A Glance Into The Anime World

Welcome to my music mix A Glance Into The Anime World. We will explore the fascinating anime realm through various theme songs and soundtracks. Eventually we will see how music played an indelible role in anime in forming a complete effect for the audience. We will also see how anime songs challenged the authority of “high arts”.

For those who are not familiar with this field, my music mix abides by three rules which will help you gradually adapt to the context:

  • Most songs are partly sung in English. There are songs sung in German, and songs of which the lyrics are just illegible.
  • The songs are ordered in a way that the one that resembles an English song the most comes first, and the ones that resemble less come later.
  •  All songs are performed and sung by Japanese artists, so you can get a full grasp of the Japanese contemporary anime culture.

For detailed information, please refer to my track list:

The songs flow in an order that reveals the gradual change of how music functions in the anime world. The first three songs, The Beginning, Life is like a Boat and Last Theatre, are pop/rock music with a catchy start that serves as a means to promote the anime. They are independent, meaning that the songs make sense regardless of whether the anime exists. Starting from Nandemonaiya, the ending theme as well as the background music for the movie Your Name, music becomes dependent upon anime. Audience remember the song because of the anime, and they cannot help themselves from thinking about the scene when listening to the song. The reverse is also true.

This idea of media convergence is especially demonstrative in βίος(Life), The Reluctant Heroes and aLIEz. The three blurred the boundary between background music and pop songs, since they are a bit of both. These songs only make sense (or in other words, starts to sound good and bear meanings) in their original anime context. Without having the specific scenes in which the songs play, the music will seem “weird” and  hawkish. And without having the background music, the scenes would often make no sense. A perfect combination of the two mediums can weave a magical effect, producing an “epic” and unforgettable scene praised by millions of watchers. Click on the links above to see how this is realized.

While anime music composers are stepping out of their comfort zones, many still focused on producing background music (music that sometimes have lyrics and could be made into pop songs). However, starting from All Alone with You, the artist of which only sang for background music but is now singing regular songs, there is again a shift in the trend as composers who produced non-vocal soundtracks now blend the features of background music with those of the theme songs (or in other words, add lyrics into soundtracks and actually make them opening or ending themes). The meaning of these songs is partly granted by the plot of the anime, but freer and more open to interpretation. For instance, To the Beginning is composed by a famous artist who previously specialized in the production of original soundtracks, but now her unique style of “BGM-like songs” gained numerous thumb-ups and thus formed her specific, niche community.

The evolution of anime music testified to Jenkins’ multiple theories. Media convergence took place, the product of which is open to the audience’s interpretation. More importantly, the appropriation of classical music into the modern “low arts” context, evidenced by βίος and To the Beginning, protested against the traditional notions for “high arts”, leading grassroots to enjoy “high arts” in a more massive, grounded fashion.

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