Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hello Japan! Challenge: Music To My Ears

For this month's Hello Japan! challenge, Tanabata asked us to listen to any type of Japanese music.  I was hoping to be able to attend a local Taiko performance but the two Seattle groups had schedules that were not compatible with ours.  Z and I saw a performance by One World Taiko this last summer and loved it.  We were outside on a warm day and had dragonflies zooming overhead.  It was the perfect setting for the performance.  But since we weren't able to listen to this traditional Japanese drum music, we decided to go the opposite way with this post!

I don't think there is any music category more diverse than anime theme songs.  Many are pop songs but there are also hard rock/metal songs, soaring ballads and more typical rock songs.  Since there are types of anime for all ages and all viewers, I thought I would share the theme songs from some of our family favorites today.

One show that I enjoyed a few years back (and have been thinking about revisiting soon) is Blue Seed.  It's about a high school girl who fights a supernatural plant monster with the help of a mysterious warrior while running from government agents.  The theme song is called Carnival Babel and is performed by Takada Band.  It's definitely a pop song.

The lyrics are very interesting in this one because the first phrase is in English but the rest of the song is in Japanese.  Here are the first four lines and I dare you to make sense of them!
Mysterious Tokyo
Take it easy dangerous night
Mysterious Tokyo
Pick me up foxy night game
The rest of the lyrics relate somewhat to the story and are rather beautiful.  Here is an excerpt --
The moonbeams freeze over, inviting us to another night
The horns are exposed to the beat of the cold city.

A labyrinth has got a silence more tedious than loneliness
Leaving my body for pleasure, this night is gonna shine in a sea of illumination.

The blue, blue moment has begun to melt
My future rises up fleetingly now
Life glitters as much as light, and then it burns off.
One of T's favorite animes is Big O.  This show might have the best lead man ever in Roger Smith.  And the style of this song is much different. It's half in English, half in Japanese and makes ample use of the show title.  It also borrows significantly from the Flash Gordon theme song by Queen.  It's written and performed by Nagai Rui ---whose favorite band happens to be listed as, you guessed it, Queen.

The final one I'll share with you today is Z's favorite anime song and it's the theme song to My Neighbor Totoro, an amazing and adorable film by Hayao Miyazaki.  I'll admit that it's one of my favorite films of all time.  When Z was a baby and would have a particularly bad night, this movie (with the Japanese dialogue) almost always calmed him down.  First here is the English version of Stroll, performed by Azumi Inoue --

And here it is in the original Japanese (with English subtitles).  As you can see, the lyrics were changed quite a bit for the English version to fit the rhythm of the song but both versions are happy and light.

Are there any anime theme songs that you particularly enjoy or is this something completely new to you?

Wondering how long these will be stuck in our heads now,
K and Z


  1. FYI - there are local groups around here these days. Check out my site to keep track of local performances (including non-local groups performing in the area - Tao is in town on Friday):


  2. sorry, meant to say, 'more than 2 local groups'. :)

  3. Great to know, Tyger! Thanks for linking to your site!

  4. I have to say I am not a big fan of anime.

    That said I have enjoyed all of the Hayao Miyazaki movies I have seen, particularly "Howl's Moving Castle".

    If I was pinned down I could say I liked the theme to Howl, but then (at least in the English version) it is simple a gentle instrumental.

    Publish or Perish

  5. The entire soundtrack for Cowboy Bebop is amazing, and music plays a huge role in the series itself. It's definitely the first anime I'd go to when discussing music in the genre.

  6. I love anything from My Neighbor Totoro but I really love some of the sweeping music from Howl's Moving Castle too. Sooo pretty. :-)

  7. Al - I'm a pretty big Miyazaki fan. I don't love them all but the ones I do love are some of my favorite movies of all time -- especially Howl's Moving Castle!

    Steve - Sadly, I've only seen bits and pieces of Cowboy Bebop. Maybe I'll revisit it this year.

    Marie - The music in Miyazaki films is really amazing!

  8. Thanks for sharing some of your favourite anime songs. I have to admit I still haven't seen much anime although I hope to watch more this year.

  9. Tanabata - I watch more movies than series but tend to watch the same movies over and over. I am trying to watch more movies this year. The Girl Who Lept Through Time is a great one that I just watched last month.