J-pop, ( Japanese pop music), has its roots in the 1960’s. The term “J-pop” was coined in the 1990’s and rose to a peak later that decade. It served to describe the energy behind the music. Although J-Pop is stuck in the 90’s (and deliciously so), the album cover art isn’t. It embraces modern culture, manga, anime, the strange and the outrageously hilarious. However, what can we, as designers, gain from this? We can understand how pushing boundaries, combining simplicity with symbolism and having no fear can create amazing designs! So feast your senses on these J-Pop album covers!
In this article, we present 40 J-Pop album covers. For viewing pleasure, they have been divided into “Cartoon”, “Illustrations”, “Manipulated Photography”, “Bold and the Bright”, “EXPLOSIONS!”.
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The Japanese have a very unique and highly recognizable cartooning style. This collection best demonstrates this.
The Best of Sweets House
DJ Kenkaida – I love DJ
K-On! Azusa Nakano Character Image Song Series
Japanese Pop – Imari Tones
Shonen Knife – Happy Hour
Gundam Rock – Andrew W.K.
Stereopony – Over the Border
Asian Kung-Fu Generation
Island of Curiosity – Halfby
Hello Mr. My Yesterday – Hundred Percent Free
Single Album – Sambo Master LoveSong
Whilst it can be argued cartoons are illustrations this collection contains album designs that are more detailed and have a different level of depth.
Neuromantic – Yukihiro Takahashi
Yotsuba Sagashi no Tabibito – Galileo Galilei
Black Album – VeltPunch
The Sum – The Last Alliance
The Best of Seamo
Diorama – MUCC
Roundabout – Akeboshi
These covers use manipulated photographs. As a result most of the manipulated photographs in this collection have resulted in being a bit on the surreal side.
Mothership – Lego Big Morl
Crawl – Natsu Best
Onelbum – Natsu Best
Serious Japanese – Teriyaki Boyz
Gazette – Dim
Bold and the Bright
This is the collection’s brightest and boldest album covers! Strong lines, brilliant colours and bold typography are throwing themselves around in these albums. Watch out!
Dark Days/Light Years – Super Furry Animals
Sotto Kyutto / Super Star – SMAP
Ni Yao De Wo Dou You – Bearbiscuit
With U – Big Bang
Nudy Show – Anna Tsuchiya”
Cosmetic – SID
Japanese Rock VS FPM
Yusuke – Mitsubachi
Poems like the Gun – Dad Mom God
Vandalize – Alice Nine
Nico Touches The Walls – Aurora
We”ve left the best to last. EXPLOSIONS!
Shichiten Hakki Shijou Shugi! – Kotoko
Keep on Smashing the Blue – Last Alliance
Sign in to Disobey – Isobe Masabumi
As you can see, these album covers are full of energy and give the visual feel of the music. They also cover a wide range of styles, mediums, angles and emotions. These covers show the strong relationship between visual elements and typography which is an important point to consider when designing. It also demonstrates how to make something look eastern which is helpful if your called upon to design for a client or project from a different cultural heritage to you. When designing, whether it be websites, logos or illustrations, the designer has one chance to encapsulate their message. Look through these images again and see for yourself how they capture the music they are designed for. Also look at their treatment of type, colours and line work.