Please Don’t Stop the Music: Anime & Video Game Music

I love music. I never leave home without my iPod, and listening to a playlist of all my current favorite songs gets me through the morning commute to work. My musical tastes have always been varied. I’m the type of person who will listen to a song or artist as long as it appeals to me. I listen to the oldies, rock, pop, bubblegum pop, R&B…you name it. I have a little of everything on my iPod. When I got into anime and eventually video games, I discovered songs and artists I wouldn’t have gotten into if I didn’t become involved in these fandoms.

Kanon Wakeshima sang the ending theme songs for Season 1 and Season 2 of the Vampire Knight anime

Watching anime was my first introduction to Japanese artists. I got acquainted with the terms, “J-rock” and “J-pop.” I didn’t understand a lot of what was being sung in the anime theme songs, but I enjoyed the instrumentals and the Japanese artist who sang the song so much that I had to look for it online. There was something incredibly different about Japanese music I couldn’t help but like. A lot of these songs had a good beat and a great singer. Through anime and beyond, I began seeking out other songs a certain Japanese artist did that was separate from doing one or two theme songs for a particular anime series. In a way, I owe it to anime for allowing me to discover artists I wouldn’t have found on my own. The only music I would have mainly had on my iPod would be American music and some songs from the UK (thank you Internet radio!).

Next came video games, and I’m slowly loving theme songs and musical scores from the games I play. Songs or scores I probably never would have imagined I would have on my iPod, are now songs I can’t dream of living without. I became a fan of Utada Hikaru after watching my friend play the Kingdom Hearts games, and I heard her sing the theme songs for those games. Her voice is amazing, and she adds a very dreamy and fantasy type element to the theme songs she sings for the games. There’s a lot of emotion expressed in her songs, and I feel she hits you right in the gut. In a good way, of course. Then there’s the musical scores for the Dragon Age and Mass Effect games. I instantly fell in love with the musical arrangements, which fit well with the mood or scene unfolding in the game. Every time I listen to my favorite piece of the score, I always end up reliving the experience of playing the game, or watching a particularly moving or uplifting cutscene from the game.

Utada Hikaru from a promo for “Passion”––the theme song for the Kingdom Hearts 2 video game

What’s curious is how you can discover good music in the most unexpected places. I always thought my music would solely come from mainstream radio and the occasional song from an indie artist that gets air play time in a movie or television show. Turns out, you can discover great music in your most geeky of fandoms. I’ve also noticed how declaring your love for J-pop or J-rock, at least here in the USA, comes off as geeky and maybe “uncool” by those who aren’t anime fans, an admirer of all things Japanese, or who just don’t get the appeal of Japanese music. I think most people would find it more chic to be a lover of French or European music. That’s the sense I get anyway. You mention you love J-pop or J-rock, as a non-Japanese fan, and people look at you as if you have two heads or something. Regardless, I’m proud to have Japanese artists, anime songs, and video game music on my iPod. They fit in well between my Adele and Bruno Mars jams.

Are you an anime, Japanese artist, or video game music lover? Has being a fan of anime or video games allowed you to discover music you wouldn’t have gotten into if you weren’t a fan?