In the last year, Japan has become the ‘it’ place to be and it’s easy to see why. For one, the country has this cool, vibrant, and modern vibe to it, and the food... well I’m pretty sure most people would agree that Japanese food is one of the best in the world and a lot of people find comfort in it, so to actually get a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine sure puts everyone in such pure bliss. But aside from all that, there is another thing that Japan is truly known for—their music. At the recent Animax Carnival Philippines 2016 event, we met two of Japan’s pride when it comes to singing, Elisa and Yanaginagi and they revealed some interesting facts about them and what makes Japanese music so unique.
Just recently, Japanese comedian Piko Taro’s surprise hit “Pen Pineapple Apple Pen” has taken the world by storm, reaching more than 115 million hits on Youtube, that even Justin Bieber has noticed it and called it "his favorite video on the internet." "The rhythm is very catchy, it stays with you. Like if you’re familiar with the term LSS (last song syndrome) that’s probably it. In Japan even the kids are imitating it,” says Elisa through her intrepreter when asked what they think of the song, being Japanese recoding artists themselves. Talking about what makes Japanese music so special and unique, yanaginagi says, “Japanese songs are pretty catchy, I think that’s what defines it.”
Making her music debut in October 2007 with “Euphoric Field,” the opening theme song of ef–a tale of memories, Elisa has since then become one the most popular Japanese anime song singers. “My father plays cello and I’ve been playing the piano as well since I was three and I’ve been into classical music before then in middle school I joined a choir and I realized that singing is a good thing so I started singing from then on,” shares Elisa.
As for yanaginagi, her career in the music industry started in 2006. “I loved this song sung by a Japanese singer called Chara and from there I just had to start singing. Everything started when I uploaded my songs on the internet and I received quite a good feedback from it and people from the anime industry contacted me.”
Both Elisa and yanaginagi have quite a huge following not only in Japan but all over the world, and their fans are so used to seeing them all glammed up doing what they do best—performing. They’ve both been singing opening and closing songs for many animes in Japan of different genres for years now. And one of the things that make Japanese music special is that in some songs, the artists sings every part of it, like in Elisa's case for example. "I sing around 4-5 sets not just the actual melody but also the backup voices and other parts of the song, so it’s the hardest part of recording because you need to sing all parts as well."
The anime culture has such a huge part in the Japanese music scene. Here in the Philippines, the 7PM timeslot is normally reserved for the teleseryes, but in Japan, that golden timeslot as they call it, is when families gather around to watch animes. “I think anime is something that happens near you but doesn’t actually happen and from there it’s full of surprises. And I think it’s very interesting and that’s why it’s popular." shares yanaginagi. And if teleserye theme songs here in the country often become such huge hits, same goes with the anime opening and closing themes, and this has catapulted the Japanese anime singers to fame.
With everything that they've been doing, it's kinda hard to imagine these two incredibly talented women doing something that doesn't involve singing, but when asked what they would probably be doing today had they not become singers, Elisa says she would have probably became a “Taxi driver. I like meeting people, I like making them feel at ease. I also like driving although I don’t do much of it, but in the game centers I’m really good in driving games. And I’d probably play my own songs while driving.” yanaginagi on the other hand, notes: “I used to study art painting and drawing so I’d probably be in that area or field.”
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Banner photograph courtesy of Norman Lleses for Animax Philippines / Artwork by Jana Jimenez