SUTORAIKUanime Exclusive: Interview with Animenz

SUTORAIKUanime had a chance to sit down with Animenz, well-known around the interwebs for his world-class anime music transcriptions for the piano, to discuss his anime music transcription career, how it all began, his experiences, helpful tips, and what not. Otherwise known as Animenzzz on YouTube, all of his transcriptions are available for download on his website. Read more for the full interview.

The first question I always find appropriate to ask is, how and when did the love for anime all start?

I am not even sure of that myself, but as far as I know, I have always been an avid fan of animation. I love all works from Walt Disney (e.g. Aladdin or The Lion King) and I used to watch every cartoon series that was available in Germany. There was also a programming block on a particular TV channel, which aired mainstream anime such as Pokemon and Dragonball. I used to watch this everyday after school.
However, it was when I was 16 that I actually began to watch the "real stuff", the non-mainstream anime.

I was heavily influenced by my little sister who happens to be six years younger than me, who was a big manga fan and had a nice manga collection. One fateful day I just happened to stumble across the Chobits and began to read it. This altered my view of anime and manga, because the only manga and anime I ever knew was Dragonball, but Chobits was something entirely different. More dramatic, more tragic, and I was very excited.

After finishing the manga, I looked on the internet for more information on Chobits, and it was by pure chance that I discovered on YouTube some episodes of the anime adaptation of Chobits, and thus began to watch all the episodes. This probably set the ball running for my passion of anime.

What made you decide to start creating piano covers for anime OP/ED themes, and anime music in general? Was it a particular scene from an anime, a song, or just outright curiosity?

Once again, thanks to Chobits. Yes, there was indeed a scene in Chobits, where a beautiful and melancholic piano tune played in the background, called Yasashisa no Shouzou.

Upon hearing the piece, I looked for the sheet music and discovered Josh's famous anime sheets music collection.

I was very happy when I finally discovered the sheets, and played the tune for the first time. I wanted to give thanks to Josh for creating the sheets. This made me think, "wouldn't it be great, if sheet music existed for any anime soundtrack, or OP/ED?" And thus I started transcribe my own pieces.

I've noticed you've put together a few piano medleys, which sound like an incredibly difficult to task. Where did you get the idea to combine pieces into a unique concoction of melodies?

I don't really know why, but sometimes, I have a sudden flash for an idea by combining two anime songs in one sheet, or putting in some original parts.

For example, the Mirai Nikki transcription, which is heavily influenced by the classical music I play (I even quoted directly Liszt piano concerto) was made in only two days.

I don't even know why, but there are some days where one idea just keeps popping up after another. Another particular inspiration I draw from is Josh's yearly anime piano medley.

When did you decide that putting your covers onto YouTube might be a good idea? Did you ever imagine having 10,000 subscribers?

When I started my blog in November of 2009 and uploaded my first sheet, I hoped to distribute the sheet music to as many people as possible but unfortunately, it remained undiscovered, receiving roughly 4-5 downloads. This is the reason why two months later, I decided to gather a greater audience via YouTube, by simply uploading videos of myself playing the music I transcribed. The first video I uploaded was the Sora no Woto opening theme.

In all seriousness, I would never have thought, that I would gain over 10,000 subscribers in only two and half years. It's something even I have a hard time believing.

What was the first cover you transcribed? And how difficult was it to create?

As I've previously mentioned, it was Only My Railgun. The first version of the sheet wasn't very good, as it was the first sheet I ever made, and I was focusing too much on the MIDI file. Do you know one common mistake some anime music transcribers keep making? They rely too heavily on the finished MIDI product. The piece may sound nice on a MIDI file, but it sounds entirely different if you play it on the piano. Also, some passages can become virtually impossible to play on the piano. Regardless, my first sheet was a mess, and it wasn't until I simplified just about everything until it became my first successful transcription.

Having been a pianist since childhood myself, I know from experience that it takes several hours of hard work and unwavering dedication plus patience in regards to perfecting a piece, nevermind transcribing one. How do you manage? Any special tactics? Coffee? Self-determination?

Well...first of all, the piece itself must be good and to my liking. This means I don't transcribe songs I don't like. This may sound selfish, but if I force myself to transcribe a random song, I don't get the usual passion and the sheet lacks creativity, and eventually, I'll just drop it and the sheet remains unfinished. This is also one of the main reasons why I don't accept transcription requests anymore.

I may be crazy, but I think the reason for my motivation is purely my self-determination and dedication to creating the most interesting, accurate, and beautiful-sounding transcription as possible. I do spend up to six hours transcribing one sheet, and I edit my sheets countless times until I am 100% satisfied, because I am a perfectionist.

Actually, I spend more time transcribing the piece than learning to play the piece itself. As soon as I finish one sheet, I practice a few hours until the piece is memorized, and upload the video the next day.
But recently, I tend to skip the memorizing process, so I can play and upload the video on the same day I finish the sheet.

What inspirations do you draw from? Is there a particular method you like to use when transcribing music?

Regarding this, I've made a tutorial-like blog post on my transcribing methods. Please have a read, since it's a bit complicated to explain everything here.

To put it in a nutshell: most of my ideas and inspiration are derived either from the classical music I am playing, (mostly Liszt, since he has done plenty of transcriptions himself too) and other YouTube piano covers (like marasy8)

Is transcribing or playing music a career path you are on? Or is it more along the lines of a part-time hobby?

I am currently studying music in Germany, so transcribing is more or less a hobby. Most of my transcriptions are done on the weekend, when I have some free time and all those Steinways you see (and envy) in the videos aren't mine. They are all pianos from the conservatory.

Since there are so few anime fans here in Germany, I am trying to get in touch with other anime fans via YouTube with my piano covers.

How long does the average piece take you to transcribe?

It really depends on my motivation, but the average time I spend is easily four to six hours. I usually drop transcriptions and try to arrange if I am out of ideas, but the transcription is dropped if I don't see a point in continuing. Many people don't know this, but I have a huge collection in my "dropped" folder, a collection of over 40 unfinished sheets, which will probably remain there forever, just waiting to be finished one day and eventually will be's a bit sad actually.

Do you often take the comments and feedback of your fans into account? How does it affect your transcriptions you create, if it does at all?

There is a saying, which goes like this:

"Comments are the lifeblood of all bloggers." And I partially agree with it. Of course, I can't take every comment into account since there are simply too many, but I often respond directly to the comments after I upload my most recent video.

I even think, these comments are one of my primary sources of motivation to continue providing the best anime music sheets possible.

For example, this comment, really moved me:

[...] I really ought to thank you for transcribing such pieces, and boy am I glad I found your blog two years ago. Why? Because you were the one who brought back my love for anime. During that period of time, I didn't like playing the piano at all. (I only had a year experience then) But because of your blog, you have inspired me to polish up my skills, and I told myself that one day I would be able to play like you. Though I'm not as skillful as you are, I am now able to play your pieces! (Average -- Challenging level) If it weren't for you, I might have quit piano back then...really. So thank you Animenz, for transcribing and uploading your videos for us to enjoy, thank you ;-; [...]

Manly tears were shed.

What are some tips you can provide to those who are unsure of whether or not to experiment with anime music transcription?

Well, personally I think my "occupation" of transcribing anime music is a bit out of the ordinary, because it's such a niche hobby. All I can say is: just do it, if you like it. Seriously.

You mentioned you reside in Germany. What's the anime scene like over there?

One word: mainstream.

If you ever meet another "anime" fan here in Germany, eighty per cent of the time, they will say, "I don't watch anything besides One Piece or Naruto," which is bit sad actually, because that's all the anime they know, they don't even have a clue what they are missing out.

Actually I've been to an anime convention once, and surprisingly, it wasn't half bad. We had food, games, karaoke among other things, and of course I could sing all the Digimon and Pokemon openings. But sadly, I couldn't even find one person, who watches the "other anime" besides mainstream shows like Naruto or One Piece. I partially blame German TV for not having a better sorted anime programming block like Toonami in US.

Until today, I haven't met anyone personally who has the same deeper understanding of anime as I do. Most of the anime fans I communicate with are people I get to know online, who I usually communicate with via Skype.

Any chance you would transcribe some Macross Frontier music? Perhaps some Supercell music?

Well, the best pieces of Macross Frontier are already transcribed on Josh's anime sheet collection (Aimo and Lion), so it's unlikely.

Besides, I really focus on anime music only, so the chance of me transcribing something not anime-related, like J-rock or Vocaloid among other things are very slim. I am making those sheets because I like anime!

This marks the end of our interview with Animenz. We'd like to thank Animenz for taking the time to sit down with us and go through this interview. For more information on Animenz's works, visit his YouTube channel or his blog.


  1. I love the phase "I like anime", me too!!!

  2. Finally, an interview of one of my most favorite transcribers!
    I have a German friend that is an otaku as well, and she knows quite a lot of animes.
    Nice interview~

  3. Fuck yeah!! An interview of Animenz!! >‿<!!