Ask John: How Often Are Western Songs Used in Anime?

I don’t know if you was watching the latest series JoJo Bizarre Adventures Stardust Crusaders and to my surprise they use The Bangles ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ in the first 24 episodes as their ending theme the question I want to ask how often do anime series use well known soundtracks in their series since everybody is accustom to listening to typical J pop opening and endings from their native land is this the start of a new trend or has this been done before and the Japanese studio were faced with copyright issues?

Anime has traditionally used Japanese pop music as its theme songs for a number of reasons. International use and distribution rights to pop songs are more difficult to negotiate than domestic Japanese music. Furthermore, especially since Japanese record companies frequently sponsor anime productions and broadcasts, the record companies want to use the anime as an opportunity to feature their latest performers and releases. But occasionally particular productions seem to determine that Western pop songs fit the tone and mood of the anime more effectively and manage to convince their production committees to allow the incorporation of foreign music.

The soundtrack of the 1986 Project A-ko movie was composed & performed by Brooklynites Joey Carbone & Richie Zito. The soundtrack of the 1996 Tenchi Muyo in Love movie was composed by German born Tangerine Dream member Christopher Franke. Italian composer Marco d’ Ambrosio provided the scores for the 1993 & 2000 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure OVA series, the 2000 Vampie Hunter D movie, and the 2006 Souten no Ken television series. Franco-English musician Jean-Jacques Burnel composed the soundtrack for Gonzo’s 2004 television series Gankutsuou. English DJ Paul Oakenfold composed the soundtrack for Oxybot’s 2007 feature film Vexille: 2077 Nippon Sakoku. The movie’s theme song was English electronic music duo Basement Jaxx and vocalist Linda Lewis’ song “Close Your Eyes.” Basement Jaxx’s song “Good Luck” was used as the opening theme for TYO’s 2004 Appleseed movie.

Western pop singles have surfaced in a variety of anime. My list is surely incomplete:

In 1986 Kitty Media used Gilbert O’Sullivan’s hit songs “Alone Again (Naturally)” and “Get Down” as the opening & ending themes of Maison Ikkoku episode 24. Reportedly the songs were only used for one episode because of negative response from Japanese viewers.

American vocalist Warren Wiebe’s song “Human Touch” was used as the first ending theme of Sunrise’s 1996 After War Gundam X television series.

English rocker John Sykes’s song “Cautionary Warning” was used as the opening theme of AIC & APPP’s 1999 television series Kacho Ouji.

Triangle Staff’s 1998 Serial Experiments Lain TV series used British rock band Bôa’s song “Duvet” as its opening theme.

Mr. Big’s hit single “Shine” was used as the ending theme of Gonzo’s 2001 TV series Hellsing. The group’s 1993 single “Colorado Bulldog” was used as the ending theme for the first episode of J.C. Staff’s 2011 television series Kamisama no Memo-cho.

Ray Charles’ rendition of “I Can’t Stop Loving You” was featured in Madhouse’s 2001 film Metropolis.

Toei’s 2003 short film Interstella 5555 is essentially an extended music video for French pop duo Daft Punk’s 2001 album Discovery.

Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand’s song “Do You Want To?” was used as the ending theme to Madhouse’s 2005 TV series Paradise Kiss.

Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” was used as the Japanese opening theme of Gonzo’s 2005 TV series Speed Grapher.

The first season of Artland’s Mushishi television series used Scottish singer Ally Kerr’s “The Sore Feet Song” as its opening theme while the 2014 second series used English singer Lucy Rose’s song “Shiver.”

“Falling Down” by British rock band Oasis was used as the opening theme of Production I.G’s 2009 television series Higashi no Eden.

The Backstreet Boys’ “The One,” and “Drowning” were used as the opening & ending themes of Madhouse’s 2002 TV series Hanada Shounen Shi.

Madhouse’s 2003 Gunslinger Girl television series used Scottish rock band The Delgados’ song “The Light Before We Land” as its opening theme.

Studio TNK’s 2003 television series L/R: Licensed by Royal featured the opening theme “Go Where No One’s Gone Before” written by Australian musician & Yoko Kanno collaborator Scott Matthew, sung by the late American R&B singer Billy Preston.

Manglobe’s 2006 TV series Ergo Proxy used Radiohead’s song “Paranoid Android” as its ending theme.

Susan Boyle’s version of “I Dreamed a Dream” was featured in the 2010 third Himitsu Kesha Taka no Tsume movie.

The 2012 first season of David Production’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure TV series used Yes’ “Roundabout” as its end theme while the second season used the Pat Metheny Group’s “Last Train Home.”

Canadian vocalist Avril Lavigne’s covers of Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” and Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” were featured in the 2012 One Piece Film: Z.

American vocalist “Becca” (Rebecca Emily Hollcraft) provided the ending theme of A-1 Pictures’ 2008 television series Kuroshitsuji. Her songs “Guilty Pleasure” and “Falling Down” were used as the opening & ending of Madhouse’s 2008 television series Ultraviolet: Code 044. The soundtrack for the Ultraviolet anime was composed by German composer Klaus Badelt.

American born Japanese vocalist Kylee Saunders’s first single, “Vacancy,” was used as the ending theme of Bones’ 2008 TV series Bounen no Xam’d. Her second single, “Missing,” was used as the second opening theme song for Bones’ 2010 TV series Heroman. Her third single release, “Everlasting,” was featured in the second Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn OVA.

Japanese composer Yoko Kanno has collaborated with a number of Western musicians, resulting in a variety of “foreign” pop songs employed in anime. Kanno and American rocker Steve Conte contributed songs including “Stray,” “Heaven’s Not Enough,” and “Could You Bite the Hand?” to Bones’ 2003 TV series Wolf’s Rain; “Call Me Call Me,” “Words That We Couldn’t Say,” “No Reply,” and “Diggin'” for the Cowboy Bebop motion picture, and “Living Inside the Shell” for the 2004 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig television series. Kanno also collaborated with Australian musician Scott Matthew, resulting in Matthew’s performance of “Lithium Flower” used as the ending theme for Production I.G’s 2002 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex television series and contributions to the Cowboy Bebop movie. The late Russian singer Origa (Olga Vitalevna Yaklovevna) collaborated with Yoko Kanno several times, including performing “Inner Universe” and “Rise” as the respective first and second season opening themes for the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex television series. With Yoko Kanno, Origa also performed the song “Moon,” featured in Sunrise’s 1999 Turn A Gundam television series. Apart from Yoko Kanno, Origa sang “Fuyuu Yume” for Madhouse’s 1990 Lodoss War OVA series, “Krasnoe Solntse,” featured in Studio 4°C’s 2001 feature Arete Hime, and “Mizu no Madoromi,” the ending theme of Nippon Animation’s 2004 television series Fantastic Children. Australian vocalist Donna Burke has worked with and apart from Yoko Kanno, providing songs for anime including Vandread, Strange Dawn, Turn A Gundam, Haibane Renmei, and Tokyo Ghoul Root A.


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