Years of anime existence came along with its musics. Various kinds of song and genre. Recently, when I started to join a band that mostly playing anime songs and also going to Yumekukan karaoke to sing Japanese songs, I kinda realized that how music changes along with the advancement of anime to this day. If anime and manga started to use additional graphical tools such as 3D software, how about musics? My point here is that, it’s not about technological advance though. Well, let us see briefly about earlier anime songs.
I am not really sure where I should I start but why not if I start with my own experience. Doraemon, almost everyone knows about this blue colored robotic cat. It’s song is pretty much considered as a classic song that very much suitable for kids. The instruments used were a few and simple. If we try to compare the song with other songs in it’s era like Ultraman for instance, Ultraman songs were more patriotic-like. Fighting monsters kinda the holiest thing we can do for our country, I guess. Same thing implies to other sentai series. Preferably, songs in this era kinda limited and emphasized to the abilities of the singers rather than instruments.
This is the era of electronics musics. Like many Western musics at that time, most songs were kinda fancy when they’re using those electronic keyboards that proved to be much much cheaper compared to original musical instruments like violins and drums. One more thing that really important to point out here is that ordinary Japanese people never really like to have anime songs to be inserted along with the mainstream musics on the market. Even today, this sentiment is still there. So, anime music was more likely being placed as a different class on its own. However, we still able to acknowledge some infamous singer like Yoshiki Fukuyama who sings and plays guitar for Macross 7.
In the early 90s, anime songs gradually became richer with the involvement of more music bands. Interesting thing that we should take note here is that the way the media works in Japan kinda broaden up. This is the beginning where seiyuu or voice casters are not merely anonymous who just provided their voices only at the back of the scenes. At the same time for the mainstream of Japanese music industry, there were more and more idols being made from various production houses. Most notably is Morning Musume. In the case of seiyuu, a bit by bit they’re being turned into this idol business as well. After all, they’re also singers as well.
Some suggested that Megumi Hayashibara as the most prominent early idolization of anime voice caster. Be in mind that the work as a voice caster is usually being considered as a secondary job. Very few who actually rely much of their income based on their roles as anime characters. Gradually, we could see more and more seiyuu rose up to their fame. Initially, the boom of anime seiyuu as idols were as early as late 70s as we can read here. Institutions for voice acting were made available during the 80s. Like I pointed out earlier, 90s were the years where more and more anime being made available as there are more series being animated and more idols. This way, the anime songs became much much more and more expert composers and musicians involved.
Remember Judy & Mary? As their songs always being used for Japanese dramas, some of them being used on anime too like Sobakasu of Rurouni Kenshin. Anime musics were gradually getting more attention as more groups directly involved with the production houses. Of course that some anime songs were kinda cheaply made as mostly heavily depended on artificial sounds from electronic keyboards. Take Sailormoon’s theme for instance. Or Kanon’s songs. How about Mahoromatic? Not really a good way to point them as ‘cheap’ but more like it was something that a musical band with everyone uses electronic keyboards as instruments.
About five years into the new millennia, it is the peak of anime industry in Japan. Production houses and studios rushed to create more and more series. Milking every single drop from their creations. By this time, we could say that a full time job as a seiyuu is not a bad job at all. A lot of cute and lovable idols who also sing well. And then what? This is not entirely limited to female seiyuu. Although the industry kinda flopped a couple of years ago, it is still a stable industry. More quality songs being made and we can see some anime musics being on top of the Oricon charts that mostly favors the mainstream music industry in Japan.This is, however, arguable as we can tell that a die-hard fan of a certain anime series would likely to buy as many album/single of anime he likes as possible. Some mainstream fans despise anime songs as some say that the songs kinda a little bit more ‘fancy’. But we can’t deny the popularity of anime songs.
There are anime that related with music itself. The easiest example is K-On. Or Beck if you bother me to say that. I know that people would love to point out that it’s simply brought doom to the industry when people largely liking the series with much moeblob and not because of its story. But when an anime is being emphasized on songs, the songs should be more than good enough. Apart from that, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu brought nice songs too. Lucky Star had a catchy opening song but generally, I don’t like most of the songs from them. In recent case, Angel Beats brought some good songs that I like them very much. We can tell how much of efforts currently being made to bring the best songs. People rely on the combination of skills of playing guitars, bass, keyboard, drums and also the composers for quality songs that on par with the mainstream. There’s another subject that I would like to point out which is doujinshi.
Doujinshi is mostly famous on the eyes of people outside Japan as something related with hentai. But that’s not entirely true. Doujinshi are something that can be counted as a stepping stone for amateurs to become professionals. While otaku rushing over to events like Comic Market to buy the said hentai doujins of various anime characters there are actually other things being presented at those booths. Posters and other kinds of artworks. Music is also an artwork. Some notable singers and musicians started their works on events such as these like Shimotsuki Haruka, Shikata Akiko and supercell.
Speaking of doujinshi, there’s another thing that already move along with the anime event industry. Touhou Project. Being a somewhat public domain material, a lot of doujinshi being made in forms of manga, short animations, drawing artworks and songs. There are thousands of songs, hundreds of albums and a lot of musical bands. These guys work independently and their products are based on popularity of Touhou. For instance, you can find a lot of variation from a single song called U.N. Owen Was Her on Youtube.
A final thing that worthy and important to note is the existence of Vocaloid. Many of doujin composers rely on artificial singers from Vocaloid for their songs. This advancement of technology helped them to fill the gap that they don’t have. In this case, take supercell band as an example. They started off their involvement in creating musics mainly on making instrumental songs. As Vocaloid 2 that introduced Hatsune Miku as a vocal synthesizer, they used her as the vocal of their songs. One of the song is Black Rock Shooter.
As a conclusion I say that anime songs are not something that we can take lightly. I know that most of the readers of this blog might be those who preferred anime songs and can be a little bit bias in their opinions. When Hollywood started to take Asian movies and copying them, I do think that they might as well copying the way the musics of Asians work even if it’s based on anime. Girl or boy group singers are popular in Korea while Japan have more famous solo singers.
In a shameful note, most of my music collections are downloaded from the Internet. A few albums I bought were only related with Chihara Minori tho. hahahaohwow