners, then I realized that I could breath life into this song.
Takuya: I really understand your feeling.
Takuya: Maybe, that’s the way life goes, isn’t it?
Yuki: it is.
Takuya: Do you wanna stay in Tokyo?
Yuki: What about you?
Takuya: I have no idea, really.
Yuki: I think you will be somewhere not in Tokyo or Japan. I will be staying in Tokyo, I love this city.
Takuyo: Oh, you still like this city, huh?
Yuki: I love Tokyo. I’ve been here for 9 years. you?
Takuya: 11 years.
Yuki: You wanna work abroad.
Takuya: No, I want to stay in Tokyo but I have gut feeling that someone is looking for the guy like me in the world.
Yuki: You have to find a reliable person to do business oversea, you don’t go oversea alone, right? I don’t know if it’s men or women for you.. maybe it’s gonna be a women. I know that.
Takuya: hmm.. Good point.
Also worth watching is the band’s final performance. The final song they played together, Overdrive, may give you a sense of the feelings of the band during their last performance.
From an interview with Yuki:
Interviewer: So you didn’t have any sentimental feelings?
YUKI: No, none at all. *laugh* The encore ended, then when it really came to the point where I wouldn’t be on stage anymore, I thought “It’s really over”… then my face was a mess. But until then, there was no difference for me between the other lives we had done. It was rather mysterious.
Interviewer: Looking back, was it because you know that JAM was breaking up and you were ready for it, or you were already prepared for the future? It seems there was a reason for it.
YUKI: I think it was because my body didn’t understand the meaning of breaking up really. Even though I was the one that brough up the break up. It was like I didn’t know what I was saying, because I didn’t understand it myself. It didn’t really feel as if it was going to end as it did. *laugh* There was almost a feeling that it was going to go on.
In fact, if you pay attention to Yuki’s face right before Takuya’s guitar solo before she sings the chorus for a final time, you can see her holding back tears.