As a fan of Japanese music thanks to media such as anime and J-dramas, we all know video games can be just as much of a helpful source in discovering new artists and favourite songs. We will be looking at my 8 best visual novel songs ever. No artist will be taking a spot twice out of fairness (Kanako Ito, I’m looking at you specifically) and please note that this list consists of only officially translated and licensed games.
I’m in blue by Pale Green in sweet pool
From the sub studio of Nitro (Nitro+chiral) who are behind other popular boys love (BL) visual novel’s Dramatical Murder, Lamento and Togainu no Chi comes arguably their most grotesque and depressing game of the bunch. sweet pool stands out for its deeply dark and disturbing story and material, with a supporting OST that effectively heightens these terrifyingly memorable moments. Stand out tracks consist of each different credit song that perfectly fits with the 6 heart wrenching attainable endings. Another notable track highlight being delivered by none other than fan favourite Kanako Ito, with the game’s iconic Miracles May played exclusively in the true route. With sweet pool being an experience unlike any other, its opening is a one off in itself. Its artist Pale Green are known and listed for only this opening track.
The lyrics of ‘I’m in blue’ are extremely melancholic even without having prior knowledge of the game. Players will be hit differently with its lines once completing the game that foreshadow certain events. As an extremely bittersweet journey, prepare yourself for character attachment and tracks you’ll tear up to when revisiting.
Players are put into the position of Sakiyama Youji who is returning to school after recovering for a year from a serious illness. He begins suffering from hallucinations and new symptoms that appears to be in conjunction with the sudden attention from two other students, the quiet Tetsuo and troublesome Zenya. Guide Youji with choices that affects either his instincts or reasoning that determines which route he game takes. When will his living nightmare make sense?
The censored version of sweet pool can be played on Steam.
Silent Noise by Plastic Tree in Collar x Malice
Plastic Tree is in my bracket of the very best Japanese bands. Gracing us fans in their earlier years with anime hits from Sink as the eighth ending song for Kindaichi Case Files, to Mirai Iro as the fifth ending song for Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, their one video game tie-in lies in the already brilliant otome Collar x Malice.
Silent Noise may be more mellow than the majority of their discography, but also works as a perfect starting point for newer fans. Silent Noise is easy on the ears and due to its formulaic structure as a media tie-in Ryutaro’s unique and raspy vocals are the most pleasant and appealing they’ve ever sounded. Be sure to check out English translations of their songs (especially Silent Noise) as their ability to convey deeper meanings and imagery in their song writing is masterful.
Follow player character Ichika Hoshino in investigating events terrorizing Shinjuku. After a poisonous collar is attached to her neck, suspicions fall on the terrorist organisation named “Adonis” being linked after instigating a murder every month and suggesting an undetermined day where they will commence their most aggressive attack yet. Seek the truth of this “X-Day” before its too late.
Collar x Malice originally released on the Vita, but look out for its Switch port coming out July 17th.
I Love You More by Article Once in OZMAFIA!!
As a more unusual choice for a Japanese game, OZMAFIA!! features vocal tracks sung by American band Article One. As the artists of both the opening and ending song, my preference lies in its opening. I Love You More is an instantly memorable song, comfortably fitting in with the aesthetic of the Wizard of Oz influences in OZMAFIA!! as well as sounding suitably romantic to represent the dating sim elements. The game itself can take as long as 50 hours to complete a single route, so be prepared to get this tune stuck in your head with many revisits and playthroughs.
I Love You More is super fluffy and sweet with its lyrics, and juxtaposed with Nathan Piche’s mature singing makes it a perfect fit to OZMAFIA!!’s beautifully stylish appearance with its adult material and mafia elements. If you are looking for a more relaxing game and soundtrack, you won’t need to look much further than with this entry.
Our player character is the amnesiac heroine (default name Fuka) who finds herself being pursued by a man set on killing her. She bumps into the don of the mafia famiglia Oz, who protects her and welcomes her into his famiglia. She then learns that this troubling town is often in uproar due to opposing famiglia fighting one another. Guide Fuka through this war torn world to find trust, love and a place she can call home.
OZMAFIA!! is available on Steam.
floatable by mao in Code Realize
As the vocal provider for some of Hakuoki’s anime songs such as Hana no Aosaki and Ouka no Gotoku, mao’s floatable for the otome game Code Realize is arguably her very best tie-in. Players will have no problem in visualizing the journey our heroine, Cardia, sets out on all starting at a train station noticeable even in the song’s opening sounds. To further player’s engagement, floatable encapsulates how Cardia feels in its lyrics. This clever introduction to the game adds depth to Cardia’s character not often seen in otome main characters. Code Realize is already an emotional story, and equipped with a theme song expressing the MC’s isolation and feelings of wanting to be loved delivers a main character players will feel emotionally invested in as soon as the game begins.
Code Realize is set in a fantastical steampunk world set in London where Cardia suffers a lonely life restricted to living in an abandoned mansion. Feared by surrounding people addressing her as a monster, she suffers from a condition where her skin emits a deadly poison when making contact with anything. Memories of her father telling her to stay in the mansion alone and to not fall in love has kept her there until Royal Guards attempt to kidnap her. Saved by the handsome thief Arsène Lupin, Cardia steps foot outside on a journey to locate her father for answers.
Code Realize is playable on Vita, PS4 and Switch.
Jet coaster Rendezvous by Dasoku in Sweet Fuse: At Your Side
Dasoku (now Kawamura) was predominately an Utaite, a term used to label people who cover usually Japanese media on either YouTube or on the Japanese video sharing platform Nico Nico Douga. These are often anime, video games and Vocaloid covers. Dasoku, an already established Utaite figure on both sites had also found more notoriety with tie-in anime songs such as ending song Never Ending for the anime Kingdom and his two tie-ins with the otome game Sweet Fuse, the ending theme Kimi to and opening Jet coaster Rendezous.
Jet coaster Rendezous is an exciting and fun number that showcases how much of a roller coaster experiencing this game is. As a popping pop track with an upbeat sound and colourful animations and visuals accompanying it, Sweet Fuse’s opening gets the bomb rolling as soon as its catchy and energising chorus hits. If I had to think up one negative to this song is that it is too short!
As Saki Inafune, she is invited to her uncle’s new theme park on its opening day. The day’s events are taken over by villain Count Hogstein who has taken everybody hostage and running deadly games Saki volunteers to participate in in order to save her uncle from confinement.
Play this otome title on the Vita by purchasing it on the PlayStation Store.
melee by Nagi Yanagi in NORN9
Nagi Yanagi is a precious name within the anime industry, featuring theme songs for shows such as My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong and Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea. Starting out under alias’ such as CorLeonis and Gazelle, Yanagi’s works are vast and widespread, with obscure covers and original songs being uploaded to the Japanese video sharing site Nico Nico Douga since 2006. To 2009 until 2011, her notoriety rose with her involvement with the J-pop band Supercell, lead by musician and songwriter Ryo. After many triumphant hits such as Sayonara Memories and Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari, Yanagi made her solo debut in 2012.
Many may already be familiar with the artist due to her other massive hit Zoetrope, the opening to otome game Amnesia. melee, however, being her lesser known otome track is deserving of far more attention than it currently gets. Yanagi’s signature sweet yet airy and light vocals alongside the breathtaking visuals is so beautiful and mystifying that it proves hard for players to not be immediately hooked.
NORN9 follows 3 playable main heroines, with 3 love interests for each heroine. School boy Suzuhara Sorata finds himself teleported into this unfamiliar world during a school trip where the 3 girls and 9 boys live in a giant ship in the sky addressed as a Norn. As one of the playable heroines, players can experience budding friendships and romances, and investigate their unusual world, mysteries and the Norn.
STILL by Kanako Ito in Togaichu no chi
As one of the most well known singers involved in visual novel musical scores, Kanako Ito has lent her voice to many popular titles such as Steins;Gate and Chaos;Child. Togaichu no Chi is another Visual Novel from Nitro+chiral, a BL title with varying ending themes when obtaining certain neutral and good endings. With many remixes and variations in the game’s soundtracks and anime of the song, STILL’s original sound is a gut wrenching power ballad. Ito’s powerful vocals gets this message across effortlessly, and after such an eventful, desperate and harrowing play through, STILL ever so lightly nudge’s the players’ emotions into turmoil.
Players are put in the position of Akira, who finds himself participating in a killing game (Igura) within the corrupted and destroyed Toshima ward in Japan, now run by the criminal organisation Vischio. Akira is wrongfully accused of a crime and in exchange for his freedom he is prompted to join the killing game. In this dark and unforgiving world, will players be able to protect Akira, or bring him to his demise?
A censored version of the game is available on Steam.
0-GRAVITY by GRANRODEO in Muv-Luv Alternative
Anime viewers may already be familiar with the band’s name due to their massive coverage across many anime shows, from being opening themes from Kuroko’s Basketball to The Seven Deadly Sins. Featuring the rich vocals of seiyuu (voice actor) Kishow and their usual rocking riffs and composition makes for an engaging and fitting track alongside the opening depicting extraterrestrial battling mechs in outer space. What a way to put Gundam to shame!
Muv-Luv Alternative is the sequel to Muv-Luv, a game split into two sections.
As a trilogy, each game presents a different main scenario with reoccurring characters. Starting off with Muv-Luv Extra, the set up is a cute, romantic comedy in a school as a slice of life story. With its grand finale in an alternative world unlike what you’ve experienced so far in its first two parts, it is worth the journey to experience the whole trilogy, as the build up for the third game’s events pay off in fantastic fashion.
For maximum enjoyment, follow the trilogy as intended on either the Vita or Steam now.
What are some of your favourite visual novel songs I might have missed? I want to know, so leave a comment below!