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The Power of Music – Effects on Anime Popularity

January 27, 2012 By: Nopy Category: Anime, Random Wonderings

It’s hard to deny that anime has good music compared to other animation. For example, I don’t think a song from Spongbob Squarepants or Ben 10 would ever make it onto the Billboard Charts, but you often hear of anime music reaching the top 10 on Japan’s equivalent Oricon Charts. With music oriented anime like K-ON! achieving huge success, that got me thinking: does music affect the popularity and success of an anime, or conversely, does an anime affect the popularity and success of a song?

In a recent post, I listed 10 anime series with good music that made it onto the Oricon Charts. Most of these series were very popular when they aired, but it’s hard to determine if that was soley because of the music or if the anime was already good. Ideally, to figure this out, we would need to put a crappy anime on the market with good music and a good anime with bad music, then watch the Oricon charts. Unfortunately, I don’t know any pop stars or anime studios that would help me, so I’m settling for the next best thing: watching Senki Zesshou Symphogear.

Now Symphogear isn’t an ideal “crappy” anime since it does have a unique setting and yuri overtones (who doesn’t love yuri?), but it lacks in other areas including plot, direction, and animation quality. At best, Senki Zesshou Symphogear can be described as average. It does have something going for it though, good music.

Now that’s what I call quality!

Nana Mizuki, who voices one of the main characters and sings the theme song for Symphogear, is a popular singer in Japan and her songs commonly rank in the Oricon charts. In 2009 her album “Ultimate Diamond” topped the Oricon Album Chart, and in 2010 her single “Phantom Minds” topped the Oricon Singles Chart. It would be surprising if her music didn’t reach at least the top 50 in a weekly ranking.

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait to see the results of combining Symphogear with Nana Mizuki’s music. Her single “Synchrogazer”, which contains the opening theme song for the anime, has already reached the number 2 spot on the Oricon Weekly Singles Charts. This could be an indication that a less successful anime has little impact on the popularity of music, but what about the reverse?

After airing three episodes, Symphogear has received a weighted rating of 7.10 by over 2000 viewers on MAL and is the 5162nd most popular anime on the site. A rating of 7.10 on a 10 point scale might sound high, but that’s actually mediocre by MAL standards. Judging by peoples’ opinions on Symphogear, it seems that having good music will not save an anime from mediocrity.

I can’t say that this is true for all anime, but in terms of Senki Zesshou Symphogear, it appears that the popularity of the anime and its music have little to do with each other. On the other hand, I do know people *cough* myself *cough* who have finished poor anime because it had good music.

So what’s your take on anime and music? Would you watch an anime just because it has good music, or would you listen to a song just because it came from a good anime? Do you think that the two can help each other gain greater popularity? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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20 Comments to “The Power of Music – Effects on Anime Popularity”


  1. To answer your questions – I would watch an anime because it has good music but I wouldn’t listen to a song just because it came from a good anime, unless the song is good.

    I think it helps with the popularity of an anime if the songs are good and vice versa. I have been introduced to anime based on random songs I discovered online. And that speaks for something right? At the same time, I’ve been introduced to several Japanese artists, their songs from anime and their other songs.

    In spite of that, one is good doesn’t make the other one good. For example, if the songs are good and anime gains popularity doesn’t make the anime good.

    Hmmm…am I explaining myself well? Lol.
    Hoshiko recently posted..Naruto: Bijuu Transformation Success!

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    • I think I get what you’re saying. Just because one is good doesn’t mean that the other is too, but if they’re both good then they’ll help boost each other’s popularity.

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  2. How about Bob the Builder’s theme song? It sold millions and topped charts in more than one territory.

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    • I just looked up Bob the Builder, I didn’t realize it was so popular in the UK and Australia. I am not aware of any animation-derived music topping the charts in Canada or U.S. though, which was what I based my observation on. If there are some instances, they certainly aren’t as frequent as in Japan.

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  3. What usually happens with anime music is that the anime companies have deals with music companies to promote that company’s artist by using their songs as the OP and/or ED. This is the primary reason why a lot of the lyrics in anime OPs and EDs don’t have anything to do with the series, since they’re usually produced before the anime is made, but there have been more exceptions in recent years. The music company is often listed as one of the anime sponsors either after the OP or in the middle of the episode where it says “[such and such anime] is sponsored by [such and such music company].” So with this way of doing things, it’s not so unusual for anime songs to be chart toppers since they use singles from very popular artists as their OP or ED. For some anime, CD sales are just as important as DVD/BD sales.

    Having good music could definitely help an anime’s quality, but I wouldn’t watch a series just for music alone. If the songs are really good I may listen to them by themselves without watching the anime.
    Yumeka recently posted..What it means to be nostalgic – a tribute to old anime

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    • I never noticed that the sponsors usually included the same company that the music is from. If that’s how so many titles get all this mainstream music, it certainly makes a lot of sense.

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  4. Same as Yumeka, I wouldn’t watch an anime for music alone; though if the anime is really good, I’d want the music to be at least decent too.

    So far, I’m liking Symphogear, even if it’s really generic. I really started to dislike Guilty Crown by the end of the first season, so Symphogear is kind of a cleanser for that.

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  5. Music for me can make or break an anime especially when I’m in 50/50 position of deciding whether to include it on my list or not.

    So far I’m also enjoying Symphogear for the very same reason why as you do: yuri undertones and unique use of music as a plot device.
    SnippetTee recently posted..Smeyesing, The Senjougahara Fanservice

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  6. I won’t listen to something I don’t like, but I will watch an anime that lacks in some departments if it makes up for it in others. Music alone can’t save an anime for me personally, but it can play a great role in whether or not I’m interested, such as in Symphogear. I think the two compliment eachother nicely, in many cases where it belongs, like BECK, Nana, Symphogear and K-On! for example, it can have an enormous impact on how good the anime is in the end, even if the anime itself is good to start with even without it. Sometimes a good series has really bad music, but it’s always pleasing when the music makes you want to get the OST or OP/ED singles.
    Persocom recently posted..Puella Magi Madoka★Magica

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    • I think music has a larger role in the enjoyment that the audience gets out of an anime if it is intertwined with the story. In Symphogear and K-ON, the music plays a large part in the plot and should be at least above average in order to entertain.

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  7. In my opinion a good song can’t save a bad anime, but a good song can make an anime even better.

    When the Op or Ed song is bad I won’t influence my impression of the anime, Another for example is a good show so far, but the opening is a pain in the ears Ali Project is so bad, I skip their songs with passion ^-^
    Wieselhead recently posted..Princess Bitch by Orchid Seed (nsfw)

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  8. My enjoyment of songs isn’t based on whether or not I like the anime, if a song is good it’s good, if it isn’t, well, it isn’t.

    BGM is a completely different matter, I’m a regular at starting anime just because I like the composer of the music. (Case(s) at hand : Gosick, Guilty Crown, Fate/Zero, Madoka … all of them I wouldn’t have watched if it wasn’t for the music)
    Kuuki recently posted..The fan and his sleeping habits

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    • BGM does play a large role in helping to set the mood. I know Madoka wouldn’t have been the success it was if the BGM sounded happy and upbeat all of the time.

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  9. I think that a good song can improve the popularity of a series, but without this series being good by itself is…well…:P

    In my case I’m eagerly waiting for the opening song of Inu X Boku SS. It’s simply wonderful! :D
    feal87 recently posted..Rinne no Lagrange – Yuri battle over Madoka? Lan is so cute!

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    • I’m actually finding that to be true with Symphogear, it seems the only reason I’m watching it now is because of the music, the anime isn’t that good.

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  10. As many have said above me, a good song will help boost a good anime’s popularity, which is a mutual benefit. However, a good song will not neccessarily save a badly done anime. In a way I think of this in comparison with video game; amazing graphics can’t help with horendous gameplay – the former is a supporting factor, while the latter is the more crucial one.

    But this is more for BGM I think. Sung songs for anime definitely are different to those for Western ones as the industry is much more competitive. Speaking of BGM, I think it really can make much of a difference – it can really help bring the atmosphere of the scenes, or make you feel fustrated or lose the enjoyment of watching. For example, the first Hunter x Hunter back in 1999 had really good BGM, whereas the 2011 isn’t too bad, but at times bad timings and poor choice of music piece really ruins my experience. On a sidenote, I actually got into Ace Combat merely because I listened to Zero from its eponymous game title, lol.
    Q recently posted..figma Insane Black Rock Shooter preview

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    • I guess I didn’t really talk about BGM, but it does help set the mood in certain scenes. I’m sure having some happy up-beat music playing during someone’s death wouldn’t come across very well.

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