KICK BACK — Kenshi Yonezu: Song Review


On October 12, 2022, the long awaited anime adaptation of the popular manga series “Chainsaw Man” was released on streaming, and along with it came what people are calling one of the greatest anime openings to date: KICK BACK. KICK BACK is a song by Japanese singer-songwriter Kenshi Yonezu, a popular artist in Japan who debuted 10 years ago as of May 16, 2022. He is well known for writing theme songs for several animes and movies, including “My Hero Acadamia,” “Ultraman,” and now “Chainsaw Man.” Upon its release, the song was an immediate hit, even gaining attention overseas. It’s intense tempo and chaotic tone make it unmistakable and perfect for the anime it was made for. This is an in-depth analysis and review of the song based on three criteria: instrumentals, vocals, and lyrics. So, without any further ado, let’s dive into this crazy song. 




The song starts off immediately with a sound sample of a chainsaw revving up, followed by a deep, catchy bass line, which is then added to a rapid drum beat, continuing for the first half of the first verse. For the second half, the tone shifts from a dark, almost edgy melody, to a slightly more uplifting one, before going into the pre-chorus. The pre-chorus changes tone again, highlighting a steady drum beat and utilizing unique chord progressions before fading and coming back into the chorus. The chorus is highlighted by unique guitar riffs and the increasingly erratic nature of the instruments. 


But by the end of the second verse, after repeating the same formula as the first verse, instead of going into the usual pre-chorus, the instrumental is slowly drowned out by a sound resembling a tape rewinding, slowly growing faster, before transitioning into a majestic string orchestra, completely contrasting the rest of the song, and abruptly ending before coming to a climactic conclusion with a dissonant, almost explosive guitar chord. Once the instrumental starts back up after a moment of collecting itself, it jumps back into a lighter clapping beat with unique-sounding guitar notes. The last parts of the song are characterized by the increasing intensity, and the song is closed out with another sample of a chainsaw revving, along with the sound of a girl laughing. 


Overall, the instrumental adds to the chaotic, adrenaline-pumping song, and really pulls the song together.  


Fun fact: the chainsaw sound you hear in the beginning and end were produced by an actual chainsaw being revved up in the studio. 




While I could go on for hours about why the vocals of this song are so insanely good, I’ll try my best to keep this brief. 


Kenshi Yonezu is known for his mellow but passionate voice, so KICK BACK was a massive step away from his usual style. From the moment the singing starts, Kenshi establishes a raspy, harsh tone of voice, filled with anger and intensity, rasping and growling his way through the song. Throughout the verses and chorus, dynamic harmonies fit under the main melody, adding to the fullness of the song. 


During the bridge, his voice seems to relax a bit, still keeping to the intense tone of the song, while singing over a string orchestra. But by the end of the bridge, the vocals build up a bit before peaking with a harsh, scream-y, semi-high note before striking a dissonant guitar chord, then return to their usual intensity.


Overall, the vocals truly complement the song’s chaos and intensity, and give us a glimpse of a wilder, more unhinged side of Kenshi the world has yet to see. 




Upon closer inspection, the English translation of KICK BACK’s lyrics have a much deeper, and rather sad, meaning. Being written by Kenshi for “Chainsaw Man,” the lyrics seem to reflect the life of the series’ protagonist, Denji. 


The phrase that repeats throughout the song, “doryoku, mirai, a beautiful star,” translates to “effort, future, a beautiful star,” which Kenshi confirmed came from the 2002 song “Souda! We’re ALIVE” by Japanese girl group Morning Musume. 


The lyrics overall are a plea for a happy, relaxed life with no troubles, much like what Denji wishes for in the anime. With lyrics like “Who is it? Who’s whispering in my head? The greedy voices keep singing, begging for more,” “Give me all of it, I want it all, The more I crave, an empty void consumes me,” and “I just want to be satisfied Doing the bare minimum,” it’s not hard to see that the song is a beg for mercy and relaxation. 




With a perfectly chaotic blend of instrumentals, vocals, and meaningful lyrics, all in all, KICK BACK is an instant favorite for fans of “Chainsaw Man,” Kenshi Yonezu, or even just people who come across it randomly. In my opinion, it’s one of Kenshi’s best songs to date, and we’re all looking forward to what the future has in store for his music career. 


So I guess you could say you’ll get a KICK out of this song for sure!




Instrumentals: 10/10

Vocals: 10/10

Lyrics: 10/10

Overall: 11/10