Anime / Kawaii / Vocaloid Music City Pop / Shibuya-kei / Contemporary J-Pop

Anime Voice Actress Kana Hanazawa’s Songs (Other Than “Renai Circulation”)! | Shibuya-kei, City Pop, J-Pop

Japanese anime voice actress Kana Hanazawa may be underrated as a singer.

Appendix A. Kana Hanazawa “Renai Circulation”

She is not only popular in Japan but also in China, Europe, and North America, along with the export of anime from Japan to the world. It is no wonder that her presence as a voice actress (arguably the best of the 2010s), conceals her career as a singer. One of Hanazawa’s most famous songs is “Renai Circulation,” the one she sang as Nadeko Sengoku in popular anime “Bakemonogatari.” Namirin’s cover of that song has been viewed about 100 million times on YouTube, and that by Indonesian YouTuber Rainych about 5 million times. However, even if we assumed that Hanazawa’s achievements as a voice actress did not exist, she would still be an exceptionally attractive singer. Indeed, she has a large number of high-quality songs in addition to her anime character songs. In this article, we select and introduce some of those songs.

Appendix B. Namirin “Renai Circulation”

Appendix C. Rainych “Renai Circulation”

The covers of Hanazawa’s “Renai Circulation” by Namirin and Rainych.

Rainych is also mentioned in the following article. Please take a look!

1st Album “Claire”

1. Kana Hanazawa “Hoshizora Destination”

This is Kana Hanazawa’s debut song, in which her crystal clear voice and good quality, gentle pop music are in perfect harmony. It is produced, arranged, composed, and written by Katsutoshi Kitagawa (ROUND TABLE), with strings by Dan Miyagawa (ex-Love Tambourines).

Kitagawa and Miyagawa are musicians who participated in Waseda University’s music clubs such as Modern Music Troop and Traveling Light, along with the band members of Cymbals and NONA REEVES. Their music shows influences of city pop musicians such as Tatsuro Yamashita (ex-Sugar Babe) and Japanese guitar pop musicians such as Kenji Ozawa (ex-Flipper’s Guitar). Indeed, Asako Toki’s (ex-Cymbals) father is Hidefumi Toki, the saxophonist in Tatsuro Yamashita Band, and Reiji Okii (TWEEDEES, ex-Cymbals) frequently tweets his influence. In addition, Cymbals, Love Tambourines, NONA REEVES, and ROUND TABLE are often categorized, together with Flipper’s Guitar, as so-called Shibuya-kei music.

Note that Hanazawa’s music should be categorized as Japanese guitar pop or Shibuya-kei, rather than city pop, because the arrangements are charming and fresh, rather than emphasizing backbeats and groove.

But what is Shibuya-kei, and what is city pop?

  • “Shibuya-kei is a genre of Japanese or Japanese-inspired music characterized by (1) relaxed vocals, (2) light guitar sounds, (3) cheerful backing vocals, (4) tambourines or handclaps, and (5) intense keyboard or organ playing.”
  • “City pop is a Japanese or Japanese-inspired genre of music that (1) has swelling melodies, (2) has a groove, especially in the bass, (3) features reverb on the drums, (4) uses artificial synthesizer sounds, and (5) is supported by sax solos and brass backing.”

The following article explains those characteristics and gives examples.

Appendix D. Round Table featuring Nino “Puzzle”

Even before Katsutoshi Kitagawa started producing Kana Hanazawa, he had already made a career of arranging and composing music for the anime industry. One of them is “Puzzle,” the opening song for anime “Welcome to the N.H.K.” Its story is about a hikikomori person or NEET who is deluded by his original conspiracy theory. His theory is that he is being plotted against by the Japan Hikikomori Association (N.H.K.). In contrast to the story of that anime, that song is super-refreshing.

2. Kana Hanazawa “Silent Snow”

This is Kana Hanazawa’s fourth single, in which the tense atmosphere of winter and warming hopes coexist. It is arranged, composed, and written by Kitagawa Katsutoshi as well.

3. Kana Hanazawa “Atarashii Sekai No Uta”

“Atarashii Sekai No Uta,” the eleventh track of Kana Hanazawa’s first album “Claire,” features floating vocals and roaring bass lines. The arrangement, composition, lyrics, bass performance, and chorus are by Reiji Okii (TWEEDEES, ex-Cymbals), who has been close to Katsutoshi Kitagawa since the days of their college music clubs.

4. Kana Hanazawa “happy endings”

Kana Hanazawa’s third single, arranged and composed by Satoru Kosaki (MONACA). He is well known for being in charge of the musical accompaniment (including “God knows…”) for the smash hit anime “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.” He occasionally talks about the influence of Cymbals on his music.

2nd Album “25”

5. Kana Hanazawa “Marathon”

6. Kana Hanazawa “Merry Go Round”

Let’s move on to Kana Hanazawa’s second album “25.” The former is a little bit ennui and lonesome song that is arranged and composed by Katsutoshi Kitagawa. The latter is arranged by Dan Miyagawa and composed by Katsutoshi Kitagawa, who worked together on “Hoshizora Distinction” as well. Its lively and dynamic arrangement represents Dan Miyagawa’s works.

3rd Album “Blue Avenue”

7. Kana Hanazawa “Nobody Knows”

This song, the third track on Kana Hanazawa’s third album “Blue Avenue,” was recorded in New York with local musicians. It is composed by Katsutoshi Kitagawa. Noteworthy is the arrangement by genius Minami Kitasono (formerly Kentaro Osawa, ex-Orangeade).

Appendix E. Orangeade “Never Let Me Go”

Appendix F. Orangeade “Over Again (Osawa Kentaro Mix)”

These two numbers are made by Minami Kitasono when he belonged to Orangeade under the name of Kentaro Osawa. He also arranges Lamp’s “A Toshi No Aki.” All of them are full of his overwhelmingly unique creativity.

8. Kana Hanazawa “We Are So in Love”

Arrangement, composition, and lyrics by Hiroyasu Yano, who was a member of Cymbals, as with Reiji Okii. The accompaniment that supports Kana Hanazawa’s clear vocals is glittering and sounds like bubbles popping.

Appendix G. Cymbals “RALLY”

One of Cymbals’ masterpieces. Reiji Okii on bass, Hiroyasu Yano on drums, and Asako Toki on vocals.

4th Album “Opportunity”

9. Kana Hanazawa “Kaleidoscope”

10. Kana Hanazawa “Seasons always change”

These two tunes are from Kana Hanazawa’s fourth album, “Opportunity.” The former was arranged and composed by Reiji Okii, and the latter by Hiroyasu Yano. In both songs, you can enjoy her voice that is closer to her original one than her anime character voices.

5th Album “Kokobesu”

11. Kana Hanazawa “Mitten”

This is one of the songs from Kana Hanazawa’s fifth album “Koko Base,” which was produced by Yoshiyuki Sahashi after he was handed the baton from Katsutoshi Kitagawa. That album is filled with J-rock songs written by Japanese singer-songwriters. This song is arranged by Yasuyuki Okamura and Yoshiyuki Sahashi and composed by Okamura. Okamura’s optimistic but funky and sticky taste surprisingly goes well with the innocent tone of Hanazawa. Nevertheless, the distinct personalities of each artist remain intact.

Appendix H. Yasuyuki Okamura “Kareshi Ni Natte Yasashiku Natte”

This is what Yasuyuki Okamura’s funky and sticky songs are like.

Digital Single “magical mode”

12. Kana Hanazawa “magical mode (Chinese Version)”

This is the first Chinese song by Kana Hanazawa, who has fervent Chinese-speaking anime fans. The song was arranged by Satoru Kosaki and Oliver Good (MONACA) and composed by Kosaki. Featuring Hanazawa’s natural voice, the song expresses a pop style that can be found in modern Japan as represented by anime and video games.

This article focused on Kana Hanazawa’s activity as a singer and musicians around her. If it were not for her overwhelming popularity, the above-mentioned quality-oriented tracks would not have been accumulated. Singer Kana Hanazawa is sure to continue to be a driving force in Japanese pop culture.