The Banana Guide to Asian Entertainment: It’s All About Japan: Part IV

This has been the hardest part to write of my Japan entertainment exploration in the Banana Guide to Asian Entertainment. From the Movie/TV/Music spectrum, Japanese music is the least I follow.

I have no idea how much growing up with a dad who loved all kinds of music and had a Karaoke bar affected my own taste in music, but as I’ve mentioned before — Sukiyaki (上を向いて歩こう) [clip] was probably the first song in Japanese I ever sung or hummed to.

However, let’s be brutally honest — the rawest experience I had of an encounter with Japanese music came in the form of anime. Having grown up in the generation that grew up with anime series such as Candy, Captain Tsubasa, and Saint Seiya; the first song in Japanese EVER was MAKE-UP’s Pegasus Fantasy (ペガサス幻想).

Of course, many of us think of “anime music” when we think about Japanese music because anime is the most mainstream topic that comes from something that’s considered “cult.” Music that comes from anime series or songs are so popular that *cough* there are cover bands that sing covers of just anime (or video game) songs.

However, to simply view Japanese music as merely “anime music” is a crime. Just like there’s a LOT of variety in Jdramas and Japanese movies, there’s a lot of different types of music in the Japanese scene… one just has to learn where to find it. Music that comes from anime is just of VERY easy access. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. Just take a look at Asian Kung Fu Generation (アジアン・カンフー・ジェネレーション) and their theme song for Naruto, Haruka Kanata (遥か彼方):


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

11 Responses

  1. Camiele says:

    As with most non-Japanese (most non-Asian, for that matter), my first introduction to Japanese music was through anime. However, it wasn’t the grandiose rock productions of something like Pegasus Fantasy. I was first interested and impressed by Japanese music through Yoko Kanno. Her work with Cowboy Bebop just rocked my world. From then on, I was hooked on Japanese music. In fact, I didn’t even SEE Korean music until last year because I was so wrapped up in Japanese music. Mostly, I was really into J-jazz and J-rock: the Seatbelts, the Pillows, Hiromi Uehara… loved it! Still do!

    Now, as you know, I’ve been CONSUMED by Kpop and K-indie; however, my haert will always go back to J-jazz, my introduction to all things Asian, really. Although Cowboy Bebop was the first anime I fell in love with, I fell in love with it because of Yoko Kanno’s music.

    • amy says:

      @Camiele, I know a lot of Japan looks down on being famous because of anime… but, we’ve all gotten into something because of it, non?

      To be honest, I miss the days you weren’t Konsumed. xD

      • Camiele says:

        @amy, HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Has my Korean love become too much for you? Mianhe :P I’ve tried to keep the K-everythingness to a minimum on YAM, I suppose it just gets in there despite my best efforts DX

        But, yeah. I suppose it makes sense that a lot of Japanese would kinda look down on the fact that so much of the western world only knows about their culture because of anime… but anime in America is a relatively new thing, thus anything having to do with Japan being relatively new. I believe anime came to America in the late 80s with Akira? But as more and more people get into anime, they get more into the music, the films, the food, etc. I think any means to expand the world is a good thing (and I don’t mean that in a Manifest Destiny/Western Imperialism kind of way). I think we all need to just get to know and embrace as many cultures as possible. No matter how one was introduced, I think if they embrace it that’s all the better, right?

        • amy says:

          @Camiele, I think it’s a lot easier to consume Korean goods for accessibility reasons. One usually needs to hope for English subtitles on Japan movie releases, not even taking into account Jdrama releases since they’re never released with subtitles.

          And music… well, Japan has gotten better, but it’s hard to find official uploads of their music videos. At least they’re doing short versions now, though Sony Japan still has its content region-blocked.

          Then again, I’m leaving Korea for the last lag of my Banana Guide.

  2. Camiele says:

    @amy, You make a good point. It seems (and I’m not sure about this, but you seem to know more about it than I do) that at least South Korea is more open to making their goods more accessible to the western masses — well, at least in terms of dramas, as you said. For my part, I’ve never actually watched a Jdrama, that I can think of. Unless your talking live-action versions of anime… HaHA (in all fairness, something like Great Teacher Onizuka was originally a live-action that got turned into an anime… so there’s that).

    It’s a shame, though. Because so much Japanese music is just so good. Why would they make it so hard for other countries to get into? I mean, until BoA and DBSK went over to Japan, foreigners couldn’t even get RECOGNIZED over there (unless they were, you know, Michael Jackson… whom EVERY country on EVERY continent wanted, but I digress).

    Dude, once you talk about Korea… I feel like there’ll be THOUSANDS more people commenting on it than just me and you… HaHA! Korean culture is just THAT deep on YAM. How did that happen?

    • amy says:

      @Camiele, the difference is that Korea wants the market… many factors come into consideration. However, the main one is that Korea is a relatively small market, and they don’t want to depend on the Japanese market to sustain them – which they do now.

      Japan’s home market is their own… I don’t think they’re going to see any anti-Japanese music in Japan. Japanese music outsells Lady Gaga. They don’t need to expand their market, because they’re already the 2nd music market in the world…

      It’s like… I think the Japanese industry knows that they have good music out there and that people that like it will still be able to consume their goods one way or the other. Some of the labels I follow, though, are already giving information in English and are more open to uploading full-length MVs

      The big labels are the problem… big labels ARE ALWAYS the problem.

      Also… easier access makes it easier to discuss.

  3. Mirella Snape says:

    Yeah, I still only know Japanese music because of anime… but anime music can be so different! There’s metal, rap, pop, rock, alternative, jazz, blues, electronic and even weird latin-like music in anime songs :D

    • amy says:

      @Mirella Snape, favorite anime song? xD

      • Mirella says:

        @amy, That’s so so difficult… but I won’t deny my all time fav anime soundtrack is Rurouni Kenshin’s.

        • Camiele says:

          @Mirella, Kenshin’s soundtrack is stunning. I’m gonna have to go with Cowboy Bebop. I pretty much fangirl Yoko Kanno with great vigour… HaHa.

          I know that there’s so much music that I’m missing. The opening theme for Elfin Leid is INCREDIBLE… but I’m all about recommendations (especially with finding new and good anime).

  1. September 1, 2012

    […] along with a detailed guide to J-anything fangirling – all four articles of it. (Links: 1, 2, 3, 4) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeOne blogger likes […]

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