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Anime Key Player Interview #7
Mr. Ryo Majima, LisAni! LIVE producer/Editor in chief LisAni!, Part. 1


First off, can you tell me about yourself? How was your childhood like? Did you like anime?

Yes, I liked anime and manga. Anime aired in the afternoon during my childhood. Anime nowadays air at midnight but when I was in elementary school, TV shows had anime on from around 5-8 PM so I’ve been watching it all along.  I read Korokoro comic, Bon Bon comic, and JUMP magazine. Dragon Ball, City Hunter, and Fist of the North Star were popular when was a child. I read JUMP, watched all the JUMP manga’s that were animated and watched anime that aired in the afternoon.

What was your favorite anime?

The most memorable anime was Mashin Hero Wataru. It’s an anime produced by Sunrise. Megumi Hayashibara was a voice actress in that anime too. Of course, back then I wasn’t really familiar with voice actor/actresses. It was about a hero that goes on a robot. . I was really into that anime and even bought some plastic models and figures of them too.

Oh wow you built plastic models?

Yes, but actually everyone was building them. I think it was influence from Gundam.

I didn’t know kids were able to build Gundam models, they look really hard.

We painted the Gundam’s too. Everyone did it, it was a normal thing to do. I had radio-controlled cars too. So yes, I loved toys, anime and mangas. It was everyone’s hobby at the time. Super Nintendo came out during that time too. We often played Super Mario. I think this was around the end of the 80’s. I was born in 1977, so I was about 9 or 10 years old.

So you grew up watching anime and reading mangas?

There was also a special genre called Sentai. I watched Power Rangers and Masked Riders too.

What's the first anime song that left an impression on you?

I listened to music a lot but the first CD I decided to buy was the opening to Mashin Hero Wataru 2. The op singer was an idol named Yumiko Takahashi. I really liked the openings she sang such as “Step by Step” and “Fight” . That was probably the first anisong CD that I bought.

It seems like you really like that series.

I do. People in my generation watched that anime in the afternoon.

What kind of songs do you like to listen to on normal basis? Would that be anisong as well?

Actually, I listened to Western music a lot. I guess it was my father’s influence, but I really liked UK music like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. I also listened to American music. My father had western music playing in the house all the time. I loved The Beatles because they had great melody. Western music is still in my roots and still have a big influence on me to this day. I loved music and especially Western music. Well, when I was in elementary school Hikaru Genji, Onyanko Club which is like AKB now was popular too. I listened to JPop occasionally too, .

So your father loved The Beatles?

Yes, The Beatles, but maybe music that were older than The Beatles too. He also listened to Jazz too. Everyone in his generation basically listened to Western music. It was a time of change when Western music started hitting the Japanese markets.

I would love to talk about what you do at LisAni!.

Part of my personal story would be included to. So music was a big part my life. I loved it since elementary school and during middle school, I started listening to Japanese rock such as Boøwy and Kyosuke Himuro. There was a big rock band generation when I was young, and I loved it. 

I wasn’t really into sports, I’ve always been about the music. I bought a guitar because my father also played the guitar. When I got into college I decided to do more of what I like. I was a music otaku. But after college I worked at a place that had nothing to do with music and basically quit in a year. I got into Tower Records after that. I think it was from the late 90’s to early 2000’s and CD sales were still going strong. I didn’t really want to work at a record company, but I was into concerts and festivals. That’s kind of why I worked at Tower Records which ultimately led me here.

What did you do at Tower Records?

I wanted to work with Western music but since I was once a salary man, I wanted to do something that I love that I can continue working on. There were a lot of things I wanted to improve and change in Tower Records. I also dealt with management, but I was never able to work for Western music. I was in charge of Japanese Indies music. I dealt with a lot of music with no vocals, which I also loved. I was promoting Indies music and sometimes worked with Jpop. What I remember the most from working at Tower Records is taking care of the events. I was in charge of the concert events that took place in Tower Records. So following the release of the CD, there were events, kind of like hand shaking events. I worked at the 7th floor in Shinjuku. There was a concert space there and the customers who bought the CDs were able to participate in the event. I worked there for quite a while and came to know about other music genres. I loved Western music, but I also loved Japanese music.

Is that how you started working with anime music too?

During those days’ anime music wasn’t that big yet. There was a bit of it though. I was able to work with Western music and worked for 2 years until I went back to Japanese music. It was at the time when CD sales were going down a little. Tower Records is originally an American company that dealt with Western music and of course Tower Records in Japan had Japanese music. I was a leader of one of the JPop sections and realized that anime music was very interesting. That was in 2006 or 2007.

I think The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was popular at the time. At the same time, CD sales of anime music increased remarkably enough to rank into the oricon charts unlike the whole CD sales. That's kind of how people became interested in it because they have never heard of it before. I wanted to use anime music and do something that is fitting for Tower Records.  I teamed up with a guy who I worked with when I was dealing with Western music. I actually still work with him right now and he also works for LisAni! too. There are 2 guys and one of them, Akihiro Tomita who became an anime music writer. The other guy is Ryuichi Sumikawa. We all came from the Western music department of Tower Records that has nothing to do with anime music. We bonded through Western Music. Akihiro Tomita does the main MC for LisAni!Live now. He was also on television talking about anisong.  Ryuichi Sumikawa is the second chief editor of LisAni!.

But you all worked at Tower Records together?

Yes, we did. We were all separated though. The two of them quit because they were interested in pursuing a career in writing columns for music.

So how did the 3 of you get back together again?

Oh yes, so we had a discussion about how we thought anime was interesting. This is when the first chief editor of LisAni! comes into the picture. The first magazine was published in 2010 but it was part of a magazine called “WHAT’s IN?” which is a JPop magazine produced by Sony.  The first chief editor, Fumiaki Nishihara had the same perspective as me. Though the magazine was about JPop, he thought the anisong genre was really interesting. A lot of interesting series started coming out too. This was before K-ON came out. We decided to put more of our focus there and created a corner in “WHAT’s IN?” that features anime and anisongs. After working on it we realized that people who made anisongs had incredible roots and career. 10 years ago people thought it was kind of strange, so we had to think of how we can change this idea and tell the audience and media that it wasn’t weird. That was when we all met up again. Of course there were some people that I had to call up too. So it was the first chief editor and the two others I used to work with. Since I worked for Tower Records I wanted to create a team with them in it too. This was kind of how it was for the first magazine.

So it was a section inside “WHAT’s IN?” and then it became a magazine of its own?

Yes, we decided to try making it into one whole magazine which is the LisAni! you see now. When I was working in Tower Records there wasn’t an anime section so I expanded that too. I wanted people to listen to it as they would listen to Rock music and JPop. I wanted the customers to realize anisong had the same quality as JPop songs. I didn’t line the CDs with descriptions saying “this song is for this anime,” I actually listened to the songs and analyzed it. This is when K-ON and Angel Beats started to come out. It was around 2010 when anisong singers started to rise. Everything kind of fell into place as one media. So yes, the magazine synced with the anime movement. It was interesting.

What was the most memorable anime at the time this all happened?

During the time I worked for Tower Records, I believe it was Angel Beats. I met LiSA and Marina around this time and I think we helped promote their CDs. We did many events with them especially LiSA. At that time She would usually call us her “home.”

Were you involved in the “LisAni! LIVE” event during that time too?

Oh no, not yet. I was working for Tower Records. We made a corner for Angel Beats. There’s a band called Girls Dead Monster that was created in this anime and I put that CD in phonetic order with JPop CDs and even made a column about them. Their music was high quality too.

In other record shops the anime corner and JPop corner are on different floors right?

Yes, there’s usually an anime corner. But I purposely put some CDs at the JPop corner. I put other anisong artists at the JPop corner too. There was a lot of wonderful anime music that I wanted to recommend.

That’s amazing.

Yes, a lot of music related anime started coming out around this time too. K-ON was one of them, and Girls Dead Monster was also a band from Angel Beats. Their music was easy to handle. Those were some of the most memorable anime titles I remember when I worked at Tower Records.  LiSA and Marina from Angel Beats and even the Fate series.

Even the Fate series?

Yes, I remember Fate/ Stay Night. It was originally a game. I actually borrowed a Saber doll and displayed it at the store. Sachi Tainaka sang for the opening and Kenji Kawai who is working in the movies now was working on it back then too. We also recommended his CDs too.

Did you notice any changes in anisongs when you worked at Tower Records?

I noticed that anisongs were getting popular to people who weren’t familiar with it. I think it made a difference and there was probably influence in where we placed the anisongs. There was Fate next to Southern All Stars. Evangelion influence and the fact that anime went from evening to midnight had a sub cultural feeling to it. We were lucky our Tower Records was in Shinjuku. Shinjuku is close to Nakano where a lot of hardcore anime fans are at and also in between Akihabara. There were a lot of people who were kind of interested but didn’t know how to approach anime culture in Shinjuku which made it easier for them to come into our shop. I feel that working at Shinjuku in the anime corner left a big impact on me.

Next: Ryo Majima Interview Part 2 will be published on 6 Nov, 2018!

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