The Increasing Popularity of Music in Anime

Music in Anime
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“Hi! My name is Jessica, but I go by じぇす on here, which means Jess! This is my first time posting on Shooting Star Dreamer, so I thought I should give a bit of an introduction. I’ve loved anime since I was small, my first anime being Samurai Pizza Cats when I was only two years old. Currently I enjoy Japanese media of many sorts, including anime, manga, video games, light novels, and more! I hope you’ll enjoy my first post!”

Music has been an existing topic in anime for decades, as can be seen in titles such as Macross (1982), Full Moon wo Sagashite (2002), and Beck (2004). Back in the early 2000’s, there were only handfuls of music-based anime available, so fans of that genre didn’t have much room to be picky. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, there were even less. As time passed, the later 2000’s brought us anime such as Nodame Cantabile, K-On!, Detroit Metal City, and in the early 2010’s we got a bunch more music-related anime.
Now, in the year 2017, eight music-based anime TV series have begun airing already, five have been announced to air sometime during 2017, and thirteen have been announced with no release date yet. That’s a total of twenty-six music-based anime, potentially airing in 2017 alone. So what’s causing this huge jump in music anime?

AKB48 Idols
The popular idol group AKB48 which contributes to the rise of music-based anime.

First off, we have to realize that anime and Japanese animation studios are growing in number every year. The first reason why there’s so much more music anime, is because anime itself exists in larger numbers. According to Anime-Planet’s database, the Summer 2004 anime season only had seventeen different series released on air. The Fall 2016 anime season had a total of 84 anime TV series on air. Because of the huge increase in numbers of TV anime in general, it makes sense that there should be more music anime, right?
That is correct to a certain degree. However, there still seems to be a trend of music-based anime coming out at this time in comparison to other “niche” genres. By “niche”, I’m referring to more specific categories of anime, such as “lost in a strange world” or “vampire” instead of more common genres such as “action” or “horror”.
In Japan, pop idols are very successful right now; especially AKB48 which is situated in Akihabara. Akiba for short, it’s somewhat of a hub for otaku of all varieties, and so there has come to be an entire culture surrounding what’s known as “idol otaku”. In addition to AKB48’s success in Akiba, screens across the district and other anime-heavy locations in Japan have been playing many Love Live videos. Love Live is currently very popular among Japanese otaku.

Classicaloid Anime
The music-based anime Classicaloid, which doesn’t focus on pop music.
While I do think that Japanese idol groups such as AKB48 and popular anime about idols such as Love Live have contributed to the increased number of music anime, I know many of you are shaking your heads right now, thinking, “Not all music anime is about pop!” That’s true, recent anime such as Sound! Euphonium and Classicaloid are not about pop. However, if you look at the different titles of recent music-based anime, you’ll notice that almost all of them are indeed about pop.
It makes sense; after all, you have to start somewhere while learning music, and often pianists will start with learning classical music. That, and if you look at the variety of anime we have coming out each season, you can see that creators are going for more and more niche subjects. The upcoming Welcome to the Ballroom anime is about ballroom dancing, for an example. It makes sense that the music genre would want to spread out to different types of music as well.
Overall, I feel that the increasing popularity of Japanese pop idols is responsible for our growing collection of music anime, but the anime industry itself is also to thank for that, having progressed so much, growing each season, and increasing its own variety.