In the past we here at Kotaku East have talked a lot about Hatsune Miku and some of Japan's other virtual idols. But the one thing we haven't really touched on so far are the numerous fictional singers of Japan. While initially designed to be pop stars in manga or anime, these singers have transcended their fictional format and obtained real world success thanks to film adaptations and series soundtracks. While the West is no stranger to fictional singers like Spinal Tap or Hanna Montana, fictional singers in Japan have even been known hit number one on the charts with their amazing songs.
Click through the gallery above for more information on some of the most popular of these fictional superstars.
When it comes down to it, any of the musicians of the Macross franchise could be on this list. From Sharron Apple—the Macross universe's own virtual idol—to Galactic Diva Sheryl Nome, the singers of Macross have had more than a few real world hits in the past thirty years. However, Lynn Minmay stands above them all as the first fictional singer to garner major real world success.
In the Macross Series, Minmay is a girl who goes from being a waitress to a popstar to the savior of the human race—as she uses her songs to stop an intergalactic war. Voiced by singer Mari Ijima, Minmay reached her most popular point with the release of the titular theme song in 1984's Macross: Do You Remember Love? "Do You Remember Love?" reached the number seven spot on the Oricon music charts and has been covered numerous times in the decades since. Simply put, without Lynn Minmay this list wouldn't even exist.
Unlike the other characters on this list, Nana Osaki—up and coming rock star and main character of NANA—has been voiced by, and attained major success with, several different actresses. In the live action films, singer Mika Nakashima played Nana and topped the Oricon charts with the first movie's headline song "Glamorous Sky." The main song of the sequel, "Hitoiro," hit number three on the charts.
When the NANA anime came out a year after the first movie, rock star Anna Tsuchiya was chosen as the singing voice of Nana. Her single "Rose" topped out at number six on the charts. Songs by Nana's fictional rival Reira broke the top ten for both the movie and anime as well.
K-On! is a slice-of-life story about a group of high school girls and their time as members of their school's pop music club. Though the music is often just background for their school days adventures, the show's ending theme "Don't Say Lazy"—which is sung by the characters—hit number two on the Oricon charts and was voted the best anime song of the 2009 Animation Kobe Awards. What's most amazing is that, despite having a hit song, none of the four voice actresses were professional singers at the time of recording (though most of them have joined singing groups now).
While The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is in no way an anime about music, its ending song—credited to the main characters—inspired an internet dance meme right from the start. However, it wasn't until the series' 12th episode that the Haruhi character took to the mic for the first time in the show itself. The song she sang was so popular that the single topped out at number five and stayed on the charts for two-and-a-half years. The soundtrack and several other singles broke the top ten as well—not a bad record given that of the three main voice actresses, only two of them had any professional singing experience.