JAM Project is a music band that stands for many things, but primarily they stand for what JAM stands for: Japanese Animationsong Makers. The philosophy that has brought together such musical greats as Mizuki Ichirou, Kageyama Hironobu, and Matsumoto Rica is a beautiful one: anime songs should be made for anime. In other words, while fine in moderation, opening and ending themes should not simply be a popular artist’s song tacked onto the head or tail of an episode. Anime music should be anime music.
JAM Project formed in 2000 and is currently approaching its 9th anniversary. Members have come and gone, so it’s only reasonable to think that as JAM Project continues along it’ll pick up new members. Keeping in mind the founding philosophy of JAM Project, I’d like to list possible future candidates for JAM Project, musicians who at least appear to understand what it means to make “anime music.” Keep in mind that the singer does not necessarily have to be known primarily for their anime music, or for them to have a large repertoire of anime themes. Former member Sakamoto Eizou is known more as the lead vocalist of hair metal band Anthem than anything else. They’re also chosen for how well I think their voices would mesh with the current members of JAM Project, and how well they sing live.
(In no particular order)
1) TM Revolution
While TM Revolution is more than successful enough on his own, I feel that I have to list him first. Listen to any of TM Revolution’s themes he’s used for an anime- it’s clear that the man knows what it means to sing for anime. Whether it’s Soul Eater or Rurouni Kenshin, his songs capture the spirit of the show. Lyrics make sense given the titles, the music is always passionate. Compare the appropriateness of his Gundam SEED work to that of the 4th Destiny opening by Chemistry. It’s really like night and day.
Sample: Invoke, Gundam SEED Opening 1
2) Mizuki Nana
The voice of Fate Testarossa and Hyuuga Hinata also frequently lends her vocals to the musical side of anime, and the results pretty much always make an impact. Say what you will about the quality of the Nanoha anime series or its fanservice, but there’s no denying that Innocent Starter, Eternal Blaze, Secret Ambition, and Massive Wonders all capture a sincerity for the show itself. Besides, she already has experience working with Okui Masami.
Sample: Eternal Blaze, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s Opening
3) Sakamoto Maaya
Like Mizuki Nana she’s both a voice actor and a singer. It’s not guaranteed, but I think that combination can lead a person to being able to better understand an anime and thus the music appropriate for it. She’s done a lot of work for some very different shows, and in every case, from Cardcaptor Sakura to RahXephon to Escaflowne to Lodoss, she manages to capture the tone of the show right in the opening.
Sample: Hemisphere, RahXephon Opening
4) Gojou Mayumi
One might say that the problem with a lot of today’s anime musicians making music specifically for anime is that they pull in primarily an otaku crowd, while a guy like Kageyama has much more mass-appeal. I think Gojou Mayumi, famous for her work on Pretty Cure, has this quality of being able to pull in those kids who just grew up watching anime and learned to love its music that way. Of course, that’s not the only reason I chose her. She’s got a nice, recognizable singing voice, and her recent collaboration with the other Precure singers for the Precure crossover opening shows that she knows how to collaborate to create even more powerful anime themes. The other Precure singers are also good potential members, but I think Mayumi makes for the best one.
Sample: DANZEN! Futari wa Pretty Cure, Futari Wa Pretty Cure Opening
5) Wada Kouji
Wada Kouji is the man behind every Digimon opening, and I think they bring him back every time for a very good reason. Like Mayumi, Wada Kouji is someone with more mainstream appeal at least as far as anime openings go, with the vocal strength to back it up. Each Digimon opening is very different from the previous one yet they’re all unified by Kouji’s voice. It can quickly go from soft to powerful, and leaves you with a sense that what he’s singing about matters. Also, if Matsumoto decides to return to JAM Project having the Pokemon AND Digimon singers on there would just be dandy.
Sample: Biggest Dreamer, Digimon Tamers Opening
As a last word, I want to say that I’m no expert on musicians, not even anime ones, so my list is limited. For that, I more than welcome your suggestions below.