We’ve heard artists drop anime references in lyrics or do some subtle cosplay at concerts. But, some artists go beyond that and embrace their otaku side in music videos.
Here are some mainstream artists that either recreated scenes, used existing footage, or even had new anime commissioned for their videos.
Daft Punk teamed up with their childhood hero Leiji Matsumoto (creator of Space Battleship Yamato) to create a movie based on their second album, Discovery. Titled Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5tysm, the anime film would win praise from fans and critics.
Michael Jackson teamed up with renowned music video director Mark Romanek for “Scream.” It’s one of the few videos Jackson didn’t create the concept for, so the use of anime Zillion and Akira was Romanek’s idea. “Scream” was one of the first American pop videos to use anime.
Kanye West is not so secretive about his anime obsession. He’s got in Twitter arguments defending Akira as the best anime movie of all time and had hentai playing in the background during a listening for his Graduation album. In terms of music, the video to “Stronger” had shot-for-shot remakes of scenes from Akira.
Pharell Williams went full-on otaku with the music video for “It Girl,” which is filled with anime and video game references. Previously, he produced a remix to a Hatsune Miku song, titled “Last Night, Good Night (Re:Dailed).”
The Weeknd knows how to hide his power level when it comes to anime references. He sampled this line from Fate/stay Night for his single “Coming Down.” The Weeknd would also sneakily use Ramiel’s scream from Evangelion for his hit song “The Hills.” But, the artist did slip up once and showed his nerdy love in the music video for “Kiss Land.”
6Lil Uzi Vert
If you follow Lil Uzi Vert on social media, then you know he is not shy about sharing his love of anime and manga. However, he went anime mode for the video of “Ps & Qs,” which included many visual shout-outs to anime. The dude even made an AMV, so he gets bonus points.
Migos is a trio of hardcore trap rappers from Georgia, and they don’t come off as your typical anime fan. “Slide On Em” features footage from one of Madhouses’ DC Comics anime projects.
Linkin Park has a thing for referencing anime in their music. Bandai even created a Linkin Park themed Gundam figure that was packaged with the Japanese release of A Thousand Suns.
Matthew Sweet was big in the early ’90s during the first wave of Alternative Rock and was this first American artist to use anime in his music videos. “Girlfriend” uses footage from Space Adventure Cobra: The Movie and “I’ve Been Waiting” uses footage from Urusei Yatsura. His American following has tapered off, but he still has a lot of fans in Japan.
Who are your favorite mainstream music artists that use anime in their music videos?