For more than a year, I’ve been getting HearJapan newsletters and press releases in my mailbox. I have no idea how they got hold of my details or why they even link to new releases on my Last.fm profile when I’ve never even bought anything from their site but even odder is how I just keep hold of the mails (even if I don’t read them).

Other services would’ve gotten a huge middle finger from me straightaway, but I do respect how HearJapan appears to get a ton of obscure shit in that makes it infinitely easier for gaijin fans to access stuff without paying massive shipping fees. Obviously it’s not obscure enough for me since attempts to root out music by Gentouki, Andmarkher and Youmou to Ohana were failures, but I thought I should probably try to give the service a go. Even if I don’t really buy Japanese music on anything other than CD format really (the only digital album I ever bought was The Miceteeth’s Constant Music 2 on iTunes). And only if I find anything I actually want to buy in the first place!

Browsing through the site’s library, I was amused to see things like Ohashi Ayuru (small-time seiyuu)’s debut single and MOSAIC.WAV’s genderbending Otoko no Ko no Tobira listed, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to buy any anisong-related stuff, nuh-uh. So here’s what I spent my credit on:

1.BLASH’s Boku to Hanauta to Planetarium (no I had no idea who they were, bought it after listening to the samples)
2.Hiroki Yumiko to Zutans’s Bokutachi no Natsu (limited edition single, only avaibable in Circle K kombini in Shizuoka)

The great thing about HearJapan was of course, the ease and speed at which you can get stuff - it only took 10 minutes for me to get registered, buy some credit using my Paypal account and download both releases. Simple and clean.

Having said that, I do prefer the feel of a physical CD in my hands - even if HJ allows you up to 3 downloads of each track you’ve purchased, I never really feel like I ‘own’ something when it’s just a digital thing. That’s why I held back on buying Uryu Akiha and HARCO albums even though I really wanted them. Still, the site is still pretty good for discovering new stuff (there’s samples for everything) and for getting hold of those hard-to-find weirdo releases ie that Zutans song.

Would definitely recommend HearJapan over the retardedly bloated iTunes (I just refuse to download the friggin’ thing), though my not being in the US means I’m not able to try out an alternative like eMusic.

And oh yeah, loving those songs I bought too. BLASH are pretty good - very well-written and polished despite their indie status.

Today’s humming song: good friends by BUMP OF CHICKEN