It’s no secret that, in recent years, certain styles of Japanese music have benefited massively from a surge of interest in anime and manga in the West. J-pop acts such as Puffy and AKB48 and visual-kei artists including Miyavi and L’Arc-En-Ciel have enjoyed exposure where before there was none. That’s in no small part thanks to the legions of dedicated fans of Japanese pop culture for whom the music itself is often secondary to the fact that it comes from Japan.

Indeed, anime events have sprung up all over the West that include music showcases, with hundreds or thousands of fans buying the CDs of whichever artist happens to be there. Some acts go on to find record deals in those countries, but many do not. While there is nothing wrong with these expos per se, some labels hinge their entire international strategy on them; and just as a specialist media has sprung up around Asian pop culture, the mainstream press often overlooks these artists by association and deems them too niche for a broader audience.

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