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Anime Music Through The Ages

“Elohim, Essaim… Elohim, Essaim, I implore you”

The way a single chord could get us back to a battle scene or the loss of our beloved character. “Sasageyo sasageyo”, “lost in paradise”, “chika chika”, “oshiete yo”, the way each of these phrases resonates within us the voices they carried, and put us in a tumultuous concoction of emotions. We learnt to never miss out on the openings or endings of the animes to devour their absolute satisfaction. Anime and its music grew concerted through the years, and carried the essence of the people at the time with the ever revolutionary world. Thus, anime music presents us with the blueprint of the evolution of music.


Anime music is represented as its own genre called “anison”. Being officially defined in the 1970s, it gained recognition with the mainstream trends. Noburo Ofuji’s ‘Kuroi Nyago’ of 1929 is the first Japanese animated work to imbibe music. After the detriments of World War 2, when entertainment was amused, anison resumed to pick up pace. The theme song of Astro Boy, in 1963, rose to prevalence by the Japanese public due to it being used as the departure song at Takadanobaba station. Moreover, being lyricized by the poet Shuntaro Tanikawa, it acclaimed brisk acceptance. 


The economic spurt ringing the Japanese market in the 1970s reflected its say in the music industry, and professions exclusively for anime music were hollowed out. Lyrics mirroring the characters and their soul lead to universal appeal. Mainstream production was perceived at the onset of the 1980s. At the height of Japan’s bubble economy, musicians outside of the exclusive anime industry started contributing, which drastically diversified the reach.


The 1990s marked the settling of the economy and the re-clustering of industries. Labels exclusively dedicated to anime music production like the Starchild label, which released the notable “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis”, the theme of ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’, were born. Moreover, as the music generation slid into J-pop, anisons reflected the same shift. All of these changes charmed even the non-watchers of the genre. During the mid-2000s, there was a “voice actor boom” and the “idol warring period” symbolizing the rapid growth of the idol industry and its effect on anime.


We are now at the period where fictional bands like those of the series K-On!, Given and Nana engage their own fanbase. Simultaneous popularity of idol-themed multimedia projects proved the same. Billboard Japan launched the Billboard Japan Hot Animation Chart on December 1, 2010, exclusively for anime and video game music releases. The recent anime “Vivy: Flourite Eye’s Song” portrayed the futuristic scope of music in AIs.


We see the theme of anime music bloom along with society and its imagination! With the changing times, let’s hope our hearts still sway akin to what we love and wish to feel.


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