Canadian singer gives Japanese anime a voice

Tue Sep 8, 2009 3:25am EDT
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By Junko Hirabayashi

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Anime is quintessentially Japanese, but these days, a Canadian singer is giving it a voice.

Catherine St-Onge of Quebec, says her agent, Sony Music Japan International, is the only Western singer of songs that feature in the animated TV series widely watched in Japan and abroad.

St-Onge, who goes by her stage name HIMEKA, made her debut in the Japanese-dominated industry of animated song, or "anison," earlier this year with her first single "Asueno-kizuna" or "Bonds for Tomorrow" which became the theme tune of an anime series.

A year ago, she won the Animax Anison Grand Prix, an annual competition that gathers aspiring singers from all over Japan for a chance to earn a professional singing contract.

"I really love art, so seeing beautiful animated characters is an extra," St-Onge told Reuters in an email interview.

"As for anime songs, the fact that they are attached to the animation, you feel a deeper meaning to the songs themselves. Most of the time, parts of the lyrics really become meaningful related to the story and they become really nostalgic."

St-Onge, who publishes a bilingual blog ( said she became fascinated by Japan as a teenager after watching Sailor Moon, a popular animated TV series.

Although she did not understand the words, she was enthralled by the characters and the imagery, which inspired her to learn more about Japanese culture.   Continued...

<p>Singer Catherine St-Onge is pictured on the cover of her album released by Sony Music Japan International, August 14, 2009. REUTERS/Sony Music Japan International/Handout</p>