The Artist Behind Resident Evil’s Absurd Enka Parody

The Artist Behind Resident Evil’s Absurd Enka Parody

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Resident Evil Enka Parody
How an Enka song from the 1980s laid the foundation of J-Rap and became an internet meme.

On April 23, 2021, video game company Capcom released an “official theme song” for the newly-released Resident Evil Village. The title of the music video roughly translates as “I Don’t Want to Live In This Village Lv.100” (俺らこんな村いやだLv.100). The video made it into the Trending page on Japanese Twitter and has since reached over 5 million views on YouTube.

Suffice to say, the video is strange; an absurdist karaoke-style Enka music video that requires some background knowledge to fully appreciate.


『バイオハザード ヴィレッジ』公式イメージソング「俺らこんな村いやだLv.100」.mp4

The song is sung by ’80s pop icon Yoshi Ikuzo parodying his own ’80s hit, “俺ら東京さ行ぐだ” (I’m Going to Tokyo). Rather than sing about how he hates his rural village, however, Ikuzo instead sings about how he hates the village featured in the newest Resident Evil game.

The song itself is a hilarious spin on what is comparatively a normal song about wanting to move to the city. Additionally, it also helps explain and introduce many of the monsters, areas, and mechanics that the game features. Ikuzo himself plays along, reacting to the events in the game in front of a green screen and even getting angry at some of the enemies.

So, who is Yoshi Ikuzo? Why is this music video so popular? To answer that, we’ll have to deep-dive into internet culture, some J-Pop history, and travel back to 1984.

Yoshi Ikuzo, The Father of J-Rap

Born Yoshihito Kamata in 1952, Ikuzo grew up in Aomori in what is now Goshogawara city. Back in the ’60s, however, Ikuzo’s hometown was still incredibly rural. As the youngest of nine children, he aspired to become a singer from an early age. His father, Inaichi Kamada, was a renowned Minyo singer who even performed in front of the Showa Emperor. However, his father refused to let his son pursue a career in music.

Ikuzo would eventually go against his father’s wishes and leave for Tokyo at the age of 15. With the mentorship of songwriter Masao Yoneyama, he began his career singing commercial songs. He even attempted to become an idol singer, before switching to folk songs and changing his name to Yoshi Ikuzo.


Finally, in 1977, he had a breakthrough. His song “俺はぜったい!プレスリー” (I’m Definitely Presley) was a commercial success and even got its own movie adaptation. The song was borne out of his failure to break out as an idol singer, and was a self-deprecating take on a rural man’s struggle to make it in the entertainment industry. Calling himself “the Inaka (countryside) Elvis Presley,” the comical nature of the song is what arguably launched Ikuzo’s career.

Later, he would continue to try to recreate the success of his debut song. However, it would take another 7 years — until 1984 — for this to happen. This is when Ikuzo wrote “I’m Going To Tokyo”, a unique comical song that mixes elements of folk, rap, and Enka music. He was reportedly inspired after listening to a few old-school Rap LPs from the United States and decided to bring the genre over to Japan. While not the typical form of J-Rap we see today, Ikuzo is nevertheless credited with pioneering the genre as the “father of J-Rap”.



Once again, Ikuzo returned to the tried-and-true equation of making fun of rural Japan; the song would talk about how his hometown had “no gas, no electricity” and “too many grannies and grandpas”. It’s chock-full of hilarious lyrics, such as “I’m going to Tokyo, save up some money, and I’m going to buy a cow in the city”, “buy a horse-drawn carriage”, and “buy a mountain in Ginza”. The whole song is even sung in his native Tsugaru dialect of Aomori prefecture, adding to the rural, hillbilly persona.

The Japanese Rick Astley

Afterward, Yoshi Ikuzo made a pivot to more serious Enka music, but never really enjoyed the popularity that he did in the ’70s and ’80s. That is, of course, until the internet came along.

Around the late-2000s, there began a trend on video-sharing platform Nico Nico Video where users would upload remixed versions of Ikuzo’s “I’m Going to Tokyo”. Mashups would pair the artist’s song with other popular music of the time. And thus began the “IKZO Boom”. While the cause of the sudden burst in popularity is unknown, western internet culture has also had a long history of reusing older music (ie. Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”)

Ikuzo himself has acknowledged the popularity of his song in internet circles, and has made multiple positive statements about the IKZO trend:


Quote from Wikipedia

This is the present learning from the past. Regardless of if it’s my music or not, older music becoming popular is great news for the music industry as a whole… Genres may have differences, but there are plenty of similarities when you get down to the basics. I think my older music may have coincidentally aligned with some of these songs.

Translation of the above quote

As evidenced by the recent Resident Evil collaboration, Ikuzo has since leaned heavily into his internet popularity. After his sudden rise to internet meme-dom in 2008, he released “NDA!(んだ!)” — a reggae song written as an answer song to “I’m Going to Tokyo”. He later went on to collaborate with Dwango to create ring tones for cellphones, and even produce an official version of the IKZO remix, titled “IKZO(本人ver.)”

The widespread use of Ikuzo’s music is clear; simply search “IKZO” on YouTube and literally thousands of videos will come up. Artists have been mashing and remixing his music over the past decade, combining anything from Daft Punk and Morning Musume, to recent pop hits like Yoasobi’s “Racing into the Night” and Ado’s controversial rock hit “Usseewa”


俺ら夜さ駆けるだたなとす えろす は津軽弁らしいです(適当)夜に駆ける(俺ら東京さ行ぐだ(※この動画は収益化していません。_______________________…

An Artist At Heart

Ikuzo’s recent work doesn’t just stop at comedy, either. The prolific songwriter also released “TSUGARU — a rap single sung entirely in the Tsugaru-dialect — back in 2019. And to prove Ikuzo’s continued popularity on the internet, the YouTube video of the song reached 2 million views only two weeks after its release.

When the COVID-19 pandemic came around, he even rereleased a “Fight against Coronavirus!” version of the song, which urged citizens of Aomori prefecture to stay indoors to help curb the spread of the disease. As a native of the Tohoku region, Ikuzo also wrote “I Won’t Forget” (忘れない…), a tribute song to the lives lost during the Tohoku Earthquake in 2011.

In a behind-the-scenes interview with Capcom filmed during the parody video’s production, Ikuzo stated that he “hadn’t sung the song in over 20 years”, but that he was thankful fans could still recognize the song. And at 68 years old, Ikuzo continues to be an active musician and entertainer that pushes the boundaries of comedy and music. The Lycan makeup shown towards the end of the video was in fact the first time he had ever done prosthetic makeup.

Yoshi Ikuzo shows that being a musician doesn’t mean that you have to choose between serious and comedic work. “I want people to not only sing along with my music but also laugh and enjoy it” he stated in a message towards Resident Evil fans. While he may have gotten his start as a “joke musician”, he’s also an incredibly talented Enka singer who had the courage to experiment with entirely new genres of music.

And where most musicians of his generation would have likely been confused by internet trends, Ikuzo grasped it by the horns and rode it into stardom.

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Andrew Kiya

Andrew Kiya is a Mixed Japanese Writer, Streamer, and Activist. Born and raised in both Japan and the United States, he focuses primarily on the intersection of mixed race experiences, video games, and progressive politics.

Japan in Translation

Subscribe to our free newsletter for a weekly digest of our best work across platforms (Web, Twitter, YouTube). Your support helps us spread the word about the Japan you don’t learn about in anime.

Want a preview? Read our archives

You’ll get one to two emails from us weekly. For more details, see our privacy policy