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Songs of Japan

Monday, July 27, 2020 / No Comments
As an avid listener of music, I could never imagine having a day without listening to my favourite tunes while doing work, playing games or just lazing about. Of course, with how much I listen to music, there is no surprise that I listen to many different genres of the music world. However, I always find myself attracted to Japanese music more often than not. To me, Japanese music has a certain attraction to me that can't be replicated by others. From J-Pop to Anison, I always feel satisfied and entertained while listening to them. With that said, I'd like to share my passion for Japanese music with you all!

Yonezu Kenshi

As previously mentioned, I am a broad listener of all music genres, and I usually pick the genre depending on my current mood. Using my experience, I will introduce some of the genres as well as their relative hit songs to let you familiarize and if possible, capture your attention. I will also be listing my personal opinions on the good and bad of that genre. I will also list some artists known in that genre so that it'll be easier for you to find their music. Let us start with what I think is the broadest genre of Japanese music, J-Pop.

1) J-Pop

As my favourite overall genre, I have most of my time listening to music in this genre. As a newcomer to Japanese, you would definitely not want to miss this genre as there are many gems hidden under this mine, waiting to be uncovered. These songs tend to be a hit most of the time, whether in Japan or overseas. The songs in this genre tend to be upbeat and fast, though there are many popular slow songs as well. Regardless, they never cease to uplift my spirits whenever I choose to listen to this genre. As many new artists with aspiring dreams and amazing songs to boot appear, I think that you'll at least find a new favourite song or artist. 

Yonezu Kenshi - Lemon

One artist that's renowned in this genre and one that I am also a huge fan of is Yonezu Kenshi. In particular, I'll be referring to his hit song, Lemon. Written as the theme song of a drama released in Japan, it quickly gained traction in popularity. When I first heard the song and saw its lyrics, I couldn't help but tear up. The song was to depict the pain and sorrow of losing a loved one. I could definitely feel the emotions put into the work when the lyrics were sung. It was like multiple punches to my stomach as I quickly thought of someone I lost. The song was definitely a masterpiece.

Yonezu Kenshi - Lemon

Another artist, or in this case, artists, that's also renowned in this genre is King Gnu. What's amazing about this band is that they only recently debuted under their new alias and managed to make a mark unlike any other in the J-Pop world with their hit song, Hakujitsu. While I couldn't find any sources in regards to the meaning and message of the song, I definitely wouldn't miss one of the biggest clues, the lyrics. From what I can infer, King Gnu wanted to portray the regret of one's mistakes and the thought of getting stuck in the past. While listening, there was a verse that resonated within me. You cannot go back to old days anymore, even if you envy. You must start walking for tomorrow, even if it snows hard". 

King Gnu - Hakujitsu

2) Visual Kei

At first, I was not familiar with the term at all. However, after doing some research, I realized that I do listen to some songs of this genre, albeit infrequently. Visual Kei is one of the more reclusive genres in Japanese music. In fact, some see it as heavy metal, electronic or sometimes even pop. To the artists themselves, they find themselves saying that Visual Kei is not a music genre in itself, but instead freedom of expression and fashion. This can be seen in the actions of the artists known in this genre. They tend to have flamboyant fashion as well as singing styles. Furthermore, expressive gestures are used by artists to express themselves.

the gazettE

One such band is the GazettE. Currently in the music industry for 18 years, the band is still going strong with many fans all around the world. While I myself am not familiar with the band itself, their songs do interest me a little. One song that led me to listen to them was "Filth in the Beauty". The instrumentals and rough voice of the lead singer caught me by surprise as I did not realize that Japanese rock could be as catchy and entertaining as it was. For those interested in glam rock, the GazettE and many others such as Dir En Grey waiting to be uncovered.

the gazettE - Filth in the Beauty

3) City Pop

Originally termed as an offshoot of Japan and Western music called "new music", City Pop reached its peak popularity in the 1980s before losing their appeal. To explain more about it, the term was introduced for artists that projected an "urban" feel different from others. These artists generally shied away from Japanese influence while making music. In fact, some examples of overseas influence include American soft rock, boogie and funk. To be honest, I don't really listen to this genre that much as I am more of a modern person. I only found this genre by pure chance when I was browsing through the Japanese section in Spotify and gave it a try, While it was not bad, I also was not impressed by it. Maybe it was because there weren't many songs that I could listen to.

If you're keen to try out City Pop, I did some research and one of the notable artist I could find is Toshiki Kadomatsu.

4) Japanese Hip Hop

If there's music, there will definitely be hip hop. As can be seen everywhere in the world, hip hop is an integral part of music in every country's music. Directly influenced by old school hip hop of catchy beats and dance culture, Japanese Hip Hop has grown and diversified since the 2000s. As a fan of hip hop or rap in general, I find myself listening to this genre a lot whenever I want to relax and "chill out" to the music. With their catchy beats as well as the fast yet distinct vocals, I can't help but nod my head to the beat every time I listen to Japanese Hip Hop. I also listen to this genre whenever I am playing games as it gets me in the mood.


An artist or rapper in this case that caught my attention was KOHH. Having just released a new album, KOHH is one of my favourite Japanese rappers with his catchy rap songs. He reminds me of old school hip hop with his singing style as well as beats. Of course, every time I listen to him, my head nods to the beat. I especially like his song from the album 'worst', 'I think I'm Falling'. 

KOHH - I think I'm falling

Another rapper from this genre that is well-known is DAOKO. Most would know her from her collaboration with Yonezu Kenshi for the song, 'Fireworks'. Accompanying Yonezu, her vocals were superb in the song. You might know her for her singing in 'Fireworks', but her rapping is just as wonderful as her singing. 

DAOKO & Yonezu Kenshi - Fireworks

5) Japanese Rock

Also known as J-rock, Japanese rock has gained worldwide recognition, especially in Asia. I definitely can see why too! After listening to J-rock, I can confidently say that J-rock is one of the best rock out there. In fact, it is so popular in Japan that there has been the need to organize a new type of festival called the Fuji Rock Festival in the past. While it has been unfortunately cancelled this year, many J-rock fans still anticipate the day they can see their favourite rock band perform live. 


J-rock is one of my favourite genres of Japanese music just because of one band, ONE OK ROCK. If you are also a fan of J-rock but have not heard of ONE OK ROCK, I urge you sincerely to give their songs a try! Not only that their songs are really good and entertaining, but they also relate to me and every other teenager really well. Their songs are full of inspiration and strive to give light at the end of the tunnel for anyone who is lost can't find the way. One such song of theirs, 'We are', made me have a lump in my throat while fighting back emotions when I was listening to it for the first time. ONE OK ROCK is one of the artists that I will always look up to for a long time.

ONE OK ROCK - We are

Another J-rock band that is only second to ONE OK ROCK in my humble opinion is Kana-Boon. You might recognize the name, seeing as it wrote the critically acclaimed 'Silhouette' for the Naruto series. Their songs have been used for many openings and endings for many animes, and rightfully so. With catchy songs and fitting lyrics, I can see they are always contracted to write songs for animes.

Kana-Boon - Silhouette

6) Anison

Of course, how are we going to end without including this genre in? After all, Anison, the abbreviation of anime songs, was what got me into Japanese music in the first place. More about Anison, this genre focuses on the opening and ending songs of animes. In addition to that, they can also be from anime-styled video games or visual novels. Anison crosses all Japanese music genres but tends to feature upbeat J-pop and J-rock prominently. Lots of artists and groups have come to fame from making songs for animes, especially since there are much more audience in that area. 


Speaking of artists, LiSA is definitely one of the best in this genre. From SAO's Crossing Field to Demon Slayer's Gurenge, she has made her mark in Anison's history as one of the best. Her vocals are really powerful and unique. Whenever I listen to one of her songs, I tend to be filled with adrenaline and can't help but to sing along with her.

LiSA - Gurenge

Another renowned artist is Aimer. Aimer has been one of my favourite singer of all time because of her songs. She manages to evoke my emotions whenever I listen to her songs. BRAVE SHINE, especially. Whenever that song starts playing in my ear, I get reminded of my teenager years and reminisce on the times I dearly miss. Aimer was the first Japanese singer I started following and it was thanks to her that I manage to find myself engrossed in animes, mangas and light novels.


With that said, I do hope that this has helped you in some way by introducing the music genres with their artist and respective songs. By helping opening up your world of music, I do hope that you find a new favourite artist or group as well as support them!

Also, I'll list my favourite artists currently as well as some notable mentions if some of you are interested!

  1. Yonezu Kenshi
  2. Official Hige DANdism
  3. My First Story
  4. Kobasolo
  5. Yorushika

Written by Kai Yuichi

Anime Music on Piano – A Must-Add to Your Playlist

Monday, July 15, 2019 / No Comments
Hey fellow weebs!

We’re all indisputable fans of anime here, and understandably so, given how magnificent its animation and storytelling is – there’s always a little something for everyone out there. But let’s not forget that one of the greatest highlights of anime is its music. I’m just but another insignificant fan in the cosmos that is anime, but I dare say that anime soundtracks are true musical masterpieces.

If yo
u think about it, a scene is only as good as its music allows it to be. What is an action scene without music that gets your adrenaline pumping, and what is angst without sombre acoustics playing in the background?

Fortunately, anime fans have more than done justice to anime songs. As a musician myself, I’m a fervent follower of musicians out there who put out their own instrumental covers and renditions of anime music.

I’m not sure if you’ve heard of them (though you most probably would have if you play the piano and watch anime), but two of my all-time favourite cover pianists on YouTube are Animenz and Theishter.

Both of them do original arrangements and are disgustingly talented. That being said, they do have quite distinct styles. In my opinion, Theishter tends to reimagine the songs in his own style more and focuses greatly on emotional quality; I’ve actually gotten literal goosebumps on countless occasions just listening to his music. He also posts much more regularly, so that’s a good thing for fans out there who want to hear his arrangements of recently-broadcasted anime. 

Another thing to note is that Theishter has recently started a Patreon page where you can pay your preferred amount of money every month for various “rewards” as listed below.

Before this initiative, his fans have also transcribed his pieces into music sheets, so these very nicely remain free in his sheet music archive located on his website. YouTube is definitely becoming a marketplace for competition so it definitely would mean the world to them (and me!) if you show him some support.

On the other hand, Animenz tends to stay true to the song’s original instrumentals, a truly amazing feat as he manages to make acoustic piano music sound like a fully-instrumented band track.

What this also means is that his arrangements are notoriously difficult to master (sadly speaking from personal experience), so prepare yourself before you attempt his works. In case you’re a pianist yourself, Animenz uploads all of his sheets online for free in the description boxes of his videos (because peasants like us probably will take 23847 years to learn them anyway), so all you need is to create a free SheetHost account to access the PDFDs. Also, Animenz has also held a few concerts here in Singapore before, so it would be nice to subscribe to his social media and keep yourself updated on his future gigs!

In general, both of them arrange very challenging scores, but the sense of satisfaction you get when you nail their arpeggios and left-hand jumps is unparalleled. Personally, I’ve been learning “Unravel Acoustic” from Tokyo Ghoul and “Kataware Doki” from Kimi no na wa and I’m finally about 90% there for both pieces after months.

If you’re not yet convinced of their prowess, here is a short list of some of my favourite anime covers by them that I highly recommend:


1. Unravel from Tokyo Ghoul

Absolutely stunning. He stays true to the crazy guitar riffs in the original song by TK from Ling Tosite Sigure, and this is unsurprisingly his most viewed video. Eargasmic to listen to but as for playing it yourself, try at your own risk.

2. Brave Shine from Fate/stay night

Very emotional (you can look at his motivations for arranging this in his description box) I’ve not personally watched this show but am tempted to simply because of how compelling his playing is. 

3. Pokemon Medley

Super nostalgic, with familiar tunes ranging from the cycling theme, to gym battle music, to the Pallet Town theme. The feels are overwhelming, although there is unfortunately no sheet music because he improvised the entire medley like the legend he is.


1. Sparkle from Kimi no na wa

If you absolutely loved this movie like I did and all its OSTs, you’re in luck because he played all the main tracks on his channel, although Sparkle is definitely one of his most timeless arrangements.

2. Again from Your Lie in April

This is slightly meta considering the anime is about playing music, but that’s what makes this piece all the more beautiful and emotional. Just a warning though, I printed this out to try but the left-hand arpeggios are crazy, so be prepared to spend a lot of time coordinating this.

3. Katharsis from Tokyo Ghoul:re

Honestly, the only redeeming factor about the final season of Tokyo Ghoul:re. The only sad thing is that he didn’t transcribe the full piece, so enjoy the two minutes of bliss while you can and/or continue spamming the repeat button.

Here are some more honourable mentions of other covers that also include other pianists:

1. Jiyuu no Tsubusa from Attack on Titan

If you thought Animenz and Theishter were legendary on their own, watch them play a duet together. This is easily the most epic thing I’ve ever heard.

2. Namae wo yobu yo from Bungou Stray Dogs

I really love the song, and the left hand arpeggios really add to its vibes. It’s a very dense and full-sounding arrangement that I’m also currently learning myself. Tip: practise your D flat and E flat major arpeggios before you attempt the chorus.

3. Craziest Zelda Piano Medley

The Legend of Zelda is my favourite Nintendo franchise besides Pokemon and this medley truly goes beyond doing it justice. Some may say it’s unnecessarily embellished, but that’s exactly what I love about it. 

4. Kyouran Hey Kids from Noragami Aragoto

The original song is iconic enough that it sounds good on every medium, the piano being one of them. The chorus truly captures the energy of the original song for me and this is, for a lack of a better word, lit. 

If you’ve read till here, I just want to thank you for tolerating my extremely self-indulgent post. On a more serious note though, I also want to make a humble appeal to you to show your support for these amazingly talented musicians who have put all their effort into playing and providing the scores for us. I can vouch for them as someone who’s done music since I was 7; it is not easy at all to arrange and put a bunch of notes on a page for FREE so it would mean all the world to them if we just expressed our support, even in the most minute of ways (like a comment or like or subscribe).

Music is never redundant so let’s play our part in keeping it alive, be it as a musician or listener!

Written by Gin

What's In My Playlist

Sunday, January 7, 2018 / No Comments

I've been doing a lot of commuting during the holiday season, be it for a gathering, party or just shopping for gifts. Music has definitely helped me deal with the crowds during the festive period and Singapore's now less-than-efficient public transport system. My anisong playlist has been expanding steadily, no thanks to the many titles and movies I've watched through the years and here's just a few that I've been putting on repeat during the last month or so. Happy holidays and best wishes for the year ahead, everyone!

Jingle Bells ga Tomaranai - Aqours
I still remember purchasing a physical copy of the album on the day it released in Japan over a year ago. How time flies! The jazzy Christmas tune from Aqours probably got the most mileage out of all the songs featured here. The upbeat song definitely helped make navigating the crowds more enjoyable and unfortunately, I'm a sucker for Christmas music in all languages and styles, so I won't be stopping the jingle bells anytime soon.

GloryStory (Herbst Musikfest) - Choucho
Girls und Panzer grew to become one of my favourite anime titles in the past few months. I've re-watched the anime series and movie several times now and I'm betting I'll do the same with the upcoming 6-part movie series as well. The soundtrack was gripping and I even caught myself whistling several marches and the main theme on more than a few occasions. I particularly enjoyed Choucho's rendition of GloryStory at Herbst Musikfest 2015, with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra providing the instrumentals rather than the usual backing track.

Awaken the Power - Saint Aqours Snow
The mini-arc in Love Live! Sunshine!!'s 2nd season which led to this collaboration between Aqours and Saint Snow was thanks to Ruby and Leah from both groups respectively. I definitely did not expect the collaboration single, predicting a duet between the two school idols instead. If only μ's and A-RISE from the original Love Live! series teamed up to produce a song or two (And no, Sunny Day Song does not count). It's an inspirational track and one that makes even more sense if you've been watching the anime.

Nandemonaiya - Radwimps
You must be living in Itomori if you have no idea what this song or film is. It's been over a year since the movie aired in Singapore but the soundtrack remains captivating till today. I'm glad that Radwimps was the one who scored the soundtrack for the film instead of your run of the mill composer and although the only songs I have from the J-Rock band are from the film, I'm definitely checking out the rest of their discography soon.

Hana no Uta - Aimer
Hana no Uta was the theme song for Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel I. presage flower and how fitting for it to be performed by Aimer, who previously sang Brave Shine and Last Stardust in the Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works anime. The haunting vocals and instrumentals was a sharp contrast to Brave Shine and Last Stardust, providing the biggest hint to how the film trilogy will play out along with the tone it will adopt. I was initially put off by how slow the song started but it paid off by the time it reached the chorus, much like the Heaven's Feel route itself.

Written by ET

The More Compelling Anime Opening/Endings

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / No Comments

Digimon Applimon Op
An essential part of an anime are of the insert songs: whether they are fitting and well thought-out such that it fits the theme of the series. Objectively speaking, the anime series I've watched and like often have amazing soundtracks and/or fantastic song collaborations - be it between bands or voice actors; the music often brings out elements that the anime series wants the viewers to focus on.

Insert songs can consist of OSTs - Original Soundtracks - and the opening and ending songs. Opening and ending songs often have customised animation to go along with, to give an idea what the viewer can expect, and to close it on a theme relevant to the anime, respectively.

Days Op
Because of that I am more drawn towards anime openings and endings, and shall be recommending some of which I thought was actually quite interesting and maybe even moving to the audience.

Bungo Stray Dogs ed 1
Admittedly I might be quite biased here in the sense that I'm not a very frequent watcher of anime: I often only start watching a series just because it was trending in a certain part of the internet, and it's often of the more popular, "mainstream" kinds of anime. There is also this belief that "mainstream" anime is not as good as it may seem as compared to the more low-profile but "better" series in terms of perhaps character development, setting, plot etc.

I do think however that oftentimes anime series that got popular rightfully earned that status due to their ingenious storytelling or plotlines, to name a few reasons, and have at the very least decent enough opening/ending songs to boot as well - for me, they almost always never disappoint in that area.

yuri on ice ed
With as few spoilers as I can mention, here are some of my favourites:

1. Orarion by Nagi Yanagi
Ending of the Second Season of Seraph of the End

Seraph of the End starts with Hyakuya Yuuichirou who gets captured by vampires when a man-made virus wipes out everyone older than 13 years of age. The story then follows of his struggles in an apocalyptic world where all parties desperately fight for their survival and honour,

Season 2 is where the plot thickens, and where more powerful forces have to be fought against. In a world where the rest of the survivors also dabble in some sort of dark powers and magic, it's easy to lose sight of one's humanity and regard for others.

The song starts out with a slow melody, but eventually builds up to projecting the fears, and hope in struggling in a difficult situation. The piano accompaniment and drums in the background make it quite a soothing piece to listen to. I found it quite fitting for the series; it can also tell of the main protagonists' continuous will to right what went wrong despite of the many harrowing encounters they face.

2. Sore wa Chiisana Hikari no Youna by Sayuri
Ending of Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi (Erased)

The singer's child-like voice is reminiscent of the main character's unintentional travel-back in time to where he was a kid, to save a classmate which in turn could enable him to save his murdered mother in his timeline. The song starts with an acoustic guitar in the background: and eventually builds up - as if the song is echoing the main character's wish to save the classmate.

3. Namae wo Yobu yo by Luck Life
Ending of First Season of Bungou Stray Dogs

Season 1 of Bungou Stray Dogs does not seem to have any fixed storyline, but it does tell of what happens after Nakajima Atsushi, the main protagonist, gets rescued and the struggles he faces after escaping from the orphanage where he once lived at.

The song is mostly slow rock: steady drum beats, acoustic guitar strumming, and to top it off, an excellent vocalist to bring out the emotions of longing- the song title is literally to call out a name: perhaps of Dazai's, a mentor to both Atsushi...

and in the past, Akutagawa Ryuunosuke.

4. Nandemo Nai Ya by RADWIMPS
Ending of Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name)

In line with the story, the song talks of an unbreakable connection between the two main characters, and how they feel towards each other. And yet another song with that sort of slow rock melody and a powerful vocalist - it must be one thing I feel makes for a good emotional presentation without the background instruments drowning out the vocals.

There is no accompanying animation for the ending song, only that it starts to play at the last few minutes of the movie, but it is a good closure nevertheless.

5. LEO by tacica
Ending of Season One of Haikyuu!!

I do think I am being biased here - the ending animation is based off Kageyama, my favourite character from the anime. However I like how simple it is, like the song itself: it only shows Kageyama training and practising volleyball by himself, of how earnest he is to continuously be better at the sport and how much he enjoys it.

6. History Maker by Dean Fujioka
Opening of Yuri!!! On Ice

From an outsider's point of view, it sounds like ballet music. Quite an apt description especially when the anime is of competitive ice skating. It is also the first time I've heard an anime opening not of the typical hyper shounen vibes with some aggressive rock thrown in, or the more emotional soulful singing. Electronic and pop elements makes up most of the song, like some internationally famous songs: as if the anime seems to be appealing to the international audience (which is what I think they are trying to do!) :)

7. Great Escape by Cinema Staff
Ending of Shingeki No Kyojin

And hype for the new season which will be coming very soon, next year! The anime is also well-known for its epic openings, and the endings, though not as epic, also serve as a sort of nice closure to every episode as well.

It's of the "typical" rock music, but also tells of the characters' great desire in the military to defend humanity and regain what they have lost from the Titans' attacks on them. I also like how the guitar solos and riffs are done for this song :D

full version/ending video

So as mentioned, these are just some of the openings and endings I like. I also really like the kind of effort the creators go out to putting in for these section, which leaves a deeper impression on me.

Sadly I won't be able to do this anytime soon, but if you're interested you can support these musical artists by buying the albums off sites like amiami, CDJapan, amazon, etc.

Thank you for reading thus far, let's look forward to yet another year filled with great stories and animation!

Written by