When I stop pretending to love a single genre of anything, the entertainment industry seems to be eternally border-less. The things it has to offer throughout its lifetime can never be appreciated enough. Some will tell you that you cannot find good music if you don’t listen enough. The thing is in 2018, cross platform discovery have become the prevalent form of search when it comes to art.
The gap between underground and mainstream have become shorter every day as recognition-deserving artists have been given spotlights in places they’d never thought would be possible until they day it happened.
Being an avid anime watcher, I’d almost always discovered music through anime one way or another. Whether it would be from opening/ending/insert/character songs to even extended plays to even Anime Music Video (AMV’s), I can never get enough of what the medium as to offer in each and every cycle of time (which we now conventionally call seasons)
This list is just going to be some of the artists who I think their voices warrant me to do bows of respect. No swooning; just mad appreciation for keeping it unique when auto-tuning and backtracking are only getting more and more in the front line of music industry.
Better yet, all of the people in this list are highly active, still.
Side note: I’ve recently been made to do LOTS of gardening for my parents and man, this song just can’t be anymore of a perfect fit to the work.
Miwa to me has long been a true definition of strong and independent woman of the music industry. Give yourself about five minutes to read on her history from a young student who went to a school which banned any kind of entertainment performances to someone who has achieved a few of Japan firsts in music career — you will be left amazed that someone of this much talent has been active outside of your radar all along.
Needless to say — cute face and cute voice usually calls for the worst kind of gimmick in music scenes (I’m totally not sorry, Selena). But for Miwa, they are simply her best disguise for the wow factor that is her raw live performance ability.
Seriously, just throw a guitar at her and maybe a few millions of yen and you will have a very satisfying ballad moments from yours truly. Here is my still most favorite ballad version song of hers: Delight.
She is well aware of how far she has come, so going English is probably her next step of breaking the limit.
Even with big names like Leona Lewis on stage, Miwa would still take the guitar and sing along.
You cannot go wrong with Miwa if saucy yet happy pop is what you are all about.
Speaking of happy pop, the next person in line should technically not be any different, but she is…
2. Towana of fhána
So no. She is not Miwa.
I discovered her and the unit from Haruchika’s opening.
Japan’s rise of indie music units had created countless spots for talented singers to carry said units to fame. I am very sure that you might have heard at least a few of this type — fripSide and GARNiDELiA to name a few.
And when you factor some things like intra-unit relationships and anything else they do when not making music, this unit in particular are smiles all around. Again, don’t ever let Towana’s cuteness and her insanely high-pitched voice lead you into calling gimmicks; these guys work hard and play just as much.
The pitch remains high for the next entry, but the mood will change drastically because you can always count on this voice to pierce your hearts (and most likely your ears, too), straight into your pool of emotions.
Like many of her fans today, I’d discovered her from the ending theme to Kuzu no Honkai.
Her music style is most prevalent in Vocaloid songs so it may very well explain the direction her dedicated animator takes when making each and every one of her music videos. Sayuri’s songs are basically ‘what if Vocaloid songs are written for human singers instead’ — they are all packed with deep, hidden meanings and analogies. Couple them with her voice which can speak suffering when she needs to and you have some effective spine chillers.
Sayuri does have upbeat songs laying around the record so if this is your first time having seen her, please be sure to check out her other songs so that sadness will not be your permanent impression of her and more importantly her voice. Haha.
Now let us keep the cuteness and up the beauty dials because the next few will scream in the name of majestic
4. Nana Mizuki
What do you mean, this isn’t Hinata?
Despite the overwhelming difference in vocal pitch, she is undoubtedly the voice actress of Hyuga Hinata!
Switching into reality for a moment, and now that you are reading this part — when not doing voice acting job, Nana should always be known for her raw vocal power and unlike majority of seiyuu in her generation, her live performance ability as a singer.
She is already a special case from all of my picks here. Her name alone is big enough to warrant tourism ambassador position for her hometown. While many people outside of Japan are probably still linking her to voice acting career, it is her music which majority of the Japanese fans would die for.
With the help from T.M. Revolution, she’d taken courageous steps to sing outside of Japan and has been going at it more often since then.
Let her singing voice be heard.
Nana Mizuki is a big name made from the previous century entertainment industry, so let us travel back to our time and look at a more recent case.
5. Clara of ClariS
I’d discovered her and the unit from the opening theme to Nisekoi.
No offense to the other two members, but even if the name ClariS was made by uniting Clara and Alice, it is really Clara’s sweet yet romantic voice which is mostly responsible for the upkeeping of the unit’s name. Without her I would have a hard time discerning ClariS songs from any other all female units that overwhelm the Japanese music industry today.
Intentional or not, Clara’s singing method sets the pace and mood for pretty much every single songs out to date, which had me wondered why they had not come out with at least a solo where I can at least hear strengths of the other members.
Do remember that she’d come out with her first single when she was a middle schooler. It has been more than half a decade now so let that sink in. Clara has only got better as she grew up and her vocal endurance is insane for someone who appeared in Budoukan first time. In fact she almost made Karen lag behind in their two-hour live performance with only as little as a few 5 minute breaks here and there.
Next up I have one hell of an underrated performer, though there is a reason for such a status.
6. Rina Aiuchi
I’d discovered her from the theme of Detective Conan Movie 8.
She does literally everything by herself, right from lyrics composition to instrumentals. This may explain her tiny discography. She’d also taken a well care of herself by going into retirement before her health problems had got to her good. And upon coming back she’d changed her legal name, yet she will always be musically known by her former name…
New name, same old quality vocal prowess from 18 years ago.
For the last two, I think I’ll group them into voices that probably do not match their faces. You’ll hear them soon.
She came to surprise me with that opening song from Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV) Second Season.
Look, we really haven’t left the cuteface kingdom yet but upon reaching this entry, even I’m baffled when seeing her in person after all those years of listening to her songs. Just what!
Her vocal signature may lie within the lower to middle pitches range but she has undeniably much better control of her voice at high notes. But then again she’s selling her voice and not her name so better have that signature range going. See the point of this post now?
The fact that studio ufotable always pull her into doing songs for their Fate adaptations has probably become a gag at this point.
8. Taka of ONE OK ROCK
This one is a little unique since OOR has never directly contributed their music to the anime industry. But that is what makes Taka and well… his band, an unavoidable pick.
The Japanese AMV community basically doused themselves with ONE OK ROCK’s songs as if they are drugs. But that was very long ago since today there are simply too many great bands out there for the fans to cherry pick.
Taka himself has an amusing history with music. Born to Enka singer of a parent, it was unexpected that he would go down the punk route. He started in a manner as seen in this music video below — bits of unrecognizable English but with a somewhat ridiculous, monstrous voice for a small guy.
Dude has immensely improved, both in his English and his vocal styles. Today you will hear him singing in a more western way since the band’s target is the global audience. He is however aware of his absolutely torn fanbase as many would rather stick to listening to his older albums containing his blood boiling screams and balanced proportion between English and Japanese lyrics.
It is almost impossible to not recognize Taka’s voice after a few songs. This guy brought himself a place to make musicians around the world be aware of a bright, natural talent straight from Japan.
The name OOR may be selling big now, but when Taka goes to feature himself in others’ songs, his voice does the selling.
Literally, hello from Japan (the other side).
I did mention the discovery of awesome artists through AMV so I guess that will be the next list I bring up. I’m actually feeling a little guilty as there are plenty more artists deserving my mentions but then it would take me a year to finish a proper post containing all the people I’ve respect for their talents.
Now, for your input — who else do you think that are selling their talents more than their names?
In other words—savagely put—not a sellout.