Tag Archives: Bokurano

Otakon 2013: Chiaki Ishikawa Interview


Anime Diet was privileged to interview singer/songwriter Chiaki Ishikawa at Otakon 2013. Perhaps best known for the OP of Bokurano, “Uninstall,” which she also performed in concert at the convention, Ishikawa has written many anime songs in the course of her career: first with the band See Saw (where Yuki Kajiura was her partner), and later solo. Her most recent work is with the mecha anime Majestic Prince.

The Paper conducted the interview, with Shizuka taking a few pictures. Questions were written by gendomike and The Paper. Translation by Rome.

What music are you listening to right now?

People ask me that a lot. I don’t have anyone in particular–for a US musician, maybe Eddie Vedder, but right now I listen to a lot of samples of new artists that sing anime songs.

How would you compare Anime Expo 2007 vs this year’s Otakon?

Well, Los Angeles had a lot of cosplayers and the hotels were a mess.* Otakon is more otaku oriented.

How was working with young Yuki Kajiura? Did you think she would be as big as she became?

The first time we met? Did I think back then that Kajiura would be this huge? Well, we got successful by doing anime songs. By the standards of the mainstream J-pop industry, we weren’t good at all. The current singers who are around Kajirua practice singing with her because Kajiura is so big, but I’d thought Kajiura was great since I started singing with her. I mean, I simply loved her songs. It’s not surprising to me at all that she’s become so famous. I thought she would from the start.

Do you plan to work with Kajiura again?

Well, we don’t have the opportunity. We never have time to get together and do songs.

Was your musical approach influenced by Kajiura apart from See Saw?

Well, I’d say we both influenced each other. She composed songs based on things I sang too. We were working really hard when we were together.

How do you write lyrics without music for anime?

I think it’s based on the flow of the anime. First you have the anime itself: you have the director’s opinion, and a good-enough scenario…so then I get the synopsis. And I write song based on the synopsis. And while there are people who write music first and then the lyrics, I write lyrics first and then the music. But since I don’t know how the ending is going to be, I imagine the plot myself and then write lyrics. By keeping a certain good artistic distance from the production, I can create a good song.

Your songs tend to sound melancholy, often written in minor keys. Why?

Since I wrote “Uninstall” for the anime Bokurano, where 15 kids die, that image has stuck to me…after that, people only bring me those sad animes where some character always dies, and nobody brings moe anime to me to write songs. So, once it’s known that I am doing the ending song, people say that means the anime is going in a depressing direction. (Laughs)

*This was in reference to reports that at Anime Expo 2007, guest of honor hotel rooms were sometimes not prepared when the guests arrived from Japan. Haruko Momoi in particular complained publicly about it and other problems, spawning controversy.


The Royal Catchup Roundup for This Week

I had not one, but two papers due this week, so anime has generally not been on my mind as much as usual (my last post about Anno aside). So I spent yesterday afternoon and tonight catching up on a whole bunch of shows, including a number that I criticized–perhaps unfairly–a little while ago. Have my opinions changed? Read on to find out! I’m covering

  • Bokurano
  • Darker than Black (stub)
  • El Cazador de la Bruja
  • Hayate no Gotoku
  • Lovely Complex
  • Nagasarete Airantou

Continue reading The Royal Catchup Roundup for This Week

Bokurano 1


Now here’s an interesting show–a mix of Ender’s Game, shades of Infinite Ryvius, and character-driven drama, with Evangelion-like robots and fight scenes. (The first fight’s conclusion is remarkably similar to Shinji’s first battle in Eva unit 01.) This show almost slipped under my radar for the new season but I read a few positive reviews on other blogs, and it intrigued me enough to check it out. So far it seems promising, even though it’s silly to have a OP song called “Uninstall”… :)


The most distinctive thing about this show so far are the characters–namely the large number of them (I think there are about 10 kids?), and the character designs themselves. They are not typical anime designs for the most part, though they do remind me some of early 80s mecha shows like the original Gundam. The faces, hair, and even body shapes are much more varied than is usual in anime–in fact it’s almost jarring. (They are not ugly, mind you. Just different and distinctive, kind of like the designs in Satoshi Kon’s works or anything put out by Studio Ghibli.) Some of this I suppose is necessary for the viewer to tell apart the different characters, given there are a lot of them. The guy who operates the computers seems much more archetypal on the other hand, and the black robot we see is not all that original in design and behavior.


Storywise, the premise of the show–kids who think they’re playing a game when they’re really not–immediately reminded me of Orson Scott Card’s classic SF novel Ender’s Game. Of course, Evangelion itself reminded me of Ender’s Game to begin with too, but the similarities are stronger in this show,though there doesn’t appear to be a central character per se. One of the strongest aspects of Card’s novel was his ability to depict team-building, about how Ender was able to assemble a very competent battle team and interact successfully with his subordinates and his friends. When you have a large cast, of course, not everyone is going to get equal time and treatment and so I hope–depending on what direction the story goes–the writers will be able to make everyone distinct and work well together, or show how their inevitable differences will result in conflict and even enmity. After only one episode I still have a hard time remembering almost any of the characters very well, other than the fourth grade girl and her crab-torturing brother (shades of Peter, Ender’s older brother?). I hope that will change over time.

Anyways, this has suddenly vaulted to being another good ambitious show to keep my eye on. I’ll probably be writing more reports on it in the days to come.