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Article written and interview conducted by Crunchyroll Title Marketing Manager Alex Lebl.


Bad Omens have become one of the biggest bands in the metal scene over the course of the past year. With an incredible album in The Death of Piece of Mind (which recently won Album of the Year at the Heavy Music Awards) taking listeners by storm, the band’s path to domination has been punctuated by trending songs on TikTok and sold-out tours. 




What you might not know is that anime has been a huge part of the band’s journey and the lives of its members. We had the chance to speak with Noah Sebastian (Lead Vocals) and Nick Ruffilo (Guitar) from the band about what they love about anime, how it hits them harder than most media, and the impact shows like Naruto and Paranoia Agent have had on them personally and creatively.


Check out the full interview below!



So to kick things off, we’d love to hear a bit more about both of your experiences with anime.


Nick: It started really young. I want to say Toonami was probably everybody’s biggest introduction to stuff like Dragon Ball Z. Yu Yu Hakusho was one of my favorites. But yeah, I’ve been into it as long as I can remember. That’s why I started drawing, just drawing bad versions of Goku and Vegeta. 


And, yeah, running the fine, you know, Ninja Scroll at Blockbuster. Yeah, it started really young. It’s really cool how popular it is now. Like you can’t go to the mall without seeing six stores that are all selling Sasuke stuff.


Dragon Ball Z Goku'S Death


Noah: Yeah, it’s interesting how that works. I started young too. And then I fell out of it and got back into it like with the culture, ironically enough. I think Toonami, like Nick said, and stuff like that was my first introduction to anime. And then I got really into Naruto, which I think was my first time watching an anime that wasn’t on TV, or it was but I think I got the box set. I remember loving it and being obsessed with Naruto when I was a little kid, like I think I was maybe 11 or 12 when I got into it.


I do remember once going in to get my haircut and showing them a picture of Sasuke and they were like, this is not gonna work, player, this just defies gravity. This is a 2D image someone drew, this is not a real haircut. 


But yeah, so I kind of fell out of it when I got into music and stuff, when I was a teenager and it was getting not cool to like anime. When we started touring for the first time with Bad Omens, our tour manager Matt also loves anime, and we bonded over that when we first started working together and it got me back into Naruto because I never actually finished it. 


So like yeah, around that time I started getting back into anime and I think during the pandemic I finally finished [Naruto] Shippuden because when else would you have the time to watch right? So yeah, it’s been in and out of my life growing up.


Is there anything that you’re both watching more recently, now that you’re back in it and have a little bit of time between tours?


Nick: I think the last thing we watched together was I showed him Paranoia Agent. We blasted through that all in a night or two. And then on my own I just watched all of Ranking of Kings and that was so charming. I thought that was so wholesome, but there was still some shocking violence. I really enjoyed that.


Ranking Of Kings


Noah: I finally started, and finished pretty quickly, Elfen Lied and really enjoyed that. On one of our most recent tours Matt and I started Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, which I also thought was really good. I had a bit of a low expectation going in but it was really good. I really enjoyed it. 


Started Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba recently, but I didn’t have time to finish it. Chainsaw Man is also really cool. Still haven’t finished it, too. It’s like whenever I have the time to sit and catch up or watch anime or even like any TV I just fall asleep. But yeah, I’m stoked to finish all those.


I’m guessing there’s probably not much time on tour to catch up and watch or even read.


Noah: That’s actually the best time! That’s actually when I was able to finish Elfen Lied in a week because I was just in my bunk every night after we played and just blasting through episodes. Probably this tour I’ll get to finish Chainsaw Man or at least catch up to where it’s currently at. But what are you trying to watch this tour? 


Nick: Now that sounds good, Chainsaw Man. I’ve seen one episode and it’s so promising. I loved it, so I’m excited to get back into it. 



Do you find that your love of Naruto makes its way into your music?


Noah: Oh definitely, both consciously and subconsciously. We actually did this collab with this EDM artist Kayzo and I used this line “the will of fire” which is a title of one of the Naruto side movies. And also our imagery, with our dystopian, dark overtones and the aesthetic and the color choices and everything. 


We worked with a photographer once who said he was also a fan of anime and he would do photo shoots where he would try to recreate his favorite scenes or stills from episodes of an anime that he liked with real models and real-life photography. And I thought that was like a really cool way to make art, basing it on a really powerful frame in an anime. 


Nick: Yeah, I think it’s in Perfect Blue where there’s that shot where the girl is screaming in the bathtub? They use that shot in Requiem for a Dream. Anime can be super powerful and influence other media. 


Noah: I watched Elfen Lied, and I was reading about it and it reminded me of Stranger Things. And I went and looked and the creators are pretty open about how it was influential, like yeah absolutely I love Elfen Lied.


Nick: Oh, yeah, there’s no way he could deny all the similarities.


Noah: It’s really cool how anime makes its way into other forms of art.


That also ties your music back to anime as well. You can make it so heavy and so big at the same time, and that extreme nature really allows you to express what you’re trying to express. 


Do you find that is true for your music and do you think overall for the heavy music scene? That extremeness is what brings both forms of art together? 


Nick: Yeah, I would, I would definitely say that’s part of the allure to it. That’s what we try to do is make our stuff so super cinematic, and take it as big as it can go, and that’s something you can’t necessarily do if you’re doing comics and stuff. It’s so much more powerful when there’s motion to it and all the extreme imagery. 


Noah: Yeah like Nick said, it makes it way more fun to be experimental with that type of stuff and even with anime and the crossover with music, I can’t think of any Western shows where the theme song has a rock or heavy metal feel the way something like Demon Slayer and Death Note do. You’re never gonna turn on Grey’s Anatomy and hear metal in the intro.


Demon Slayer


That’s cool in itself that even without metal asking, anime brings that into its universe and vice versa. There’s also a surprising sleeper cell of people that love anime. I meet so many people on tour that I would never think like anime, and then we bond over it. It feels like metal in that sense, that it’s a subculture that people can relate to.


With anime coming into the mainstream more often, you can go to the mall and in the front of every Spencer’s or Hot Topic is an anime shirt.


I see the gatekeeping too from the anime crowd and it reminds me so much of the gatekeeping in rock and metal. I feel like I get it and sympathize with it, because you have this thing that is a subculture and it’s on the fringes of mainstream culture. And then you feel like it’s taken away from you.


Nick: Yeah like, “You don’t appreciate it the same way I do.”


Noah: It’s this snowball and this cycle of hypocritical-ness, I guess you could say where you’re doing the same thing that was done to you for being like a weirdo that liked something different and then other people try to get into it. 


I think it’s cool that it’s in the mainstream and I feel that way about rock and metal too, and how alternative music is getting way more popular on a mainstream level at this point. That’s good for the genre. It’s good for us metal musicians. It’s no secret they struggle to make money because it’s such a small pocket of the music industry and the same thing goes for anime.


I feel like it should be a lucrative culture and business so they can keep making cool shows. Because it’s not free. We’ve wanted to do anime music videos before and that work is more expensive than a real music video with actors. 


I’m glad you brought up music videos because I’m also curious, were you the type of kids that sat in front of YouTube and just watched AMVs?


Nick: Oh my god. Yeah.


Noah: It’s funny you asked that because this show we just played we like we made this short little clip for our song “ARTIFICIAL SUICIDE” where right when that song drops, it’s a fight scene. Bryan, our photographer, put all these crazy-like effects on it stuff, but it just, I thought it was cool. I’ve never seen a band do that before where it kicks in and they’re fighting on tempo to the song. 


So like now the video wall graphic has an anime fight scene behind us while we’re playing for like one verse of the song. 


That sounds perfect. There are times when you hit those lows, where it’s like, you’re just shouting something that someone would say right before they punch someone.


Noah: I need to start embodying that more. I just changed up my stage outfit for this tour. And I got these pants and this jacket that have all these pockets. I saw a few people on Twitter put it side by side with Kakashi’s outfit because it looks just like his utility vest. And I was like, that’s so sick.


You need to get the head wrap to cover one of your eyes. Although that might lead to you falling off stage.


Nick: That would be sick. Lose all depth perception and fall off the riser. 


Related to something you just said earlier actually, metalcore overall is a spectrum. Is that another aspect of anime that draws you to it as a medium, because it doesn’t have to be just the one thing that it looks like it is from the surface? 


Nick: Oh yeah 100%. Even within the frames of animation. It can shift tonally on a dime and that’s cool that they can cover such a wide spectrum of crazy intense emotions or just goofball stuff.


Naruto Vs Sasuke


Noah: Yeah, and it always works. It’s crazy. Even with Naruto, for example, I know that’s a very popular obvious one but it can be so goofy and then it gets so dark. You get attached to these characters and then maybe you lose them and you feel this deep emotional connection. Sometimes more than movies with real people or actors. It’s crazy how emotionally potent anime can be. 


Nick: Yeah, Spirited Away can take you on a much greater journey than Spongebob. You do feel more because you just spent 500 episodes with them. You better feel an emotional bond after that. 


Nick: We went to the DMV with Goku and Piccolo, you know? 


Noah: That is true. I’m a 100-percenter type of person with anime. I’ll watch all the filler episodes and everything. I’m fully invested when I find a show that I like or an anime that I like. I have to see and read everything.


Is there an anime for each of you that really sticks with you and helps you get a better sense of who you are as a person? 


Nick: I’m gonna go Paranoia Agent. I thought the stuff that Satoshi Kon was touching on was so crazy relatable, because the main character is overcome with all this stress of living up to past success with the creation of Maromi that she…I don’t want to spoil a thing. But just stress and how important that is to manage that properly hits so crazy hard for me that I thought that was really cool.


Noah: I definitely feel like Naruto shaped like a huge part of my childhood. He’s such a beam of moral standards. He’s always trying to do the right thing. And Eren Jaeger in Attack on Titan. I thought his entire arc was so…it’s weird to say relatable because it’s so beyond reality, but just the concept of how he got from where he was to where he is now. The dichotomy of that power mixed with him, originally trying to do the right thing.


It’s that transcendence of character. It somehow feels more realistic than stuff you would see in a Marvel movie where there are such predictable characters. 


Noah: Right. It’s a lot more dynamic There are a lot more gray tones to it. Yeah. Again, with someone like Light Yagami, that’s a perfect example of like your protagonist turning into the antagonist. Your favorite character turns into L.


Nick: Yeah, he starts with the greatest of intentions. And then you just see him warp.


Noah: Yeah, and that’s interesting. A lesson in life. It’s a cautionary tale.


But when can we expect the Bad Omens anime album? When does that come out?


Noah: So, funnily enough, we are working on and have almost finished the first couple of volumes of a Concrete Jungle comic. Davis, our good buddy, who designs all the merch with us and is more or less like the creative director of the band, he’s been heavily involved because he’s so much more knowledgeable about that industry of comic and graphic novel stuff. 


So yeah, very excited about that to get that rolled out. It would definitely help in the times between albums to have Bad Omens volumes dropping week to week.


Bad Omens’ latest album, The Death of Piece of Mind, is now available. You can get tickets to their upcoming shows here.

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