), is a style of novelty
music that consists of incredibly cute female vocals
(usually electronically altered), nonsensical lyrics
(buki buki payo), and instrumentals that will make you want to slam your head into a wall repeatedly. Seemingly innocent, like childrens' songs, its true origins are anything but. These tunes of incredible cuteness were actually spawned by the japanese porn
industry, designed to appeal to lonely otaku
, and of course, convince them to buy their hentai dating sims1
. Companies have been known to promote their dempa
more than the actual game, because sometimes a potential customer's weakness for moe2
often proves to be easier to exploit than his libido
. Because of this, more and more companies seem to include dempa in their marketing campaign for H-games
, whether or not it is relevant to the actual content of their game. For instance, you could have a sweet song sung in an 8 year old girl's voice about how great summer is when the actual point of the game involves sexing up cat-eared maid robots and violating them with kitchen utensils. Sometimes the lyrics are so vile that they would make the most hardened sailor blush, but are sung in such a cute and innocent way that if you didn't understand Japanese
you'd never guess the incredibly dirty things being said. When I say this, I mean it. If you dare, get a close friend who happens to understand a bit of Japanese to translate a few songs out loud. It will be great fun watching them squirm in awkwardness/horror when they suddenly stop mid-sentence after realizing they are describing situations involving incest
in great and specific detail.
Dempa's growth and popularization is largely attributed to the 2ch BBS, Japan's largest internet community. A small but fanatical group of fans made an attempt to spread their interest. Under the protection of anonymity, more and more curious 2ch'ers sampled the music and appreciation for dempa grew. Eventually, a catalogue which listed all the dempa that could be found was created with info about the songs, links to the source (usually the game's website had the songs available for download), and a cuteness rating. The catalogue has since expanded to include tributes to the greatest dempa performers, a hall of fame, and other interesting features. In 2003, a translated mirror of that catalogue was put up on world2ch3.
Recently, dempa has taken off considerably and has grown so popular among the younger crowd that it is no longer commissioned solely by H-game manufacturers, but it is unfortunately still associated with such. As much as I'd like to see dempa become mainstream, realistically speaking, it will always be a guilty pleasure to most people; admitting to enjoying this genre of music will usually result in being branded as a weirdo or a loliphile by your more normal peers. Keep in mind, dempa is not for everyone, and few are ever neutral about its quality and worth as music. By the time you have known dempa well enough, you will either be so disgusted by it that you will hate the mere thought of the word, or you will find yourself totally immersed in it, looping Princess Bride over and over and singing along (when no one is looking of course).
Some More Notes about Dempa
Dempa singers KOTOKO and Momoi Haruko are currently the most well known. Nearly all of KOTOKO's songs are ranked extremely high up in the dempa hall of fame.
Sakuranbo Kiss, by KOTOKO, is considered the absolute cutest dempa song of all time. If you're looking for a good place to start exploring this type of music, this song would be your best bet.
The dempa catalogue still exists, and is updated regularly at: http://sound.jp/dempa_song/
The english mirror of that website, with significantly fewer updates, is located at:http://world2ch.net/dempa/
1Dating sims: These happen to be pretty profitable in Japan.
2Moe: A japanese term for "cute" that's somewhat hard to define. It's a different kind of cute than "kawaii"; I suppose the best way to describe it is to say it's uh...seductively cute? This term is rarely used outside of anime context.
3world2ch: An english version of 2ch that no longer exists due to several reasons, mostly because of incompetent administration.