“Soundtrack in Anime"

Presented By: Eija Niskanen, University of Helsinki

Anime has been studied both from the stylistic and technical angle of visual image production, including the concept limited animation- Also thematic and fan based studies have been frequent, while the study of soundtrack has received less attention. Exceptions to this are the famous soundtrack composers of theatrical anime films, such as Hisaishi Jo for the Ghibli films and Kawai Kenji for Production I.G. Voice actors, seiyu have received attention as celebrities of their own, and big name voice actors can work as powerful PR vehicles for anime. Marc Steinberg hence refers to seiyu as ‘secondary star system’. However, the actual acting work and sound qualities have received less attention. Morimoto (2009) defines voice acting as a type of storytelling that belongs to the Japanese image culture. In animation, voice actors can do both diegetic sound work: phrasing the dialogue of an animated character, as well as non-diegetic sound: the voice-over narration, explaining the events folding on screen. Of note is also the fact that the process in to the Japanese cell animation technique, where the voice acting is the last part, after the animation process has been finished is opposite one to the Western CG animation. In my paper I claim that systematic study of anime soundtrack is lacking at least in the Western study of anime. Soundtrack has a strong role in bringing alive the animated world that has no photographic connection to reality in a Bazinian sense. This would include, besides voice acting and musical soundtrack including the theme songs, also the study of sound effects. In my paper, I bring out examples of soundtrack use and possible areas of study of soundtrack in anime studies.