Canola Confession – This could be an anime opening!

Dear Youtube Commentators who are clearly anime fans on Japanese music videos,

This is not intended to be a preachy call out post. I know there will be a certain minority of you who will interpret it as so and immediately call for me to be cast into the fire. That’s fine, since I know my words will not convince you anyway because that’s the nature of the internet. People comment, others disagree, and a never ending cycle continues. I am just once again contributing to that cycle with this post. That’s fine by me since it’s not really about you anyway. I’m just selfishly voicing my thoughts aloud to see how far they echo if at all.

Back to the core of this post, the ever so common to the point it’s annoying, “this should be an anime opening!”, comment.

Stop making these comments people. It’s not cute. It’s not original. In many ways can actually be pretty damn insulting to the artist.

I feel it in my bones. But it’s a compliment!! You cry from your keyboards. I understand that. I get that. I made those comments back in the days of the mid-2000’s when Zach Bell and Naruto aired after school. The thing is, it really isn’t.

To over simplify my thoughts, you are insulting the artist by saying it should be an anime opening. Because, in my experience of nearly 10 plus years of watching anime and getting to know the Japanese music industry separately and how it connects to anime; there’s about three viewpoints Japanese musicians hold about anime musicians.

The first, is those who make their career of producing anime opening and ending themes. These are artists and groups like LiSA, Kalafina, D-Selections, JAM Project, Nana Mizuki, etc. Both their genre and category as musicians is mostly specific to anime song, or anisong artists. While they are insanely talented individuals, they have the specific intent of when releasing music that it is tied in some way shape or form to anime.

This can be the most obvious opening or ending themes. Other times, they might voice a character as well as provide the theme, not to mention other music within the series. There is an incredible range of diversity for the products they create. Not to mention that they of course, have built up incredibly repertoires and followings. These artists are invited to attend anime conventions abroad, and tour. Notably, LiSA and Nana Mizuki regularly sell out shows just singing anisong songs!

So to be honest, if the artist is an anisong artist, writing “this should be an anime opening”, is pretty irrelevant. The song probably is tied to a series you just didn’t happen to know about, or you couldn’t read the description which isn’t your fault. In that sense, and in those cases I can give you a pass on writing that.

Which leads to the second point; writing that same comment on every single Japanese music video. Now that is not only annoying but it’s ignorant. It’s pretty much advertising yourself as such.

As someone whose been into Visual Kei since 2009, I have seen a lot of “OMG this reminds me of this anime!” or “this should be an opening to this!”. I get it. You’re excited, and probably still discovering for yourself that Japan is so much more then anime. That’s fine, that’s the kind of mistakes that younger people make on music videos. And it’s the internet; nothing should be taken too seriously.

However, it comes off as widely ignorant when it comes to non-anisong artists. Non-anisong artists are musicians who exist in these magical categories called, J-pop, J Rock, J-Rap, and my favorite Visual Kei just to name a few. Which if you’re confused what those categories are just happen to be abbreviations of Japanese popular music, Japanese music, Japanese Rap, although Visual Kei is a off shoot of JRock which is neither here nor there at the moment.

Because, surprise, surprise; Japan happens to have a music industry just like your own country! Thus it has artists and musicians that also happen to be in the same genres that exist elsewhere, but just happen to be Japanese! Not every Japanese musician is an anisong musician! Not every musician who does a single anime opening is anisong! What a radical concept!

Getting back to this should be an anime opening; to these artists, hell more specifically to their fans this is an ignorant comment especially if you’re only just first getting into Japanese music. The subtext reads; I don’t know anything about this artist, their legacy, their impact on the industry but I think the song is catchy and I only know about anime therefore catchy song in Japanese equals anime opening.

To try and contextualize it for people who aren’t getting it, that’s like saying any catchy English sung song should be in a Hollywood blockbuster film just because its in English. (Disregarding if it was an American artist as well) Is it starting to make sense to see how stupid the comment sounds?

Again, I know peoples intentions are good when they write things like this. They are equating this new and exciting song, that they don’t quite get the meaning of with something they perceive as positive from the same country. It’s intended to be a compliment dammit! Why am I being so harsh?

I’m being harsh, because it’s insulting as a long time fan of an artist to see them be reduced to having sung one anime theme, and thats all their legacy is to anime fans.

Despite me not being the biggest fan of them, let’s talk the Gazette again. Now the Gazette have been around as a band since 2002, technically even earlier with their work as roadies. So around 2010, with the release of the anime Black Butler II, their single “Shiver” was used as an ending theme. And all the comments on fan uploaded videos were people touting this ‘little known’ metal band, as being the next big dark anime theme song generator. I’m not kidding when I say this use to be a thing I saw anime fans say about the band.

Say what? This is a band that prior to Black Butler had released four albums, six EPs, sixteen singles, gone on multiple tours within Japan, built an entire fanbase and legacy that many bands in Visual Kei have since poorly ripped off and taken inspiration from. For their entire career to suddenly be summarized in the one time they sang a song for an anime ending; that is their peak. That is the best they will ever be? That is all that they as musicians have accomplished?

Obviously not. the Gazette remain easily one of the most successful Visual Kei bands, ever, period. While that one song certainly might have caught them a few new fans, it did not shift their popularity in any meaningful way.

So now we get to the other side; musicians who sing a theme, sometimes a few, for anime. Are they anisong or not?

When it comes to musicians like the Gazette, Beverly, Rude-a, obviously not. You can look at their discography and see that the majority of it exists without being included in anime as a tie-in. To call these artists anisong performers, is insulting not only to them and their fans, but to anisong artists as well!

These musicians who sing one or two themes, are talented and popular in most regards in their own right. If the price and circumstance is right, of course they’ll do an anime tie-in. It’s good promo for the anime, and its good promo for the artist.  However, to say they have even the same impact on anime, or anisong as a true anisong artist is disrespectful. They might have a cult following and the song might be catchy for awhile, but they will never amass the same type of following as an anisong artist. They overlap, but one does not equate the other.

To wrap these thoughts up, if you like a song just say you like it. While you might think This should be an anime opening, is an upgraded compliment, a lot of the times it isn’t. It’s cool that anime helped you find Japanese music in general, hell that’s how I started! To lump any song in Japanese (and occasionally Korean) as being anisong worthy, shows a lack of knowledge about the artist, their legacy, and their impact. Not to mention, you might get a fan more pissed off then me, tearing you a new one over your ignorance.

I know people don’t mean harm, and people mean it as high praise, but its simply not perceived as so for more serious fans. You are much better saying it’s a good song, I want to check out more of your music, etc. Comments like that mean a lot more then reducing it all down to anime.


RisefromAshes, an overly protective Japanese music fan



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