The most popular instrument in ‘popular’ Anisong is a guitar?!

On the other hand, not so much in J-Pop outside of anime….

J-Pop Wikipedia
Bloody hell, Wikipedia…


Note that I used the term popular twice in the title. There are anisongs, and then there are anisongs in which you just happen to know…

…or maybe because they are actually good, hence being popular?

Maybe it is just my preference but then I’m also confident that I’ve listened to plenty of anisongs.

Before we even get to that point though, let us go back to when music wasn’t even the main part of anime.

The two most occurring genres in anime music (anisong) are pop and rock.

Japanese Pop in 1970’s was heavily influenced by the much more under-grounded Rock genre, to the point that the two eventually emerged. This left majority of Japanese Pop songs to be accompanied by at least a single guitar, electric or not. Surely you know how the rest went, seeing what we hear today.

Japanese Pop surprisingly did not come into anime until idols took over (refer to my 4 parts of Songs by Seiyuu posts!), which started as early as 1980’s, only to be well received around mid 2000’s. This is also the period when Light Music (keion) was mostly considered to be pop despite having basic rock band instruments (guitars, a bass guitar, a drum set and a choice of electronic instrument). Thanks, K-On!

Naturally this wasn’t a one way street. The vice versa happened too!
Japanese Rock outside of anime started to ditch the strict rule of being basic and went a little electronic. What we have today is some guys like ONE OK ROCK.

Now. When rock first came to anime, man. I still remember the time. This genre never fails to deliver the hype no matter where it is being presented from. In fact I can get a lot of you to agree with me that the most hyped up opening themes in anime today are of rock genre.

Remember singing along ‘Seid ihr das Essen Nein, wir sind der Jäger!?
Surely you didn’t at first understand of what Link Horizon was saying

Or the more hyped, ‘ONE PUUUUUUUUNCH!’?

I’m not lying to myself and so shouldn’t you!

Thankfully, oh my! Japanese artists never let trivial things like ‘rules’ stop them from trying out new things. It just happened that rock and pop got to somewhere in the middle and we also happened to like them. It got to the point of difficulty in labeling because sometimes you could get away with calling it pop rock (first word is always the adjective while the second is the noun) when it was really, rock pop (this one was actually never used despite clearly not being true rock) or in other words power/guitar pop.

When speaking of guitar pop, the first thing that come up in my mind is Machico and her latest work on KonoSuba 2‘s opening, Tomorrow.

Trust me, this IS Pop.

That was just recent though. Let’s go way back a decade when pop music in anime started getting seriously sick with guitars.

K-On! again with Light Music!

There’s no denying that Houkago Tea Time rocked their guitars nearly as much as a typical rock band would. They are vibrantly present in all of the three openings of the anime.

If anything to go by, K-On! perfectly showed growth in skill as the girls became better over the course of the story. The second opening was a blast but it was the third opening that pretty much summed up their mad burst of excitement and good feels – in music.

I legit play my guitar to this song ALL THE TIME, simply because it’s a great jam. I’m going to have you listen to the instrumental version though because that’s clearly the point – the two guitars as in… instruments.

Later came a duo that made huge impact on guitar pop as a whole genre…

Synth-pop, sick guitars and trance?!


Back around mid 2000’s, you knew that you were in for some seriously good beats when you see this logo….

Song by fripSide

Entered second generation fripSide and their signature trance-pop style, with the insane, sick guitar riffs!

I don’t think I need to say anything about them. Ever since the voice actress Yoshino Nanjou was recruited, she literally set the bar higher for the unit.

Their breakthrough piece of work is no other than Only My Railgun, the winner of 2010 Radio Kansai Award.

They were a huge influence to other music composers that work for anime. It didn’t take long before I started hearing this style of music that weren’t from fripSide. Examples are there – Grisaia no Rakuen first ending (it’s Yoshino Nanjou‘s solo single) and Gi(a)rlish Number insert song/first opening.

Well on the rock’s side – it’s not rock if there’s no guitar so there’s…. that.

No, wait. Sure, the instruments never changed but the vocals did. Japanese rock bands did try new things and it kinda worked, I guess.

Just have a listen to Gintama 25th ending or pretty much nearly the entirety of Ghost Oracle Drive‘s discography from God Eater.

Fast forward to today


Let’s play a game of instrumental catch and see how many of the openings from 2017 Spring season involve guitar(s)…

Don’t forget about the endings!


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