The year is 2009; it’s 8 p.m. on a Friday, you’re sitting in front of the TV, eyes on the screen, wrists covered in silly bandz. As you focus on stretching your colorful elastic band, the words “adult swim” in a white Helvetica bold font accompanied with a dark black background appear on the screen; as you tentatively observe the ominous word combination you keep your thumb lightly hovering the “last” button on the remote – giving yourself a plan B on telling your parents why you’re watching HGTV on a Friday night for entertainment other than having them burst open the door asking why you’re watching “Japanese cartoons” with incoherent subtitles – all while hoping the new season of Naruto started any moment. 2009 might’ve been the epoch for Japanese cartoons in America; but for the past three years, Japanese music dominates today’s era.
For Japanese-American children, Japanese pop culture involved itself in everyone’s life one way or another; whether it came in the form of comics, candy or JPOP, anything Japanese became a part of our childhoods.
Japanese pop music, or better known as “JPOP,” influenced not only many “peculiar” music tastes, but a small aspect of today’s American pop culture as well.
According to MIT news, about 60 percent of the world’s animated television shows originate in Japan.
“Anime,” or Japanese animated television shows are distinct; the main factors that heavily influence their fanbase derive from extensive plotlines, elaborate drawings and especially, enticing music.
“The Soul of Anime,” published by Duke University Press, asserts the use of “collaborative creativity” — by accepting input from a range of artists, and, perhaps most importantly, feedback and modifications from fans. Due to the fanbase involvement in the music, it makes a pop-culture product, like a cartoon series, “a living thing for the people who are interested.”
This issue covers KANA-BOON, one of the bands behind anime background music.
Formed in 2008, KANA–BOON is a Japanese rock band that made their major debut with Ki/oon Music in 2013. Since then, the group has had three albums reach the top ten on the weekly Oricon Albums Chart, with DOPPEL being their best-charting album, reaching third place.
As for their music, the band focuses on fast paced J-Rock, a popular genre in Japanese music that captivates the essence of anime soundtracks. Difficult to describe in words, the style of J-Rock bands have a generic dynamic of light-hearted guitar solos, fast tempo drum beats and high-pitched vocals projecting over the confusing yet in-sync orchestra.
Although there is an obvious language barrier, music breaks down all social walls when it comes to KANA BOON’s albums. Their most recognized song, “Silhouette,” shapes the anime introduction of Naruto Shippuden, a worldwide known Japanese animated TV series. KANA BOON is just one of many influential JPOP bands; others include Gesu no Kiwami Otome, Indigo La End and Back Number. In this case, what’s important is not the diversity of every band, but the influence these bands have over the Japanese culture we appreciate through tv series.
KANA BOON might be special, but what truly distinguishes them from other bands is the indirect integration of their music in American pop culture – through one single Naruto song.