What turned out to be a simple idea fuelled by a passion for Anime, ended up opening the doors to a whole new music culture in Sri Lanka earlier this month, as the very first Anime Open Mic night held on June 9 took off at Tea Talk at Colombo 5. Interestingly, as Binura de [...]


Hitting a fun note with Anime Open Mic night


What turned out to be a simple idea fuelled by a passion for Anime, ended up opening the doors to a whole new music culture in Sri Lanka earlier this month, as the very first Anime Open Mic night held on June 9 took off at Tea Talk at Colombo 5.

Binura de Zoysa: The main strategist . Pix courtesy Tai Photography

Interestingly, as Binura de Zoysa (the main strategist) envisioned the event during its planning stages, he never expected a turnout, quite like the one that Saturday. The cosy ‘Tea Talk’ was filled with local anime fans, from the rear end, past its glass doors and onto the patio.

Binura (like many of us ’90s kids) had fallen in love with Pokemon when he was around four years old. Since then, he had always hoped for an opportunity to sing an Anime based song on stage. In fact, he used to spend a lot of his free time, casually singing or humming Japanese songs from Anime.

He tells us that the topic of open mics was quite fresh in his mind since Tera Jayewardene (the co-host of the evening), had confided in him about wanting to perform at such an event someday. The idea to organise one had hit him when he was singing the latest opening song of One Piece, ‘Hope’, while brushing his teeth.

“I had this sudden overwhelming excitement – what if there could be an event where we can all sing along to Anime songs. I felt it was something I’ve been wanting to do all my life,” he recalls.

Binura pitched his idea, first to his closest friends and subsequently to the Anime/Manga Addicts group, who made it public. “I thought about 30 to 50 people would turn up. However, I may have unintentionally pushed a better social media campaign than I expected to,” Binura says, adding that things had exploded during the next few days. “I think over 150 people came with hardly any promoting, which was really amazing.”

An enthusiastic audience at the first of its kind

Indeed, the fans, just like Binura were passionate about the evening’s proceedings and chanted every song that was performed, regardless of whether it was a classic or a more modern tune. If there was a doubt whether Sri Lanka had an Anime culture, the open mic night would have certainly proved that wrong.

The beauty of Anime (although it is essentially a Japanese disseminated animation style), is the vast range of music genres associated with it. To Binura, his personal favourites are the pop/pumpy tracks and at times, he also enjoys the classical/orchestral styled music.

“I think the Anime art styles, character personalities and storytelling elements definitely add more meaning to Anime music than regular music tracks. For example, Kimi no Na Wa is the highest grossing Anime movie of all time. To me, it’s a masterpiece because the music and songs add so much to the entire movie,” he explains.

Binura adds that as he listens to the music from that movie, he can still recall the scenes which the music was associated with, despite there not being any vocals to it.

The other participants at the open mic night had their own personal picks as well. And out of some of the more interesting performances that evening, one that stood out was by the group ‘Marambe Brothers’.

The Brothers decided to showcase their rendition of ‘Sadness and Sorrow’ from the famous ‘Naruto’. As the hauntingly beautiful violin, blended seamlessly with the deeper notes of the piano, one was immediately reminded of the lives of Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno, some of the characters of the cartoon.

Shalinda Jayawardena added a classical twist to the evening by performing his version of ‘1/3 no JunjōnaKanjō’, a song made famous in the sixth ending theme of the ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ anime. His rendition drew an excited response from the crowd.

Another highlight was Amjad Khan, who had an interesting take on Pokemon’s theme ‘Gotta catch em all’ as he preferred to sing the song on a lower key.  His cover blended well with his voice and soon he had everyone singing along with him.

Adding a classical twist: Shalinda Jayawardena

The beauty of the Anime Open Mic night was that it was not just limited to music, although this was its main highlight. The organisers had also paid close attention to minor details such as an Anime themed food menu and even an Anime based trivia contest.

As for the ending act, Tera and Binura decided to have everyone sing the opening song of One Piece, ‘We are’. This proved to be the perfect finale to an interesting evening that saw nearly 20 participants on the stage.

The turn up, feedback and all the happy faces made Tera and Binura realize that they had done well. The pair and their event partners are excited to take the Anime Open Mic, forward in the future. Binura is grateful to Clinton de Kretser, the Founder of Yamato One, Tea Talk, their host for the evening and the Anime/Manga Addicts group.

“We don’t know how exactly yet, but one thing is for sure — Anime fans, this will definitely not be the last time you’ll get to perform or listen to your favourite music. Kanpai!” Binura adds.

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