SENDAI – There was magic in the air before Game 6 of the Japan Series.
Or at least that’s what the Plant brothers, the die-hard Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles fans who make up one half of the Japanese-Canadian rock band Monkey Majik, were hoping was the case.
The brothers, Blaise and Maynard, were on the field during the Eagles’ batting practice before Game 6, and neither had any doubt that Saturday was the night the Eagles would bring a Japan Series title to Tohoku for the first time.
“I think it’s fate,” said Blaise. “Because the weather’s been kind of bad for the last few weeks. Our vibe, you know the team’s vibe, has been so great, so strong, so brilliant. To the point where they brought all that brilliance to this day.”
The brothers have been fans of the Eagles since the team began play in 2005, or “since the beginning,” Maynard said.
“It’s always great to have a new team come into your city,” Blaise said. “We’re originally from Ottawa, and we had the Ottawa Senators come in, and that was a big deal. Of course, it’s hard to try and become a hardcore fan of a new team, but we’ve seen a lot struggles in the last nine years. We’ve seen them do really well, we’ve seen them do really, really bad. We’ve also gotten to know some of the players, some of the coaches, the GMs, the managers, just the whole community.
Monkey Majik has a new album, their eighth original project, out called “DNA,” and also consists of Japanese musicians tax on drums and their bassist DICK. The band’s single “Around the World” became the theme song for the television series “Saiyuki” in 2006, and they have six RIAJ certified songs.
The group came together in 2000, when Maynard says he “put together a band for fun” while teaching English in Japan. They sent out a demo tape, and later a scout stationed in Sendai asked them to come down. They did, and things took off from there.
In 2009, the band was named as goodwill ambassadors by Canada in honor of the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Ottawa.
Because of their connection with Sendai, their home, the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami were real tough for the brothers. So it wasn’t long after the disaster that they ventured out to see what they could do to help the region recover.
“It was awful,” Maynard says. “I wish I didn’t have to (do it). There was nothing good that came out of the earthquake or the tsunami. It was terrible. Everyday was an awful period in my life.
“Having said that, whenever we’d go out in the community and volunteer, work on people’s houses, I was almost in tears everyday by the brotherhood and sense of courage that every single person in Tohoku had. And the entire country as well. How everybody sort of got together and was praying and supporting Tohoku.
“It was also just something that needed to be done. I think back and it’s ‘wow we did all those things.’ I don’t look at it that way. It just needed to be done. Anyone in the same situation would’ve done it.”
The band eventually began holding charity concerts to raise money and have been successful in their efforts, which Maynard says are “ongoing.”
“I remember feeling quite useless as a musician,” Maynard said. It was like, music is an important part of everyone’s life, but in a situation like that, I felt sort of powerless.
“We wondered, ‘is there something that the four of us could do together that could be more effective than us individually going out and helping,?’ And we decided it was a concert. A charity concert. We got everyone involved. We’ve done several of those now, but everyone involved does it for free. So every penny, every yen from that went to relief efforts.”
Blaise and Maynard have kept up with the Eagles when their schedule allows, coming to a number of games throughout the year, and like most have been amazed at the year undefeated Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka has put together. They also think he has at least one more win in him.
“There’s probably a lot of Giants fans out there waiting for Tanaka to lose one,” Blaise said. “It ain’t gonna be today.”
The Tohoku region deserves the type of party the Eagles can provide, and the Plant brothers are confident they’ll get it.
“Slowly but surely, Tohoku is getting back in shape. And the Eagles, by winning tonight, they’re going to give us that extra booster shot that we need,” Maynard said.