Story and Music- Animated Music Project Recommendations

I don’t usually blog about music, but if you’ve seen me on Twitter, you’ll know I’ve started to get into more Japanese music over the last couple of years. Specifically music from animated music projects or franchises.

So what does that mean?

By an animated music project or franchise, I mean a piece of media where a fictional singer or group releases music but only with animated music videos. Unless you go to a specific concert with voice actors, even live content will feature these animated characters. So, like the Gorillaz. But there’s more of them and usually a lot of story to these series. I’ll admit I’m not sure if all of these are considered animated music projects. Some have games or anime. 

But I wanted to recommend all these groups and talk a little about the stories and the music. I hope a few people will find some new music from this post! And if you know about them anyway, talk to me in the comments about your favourite characters and songs.

VS Ambivalenz

This is an interesting one to start with as technically VS Ambivalenz as a project has come to a natural end. But the characters from it are carrying on with a new band, and I’m very excited to see what types of music they’ll release.

The idea of VS Ambivalenz was that there was an ongoing talent competition to form a band, and you, the listener, got to vote on who was in the band. There were 14 contestants voiced by 7 voice actors, and people could vote on which of the two characters would get into the final band. The final band is called XlamV, and my two favourites got in. So I was happy. But I recommend listening to the music, even if you can’t vote anymore.

This project was a super fun idea. I loved that we got to know all these idols. Especially as you get to hear the range of these voice actors.

That said, with this project only following one group, there is little variety in the music. It’s your typical idol fare. But if you like J-Pop, it’s great.

Ensemble Stars

Okay, you all expected this one from me. This isn’t technically an animated music project in the usual way. Ensemble Stars started as a game, but they were still releasing albums and music even when it was a simple gacha-raising game. This is a series following 15 idol groups across four different production companies. If you’re curious about Japanese idols but want a variety of music and to really delve deep into some fascinating characters, this is the franchise for you. Especially if you want a lot of story with your music.

With so many people into K-Pop these days, it’s likely that’s what you think of when you hear the term idol. And admittedly, Japanese and Korean idols are so very different. But if you like K-Pop, you’ll likely like some of these fictional Japanese idols too. So I spoke to my friend Vee, who loves both K-Pop and Enstars, and asked her what groups I could compare our favourite unit, Knights, with. We decided that musically, placing them with any sub-genre is complicated as they do have some songs with range. Which is partly why their talents shine so brightly. But in the end, she decided on TXT because they both often create “very dreamy melodies with lyricism based around telling a story or creating a connection with the listener.” Knights’ concept is that of a chess board, which means they’ve released many songs about being a protector or a soldier in the past. But in their more recent music, the concept has essentially been shown through love songs.

Of course, Knights aren’t the only unit. They’re my personal favourite, but I love songs from various groups. If you’re into rock, you might prefer Undead or Alkaloid. If you love cheery pop, then try Trickstar or 2Wink. Ra*bits or Ryuseitai may grab your attention if you love a gimmick. I’ve linked a variety of songs below, so see what you like. These are all songs I like, though, so if you’re still curious but don’t like any of these, look on Youtube.


Moving away from the idol series, this animated music project has a fascinating concept. You follow 10 prisoners in a prison that could be real or purgatory. So, the name linking to the Stanford Prison Experiment is very much on purpose. Through individual songs, audio dramas and sometimes things like mini-comics, you hear their stories and what they’re accused of doing. From all this information, people can vote on whether they believe the prisoner should be forgiven (innocent) or whether they should be punished (guilty).

They’re currently in the second round of songs, and it’s fascinating. I’m not hugely into this one, but I have been watching every new music video when it pops up on YouTube. I don’t like all the music; some aren’t my style. And I definitely don’t like many of the characters. But I seriously respect the idea of this project and the thought that’s going into it.

If you’ve avoided this sort of music as you think it’ll all be cutesy and silly, this project completely goes against that. So give it a try.

I will say that it can be worth checking out the trigger warnings for this project as there are things referenced like child abuse, bullying, abortion etc. So be careful.

Some Random Extras

I could link to a lot more things here, but there are many projects I’m enjoying music from that I need to learn more about. So I want to link to a few bonus songs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.