Recently, Mania.com was able to participate in a Q&A session with Japanese supergroup JAM Project. The group is part of the initial wave of releases that Bandai Visual is bringing over to the US through an iTunes project which will be available on August 25th. JAM Project, which you can find at the Bandai VIsual MySpace page, has had some good success in the US including a big event at Otakon 2008. The group name, which stands for "Japan Animationsong Makers", has is noteworthy to anime fans obviously as they've been involved in quite a few popular songs that are familiar to US fans. Their works include such series as eX-Driver, Mazkinkaiser, Soul Taker, Scrapped Princess, Galaxy Angel, Gravion Zwei and Super Robot Wars. They're also one of the best things about Panda-Z.
At the beginning…
1. If you have one word to describe JAM Project what word would that be and why?
Kageyama: “Challenge”—the attitude to strive for new things describes JAM Project itself.
About WORLD FLIGHT 2008
1. Last year, you toured with JAM Project on your first world tour, WORLD FLIGHT 2008. What was it like to expand your performances beyond Japan?
Kageyama: We were very moved no matter where we visited. We were impressed to know that the Japanese culture centering Japanese anime is received and loved this much by people all over the world while we—or most of Japanese people, I would say—are unaware of.
2. Which venue outside of Japan was the most memorable for you? What was the fan response to your group in the different venues around the world?
Kageyama: Every venue was wonderful and I can’t pick one. The passion of fans in Latin countries is very frantic. The standing ovation that fans in Baltimore gave impressed us. And the other thing we were impressed with was the fans’ energy in Beijing. Before the concert, it was most difficult for us to get an image of how Beijing fans would be hyped-up.
3. Of all the songs that you perform live, which song would be your favorite and why?
Kageyama: If I had to choose a song that I enjoy performing to fans…that would be “SKILL”.
4. First, thank you for the excellent performance during Otakon 2008 in Baltimore. You’ve just completed the most recent tour; HURRICANE TOUR 2009. Are there plans for JAM Project to perform future concerts? Will the United States be included?
Kageyama: 2010 will be our 10th anniversary since we started. So if we could, we would like to do another world tour including the United States.
5. You have a rich legacy with your theme songs for many famous and internationally beloved anime. What is it about JAM Project’s music that you think seems to resonate so well with international audiences?
Kageyama: The biggest reason JAM Project’s music is loved is that people all over the world like Japanese anime so much. In addition, the music JAM Project creates is all packed with positive spirits—energy, power and future.
About “Mazinger Edition Z: The Impact!”
1. Most recently, you teamed up with your former band, LAZY, for the opening theme of “Mazinger Edition Z: The Impact!”. What was it like to reunite with your original band?
Kageyama: Since we have lost two members already, I thought there wouldn’t be a chance to reunite LAZY and perform once again. So this time, I’m more than thankful to get an offer to reunite LAZY to perform a theme song for “Mazinger Z”.
2. Were any of you big fans of “Mazinger Z”?
Kageyama: Talking about my generation, we grew up as a first generation of the anime/tokusatsu’s golden era. At the time we entered school, “Ultraman” began airing and when we were in 5th grade, “Masked Rider” started. There is no doubt to say that “Mazinger Z” is the king of robots for us.
1. Throughout your career you have released many hit albums and CD singles. But among those releases, which song was the most challenging for you to create/develop?
Kageyama: Probably “Crest of Z’s”. For JAM Project, fast tempo and power are the most critical elements and we put lots of effort into the song.
2. Are there any genres of music that you would like to work on?
Kageyama: We hope to join a big anime project that could be a theatrical film, and try to create a unique but powerful world of JAM Project.
3. In addition to touring around the world, you will also be expanding your fan base through this new project with Bandai Visual and iTunes. How will this affect JAM Project’s future? When you create music, do you consider overseas releases?
Kageyama: Ever since WORLD FLIGHT 2008, I began writing lyrics with an overseas release in mind. Not limited to the song “No Border”, creating an English version of anime songs is necessary. Of course, I need to study English. (laughs)
4. This question is about a reaction of a Japanese audience. Many of your American fans are familiar with your music from "SoulTaker", "ex-Driver", "Scrapped Princess", "Gravion" and "Super Robot Wars". Of the songs that are performed in front of a Japanese audience, which song have you noticed get a tremendous response from your Japanese fans?
Kageyama: In Japan, songs related to “Super Robot Wars” are far beyond popular. Last year, I realized that the show’s preferences between American fans and Japanese fans are different. I realized this during a panel at Otakon. An American fan asked us a question about “MD Geist” which I sang a song for. That was a show that couldn’t draw any attention from Japanese fans at all. (laughs)
5. What is JAM Project working on currently? Could you tell us as much as you could?
Kageyama: We are currently working on a these song for an anime based on a card game called “Battle Spirits”.
1. What is your favorite song that you have ever released?
Kageyama: “Hero”. I wrote both the lyrics and music, but I like the song very much.
2. What is your favorite series that you’ve worked on? And what is your favorite show that you didn’t work on?
Kageyama: That’s “Garo”. I appeared as the voice of Zalba, too, and this is a show that I will never forget. “Spirited Away” and “Porco Rosso” are the ones I personally like.
3. Are there any shows, anime or tokusatsu, that you wish JAM Project had been given the opportunity to create music for?
“Gundam” and “Doraemon”. (laughs)
4. Is there any message you’d like sent to the US fans of JAM Project?
Kageyama: I would love to perform in the Unites States again. In order to do so, I have been studying English. Please keep supporting Japanese anime and JAM project!