Wednesday, May 10, 2017

US cons embrace Japan's rock, for The Japan Times

Anime gives Japanese bands a new route to potential fans


By ROLAND KELTS

‘Retro” was the theme at this year’s Anime Boston, the largest anime convention in the Northeastern United States, and that extended to the event’s featured musical acts: veteran pop duo Puffy AmiYumi and 1960s-styled rock quartet Okamoto’s.

“The only other time we played in Boston we performed a short set in a musical instrument store down the street,” says Okamoto’s lead singer Sho Okamoto during our backstage meeting. “We thought we might have 25 people in the hall today, but there were thousands out there.”

Okamoto’s play top-tier venues in Tokyo. Seeing their name on the roster of an anime convention reveals how much more intimate the two media have become.

Anime soundtracks used to travel poorly, with Western fans dismissing the melodramatic scores and lyrics. Songs for TV in particular were often composed to appeal to Japan’s karaoke-driven demographic: Fans would memorize every word and melodic cadence so they could replicate the vocals with friends in an intimate karaoke room.