Scattered Thoughts – what do I listen to?

     There probably isn’t a person who would say with absolute confidence that music has no part in their life. Music naturally is also a part of anime community, although not many people try to analyse it apart from stating that for example “Kajiura, Kanno and Sawano are cool” (love them all by the way, in that order). Listening to anime OSTs isn’t what I’d consider my hobby but I try to pay as much attention to it as I can. If an artist proves to be entertaining, obviously I try to dig deeper. As working in anime industry isn’t always what musicians only do, over time one band or another comes under my radar, so that’s what I’m going to talk about today – 5 Japanese artists/bands (that not necessarily have strong ties with anime industry) that I came to love.

     Starting from a bit further, I think I should say a few words about my general preferences in music for my choices to make more sense. Having been raised with classical music and having completed some basic musical education, I’ve always had a soft spot for orchestral music. It’s no wonder then that what I seek from songs primarily is a melody, preferably embedded in a thick instrumental texture. More complicated harmony or song structure is also a huge plus. Well, the thing is that a clear melody and walls of sound aren’t the most compatible things ever, but I do get by.

     That naturally leads me from the typical pop (that I most of times find too thin for my tastes) to more metal or hard rock side of things. Don’t like screaming though. Music industry is incredibly diverse, and for someone with a bit of a classical background who at the same time won’t shy from something more modern there still are choices. Niche as it may be, symphonic metal and styles similar to that proved to be particularly enjoyable. Continuously listening to Nightwish, Within Temptation and Evanescence has been a bit on a standby lately but I still count these bands as one of my definite favorites. At some point I got into anime so Japanese music slowly has become more and more relevant to me, but the general trends remain the same.

     So, Japanese music. I’m afraid that though my choice to make this post a Top 5 list filters the best of the best, it sadly leaves many slightly less beloved but still very enjoyable artists. Sorry, Sayuri. Sorry, the irreplaceable Susumu Hirasawa, you’re both great. But let’s go to the list itself.

5) Chirinuruwowaka and GO!GO!7188

     Yeah, Chirinuruwowaka is a legitimate name (and hopefully without spelling mistakes). Good luck remembering it. GO!GO!7188 also looks like a weird one. I won’t give these two bands separate entries because their style is somewhat similar and they both share the lead singer, that is Yumi Nakashima. Well, actually they shared since GO!GO!7188 is already gone for good. It has been active for 14 years until 2012 and during that period 8 albums were released. In 2005 Yumi Nakashima started a side project – Chirinuruwowaka during its 13 years of existence has produced 9 albums and still has enough steam to go on. What made me want to stick to these bands first is the very sharp voice of Yumi Nakashima and its use to accentuate deliberate dissonances between the melody and the instrumental part. The bands sometimes sound quite experimental and I quite like it – both the rawness of GO!GO!7188 and slightly more subdued sound of Chirinuruwowaka.

      As a side note, I want to express my wonder towards various coincidences and unexpected connections. I found these two bands fairly recently so I do remember how it happened exactly. First, I somehow stumbled upon a collaboration between one band that will still be featured below and Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. These guys are an amazing power in Japanese music, and not least because of being active since 1988. Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra for their 25 anniversary also collaborated with MONGOL800 which I found pretty fresh. MONGOL800 isn’t that well-known but their cover of Koi no Uta finally led me to GO!GO!7188 and consequently to Chirinuruwowaka. Paying attention to such a chain of events is rather meaningless but I think it shows how interesting it can be to sometimes dig deeper and search the unknown as there’re many enjoyable things to be found. In music, in anime, and in life in general.

4) One Ok Rock

      Yeah, the name’s a pun. It’s the same as 1 o’clock. The leader, Takahiro Moriuchi, is a friend of Aimer, a friend that likes to collaborate. It’s another case of me finding another entertaining artist through one that I already like. Doubtless One Ok Rock is the most Western band out of this selection, and exhibit obvious Western influences. Frequent lyrics in English (unexpectedly pretty good I have to admit) is nothing to be surprised about. The band’s style seems not to be settled in stone – after all 13 years on stage with 8 albums is a pretty long time for original preferences to get altered. Out of all the artists in this list One Ok Rock also comes the closest to pop and while I’m not a complete fan of them, their heavy sound and memorable melodies just, well, rock.

Be the light by One Ok Rock

     And, by the way, guess what ringtone do I use for my phone?

I was King by One Ok Rock

Yep, this one.

3) Aimer

      The first two bands probably were unknown to you but I hope Aimer’s name rings a bell because of her frequent appearances in anime OPs and EDs. Fate, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, the recent Koi wa Ameagari no You ni and others established her as a  desirable artist. There’s hardly a conversation about her without someone stating that “Aimer is love, Aimer is life” or something similar. That’s clearly not without a reason. I don’t know anyone who could boast of such a memorable voice. It’s said that Aimer as a child went through an illness that ended up making her voice into what we hear now. Well, as hard as it was, thanks for that, Mr. Illness.

Re:I Am by Aimer

      Aimer’s usual fare is slower songs that show her voice and its power as much as possible. I like that, but knowing my preferences I more enjoy when she performs in, say, Hiroyuki Sawano’s projects. And man, that’s some terrifying power. Epic madness that Sawano is and crystal clear voice of Aimer is an incredible mix. The same could be said about her  impressive collaboration with Yoko Kanno.

Akane Sasu by Aimer

      That’s my favorite ED. Thanks, Natsume Yuujinchou, thanks Aimer.

      As an interesting fact, although Aimer has been performing since 2011, she revealed her face only in 2016. I really appreciate the mindset that an artist should become famous for the art and not for a beautiful face or something like that. Not that Aimer’s face isn’t beautiful.

2) Kalafina

      Ah, the ambiguous feeling. Pretty much every song of theirs fills me with emotion but that positiveness recently has been countered by unfortunate news that the band is effectively no more. It’s founder, composer and soul Yuki Kajiura has left the record label, so it’s natural that no good came out of that. Still, 11 years of activity left lots to listen to and at least because of that I’m very happy. It’s damn hard to highlight only several songs. If you want a more comprehensive outlook, look no further than what a fellow blogger Moyatori has been doing.

Kimi no Gin no Niwa by Kalafina

      The 3 stylish singers – Hikaru, Keiko and Wakana (there was also Maya at first, but not for long) started with songs for Kara no Kyoukai and provided various pieces for many anime – Fate/Zero, Black Butler, Madoka Magica (yeah, that ED is godlike – dark Yuki Kajiura is the best) – need I say more? The strength of the ensemble is that each of the members can (could, sob sob) stand on their own and probably could be lead singers anywhere. Yuki Kajiura took advantage of their distinctive timbres and vocal ranges and did her best each time. I said that I like harmony a lot (polyphony rules!), and to have 3 great voices intermingle in memorable melodies is always a joy to experience.

Red Moon by Kalafina

1) Asian Kung-Fu Generation

     So here we are – at the moment Ajikan is my favorite band. It’s a bit weird since I can’t say I have a clear favorite song of theirs. The thing is that I haven’t found any of their songs unlikable. And considering how long they have been on a stage – it’s something. 22 years without changing the lineup is also something.

Standard by Asian Kung-Fu Generation

     Many may remember Ajikan as that “Naruto OP” band and they wouldn’t be wrong. 3 songs for Naruto (Haruka Kanata for example) make a statement. Count in Rewrite from FMA. Ajikan also played Re:Re for Boku dake ga Inai Machi. Looks like a shounen battle band, doesn’t it? And if you find that degrading, I sincerely disagree. Ajikan songs seem to be a distilled simplicity enhanced with memorable passages and melodies – nothing excessive but what needs to be, a steady pump of rhythm and versatility for any atmosphere you desire. Well,  I can’t help loving that.

Kaigan Doori by Asian Kung-Fu Generation

      Also I might add that when Inio Asano’s Solanin got adapted into a live action movie, the ending song was written by Ajikan using Asano’s lyrics. How can I not enjoy something that my favorite mangaka wrote?

Maigoinu to Ame no Beat by Asian Kung-Fu Generation

     Yeah, that was a lengthy tour. Somehow I feel like I disclosed a very personal side of me that usually stays open only to myself. Anyway, I hope that among a multitude of songs at least one or two of them will cater to your tastes.

     What do you usually listen to? Has anime influenced your tastes?

Leave a comment


  1. I love Nightwish, I used to listen to them a lot more, but since my work commute is rather short my music listening has been cut down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I found that letting a band to rest for a while is a good thing. Later on it’s a great feeling to return and find everything fresh once again. Well, it’s probably like rewatching a favorite anime.


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