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I went to a Q&A panel with Aimee Blackschleger, who sung for Attack on Titan, Kill la Kill and Aldnoah/Zero. It was me and 4 other people.

I went to a Q&A panel with Aimee Blackschleger, who sung for Attack on Titan, Kill la Kill and Aldnoah/Zero. It was me and 4 other people.
I went to a Q&A panel with Aimee Blackschleger, who sung for Attack on Titan, Kill la Kill and Aldnoah/Zero. It was me and 4 other people.

For those unaware, Aimee is an American-born Vocalist who has lived in Japan ~20 years and has sung for numerous anime, games and commericals. Here are some of her most well-known works:

"Light Your Heart Up" from Kill la Kill "No differences" from Aldnoah/Zero "Release My Soul" from Guilty Crown

It was great for me, because I was apparently one of two people who knew who she was. I think the reason no one showed up was some poor schedule planning by the event organizers among other things. Of course, I did feel a bad for her, and tried my best to tell her not to take it personally. Hopefully more people show up for her performance tomorrow night.

The good news was that I managed to get a lot of my questions answered about the anime music industry and Japanese life in general. With so few people, it quickly became more of a casual conversation than a proper Q&A session. No mics were needed.

Here are some highlights:

On the Anime/Commerical Music Industry

She actually earns very little directly from anime OSTs as she receives NO royalties. However, the live performances/events/tours and their associated rehearsals somewhat make up for that.

Most of her work comes from commericals.

She is fairly critical of the idol industry, as she believes looks are prioritized and that actual singing talent is just a bonus. She also finds a lot of idol fans creepy.

One time, a producer read Ad Lib (meaning the singer improvises some "ooh"s or "aah"s etc.) on a set of lyrics, and actually wanted to her to sing the words "Ad Lib". She said that was one of more cringeworthy moments of her career.

Most of the time, she is given a pre-written instrumental and asked to provide the vocals, even if it's in a difficult key for her. She said that a lot of songwriters and producers are not singers themselves, and don't understand the limits of a human singer.

Often, she does not even know the name of the project she is singing for.

She has tried to watch Attack on Titan, but it was too intense/gory for her taste.

There is a steady demand for English vocalists in Japan, but some of it is getting outsourced to English-speaking countries including the USA and the UK.

She dislikes the way Japanese record companies nickel and dime their own artists to the point where only very successful artists can make a living. They even prevent their artists from working side gigs at hotels or bars. She had a friend who quit the music industry after signing with Victor Entertainment because he couldn't support his family.

Almost all Japanese people are taught how to read music at a young age. As someone who learned music in a much more informal manner, she sometimes struggles with reading the very technical and precise pieces of music she is given.

As for the Engrish in a lot of songs, she tries to suggest how to make them sound more correct/natural but usually to no avail. Sometimes it's because the lyrics have already been approved by upper management (and would be a hassle to change), or because changing it could be considered a slight against the lyricist.

As a result, singing Engrish does feel a little awkward for her.

On Hiroyuki Sawano

He is a shy guy, but has a decent sense of humor.

He is quite demanding to work with, as his melodies are extremely challenging to sing, especially live. However, she is still happy to work with him and is grateful to him for helping her career.

As for Attack on Titan S2, she has recently recorded a song for Sawano, but does not know if it is for Attack on Titan or something else.

At live events, Mika Kobayashi ("at'aek ON taitn" from Attack on Titan, "MKaliez" from Aldnoah/Zero) likes to take playful jabs at Sawano as a sort of joking payback for the difficult songs he makes her sing.

On Japan

Overworking is as bad if not worse than what is reported in the media. She is genuinely concerned for a lot of the recording staff she works with, who often stay past midnight to finish their work.

Societal conformity is a dominating factor in Japanese society. She went as far to say that anyone with an atypical hairstyle can be safely assumed to be unemployed, self-employed or is the owner of a company and has no boss.

Everything in Japan is very cramped.

Japanese are generally very polite, but when it comes to getting on/off trains, they can be very pushy.

She attended a recent Tokyo psychology conference and went to a panel on shut-ins (hikkomori). According to people there, one of the main causes are parents who are too lenient and don't do enough to kick their kids out the door or find a decent job. She said it is a lot easier to hide in the city, rather than a rural town and this makes large cities conducive to the hikkomori lifestyle.

PS: Sadly, I did not take any photos as I had to rush to another panel. Thanks for reading!

That was very interesting, thanks. Hearing about the reality of anime production and Japanese society always leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes me wonder if supporting it is even morally right... Such a shame.

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