Wednesday, 23 January 2008

電波 201: In defense of Denpa

Welcome to the second part in a series of editorials about denpa-kei. In case you missed it, you may wish to read the first installment, in which we covered the very definition of the quirky musical genre. Today, I will take a closer look at how denpa is seen by the rest of the world and shed light on some of the misconceptions that surround it. I frequently use Google to take the pulse of the internet regarding denpa. Before 電波の世界 existed, there weren't any denpa-specific websites, meaning that I often land on blogs and boards that focus on Japanese music and animation in general. Sadly, the majority of the posts and blog entries that I find are often written in a pejorative way. Let's take a closer look at some of the top Google entries.

(...) those really squeaky voices that try to get themselves labelled as moe. Examples would be like mosaic.wav and IOSYS.
Excerpt from: Research Institute for Unicultural Visual Arts

First of all, I wish people took time to look at definitions before throwing words around for all to see. Moé (萌え) is the new hentai, isn't it? The proper usage of 萌え is to describe an emotion and certainly not a style or label. 萌え is the warm, fuzzy feeling you get inside of you when you look at your favorite anime character or, by association, listen to your favorite artist or musician. On the latter, I strongly think that the music in question has to be related to anime in one way or another. I don't think you can feel 萌え while listening to Coldplay or the Cro-Mags. But maybe YOU can, however that's not the subject at hand here, so I digress. Back to the author, it is obvious that despite his willingness to explore the complex world of Japanese culture, he has failed to realize that Denpa "is" 萌え ONLY if it makes you feel that way. Implying that NO ONE feels 萌え while listening to MOSAIC.WAV is wrong and certainly not the case with me.

Secondly, I think this author really shot himself down with this particular blog entry. After a quick skim through other posts, it is clear that this person has fair knowledge about the anime culture. Pray tell then, why would he or she have an objection to "really squeaky voices"? I understand that a person who has never been exposed to anime and denpa might experience cultural shock when it comes to the higher pitched voices that I'm used to (loving). I don't expect all anime fans to automatically love denpa the way that I do, but this just one example of how denpa is unjustly persecuted. Next!

Denpa is ok, but too much of it gives me a terrible moe-induced headache. I looped Short-Ciruit II for 2 hours. The result was disasterous.
Excerpt from: The Ephemeral Sol

Well, at least this person tried to enjoy something new and different, but failed at the task. Again, the m-word is thrown around like it's going out of style (it probably is). I don't want to insult anyone's intelligence through this editorial but let's set the record straight: if it gives you a headache, IT'S NOT MOÉ. I also fail to understand how it took that person 2 hours to realize he or she was annoyed with the genre, instead of a few seconds. But I'm just splitting hair here! I just hope that this person, who again has an interesting blog and with whom I actually seem to share a lot in common, takes the time to properly enjoy/criticize the genre in the future, instead of writing it off as an Advil sales pitch. Next!!

This last one actually has a lot of "good" quotes. All excerpts from: Denpa: The Scourge of Music.

The denpa style dominated the erotic game arena, creating minor celebrities out of poor singers.

Throughout the entry, the author shows that he or she has sound knowledge about denpa since key points such as the history of the genre are accurately covered. Then, why are we not privy to complete details regarding said poor singers? If the article was written with such a negative tone and obvious debilitating intents, why weren't names named? What are you fighting for when you don't know the enemy's face?

Music and vocals that are politely termed “overly enthusiastic,” and often intentionally horrid.

This comes from a list of "generally accepted features", which means that the bullet points should be FACTS, not opinions. Read through the lines, people!

Lyrics that have no meaning (I know translators who’ve lost years of their life to denpa songs).

Same comment as above. Also, really? Years and years? Even though the genre's explosion in popularity is only about 3 years old? Also, allow me to contact said translators. Either they created translation masterpieces that I simply must partake in, or just completely sucked at it.

It has come to extend to people who live off in their own little dream worlds and have trouble communicating with the real world (mostly otaku). So, in essence, denpa songs are songs made to appeal to these types of people.

Hah! That one's great, just great. I'm not even going to describe myself as proof that this person's gross generalization is completely false. As deeply as that last comment insulted my beliefs, my private life is beyond the scope of this blog. However, this remark is a powerful statement when used as a sample of how much some people lack intercultural and interpersonal relationship skills. What are this person's sources for such a generalized affirmation? Common knowledge, you say? *shakes head in disgust* Akibattler, SLASH!

Given the blind hatred that internet anonymosity generously confers, I foretell a second part of "In defense of Denpa" will need to be published sooner or later. My next editorial will be much brighter in contents however, as I plan to explore the ways in which denpa can be used to create a better world. Kirameku indeed! Stay tuned for 301!


Anonymous said...

I like denpa, but too much cutesy is abit overloading isn't it?

電波の世界 said...

Eye of the beholder my friend, EOTB. You see cute cheese, unicorn flowers, velvet stars and newborn babies. I see youthful energy, retro glee and quite frankly, cacophonic violence. Denpa breaks the mold, beats it to a pulp and makes it its bitch. Denpa is the underground hardcore of the jpop scene, the ugly sister to the school's most popular cheerleader. Cute, where? I'm too busy pumping my fists and punching holes through my cubicle to notice.

Anonymous said...

I always thought of denpa as cousin more to noise music than J-pop, in all honesty - Halco Momoi's screeches or those massive walls of noise on MOSAIC.WAV's first album (Magical Hacker Kuru Kuru Risk for the win) aren't really things I'd stick anywhere near the 'cute' category. Which is why it's so awesome.

Nadirah said...

Loved the infos, thank you very much. (In fact I was googling denpa a few days ago and found those very same pages you've featured, heh...)

I hope you'd (someday) make a post of recommendation of great (as opposed to good) denpa songs/albums since I'm a newcomer to the scene :3 The only denpa I listen to are closely associated with I've and C73's "MIGHTY LOVE" (which I really really love). That or reviews, really.

電波の世界 said...

@Naddie: There was a new MIGHTY LOVE at C73? I'll have a GWAVE article up sooner or later. In the meantime can you drop an email at

Anonymous said...

I always wondered the generalized (and possibly cynical) description that Ishkur might have given Denpa music if he ever took a sampling of UNDER17 or MOSAIC.WAV's work, considering that the genre would undoubtedly warrant its own sub-entry -- at least in comparison to his description of J-pop.

Then again, the long-overdue version 3 of his guide is pending release. Perhaps it's just a matter of time...

電波の世界 said...

Wow... what a small interwebz. chibitech, I was _just_ on your blog last Friday, thinking that I really, REALLY need to try that PS2 SHMUP you worked on, or at the very least get my hands on your soundtrack. drop me a line at if possible.

Anonymous said...

"萌え is the warm, fuzzy feeling you get inside of you when you look at your favorite anime character or, by association, listen to your favorite artist or music" Yeah, I get that feeling when I'm listening to MOSAIC.WAV even though I don't even understand most of the lyrics. MOSAIC.WAV has like pure fucking energy. It's crazy. But then again, DENPA has all these stereotypical moe clichés. It's like really energetic and fresh but at the same time it's somehow shallow and empty. But then again, I don't get most of the lyrics.

Sorry for my bad English.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
電波の世界 said...

Thanks for the ambiguous comment, anonymous. Not sure what you're trying to say.