“Miraiha Lovers” (Hiroko Kasahara)

Some songs exist for the purpose of straight sugary injection and making people feel good. The opening to the 1988 Patlabor OVA (original video animation) anime, "Miraiha Lovers" ("Future Lovers" in English) is likely the peppiest song of all time. After many years of navigating my personal J-pop journey, this is the happiest track I've... Continue Reading →


“Ashitaka and San” (Joe Hisaishi)

There's something comforting about the deliberate pace and quiet build of "Ashitaka and San," a stand-out instrumental piece from Princess Mononoke, a fantasy epic about the constant struggle between man and nature. Director Hayao Miyazki does not provide easy solutions to this conflict in the film, but instead presents realistic steps to achieve some form of compromise.... Continue Reading →

“Break Down” (BeForU)

Ready or not, it's time to break down. First appearing on the 2002 iteration of the popular arcade series Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), "Break Down" is the musical equivalent of slurping down a cherry slushie with a straw in one gulp. It's sugary and downright excessive, but you'd be kidding yourself to deny the rush. The song... Continue Reading →

“Endless Rain” (Live) X Japan

X Japan's 1997 live performance of "Endless Rain" is one of the most symbolic gestures in music history. Here was perhaps the most popular Japanese band of all time playing their last planned concert, performing arguably their most beloved song. Long after lead vocalist Toshi stops singing, the crowd continues to chant the chorus. In that moment, X Japan's reign... Continue Reading →

“Seven Years After” (Princess Princess)

Released in 1991, eight years into their career (and presumably written the year prior), "Seven Years After" captures a band at its crossroads. By 1990, Princess Princess had made it to the top of the J-pop world, scoring multiple number one singles and embarking on massive tours. By 1991, the band's members were approaching their... Continue Reading →

“Ikiru” (Tokyo Jihen)

Sheena Ringo has seemingly done it all. With each new track, she continues to challenge herself. Following her breakout solo career, she founded Tokyo Jihen, which operated on a similar wavelength as her previous material. The name might be different, but "Ikiru" is classic Ringo. In Japanese, "Ikiru" mean "to live." Judging by the vitality and... Continue Reading →

“I Want You Back” (The Homecomings)

Sometimes elegant simplicity is all a song needs. The Kyoto-based indie group the Homecomings recalls the pleasant dream pop charms of bands like Camera Obscura and Alvvays. "I Want You Back" is tinged with both a wistfulness for the past and a yearning for the future. The strong bass line and breezy chord progression creates... Continue Reading →

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