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?

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13 thoughts on “Please Don’t Stop the Music: Anime & Video Game Music

  1. I like video game music.

    Simpleleek, have you played Persona 3 FES ? T think the music is wonderful ! Check out youtube . I have of course the cd of the video game.

    Cheers !

    PS….. I also like the theme music of God of War !

    Right now, I’m playing Persona 4 !

  2. I love Utada’s KH vocal themes too ❤ I think Sanctuary is a lot better than Simple and Clean though. The latter is nice, but Sanctuary is really magical. I'm a pretty big gaming OST nerd. Have you heard the OST for Nier? You must listen to it. The songs are amazing! My favourite OST right now. I also really enjoy Mitsuda's compositions. I know he's really well known and some people think too overexposed but his music is more my style. Shimomura is another favourite of mine as well. And of course I like Uematsu too (who doesn't? x3 ). Overclocked Remixes has some really nice video game remixes as well. :3

    Anime-wise, I adore Yuki Kajiura to bits. Everything she does just resonates with me. I've even watched anime just because she was the composer. xD She composes for Kalafina as well and they are really great too. Unlike most J-pop, they have really powerful vocals and I actually only like those kinds of vocal (and that's probably why I rarely listen to J-Pop). Most of the time, I just listen to vocal-less songs.

    1. I agree with you on Sanctuary. The first time I heard it…mind blown! Such a beautiful song with Utada’s voice. It was better than Simple and Clean for sure. I haven’t heard of Nier, but I’ll be sure to check it out.

      I also love Yuki Kajiura! She has done the composing for Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles. I have a lot from that particular OST. It’s very exotic sounding, and it fits well with the theme of traveling to different worlds. I can listen to her musical score for hours.

      1. Wow. I really enjoyed both your picks. This is the kind of music I’m drawn to, haunting, moving, and beautiful at the same time. I actually want to check out Nier now. They actually have an Xbox version of the game. Just the sampling of this music is really great. Thanks for that! 🙂

      2. I’m glad you like them. :3 I haven’t actually played Nier yet (too many games D: ), but I’ve heard nothing much good things about it (and of course the music is godly). I’ve got it for PS3 since I don’t have an 360. Also, do not let the horrible cover art deter you. It’s so deceptive.

  3. I love game and anime soundtracks. Some of my favourites in my gaming playlist are the Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy soundtracks. As for anime, it’s Cowboy Bebop and Nana for sure. But my iPod sounds similar to yours; a bit of everything with the Japanese tracks fitting perfectly into a shuffle.

    1. Final Fantasy definitely has some great music too. Every score I’ve heard, I really fell in love with instantly! My lastest obsession is Final Fantasy XIII. The score is…wow!

  4. I love game soundtracks!! they are just too awesomeee! I can’t say that much about anime… but currently in love with Ao no Exorcists soundtrack… it makes me cry(in a good way) 😛 I’m a great fan of music from Two Steps from Hell \m/ they rock! They make awesome game soundtracks(the awesome kind where adrenaline just shreds your brain) 😛

    1. I completely forgot about it till I heard Deathnote soundtrack… I love anime instrumentals =D no vocals – exception blood+ other than that… it’s a no no… or wait… blah I forgot 😉

      1. Haha! I love vocal and instrumental music. Depending on my mood, I’ll play either one. The number of anime/video game music I have accumulated over the years have warranted their own playlists. 😉

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