Quarantine has provided an unheard-of amount of leisure time. With all of those extra hours in the day, folks have taken to investing their time to make their time usefully. Well, maybe take a moment and think about how you have made this lockdown useful. In the mean time you might be wondering what I've been up to instead of gaining a new skill or playing the piano (which I adore by the way). Of course, binge-watching anime.
Although I have watched anime as a kid, it was only during the pandemic that I have really understood it and started exploring it. And what captivated me more than the amount of detail given to the animation and the amazing story plots it encompasses, is definitely anime music.
Music and Japanese anime have always been intertwined. The intro and end credit is always supported with a song, often one which represents the viewpoint of the show or film. In the 1960s anime became a musical genre, which now became one of the most popular Japanese music in the world. With the release of Tetsuwan Atom, Japan's first full-scale animated TV series, known overseas as Astro Boy, anime music erupted into the public consciousness. Shuntaro Tanikawa, a poet and perennial Nobel Prize nominee, wrote the lyrics for the film's opening tune, "Atom March."
The 1970s marked the beginning of an anime renaissance. Classics like Space Battleship Yamato, Galaxy Express 999, and Mazinger Z were created during this decade. Isao Sasaki and Ichiro Mizuki, both now considered giants of the genre, performed the theme music for these series, which became significant anime song hits. These specialised musicians performed at concerts and on radio and television music shows, assisting anime in becoming recognised as a distinct musical genre.
In the 1980s, the word 'Otaku' (a geek who is usually infatuated with anime and manga) was coined, and they soon ruled the world. Anime and manga were popular in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s. Hayao Miyazaki's work at Studio Ghibli was regarded as art, while franchises like Evangelion, Pokémon, and One Piece swept the nation.
Anime songs followed suit, and it wasn't uncommon to see them sung by well-known musicians on even the most mainstream venues. The outcome was chart-topping singles like Chibi Maruko-"Odoru Chan's Pompokorin," which sold over 1.6 million copies.
Late-night programmes, which frequently cover darker and more controversial issues, had proven that anime wasn't simply for kids by the time the new millennium arrived. The popularity of these shows was fuelled by internet word-of-mouth, and music embraced the digital medium as well. Composers uploaded their works to public platforms, and singers subsequently posted their versions of these songs, resulting in the internet becoming a breeding ground for purely anime-focused songwriters and singers.
Music plays such an important role in anime, that some series and movies are known only for their music. Another important aspect which caught my attention was how well they were able to blend all forms and genres of music, both traditional and foreign to Japan. Orchestra, jazz, rock, metal, and pure western classic pieces dominate anime music. Huge franchises known as 'Shonen' usually have a mix of many genres for their multiple opening and closing songs as well as original sound tracks.
For me anime music transcends boundaries. It always takes me to another world, calms me down, or hypes me up in a totally different manner. The power, depth, and emotion that flows through anime music still amaze me each time I put on my headphones and listen.