‘Anime’ songs top charts thanks to voice actresses’ female fans

Kyodo News

Theme songs and soundtracks from animated movies are making inroads into Japanese pop, especially among female fans who can connect with the talented voice actresses singing them.

More than 60 songs from “anime” have made the top 10 singles chart this year, according to entertainment information provider Oricon Co. Sales of CDs in the anime and soundtrack genre totaled ¥29.3 billion in 2009, up from ¥24.9 billion in 2005, according to Oricon.

Since the Tower Records in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district opened a section for anime songs last spring, there has been a more than 30 percent jump in female customers, according to Ryo Majima, who directs the store’s pop music department.

The songs have “good melody lines, and the voice actresses singing them are talented,” Majima said. He believes customers who are not necessarily ardent anime fans can easily connect with songs by popular anime voice actresses.

Especially noteworthy is the growing popularity of so-called character songs, in which voice actresses sing as anime characters, said Hiroko Katsuragi, editor at entertainment business magazine Oricon Biz.

CDs released by a band that appear in the anime “K-on” ended up topping Oricon’s weekly hit charts.

“This is a big boom that we’ve never seen before,” said Katsuragi.

“The stars are going into the anime songs genre and I believe the popularity will last.”