Category Archives: Japanese Music

BELLE – Exclusive Special Release Interview with Kylie McNeil

This week saw the release of the much anticipated BELLE, Mamoru Hosoda’s 7th feature film. The film instantly made headlines at Cannes with a 14-minute standing ovation. The film later made headlines among anime fans during its theatrical release back in January of this year. Both the original Japanese and the newly dubbed English version were shown in theaters nation-wide. In the film’s U.S. opening weekend it made $1.6 million from 1,326 theaters, and a total of $1.8 million over the four-day Martin Luther King Day holiday frame.

The film received five Annie Award nominations making it the most nominations for a Japanese anime film ever at the show, even surpassing previous films Spirited Away, Millennium Actress, and the more recent, Weathering with You. Most notable, the film’s cast, both in English and Japanese, were both praise for their vocal performance. This is both Kaho Nakamura and Kylie McNeil’s first anime, voice over performance.

Kylie McNeil, already an upcoming actor and singer in the theater scene in New York, had zero film credits, aside from an off-Broadway show “Runaways“, BELLE is Kylie’s very first film credit.

After its theatrical run, fans anticipated its home video release, which finally happened on May 17th. Coinciding with the Blu-ray and the Target exclusive: Steelbook release, Milan Records opened preorders for the vinyl copy of BELLE’s soundtrack, and is currently available to pre-order on Amazon.

Join us in celebration of Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE release with this special interview with the voice of Suzu / BELLE, Kylie McNeil! Back for a more in-depth and formal interview, Kylie walks through her experiences working behind the mic, voicing Suzu / BELLE.

Watch our interview above and learn how you could win our exclusive BELLE Bundle, which includes:

The BELLE movie (Steelbook ed.), A copy of the BELLE soundtrack (from Japan) & an autograph print from Paul Castro Jr. (the voice of BEAST)

all this and more in our exclusive interview! Don’t forget to subscribe for more anime and voice actor content or subscribe to our site:

Join 806 other subscribers

Minori Suzuki’s 6th Single “BROKEN IDENTITY” | OP of ‘I’m Quitting Heroing’

Minori Suzuki

Japanese voice actress, Minori Suzuki has announced that she will be releasing her 6th single “BROKEN IDENTITY” on June 1, 2022. The song will be used as the opening theme of I’m Quitting Heroing, a new anime airing on April 5th in Japan.

The anime’s promotional video above features the chorus of this song, which is a hard rock tune, unlike anything Suzuki has done before. The single will have a total of six songs, including two new coupling tracks and an instrumental of each.

The single will be released in three formats: Limited Edition A will include a Blu-ray Disc containing the Minori Suzuki Anime Song Covers Collection, a sequel to the Minori Suzuki Covers Collection that gained popularity on YouTube last year. This will include four newly recorded covers, along with comment videos, and a self-cover of “Saihate” that was only performed once during a special Livestream to commemorate the release of her previous single. You can find Limited Edition A available for preorder here:

Limited Edition B will include a CD containing the sound source of Minori Suzuki 2nd LIVE TOUR 2021~Make My Story!~, which was held last year. It will be a 60-minute recording and contain all 11 songs. More specifics about tracks will be announced at a later date. You can find Limited Edition B available for preorder here:

"Yusha, Yamemasu (Animne)" Intro Theme: BROKEN IDENTITY [Limited Edition / Type B] / Minori Suzuki
CD Japan

The Regular Edition will come with a CD wrapper with an original anime illustration, which you can preorder here:

"Yusha, Yamemasu (Animne)" Intro Theme: BROKEN IDENTITY [Regular Edition] / Minori Suzuki
CD Japan

Minori Suzuki also has an impressive resume as a voice actress, voicing characters such as Hajime Fujiwara from The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls, Akiho Shinomoto from Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Uiui from SHOW BY ROCK!! Mashumairesh!!, Ena Shinonome from Project Sekai: Colorful Stage! feat. Hatsune Miku, and Agnes Digital from Umamusume: Pretty Derby.

Suzuki is currently one of the most powerful voice actress artists in the business. Using her outstanding vocal ability, a wide range of expressions, and striking smile as her weapon, she energizes everyone who watches her perform.

You find more of Minori Suzuki on her official YouTube channel and follow her on Twitter

Nao Toyama to Sing OP Theme of ‘Ascendance of a Bookworm’ Season 3

Voice actor and music artist, Nao Toyama announced that she will be performing the opening theme to Ascendance of a Bookworm season 3 titled, “Ano Hi no Kotoba“. The announcement came during Nao Toyama’s Birthday Celebration ~Naobou is quitting the 20s ~ held at EX THEATER ROPPONGI.

Nao Toyama

Ascendance of a Bookworm season 3 will begin airing in Japan in April of this year. In a recent article we wrote, Maaya Sakamoto announced that she will be performing the ending theme to Ascendance of a Bookworm season 3 titled, “Kotoba ni Dekinai.” Nao Toyama also announced that she will also be performing the ending theme of I’m Quitting Heroing titled, “Growing.”

This 6th single, which is also part 3 of her ‘5th Anniversary Plan’, will include both “Ano Hi no Kotoba” and “Growing.” “Ano Hi no Kotoba” was written by singer-songwriter Sakura Fujiwara and composed and arranged by Soulife. The following are direct comments from Nao Toyama, Sakura Fujira & Soulife.

Nao Toyama

I worked really hard with the anime staff to ensure that “Ano Hi no Kotoba” matches season 3’s story. In fact, I almost ended up crying many times during the recording. May the people around you find happiness. I hope that this song resonates with everyone who is working hard towards a future that they chose.

– Nao Toyama
Sakura Fujiwara

I wrote the lyrics to this song after watching the previous seasons as a viewer. When I heard the sound source of Nao Toyama singing them to the lovely pop tune created by Soulife, I was so impressed that I immediately sent the director a message saying, “This is amazing!” I wanted to make it a warm song where Myne turns the pages one by one and expresses her gratitude for the encounters and events that she has experienced so far, so we had many back and forth exchanges to complete it, and I’m delighted to see it finally released. I hope you enjoy it

– Sakura Fujiwara
Soulife

When I was asked to compose this song, I carefully read the original story and decided to create a song that would bring out a more mature quality than anything Nao Toyama has done before.

While it retains the classical, medieval European elements of past theme songs, it also has a “sadness” that people say is typical of my work. The result is a melodious and encompassing song. The main character grows with a mixture of anxiety and expectation in the lyrics written by Sakura Fujiwara. I hope listeners will feel the excitement of turning to the blank page of “today” with this opening theme. I look forward to watching Myne’s growth with you all!

– Soulife

Nao Toyama made her voice acting debut in 2010. She attracted a lot of attention for her role as Kanon Nakagawa in the TV anime The World God Only Knows.

After that, she went on to play characters in numerous popular works, such as Karen Kujo in Kin-iro Mosaic, Chitoge Kirisaki in Nisekoi, Reina Prowler in MacrossΔ, and Rin Shima in Yuru CampΔ.

In 2019, she held her first solo tour and performed overseas in Taipei and Shanghai. The following year, she celebrated her 10th anniversary as a voice actress by releasing her character song best album “Special Thanks,” which placed third on the Oricon Weekly Ranking.

In 2021, she released a mini-concept album titled “off” with the theme of, ‘rest and healing’ in May and her fifth single “Samenai Maho” in November. 2022 marks her fifth year as a singer.

You can find more of Nao Toyama at her official website here, and follow her on Twitter here.

Yui Makino’s Digital Single “Touch of Hope” is Out Now! New Album Planned for 2022

Today musical artist , Yui Makino released her new digital single Touch of Hope.”

Touch of Hope” is the theme song to The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, a feature-length animation based on a Japanese manga series by Nagabe that was completed in March last year.

The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún is a story of a little girl named who was abandon in a forest with strange beasts. One day she befriends one of these beast, one who seems to be nicer than the rest, and proceeds to call him “Teacher”. Together they embark on journey to find more about Shiva’s background, while “Teacher” serves as a guardian and protector. Their bond seems to transcend their incompatible natures, becoming a folktale of two outcasts -one human, one inhuman- who linger in the hazy twilight that separates night from day.

The subtitle in the title, “Siúil, a Rún” is a reference to a traditional Irish song, which is sung in the point of view of a woman lamenting a lover who has embarked on a military career, and indicating her willingness to support him. “Touch of Hope pays homage to the traditional Irish song by singing some of its original lyrics.

The Girl from the Other Side was released in 2019 as a short 10 minute, art animation and was highly acclaimed at national and international film festivals.

In March 10th 2022, A feature-length animation was produced and released by Wit Studio and directed by Yutaro Kubo and Satomi Maiya set to be released with the manga’s bonus volume.

To fund this production, Wit Studio held a crowdfunding campaign from March to May last year, and the target amount of 3 million yen was achieved in just four hours. In the end, the campaign raised over 20 million yen from 1,418 users.

“Where else can I hear Yui Makino?”

You may be surprised to learn that Makino made her voice acting debut in April 2005 as Sakura, the heroine of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, an anime based on an original story by CLAMP. At the same time, she made her pre-debut singing “Omna Magni,” the ending theme for Genesis of Aquarion produced by Yoko Kanno.

Later that same year, she released “Amrita,” the theme song of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom.. Since then, she has voiced many anime characters and worked on many anime tie-up songs, demonstrating her diverse talents as a voice actress, singer, and pianist.

In August 2021, she released a Blu-ray version of Yui Makino Live Concert Five6three7, her 15th anniversary concert held in April (released and distributed by Amuse), and in December, she released the single “Espero,” the theme song of ARIA The BENEDIZIONE.

Yui Makino will be releasing a new album in 2022 under the FlyingDog label. More information will be released at a later date, so please keep your eye on Yui!

To find more information on Yui Makino visit her Official Website or follow her on Twitter

Maaya Sakamoto to Sing OP Theme of Deaimon and ED Theme of Ascendance of a Bookworm Season 3

On February 17th, it was announced that actress and singer, Maaya Sakamoto will be singing theme songs for two TV anime starting in April in Japan.

The first is the opening theme for Deaimon, a story set in an old confectionery store in Kyoto. The OP is titled “Sumire” the lyrics were written by Sakamoto herself, and the composition and arrangement were done by Shigeru Kishida of Kururi, a Japanese rock band from Kyoto, appropriately matching the anime’s setting.

Shigeru Kishida of Kururi

Deaimon’s protagonist, Nagumo Irino has dreams of becoming a member of a band and runs away from home to live in Tokyo. Ten years later, He receives a letter from home stating his father is in the hospital and asking him to take over the family shop, giving up on his dreams, he returns home. During his ten-year-long absence, a ten-year-old girl named Itsuka Yukihira has been working in the shop. In fact, Nagumo’s mother (voiced by Sakamoto) has become a sort of foster mom to Itsuka. Nagumo’s mother puts Itsuka and Nagumo against each other to see who will overpower the other and take over the family shop.


The series is written and illustrated by Rin Asano who, according to MAL is credited in the creation of Pangaea, Final Fantasy XV: Koushiki Comic Anthology, Tengai Retrogical, Choko Beast!! to name a few.

Deaimon began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten’s seinen manga magazine Young Ace in May 2016 and has been collected in twelve tankōbon volumes from Kadokawa Comics Ace as of October 2021. The anime is set to premiere on April 6, 2022 on AT-X.

Sakamoto comments on the making of “Sumire

“[. . .] I wrote the lyrics and asked Shigeru Kishida of Kururi, a band that I’ve always loved, to handle the composition. I think that I was able to write very peaceful lyrics, guided by the warm melody. Sumire (Violets) are a common flower in everyday life, and you can even find them growing in gaps in concrete. They’re so small that you might overlook them, but they are actually very powerful and huddle together to bloom. I chose this title due to the characteristics that these flowers share with people. I’m delighted to have another precious song that I can continue singing into the future.
-Maaya Sakamoto

(Via official press release)

In addition, Sakamoto will also be the lead vocals on the ED theme for the third season of the popular anime Ascendance of a Bookworm titled, “Kotoba ni Dekinai“. This series has sold over 6 million copies (including e-books).

The story follows Urano Motosu, a book-loving post-secondary college student and soon-to-be librarian who ends up crushed to death beneath a pile of books at her house during an earthquake. With her dying breath, she wishes to be reincarnated in a world where she can read books forever. Urano awakens in the body of a weak, five-year-old girl named Myne in a world where books are scarce and only available to elites. Myne, retaining her memories from her previous life, decides to create and print her own books so that she can read again.

The series was first published as a Light novel in 2015 and is written by Miya Kazuki and illustrated by Yū Shiina. Later that same year, It was adapted as a manga with illustrations done by Suzuka (later changed to Ryo Namino and Hikaru Katsuki in part 3 and part 4 of the manga series). The manga series is currently on-going.

The series later premiered as an anime in October 3, 2019, with direction by Mitsuru Hongo who is best known for Outlaw Star and Sakura Wars: The Movie.

Sakamoto commented on the making of “Kotoba ni Dekinai

“[. . .] I handled the lyrics and composition. This song is full of feelings of gratitude for irreplaceable people and places, and feelings that inspire you when you’re discouraged. In that sense, it’s a sad song but also one that allows you to positively move forward. People who are going through many new encounters and farewells as their environment changes this spring may be particularly able to identify with it. Please give it a listen.”

-Maaya Sakamoto

(via official press release)

In voiceover, Maaya Sakamoto is best known as Hitomi Kanzaki in The Vision of Escaflowne, Jeanne d’Arc in Fate/Apocrypha, Haruhi Fujioka in Ouran High School Host Club, and Ciel Phantomhive in Black Butler, to name a few characters. As a singer, she’s known for performing songs in both English and Japanese. Her early work and collaboration with renounced anime music composer Yoko Kanno in 1996 put her in the spotlight when she released her debut single “Yakusoku wa Iranai.” She later went to release the next selected singles, “Tune the Rainbow”, “Loop”, “Ame ga Furu”, and “Triangler” all reaching the top 10 Oricon singles chart. “Triangler” in particular won the 13th Animation Kobe Theme Song Award.

Her albums have had similar success, with Shōnen Alice and Yūnagi Loop, both reaching the top 10 Oricon albums chart; and her album You Can’t Catch Me, released on January 12, 2011, became her first release to ever reach number 1.

KAZHA | Hard Rock Band Making Headlines at Anime Cons

Anime Los Angeles has been bringing top hit musical guests such Stephanie Yanez, Raj Ramayya, and Lolita Dark in 2019 followed by, Japanese electronic dance music duo FEMM in 2020. This year’s musical guest was KAZAH!

​Kazha is a rock band founded by Japanese singer-songwriter Kazuha Oda and guitarist Hideki Matsushige in 2009. Since the release of their first album, Overture (2010) they’ve been touring around the U.S. making headlines in U.S. Anime Conventions such as Nan Desu Kan and Anime Los Angeles.

Guitarist Hideki Matsushige & singer-songwriter Kazuha Oda

Kazha has also shared the stage with national artists such as George Lynch, Tracii Guns, LA Guns, Y&T, Tantric, and Trapt. Moving their base of operations to Memphis, TN in 2015, they’ve been featured on local broadcasts such as WREG News Channel 3, Channel 24, and WMC Action News 5.

We had the honor of interviewing lead vocalist, Kazuha Oda, and hearing her story behind the formation of KAZHA!

Highschool Of The Dead Returns?! (Not really, but…)

Though there are NO official plans to bring HOTD back, the series has been trending among fans due to the newly released version of the High School of The Dead theme song of the same name.

Music art for “High School Of The Dead” 2010 (Left) and 2021 (Right)

The song is performed by Jrock band, Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets with vocals by lead vocalist Ichigo. Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets began as a one-man Doujin music band (Fan made/inspired music) created by Kishida Kyoudan. Kishida initially produced covers songs from various series, mainly from Touhou Project and Type-Moon series. From 2007 through 2010, more members joined the band; Ichigo, Hayapi (guitar) & Micchan (drums).

Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets: Kishida, Micchan, Ichigo & Hayapi

In 2010, Under the NBCUniversal Entertainment label (then known as Geneon Universal), they eventually made their major debut with their single “Highschool of the Dead” which was used as the opening theme to High School Of The Dead anime series. Three years later, on October 30th, 2013, their single “Strike the Blood” was used as the opening theme to the anime series Strike the Blood.

Strike the Blood anime

In 2013, the band went on to a different label, and with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, the band then went on to release numerous singles and albums which were used in various anime series, including GATE (2nd season, Op theme), Alderamin on the Sky (Op theme), and A Certain Scientific Railgun T (ED theme).

On August 18, 2021, the band released the newly re-recorded version of their 2010 hit single, “High School Of The Dead [2021]“. In addition, the band’s official YouTube channel released the official High School Of The Dead theme song music video, 11 years after the original release.

When the HOTD theme song was released in 2010, it never had a music video to go along with it, nor was it ever featured in any of the band’s albums. The band has recently released a compilation album titled Isekaitensei Shitara Best Album Deshita.

Isekaitensei Shitara Best Album Deshita features all their anime singles and the newly re-recorded HOTD theme song. The album comes in two versions: the regular edition and the limited edition.

The Regular edition contains two CDs of Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets’ best anime singles, including “High School of Dead[2021]”. The limited edition includes the entire album in two CDs, a 48-page band member interview booklet, a Blu-ray containing HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD [2021] MUSIC VIDEO, and “Kishida Kyodan & THE Akeboshi Rockets Live Video held on November 11, 2020. HOTD 2021 art is a homage to High School of The Dead and shows the character Saya Takagi.

You can purchase the album here [REGULAR VERISON] | [LIMITED EDITION] or Stream HERE.

Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE At Animation Is Film Fest 2021

For the first time, outside Japan, Mamoru Hosoda’s newest film BELLE had a chance to capture western audiences’ hearts during the Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood!

In 1999, Mamoru Hosoda began his journey with Dejimon Adobenchā (Digimon Adventure) as his first anime directorial debut; since then, Hosoda has developed this craft and quickly became one of Japan’s most predominant figures in Japanese animation. In 2011, Hosoda founded his own animation studio, Studio Chizu.

Photo by AIF | John Salangsang

Hosoda developed his own unique and highly influential animation style, which can be seen and felt throughout his work. His works are heartfelt, beautifully animated films and convey a sympathetic aesthetic element, often relatable. In 2019, his adventure fantasy comedy film, MIRAI, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. His most recent film, BELLE, premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a 14-minute standing ovation.

Mamoru Hosoda at Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood, CA

In BELLE, Hosoda visually transforms the internet, as the popular virtual world known as ‘U’. In a plot where characters face personal turmoil, isolation, a sense of belongingness, and the need to pretend to be someone else, Hosoda effectively exploits the ability to remain anonymous online and how anonymity can have its benefits and disadvantages on its users.

We had the opportunity to briefly speak with Hosoda during the Animation is Film Festival 2021 regarding his newest work and his thoughts on MIRAI’s Oscar nomination:

*The video below may contain SPOILERS* After the screening, Hosoda addressed the audience members and answered fan questions:

The film pays homage to Beauty and The Beast (specifically Disney’s version) and is composed of tantalizing visual animation with extraordinary, captivating music tracks. In addition, Hosoda mentioned working with veteran Disney animator Jin Kim as Belle’s lead character designer earlier this year. (Below are some of Kim’s BELLE concept Sketches).

One of many scenes in which the ‘ Beauty and The Beast‘ elements can be seen
Jin Kim (김상진)

Kim has worked for Disney since 1995 and is credited in over 30 Disney titles including, Zootpia, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and his most recent work Raya and the Last Dragon. Adding to Kim’s involvement, Studio Chizu also teamed up with Irish animation studio Cartoon Salon to produce the background art for the popular virtual world, ‘U’.

Get ready to dive into the beautiful world of U and watch BELLE this spring! Gkids is set to release BELLE in theaters on January 14th, 2022. For more information, visit GKids.com.

Bushiroad x Little Tokyo: Eat At Little Tokyo D4DJ Event!

Bushiroad and popular Japanese anime shop, Anime Jungle have teamed in order to help support small business in the Little Tokyo district in Los Angeles, California.

Bushiroad known for its popular card game, Cardfight!! Vanguard and the music media franchise BanG Dream! They have teamed up with local businesses in the Little Tokyo area to, not only promote their latest project D4DJ -(Dig Delight Direct Drive DJ) but to also help out businesses that are suffering during the COVID19 pandemic.

D4DJ -(Dig Delight Direct Drive DJ) is a new music media franchise created by Bushiroad. It features the creative talents of Japanese novelist and scriptwriter,, Kō Nakamura (Crying 100 Times, Tori Girl) and Takaaki Kidani as the executive producer. The franchise will focus on DJing and remixing different music genre with electronic dance music.

Much like BanG! Dream, It consists of a rhythm game D4DJ Groovy Mix, music CDs, an anime series and an upcoming manga series. An English version of the rhythm game is currently in development and set to be release in 2021. Bushiroad announced worldwide streaming of the anime series via Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Sentai Filmworks, with plans for a Blu-ray release by Funimation in the future. You can watch episode 1 via D4DJ’s official YouTube channel here.

The event will offer customers the chance to get D4DJ novelty items for every $10 spent at participating stores and restaurants white supplies last. Participating stores are listed on Anime Jungle’s official event page.

D4DJ Novelties Include, D4DJ promo poster and D4DJ band sticker (Each participating store/restaurant will carry different stickers of different D4DJ and BanG! Dream bands).

In addition, customers also will receive a chance to win a CD album prizes by uploading the receipt from your store visit(s) in Little Tokyo during this event! Receipt must be within 10/23 – 11/8/2020 and can be uploaded here.

Album Prizes:

D4DJ 1st Album – 「Direct Drive!」& Poppin’Party 2nd Album: Breakthrough!」

*There will be 1 Winner per Album.*

Please note only one receipt per entry. Duplicate receipts will not be accepted. Participants may enter as many times as they wish as long as they submit a different receipt. For more information on the terms and conditions, visit the official event website here. Please follow all COVID19 prevention guidelines, each store will have a customer limit.

Meet the DEATH METAL VOICE of AGGRETSUKO; Jamison Boaz

Many voice actors start off their career in radio or theater but for Jamison Boaz, the voice actor life began with his passion for music. Jamison’s musical projects vary in genre, from EDM to Heavy Metal or in many cases, a mixture of both.

Jamison has had various musical projects over the years, including a heavy metal band Modern Weapons which featured numerous voice actors including, Kyle Hubert and Reuben Langdon.

His most recent and current, multi-genre musical work, Epsilon Zero is self described as the expression of one human soul on an epic journey through time and space on a vessel built of steel and circuits. Take a listen to Jamison’s latest music through his official Band Camp page here.

In other recent news, Jamison is collaborating with Rocket Panda games on the soundtrack for the newest addition to the Phantom Breaker fighter game series, Phantom Breaker: Omnia. However, Jamison’s talents go beyond musical work.

PHANTOM BREAKER: OMNIA KEYART

Switching from music studios to ADR studios, It is in this area that he began working as additional voices on various projects beginning with Resident Evil 5 in 2012. Because of Jamison’s musical background as a heavy metal musician, In 2018 Jamison got the role of Death Metal Retsuko; AGGRETSUKO! A role he shares with Erica Mendez who voices Retsuko.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Jamison Boaz regarding his role in Netflix’s Aggrestuko series and his overall career. Take a listen we speak about Aggretsuko, the OTM Girls CD, the music behind the series and even death metal voice lessons, all this and more in our interview below:

GIVEAWAY

Answer the question at the end of our interview in the comment section, for your chance to win an AGGRETSUKO BUNDLE that includes:

-Signed OTM Girls CD (Signed by Jamison Boaz)


-Signed Aggretsuko Print (Signed by Jamison Boaz)


-Exclusive Aggretsuko Plush!

Deadline to enter is 10/31/2020