Anisong is a genre of Japanese music used for opening and ending themes in anime. It mainly refers to several audio materials. This includes theme songs, insert songs, and image songs. An anisong typically has an original length version and a shorter TV-size version with different song patterns or lyrics.
Some of the most iconic anisong for the past decades are “Galaxy Express 999,” “Cutie Honey,” “You Wa Shock,” “Jajauma ni Sasenaide,” “Pegasus Fantasy,” “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA,” “Moonlight Densetsu,” “Butter-Fly,” “Platinum,” “Hohoemi no Bakudan,” “Yuzurenai Negai,” “Zankoku na Tenshino These,” “Sobakasu,” “We Are!,” “After Dark,” “Donten,” “Renai Circulation,” “Tabi no Tochuu,” “Uninstall,” “First kiss,” “Connect,” “crossing field,” “JoJo ~Sono Chi no Sadame~,” “Guren No Yumiya” and “The Hero.”
The word Anisong is a portmanteau of the words (アニメ) anime and (ソング) song. Sometimes fans call anisong as “anison.”
A Brief History
The earliest anisong recorded was in the 1960s to 70s. Dedicated anisong singers were rare at that time. Ichirou Mizuki (水木 一郎) and Mitsuko Horie (堀江 美都子) were two of the most iconic early anisong singers.
Ichirou Mizuki sang more than 1,200 anisong for tokusatsu shows, anime series, films, and video games. Besides being a vocalist, he was also a voice actor and live-action actor. Fans refer to him as “aniki” (アニキ) or “big brother”, as well as “anime song no teiou” (アニメソング界の帝王) or “Emperor of Anisong”. In 1999, Ichirou Mizuki held a 24-hour performance where he sang 1,000 anisong. He would later continue to perform both in Japan and overseas and lend his talent on other artistic projects.
Ichirou Mizuki formed 2 iconic anisong groups, Apple Pie in the 1990s and JAM Project on July 19, 2000. Apple Pie is a Japanese duo group that performed several songs for Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. JAM Project, on the other hand, is a band composed of talented singers. Each member of JAM Project is recognized for their solo performances. JAM Project has had several international tours at various anime conventions. Ichirou Mizuki would join JAM Project from time to time as a “part-time” performer. This allowed other singers to collaborate with JAM Project.
Mitsuko Horie is a voice actress, composer, and singer. Her earlier career involved singing anisong at the age of 12. Her first anisong debut was in the anime Kurenai Sanshirou. After the success of her song “Candy Candy,” Mitsuko Horie became an exclusive talent for Nippon Columbia. “Candy Candy” sold over 100 million copies, for which she won several awards. Mitsuko Horie recorded more than 1,000 anisong throughout her career. She later began teaching as a vocal mentor at Micchi Singers Lab (MSL). Since 2017, she has been a visiting professor for Senzoku Gakuen.
The growth of the anisong industry launched the careers of famous anime voice actresses such as Nana Mizuki (水樹奈々) and Yukari Tamura (田村ゆかり). Their voice acting and singing talent helped them thrive on anisong hit charts. It also gave them tons of projects.
In July 2007, Animax began to host an annual singing competition. The panel of judges for the annual singing contest was composed of Ichiro Mizuki, Mitsuko Horie, and Yumi Matsuzawa (松澤 由美). Each year, the winner of the competition will sing one of Animax’s anime theme songs. They will also receive a contract with Sony Music Japan as part of their first anime project.
In 2008, Anime Festival Asia launched its annual flagship concert “I Love Anisong.”The concert series takes place in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. SOZO Pte Ltd. manages both Anime Festival Asia and I Love Anisong. Most performers in I Love Anisong are famous J-Pop singers and J-Rock performers.
Anisong is an integral part of anime. It invokes what the show is about. It is so popular in pop culture, fans can find them in Japanese karaoke bars. Fans range from Japanese people to international fans. Anisong also encourages fans to perform cover songs, produce music anime douga (MAD) videos, and create passion projects.
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Pixiv Encyclopedia, https://dic.pixiv.net/a/アニソン, Retrieved 28 March 2020.
Amith, Dennis, “J!-ENT interviews JAM Project by J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith” J!-ENT, http://www.nt2099.com/J-ENT/INTERVIEWS/JAM-Project/jamproject.pdf, August 2009, Retrieved 28 March 2020.
PROFILE | 水木一郎オフィシャルサイト – Ichiro Mizuki Official Website http://mizuki-spirits.com/biography.html, Retrieved 28 March 2020.
堀江美都子・ミッチネット, http://www.micchi.net/, Retrieved 28 March 2020.
Mitsuko Horie 堀江美都子 – Nippon Columbia/Nipponophone – Japan Anime Music Lab, https://japan-animemusic.com/artist/mitsukohorie, Retrieved 28 March 2020.
SOZO – SOZO, https://sozo.sg/home/, Retrieved 28 March 2020.
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If you’re interested in anisong, check out our exclusive interview with anisong singer and voice actress Diana Garnet!
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