Shoot to fame with anime

After starting out as a fictional vocalist in hit anime Angel Beats!, pop-rock singer LiSA has gone on to put out studio albums

LiSA was in town recently to hold her first solo concert. PHOTO: SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

Japanese pop-rock singer LiSA may have started her career singing songs for anime television series, but she has since broken out on her own as a solo artist.

The dainty doe-eyed artist was in town recently to hold her first solo concert in Singapore, the final stop of her LiSA-LiVE Is Smile Always Asia tour.

She played a 130-minute-long show in front of a 1,300-strong crowd at Resorts World Theatre.

Having arrived in Singapore from Tokyo three hours ago, at the interview, LiSA looked slightly tired but remained perky as she animatedly answered questions while bursting into random bouts of giggles.

She has much to be cheerful for. After all, the 28-year-old, whose real name is Oribe Risa, has been enjoying a splendid year so far.

Aside from visiting Taipei, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore on her tour, her growing international fanbase saw her perform in the Philippines, Mexico and the United States for the first time in the last few months.

To top it off, her third studio album, Launcher, which was released in March this year, reached No. 3 on the Oricon album charts in Japan. Her latest single Rally Go Round, released in May, is also the new opening theme for anime series Nisekoi.

Despite a thriving solo career, the singer sees no need to give up her roots in anime to become a full- fledged J-pop artist.

She tells Life in Japanese via a translator: "Whether it is mainstream J-pop or anime, I don't see much of a big gap between them as they are both about communicating a message to the audience. Singing anime songs also requires me to put my own emotions out through the anime character."

It does not upset her that her fans may know her more for the anime songs she has sung, rather than for her other singles.

"Sometimes the anime is not shown in Singapore, but fans here still know the songs and they are even more passionate than fans in Japan. This makes me very happy because I feel like I am a representative of Japanese culture."

She has come a long way since she first shot to fame as the fictional vocalist of hit anime series Angel Beats! in 2010. She provided the singing voice of the character Yui, who sang in an all-girl band called Girls Dead Monster.

A year later, the singer made her debut as a solo artist with mini- album Letters To U, in which she wrote all the songs. This was followed by her first and second full studio albums, Lover "S" Mile (2012) and Landspace (2013).

Over the years, she has continued to release singles which were used as the opening themes for popular anime series such as Fate/Zero, Sword Art Online, Day Break Illusion and The Irregular at Magic High School.

LiSA's stage name comes from Love Is Same All, which is the name of her rock band.

The success she has achieved as a singer still surprises her.

"I thought people would just stop (at my songs) in the anime. I didn't expect them to fall in love with my music as a solo artist as well," she says. "I didn't expect to have fans in Singapore, so it is a pleasant surprise for me. I'd like to thank them for waiting so long for my solo show."

She has performed at the Anime Festival Asia Singapore here in the last four consecutive years.

In her free time, the singer, who is single, enjoys staying at home to watch movies and, of course, anime.

Asked to name her favourite anime series, she says she likes watching shows with strong female characters, such as Sailor Moon and Nisekoi.

She is following the series Your Lie In April, about a piano prodigy who loses his hearing after a mentally traumatic experience.

Like any other star, the seasoned performer admits to always getting "really, really nervous" before going onstage, though her energetic live performances hardly reflect it.

To cope with her nerves, she swears by a routine that works for her without fail.

"I look at myself in the mirror and keep telling myself that I'm good, that I'm awesome and a rock star. I will hypnotise myself in that way until I am confident enough to make it on stage," she says with a laugh.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline Shoot to fame with anime. Subscribe