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I have noticed that much, but by no means all, of the anime that I've seen has had lyrics onscreen during either its OPs, EDs, or both. Why is this so?

I know karaoke is fairly popular in Japan, so do people actually sing along while they wait for their shows to start? Perhaps it is done to promote the songs licensed for the openings/endings?

Some examples of what I'm talking about include:

  • Shirokuma Cafe

    enter image description here

  • Pokémon

       enter image description here

  • Dragonball Kai

    enter image description here

  • Doraemon enter image description here

Note: Emphasis mine in all of these images.

As a bonus if you could include some information on these side issues, that'd be great:

  • Is this exclusive to anime, or does it appear in other forms of Japanese media (e.g. music videos? OPs of live action dramas? etc.)
  • Why are they almost never included in licensed English versions?
  • What was the first anime to include them?

Perhaps this is a slightly broad question, but I assume there must be some general consensus on the matter. Does anyone have an explanation for this phenomenon? :)

  • I don't know why they show the lyrics on some and not on others, but for me, the number of shows that have lyrics is much less than the shows that don't have. (Probably because most of the shows that I watch are late night anime in Japan). – nhahtdh Apr 2 '13 at 22:46
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I think this is only common among shows aimed at children. All of the examples you gave were shows which are, at least partly, aimed at children. Having karaoke for the song helps the younger viewers sing along, and also has some educational benefits in terms of learning more advanced characters. If you watch anime targeted at older viewers, they rarely have karaoke.

It's also notable that those anime aimed at younger children are using only very common kanji that even children would probably know, and is giving furigana. Those aimed at older children tend to have more complex kanji and sometimes omit the furigana as well. This isn't apparent from just the exam

  • All of the examples you gave were shows which are, at least partly, aimed at children. Now I feel immature :P Thanks for the input though. :) – Miguel Apr 3 '13 at 0:33
  • Is Beelzebub aimed at children (it shows lyrics of OP/ED apparently)? I have a bit of doubt, since the show is mostly violence. – nhahtdh Apr 3 '13 at 1:10
  • @nhahtdh For the purposes of this answer, yes. I was including the shounen, shoujo, and kodomo demographic groups, and Beelzebub is squarely in the shounen category. Beelzebub aired at 7 AM, which is a timeslot that is usually used for shows targeting a younger demographic. There were changes from the manga to make the show less violent and more appropriate for children. In any case, I'm not claiming that every show with karaoke does so for the sake of younger viewers, just that most of them do. – Logan M Apr 3 '13 at 1:18
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    @nhahtdh Yes, that's why children's anime is not aired late at night, but it's a question of cause and effect. Is it being aired in the morning that caused the anime to have karaoke, or being targeted towards children? Of course the two are correlated, but they don't both have to be part of the explanation for why these shows have karaoke. Logically I can't see any reason why the time the show is aired, holding demographic targeting constant, would be related at all to karaoke, while I see a lot of reason why the demographics would play a role. – Logan M Apr 3 '13 at 1:43
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    I think demographic (when it is clearly aims at children) plays a crucial role. But when it is not really clear that the show is aimed at children, I think the time slot better explains the phenomenon. – nhahtdh Apr 3 '13 at 1:46
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I think you hit it on the nail with the Karaoke connection. Karaoke is extremely popular in Japan, so offering song subtitles is something of a no brainer. Also, OPs and EDs are an integral part of an anime franchise, both as an identity and as a source of sales. Putting the lyrics in plain view makes singing along with the songs a lot easier, which in turn makes them stick to a listener's brain. This could lead to increased loyalty for the title and increased sales for its merchandise, especially musical ones.

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Some music animes or Idol animes such as Love Live gather fanbases that love to sing along. This is also done when an anime is dubbed (the op/ed is some times given an eng translation along with karoake words. Other animes seems to have no reason.

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