… ‘Cause, like, we’re going through quite a bit of songs here 😀
The Pantless Anime Blogger made a list not too long ago of bands/artists he started listening to after having encountered them in anime. This post of his really hit close to home for me because, as I talked about in an older post, it was through anime that I was introduced to the wonderful world of Japanese music. As someone who treats his J-music seriously enough, I decided I’d share my own list.
Now, some of you might have some preconceived notions as to how this is gonna go down — owing to how much idol content I’d been pushing out over the past couple of months. I’ll say this now; while I do enjoy the Love Live! franchise’s various idol offerings (not just songs, but their live appearances and performances as well) my appreciation for their music in relation to the music that I choose to listen to in general is a bit lower than you would expect. That is to say, I don’t listen to idol songs as often as I watch idol performances (I talk about this a bit more in-depth in my discussion of idol performance and spectacle)
I made posts a while back about Japanese PVs that I like and underheard artists that I listen to so if you’ve seen those then you already have a good idea as to the kind of music that I flood my ears with (and check the posts out if you haven’t yet!). My Song Translations also paint a pretty accurate picture of my playlist as well.
Okay. Enough chatter. Plug in your favorite pair of earphones, or set your speaker volume to a comfortable setting, and let’s listen to some Japanese music shall we? 😀
As a final note, this list isn’t ranked in order of which song I liked least-to-best, but instead I tried to make a chronological account of bands and artists I’d encountered over the years, to better illustrate my descent from pure anison appreciation to, an overall appreciation for J-music, to the indie side of things where I find myself now. So! Without further ado —
Kokoro no inryoku – ココロの引力 – Gravity of the Heart
~ I first heard of ClariS through a Multi-Anime Opening (lol remember when those were still a thing) that used “irony” for its music and it wasn’t until later on when I hunted that song down that I found out that it was the opening theme for OreImo. ClariS was, for the longest time, the only J-Pop act that I ever loved as much as I did. Kokoro no Inryoku was my favorite ClariS song prior to their appearances in different anime after OreImo and still remains as one of most listened tracks up to this day. Alice’s departure from ClariS crushed me as I did favor her voice more than Clara’s (especially in this song here). As a result I’ve since dropped off, but the duo will always always have a place in my heart.
Hanabi made ato sukoshi – 花火まであと少し – A little after the fireworks
~ Jigoku Shoujo‘s opening themes (“Sakamasama no chou” and “Nightmare“) had always sounded very catchy to me as a young anime viewer, but at the time I had the habit of just skipping over the OPs altogether because I wanted to get the show going (xD). When ClariS taught me that I could enjoy the music outside of anison, I went back to some of the OPs that stuck with me and found SNoW. I was actually surprised at how different her discography was compared to the songs she sang for Jigoku Shoujo as I’d pegged her as more of a emo-y kind of singer when in fact she has more of a pop-py feel her to akin to maybe Fukuhara Miho or miwa, as you might notice as well in this track that I’m sharing here.
~ I note in my first Listening to Japanese Music post that I consider SCANDAL as my real gateway to Japanese music. That is to say, while ClariS opened my eyes (or ears, for that matter) to Japanese music, it wasn’t until I started listening to SCANDAL that I’d come to terms with my preferences. I fell in love the moment I heard Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood‘s third ending theme “Shunkan Sentimental“. My older brother was already a fan and he’d already bought a fair number of CDs and DVDs by the time I became a fan (which would be around 2010-2011). As such they were the first Japanese band whose albums I listened to from the first track to the last. They’ve hit super stardom since then as far as Japanese rock bands are concerned, but I always loved their earlier tracks the most; one of ’em being this track right here, DOLL.
Ongaku – 音楽 – Music
~ I’d already watched (and re-watched numerous times) Kara no Kyoukai at this point in the timeline but my appreciation for Kalafina’s stylistic offerings didn’t really come to surface until much later. As you’d notice in the entries above I pretty much skewed a bit more towards J-Pop, mostly because they were the most accessible and as such were the more far-reaching music at the time, and it wasn’t until a bit after their work with Kara no Kyoukai that Kalafina started making waves in the anison scene — with performances for Kuroshitsuji, So Ra No Wo To (terribly underrated anime, go check this show out now), and of course Madoka Magica. Just with these three songs one could discern the wide range of Kalafina’s music, and going off that, I decided to share this track to further showcase their versatility.
school food punishment
you may crawl
~ One of the things that I really appreciate about the noitaminA anime programming block (other than being the destination for the more.. adventurous types of anime) is that a lot of the times the singers/bands chosen to do the OPs/EDs for its shows aren’t your typical anison performers. I don’t know if this is just coincidence or not but school food punishment for example sang most of their anison for noitaminA anime ([C], Higashi no Eden, and UN-GO) — and all of ’em are phenomenal. sfp would my first real taste of experimental Japanese Rock with electro-synth and I’d be a bit hard-pressed to call any other band similar to what they bring to the table. They were way ahead in the times in my opinion, more so when you consider the fact that this track “you may crawl” is more than 10 years old at this point.
Ohayou OOPaatsu – おはようオーパーツ – Good Morning, OOParts
~ If you were to ask me what I prioritized with regard to what I look for in the music that I choose to listen to, then surely vocals come first. Enter Etsuko Yakushimaru, whose unique vocal stylings I first heard in Arakawa Under the Bridge‘s OPs (Seasons 1 and 2), The Tatami Galaxy‘s ED, and Mawaru Penguindrum‘s two OPs way back when. Her breath-y “low blood pressure” style of J-Pop is oddly addictive and once I got hooked it didn’t take long for me to set out and find my next fix. I found out that she was actually the front-woman for a band called Soutaiseiriron before even entering the anison scene, and right away I was taken in — whether it was by their quirky style complimented Etsuko Yakushimaru’s coquettish voice or their penchant for odd but catchy lyrics — see for yourself in the video (credits to Kitty for that awesome TL).
Tasogare no rapusodii – 黄昏のラプソディ – Rhapsody of the Dusk
~ Another band discovery I made, thanks to noitaminA’s Fall 2013 programming block by way of a show called Galilei Donna, was Negoto. Truth be told when I first heard the OP for that I thought the vocals were a tad bit too high/squeaky for my liking. Three years later (lol) after having since been exposed to actual high-pitched and irritating vocals I went back and tried out Negoto again and I thought — hey, it wasn’t as bad as I remember it being; more than that they’re actually really really good (xD) Curse me for being uncultured in my early years of following J-music (and subsequently bless Negoto for continuing to produce good music even to this day). Seriously though, Negoto’s sense of rhythm (as far as “Japanese girls’ rock” is concerned) is just on another level, and here’s a taste of that in Tasogare no Rhapsody.
Tsukiyo no net – 月夜のnet – Moonlight’s Net
~ In the past I’ve talked about how one of the ways I decide on shows to watch was whether are liked its OP/ED, but nowadays it’s not really beyond me anymore to pick up songs from anime that I don’t even watch xD Such was the case for ecosystem. Admittedly however, I first found out about ecosystem through last.fm. You see, I do this thing where I’ll chain search through the “Similar Artists” tab on that site in attempts to discover bands/artists to listen to and ecosystem came up during one of those searches. As adventurous as I claim to be with my music though, I’d much rather test the waters with music that’s more or less easier to come across (luckily they made OPs for Gintama and Uta Koi). If I had to describe their sound in one word; it’d be just plain “fun”.
Umi e kaeru – 海へ還る – Return to the Sea
~ Summer 2014’s Aldnoah.Zero remains to very much be a polarizing title that has fans either praising or despising its otherwise magnificently convoluted narrative. If there’s anything that both parties can agree on however is that aLIEz was the sh*t (“I SAY CRIIIIIEEEER, I SAY LIIIIIAAAR“). *ehemehem* One of the reasons why Sawano Hiroyuki’s tracks are as awesome-tier as they are (dating back to his work on Guilty Crown) has always been his excellent ear for vocal talent. “Mizuki” was one of his discoveries and by golly was she a find. The harrowing quality to her voice is just so amazingly haunting. Some time in passing I found out that she was actually the front-woman for the band Itsue — which to this day is still one of my favorite J-bands.
Suisei – 水星 – Mercury
~ Also from 2014 came the very controversial animated short/music video called Me!Me!Me! (by Teddyloid of Panty, Stocking and Garterbelt fame), that featured some pretty intense (fair warning) NSFW visuals accompanied by some trippy J-Pop from DAOKO — who a lot of you now may know of as the one-half of the hit song Uchiage Hanabi from the anime movie of the same name. Before she went mainstream though, DAOKO was a mysterious R&B prospect that ruled the indie scene with her air-y vocals reminiscent of Etsuko Yakushimaru except edgier, and with a preference for rap and hip-hop. I became a fan right around the turning point of her fame but it was still really was nice to see her career come to fruition. To offically cap-off our little musical adventure, I’ll send you guys off with this little track of hers, Mercury.
Find anything you like? 😀
What are some bands/artists that you found through anime?