Zone band members
Takayo Ookoshi (大越貴代 Ookoshi Takayo) —vocals, guitar & leader (1999–2003)
Miyu Nagase (長瀬実夕 Nagase Miyu)—lead vocals & guitar (1999–2005, 2011–2013)
Mizuho Saito (斎藤瑞穂 Saito Mizuho)—vocals, drums (1999–2005); took over the leader’s position after Takayo’s departure
Maiko Sakae (栄舞子 Sakae Maiko)—vocals & bass guitar (1999–2005, 2011–2013)
Tomoka Nishimura (西村朝香 Nishimura Tomoka)—vocals & guitar (2004–2005, 2011)
Zone was an all-female pop rock band started in Sapporo, Japan in 1999. Although it initially started as a dance group, they turned to an all-female band. Zone has been categorized in a new genre called “bandol” (a portmanteau of the words band and idol).
Between 1999 and 2005, Zone released seventeen hit singles, three full-length CDs, and three DVDs, appeared in commercials, and had their own television special, in addition to attending high school. They all graduated.
Zone officially disbanded on April 1, 2005, after playing their final concert at Nippon Budokan. On April 13, their greatest hits album E: Complete A Side Singles was released. The album debuted at number 1 with first-week sales of about 98,000 copies, becoming their first number-one album on Japanese Oricon charts.
In February 2011, Miyu, Maiko, and Tomoka announced they would be reuniting (without Mizuho) in honor of the 10th anniversary of “Secret Base.” The group released Zone Tribute in August and made several concert appearances. In November, Tomoka announced she would be leaving the band because of health reasons. Miyu and Maiko continued as a duo, and released “Treasure of the Heart” in June 2012.
In February 2013, Miyu’s contract with RunTime Music Agency was dissolved due to the company claiming ‘immoral behaviour’ and ‘frequent non-fulfillment of duties’. On March 2, Maiko posted on the official website for RunTime Entertainment that she would be ending ZONE. The group has officially ended on March 2, 2013.
Zone’s music has been used in the 2003 Astro Boy series (opening theme, “True Blue” and second ending theme, “Tetsuwan Atomu: ballad version”) and the Japanese release of Ice Age (theme song, “Hitoshizuku”).
“Shiroi Hana” was used as the theme song to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in Japan.
“Secret Base (Kimi ga Kureta Mono)” was covered and used as the ending theme to the anime Kyō no Go no Ni and Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day by the voice actors of the respective anime.
Two remaining members of Zone (2012)
Anohana Cast: Ai Kayano, Haruka Tomatsu, Saori Hayami (lyrics)
“Secret Base” through the years
“Secret base”, one of their most popular songs, has been covered by many artists over the years. Which version is the best? It is not very clear. Anohana cast did a great job covering the song, but they somewhat overdid it. There is something special, wabi-sabi quality in the original… I also like the cover by Mes, mokona, 冥月, and 洛, which is probably my favorite version because it is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between the original and Anohana cast. Each voice sounds more distinct than the original, and they complement each other well. I especially like the part around 3:54 where all instruments stop, except for the violin, and they all sing together with minimal accompaniment for a brief moment 🙂