Hello, and welcome! This will be a first post of several in a series of introductions for the Denonbu media project.
In this post, I will be writing about how Denonbu started, how it was revealed, and try to explain what is exactly Denonbu at the moment. In the upcoming posts, I will go over the characters, the casts, the music, current content, and what could we expect for Denonbu.
Play with sounds
To talk about how Denonbu started, we need to talk first about the label that hosts Denonbu. ASOBINOTES. ASOBINOTES is envisioned a label where people can "play" and create with Bandai Namco's IPs. While there are releases on the label already (like the first ALL ABOUT LOVE album), a lot of the company's IPs are restricted because of, for example, various agreements with other companies (THE iDOLM@STER comes as one of the most significant examples that I can remember), so one of the first steps ASOBINOTES took is to create a brand new IP under ASOBINOTES, entirely under Bandai Namco control.
A surprise reveal
Around June 2020, Bandai Namco announced a music event that will be held entirely online, called ASOBINOTES ONLINE FES (notice the ASOBINOTES name). The artist line up of ASOBINOTES ONLINE FES reflects various music subcultures.
The Character floor brings artists well-known from character franchises. Composers with character franchise works such as Taku Inoue, and even seiyuus like Arisa Komiya and Karin Takahashi are performing in this floor.
The Game floor is full-on Bandai Namco games, with the majority of the performing artists from Bandai Namco's very own Bandai Namco Studios sound team, with a very special appearance by Mirai Komachi while also showcasing new technology (this technology is BanaDIVE AX, which is later used too, it's not only a technology made to show off).
The Virtual floor is a mix between various content by Nijisanji VTubers Sara Hoshikawa, Sister Claire, and Kana Sukoya, and DJ performances from artists with virtual works such as Nor (of Kizuna AI fame), and TAKUYA the bringer (a DJ specializing in VTuber music).
The Akiba Pop floor brings in several pop culture talents, including artists like fhana's Junichi Sato, and idols like Mi*nA members Miho Amane and Sena Horigoshi, and Rirunede member Yuuka Shidomi.
For me, ASOBINOTES ONLINE FES is very notable in that it brings various music cultures together in a place where I can enjoy all of those. The performances really are top-tier, and I was having a blast on all the floors.
At the end of the performances, it was time for a special announcement. As it turns out, this very announcement is the announcement of a new character-music project. It's name: Denonbu.
What exactly is Denonbu?
Now, on to the main question I will try to explain in this post, what exactly is Denonbu?
There are certainly expectations from people for what Denonbu is, and the most common one is a game. I can understand it, since Bandai Namco is a game company after all, but I think it's only part of what is Denonbu, a small portion of what represents the franchise.
For me, Denonbu is, first and foremost, is "an experience to enjoy new content". This is mentioned in the very first stream Denonbu had, the one for the Akiba area, and shown by the several streams that Denonbu had in the ASOBINOTES channel, showcasing its plans of content. Denonbu director Hiroaki Ishida also mentioned during an interview that Denonbu's concept is a mixed-media one, based on music and events.
In crafting this experience, Denonbu incorporates a lot of entertainment and technology aspects, as can be seen in the picture below describing the keywords of Denonbu.
The main word highlighted in here is Diversity. While it can be certainly interpreted one way (Kazune is right there, isn't she?), I think what the word represents here is how Denonbu gathers various concepts and aspects, incorporated into the franchise. There are keywords that represents the club scene, such as Club, Music, Composer, and Remix, words that represent pop culture aspects, like Idol, Seiyuu, Character, and VTuber , and words that represent more technological aspects, such as Engineer, AI, and SF.
This diversity is reflected in a lot of aspects of the franchise, like the casts themselves, the genres which Denonbu draws inspiration from, the utilization of latest Bandai Namco technology, the embracing of Namco's legacy, the three event types and the quite open derivative-work policy, among others.
This diversity too, however, means that if you are expecting a game soon, it might take quite a while. A game doesn't seem to be a central focus of the franchise right now, although if the homage to the Namco video games of old and to video game soundtracks in general tells something, a game is probably in the thoughts, just not an overriding one.
Denonbu's main strengths are music and events, and Denonbu is certainly going quite nicely in those areas. For music, there are four mini albums per area, with their own unique characteristics, and there will be a season 0 best album going on sale soon. Denonbu songs have been played on club events (see this, this, and this), and none are more enthusiastic than the casts and composers themselves (see this, this or even this). There are also a decent amount of people remixing Denonbu songs (SoundCloud is a decent place to find those).
For events, first with entrance into DJ events such as SUPERCHAT (hosted by TAKUYA the bringer) and OMOTENASHI MATSURI (of which two of the experienced DJ casts regularly participates in!), or even D4DJ DJ TIME (what an interesting timeline we live in), then with their own events such as the 1st GAME which has also recently concluded, and 1st PARTY -NEO MIX- that will be held at the quite famous venue ageHa@STUDIO COAST, Denonbu is certainly doing quite nicely to integrate with the Japanese club scene, and it shows.
A step-by-step approach
Denonbu is certainly not rushing to expand its content, taking its time to build up its music. lore, and events. However, there are exciting things already waiting in store. With 1st GAME completed (and it's quite the experience), 1st PARTY coming soon, and the zeroth season of Denonbu concluding with the release of the first Best Album, there isn't a better time to start diving into Denonbu than now! Who knows that we will be treated to something nice at the 1st Anniversary of Denonbu :".
- Introduction to Music-Based Character Project Denonbu - Inside the Experience to Discover New Content, Ken Nishida, Ototoy.jp. I refer to the English translation from the This Side of Japan newsletter, translated by Ryo Miyauchi.
- ユーザーとつくる新たな音楽体験『電音部』。始動直前インタビュー, アソビモット
- 電音部-企画会議-vol.1, ASOBINOTES公式チャンネル, YouTube