This is the story of Animenz and Theishter, two pianists who are at the forefront of a movement on YouTube. They exclusively play anime music, a genre that most people don’t know exists in the first place. What is anime music? Think for a second about your favorite show. For example, we’ll use HBO’s GAME OF THRONES. Their intro song has become quite iconic. The song goes back and forth between the smooth sound of the cello and a powerful orchestra. It sounds like a battle is going on between the two, and makes people think of the many battles and plot twists that occur in the show. The song alone stirs up many feelings inside of people.

Every anime has its own soundtrack as well, which affects people the same way the GAME OF THRONES introduction song affects fans. “Orange,” the second ending song in YOUR LIE IN APRIL, really affected me. The music video simply shows protagonist Kaori Miyazono in a dress. She is floating in the middle of a lake crying. Her tears trickle down her blushed cheeks into the water, giving the impression that her tears created the lake. A soft piano begins to play and is coupled with a gentle voice. The audience feels immersed in the sadness of this scene and it reminds me of the show’s tragic ending.

The two pianists, Animenz and Theishter, seek to capture the emotions of scenes like this through their music. Every betrayal, every love confession, and every memorable moment is felt in the notes they play. How is this possible? Well, simply put, it’s their dream, and they play each note in hopes of being remembered. Their insatiable appetite for success, combined with their dream of leaving a legacy, has created two incredible YouTube channels.

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The Creation of “Animenz”

He simply goes by the alias “Animenz”. He has managed to gather a lively and dedicated fan base over YouTube, despite leaving much of his personal life a mystery. Animenz’s parents migrated from China to Germany in hopes of a better life. They worried about their son’s future, so they introduced Animenz to the piano when he was six years old to give him a career path. By age seven, Animenz was entering competitions; by eight, he was able to play television jingles on the piano by ear.

Animenz's Famous Avatar Playing the Piano!
Animenz’s famous avatar playing the piano | Image: Deviantart

Like many others, Animenz often raced home from school to watch POKEMON, DIGIMON, and DRAGONBALL. His love for these shows sparked his love for anime and he explored the genre further in his adolescence. While watching an anime, Animenz heard a sad song during a pivotal moment of the show. He searched the internet for sheet music to this song and encountered Josh’s Anime Piano Sheet Database, an archive of anime songs. He looked at all the compositions but was disappointed that there weren’t more music sheets available. Animenz decided he would help solve this problem by transcribing his own full-length songs. He created a WordPress to help get his message out, but it didn’t get many views. Animenz then created the YouTube channel “Animenz Piano Sheets” in hopes of increasing his views.

Theishter’s Deeper Story

Theishter’s story is a little more austere than Animenz’s. Unlike Animenz, playing the piano never interested Theishter. When he was 13 though, he found he could play the famous JEOPARDY! song by ear. When Theishter’s fingers touched the piano keys, something just made sense to him. He felt he could somehow see the notes, and this sparked his obsession with music.

The man, the myth, the legend! A picture of Theishter
The man, the myth, the legend! A picture of Theishter | Image: YouTube

Theishter discovered anime when he was 15 years old. He was emotionally shaken by the artwork, the music, and the stories that were told through the genre. Unfortunately, Theishter’s friends teased him when he tried talking about anime with them. He felt that people were too quick to judge anime, so he kept his love for it a secret to avoid being bullied. Eventually, he decided to combine his love for anime with his love for the piano. Theishter wanted to channel the emotions he experienced from watching anime directly to the viewers through music. His YouTube channel received a lot of attention, and he felt immediate gratification for his hard work through the comment section. Fans thanked him for his transcriptions and discussed anime with each other through his channel. Theister finally created an atmosphere where people could gather and discuss anime without judgment.

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The Secret to their Success

Simply put—nostalgia. When Animenz first created his channel, he carefully selected the first songs that he transcribed and uploaded. “Brave Song” from ANGEL BEATS! and “Butterfly” from DIGIMON are the first few songs he uploaded and they are from some of the most classic anime ever made. Replicating the power of nostalgia is almost impossible. For example, blowing on the cartridge of a Nintendo 64 game, hearing the loading screen of a Gameboy Advance, or holding a Yu-Gi-Oh card in your hands are all specific sensations that are difficult to imitate. However, the powerful feeling of nostalgia can be captured well in music. People can feel happiness, serenity, anger, grief, etc. all from a few notes because it reminds them of the best scenes from their favorite shows.

The thing that I admire the most about Animenz and Theishter is their desire to make their dreams a reality. A lot of people are too apprehensive to follow their passions because they might fail, but fear didn’t stop these pianists. Theishter’s peers teased him for liking anime; he also had to teach himself how to play the piano. He struggled with his technique and had a difficult time playing classical music. Theishter didn’t give up though, he just created his own music instead. It is important to never give up in the face of adversity, and Animenz’s and Theishter’s stories both remind us of this fact.

A casual day at the office
A casual day at the office for Theishter (left) and Animenz (right) | Image: YouTube

Beyond the Notes

In a video describing his story, Animenz said that he wanted to leave behind a legacy, even if it was only by playing the opening and closing songs of anime. In nine years of creating content, Animenz has accrued 1.1 million YouTube subscribers, and his most popular video “Unravel-Tokyo Ghoul OP [Piano]” has 38 million views by itself. Theishter’s YouTube channel has been active for six years, and he has accrued over 800,00 subscribers; “Secret Base” from ANOHANA is his most viewed song, which boasts 6.4 million views. Both of their channels have become so popular that they each travel across Europe playing sold-out concerts. Theishter played his very first anime concert with Animenz in Singapore and received a standing ovation. Theishter described this as the happiest moment of his life.

These piano virtuosos have encouraged a new generation of pianists, including myself, to experiment with different genres of music. This is evident in the comment section of their YouTube videos, where many people express their gratitude to Animenz and Theishter for exposing them to a fun and addicting new genre of music. Not an anime fan? You don’t have to be to appreciate their music. Visit Theishter’s channel and Animenz’s channel the next time you wanna listen to some relaxing music; you’ll be a frequent visitor to their channels before you know it.

Featured image courtesy of YouTube

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