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Thursday, 21 August 2008

Music: Japanese VS. English

Recently I acquired some character albums from one the anime I like. Honestly I wish Kyoto Animation would hurry up and deliver the second season but at least they’re continuing another one I like in the fall season. Anyway, the character albums for the main cast weren’t anything special but two of the support characters’ albums really stood out. One had a really upbeat and happy melody but I can’t come to like it as much as I could as the character for that album kept reminding me the dangers that one of my friends now poses to all girls under legal age. Hopefully whatever that guy is doing now isn’t something that could destroy his social life or get him sent to jail. Surprisingly though, there are a lot of people like him who mix up the world of anime with the real world and turn into creatures that society no longer recognize as humans. That sort of thing may have been normal centuries ago but now it’s illegal to indulge in those sorts of preferences.

Anyway, the other character album was really good. Go look up the seiyuu, Shiratori Yuri, on google and you may find a link to a song she sang. I actually set the one I liked best as my alarm despite the fact that it is so melodious and soothing that I may actually fall asleep again unlike the effect that my previous alarm had which would probably turn heads if people heard it because it’s almost unheard of for there to be a song that’s a mix of opera and rap (Iwasaki Taku is an amazing composer!). If I ever figure out how to host it on this blog, I’ll set up the songs I like for you to hear if they’re available for online streaming.

Most of you probably don’t get what I’m talking about or who those Japanese I mentioned were. Both of them were Japanese workers in the anime business. Seiyuu is the term for voice actor or voice actress and a composer is someone who comes up with the songs in the anime. The reason I know these things is because I am very big fan of anime. Despite being a citizen of Brunei Darussalam, I have watched and completed over 200 series of anime and read nearly 150 different manga of various genres in the past 6 years of my life(I did read Doraemon and Dragonball when I was younger but it was only in 2003 that I realized that they came from japan). Incidentally, about 35-40 new anime are introduced every thirteen weeks for each season of the year so I’m not even close to having watched 10% of all the anime out there.

This would seem very biased of me, which normally I try to avoid being but I have to say that Japanese music is so much better than English music. English music only occupies almost a fifth of my entire music library while Japanese music takes up 70% percent leaving the remaining ten percent split between instrumental music and game soundtracks( All the games were made in Japan though).

Why is it that I think that way? To set things straight, it’s not because of the language. If it was the language, I probably wouldn’t be enjoying the few Malay songs that I have. In fact, even though I can watch an anime without subtitles and understand everything that’s being said, it’s still too hard to translate the meaning of those songs while listening to them.

The reason I prefer Japanese songs over English songs is because so many of the English artists seem to be copying off each other while the Japanese keep on experimenting with their sounds. For example, if you listen to a song by Bow Wow and another by one of the many rappers out there trying to make names for themselves, you’ll find that their songs sound very similar. However if you take the songs “Evolution” and “Voyage” by Hamasaki Ayumi, you’ll find that despite both songs were made up by the same person, both are done in very different styles and are very good in their own way.

I’ll admit that it is true that Japanese songs have the same problem as well but it happens far less often to them than it happens to the Americans and that there are artists who are still finding ways to bring out good songs. I can name some of them: Akon, Linkin Park, Goo Goo Dolls, Sean Kingston, Black Eyed Peas and One Republic. You can probably tell that these guys are at the top of my list of favourite American performers(Stephen Colbert is at the top while President Bush is 2nd who is still funny even though his job isn’t actually performing in front of people) despite the fact I haven’t heard any new ones from them lately. I do applaud Linkin Park and Black Eyed Peas( Or to be more specific WILL.I.AM. and Fergie) for having so many different sounds in their albums, they also had some of the more interesting videos. I still can’t understand why critics would slam their albums so badly just because they wanted their songs to go above the norm.

The fact is that a majority of American artists lack creativity in their songs and seem to be filling up their albums that have one or two good ones with a dozen other mediocre ones just to fill in the gaps. I do have to say that they definitely beat the Japanese in terms of music videos which is quite odd for a nation that hold so many superior musicians. They really should think of getting the anime opening directors to direct their videos instead. Look for any video by the “Brilliant Green” on youtube and compare it to say – the anime opening sequence of “Xam’d: Lost Memories”. Love its song by the way.

There’s also the fact that most of them use vulgar concepts and words in their songs which make it hard for me to enjoy them. How is it possible for people to enjoy listening to other people sing about what they should only do in private. Even though I seem to have lost 95% of my ability to feel embarrassment, I can still see how awkward it would be for someone to be blasting such inappropriate songs in a public area. Hell, the juniors at school even seemed to be bothered by the Kingdom Hearts boss music that I was listening to at school while waiting to be picked up and that didn’t have any lyrics in it(Though I only lowered it so that only people in my immediate area would hear it if they really seemed disturbed by it).

The Japanese on the other hand always seem to be trying outdo themselves in their fields, whether it’s in technology or music. Just look at the Nintendo Wii, Xbox360 will NEVER match its sales because it’s the most unique console yet. That’s why I always seem to be finding new Japanese songs that are fresh whether they be sung by singers or composed as background music for an anime. The variety that they have to offer is much wider than any other country I’ve heard(Don’t get me started on Korean songs, almost every single one I hear is a love song about someone missing someone else). Thank god that the same also applies to anime and manga.

1 comment:

  1. If you want to hear some really unique Japanese music, browse through HearJapan ( I hear they are also going to be getting loads of anime music on the site soon or something.


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