MindaRyn is a Thai YouTuber who has accumulated over 900,000 subscribers to her channel by posting videos of herself singing covers of Japanese anime songs. Fans in her homeland and other countries including Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the U.S. have viewed her performance videos approximately 60 million times to date.
The young singer — whose name is pronounced “My-da-rin” — grew up watching Japanese anime and gradually learned the J-pop songs being featured in these works. Aspiring to become an anime singer herself, she launched her own YouTube channel “MindaRyn _” upon entering university, steadily building a following as an anime song cover artist with her distinctively clear, high-pitched vocals.
The determined Thai artist has now made her longtime dream come true, officially becoming an actual J-pop anime singer with her new debut single called “Blue Rose Knows,” which serves as the ending theme for the TV anime series By the Grace of the Gods.
MindaRyn spoke with Billboard Japan’s Takanori Kuroda to elaborate on why she was drawn to Japanese anime culture, the difficulty and significance of singing anime songs in Thailand, and to share her excitement about making her anime singer debut in the Japanese market.
I hear you used to watch Japanese anime from a young age because of your father.
Yes, he was a big fan of [rock band] X Japan and loved Japanese anime and culture. Lots of Japanese anime is broadcast on TV in Thailand, so I used to watch programs such as Doraemon, Pokémon, and Digimon.
Japanese anime is fascinating, with a myriad of genres and stories. As I took in these programs, I naturally gained an appreciation of the songs that accompanied them. And now it’s even easier to access Japanese anime thanks to platforms such as Netflix, so it’s very convenient.
What do you think is the appeal of anime songs?
For example, when you listen to LiSA’s “Gurenge,” you recall the various scenes from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba along with the story being told in the song itself. I think anime songs have that kind of joy to them. My favorite anime songs tend to change by the moment, but recently I’ve been delving into Fullmetal Alchemist again on Netflix and rediscovering songs like Pornograffiti’s “Melissa” and YeLLOW Generation’s “Tobira No Mukou E” (“Beyond the Door”).
Did you have friends in Thailand who also liked Japanese anime and anime songs?
When I was a kid, my friends were all into K-pop, like Girls Generation and KARA. I met other people who liked anime songs after I launched my YouTube channel “MindaRyn _” and began uploading videos of myself singing them. People began encouraging me in the comments and I also began to interact with other YouTubers.
Why did you want to be a singer of anime songs?
When I started my YouTube channel, I did want to become a singer of anime songs, but didn’t think I could ever actually be one. But my current management company and [record label] Lantis reached out to me and gave me their support, letting me take lessons and such. So that allowed me to gradually change my dream into reality.
You have a strong, appealing voice that also has a transparent quality to it. How did you cultivate it?
I’m not sure how, but my voice appears to improve the more I sing. So I sing quite a lot before I record as well. I actually took vocal lessons for the first time after coming to Japan, and learned that my singing has lots of room for improvement. Over the course of my classes, my instructor coached me on the technical aspects of expression such as how to breathe.
The other thing was pronunciation (of the Japanese language). There are sounds such as “tsu,” “su,” and “zu” that don’t exist in my native Thai, so practicing how to differentiate them was difficult.
What’s the joy in singing anime songs?
Anime songs are popular all over the world, not just in Japan and Thailand, so it makes me really happy to connect with other people who also like anime, regardless of their nationality or gender or age. Half of my subscribers are Thai, the second largest chunk is from Indonesia, then Vietnam and Japan… people from many different countries tune in. I performed live in Indonesia once at a large anime event, and many people centering around teenagers were there.
Who are your favorite anime song singers?
I love LiSA and TRUE. I’m pretty sure I’ve covered LiSA’s songs the most. She’s so cute but has such a powerful voice. I had an opportunity to see LiSA perform live when the AFA (Anime Festival Asia) came to Thailand and her stage performance was so energetic I was blown away. I especially like “Gurenge,” which I mentioned earlier, and “Crossing Field” [the opener for the Aincrad arc of the Sword Art Online anime series].
You’ve recorded “Blue Rose Knows,” which was featured as the ending theme of the anime show By the Grace of the Gods, which started airing in October. What’s the song about?
The message in this number reflects the basic theme of the series, which is to listen to your heart and do what it tells you. This is something that links to me as well, so when I sang it, I tried to channel the song’s strength to deliver it in its entirety to listeners.
How does the song’s message link to you?
When I sang anime songs as a kid because I liked them, and when I launched my YouTube channel, a lot of people would often ask me things like, “Why do you sing anime songs?” and “What do you intend to do by singing J-pop songs?” As I said before, there weren’t too many people around me who knew about Japanese anime, so they didn’t understand why I was so into it.
But I didn’t let those voices bother me, because if you keep on doing what you want to do, then it will eventually come back to you, even if you aren’t getting any results at the moment.
Tell us about some of your other songs, “Start” and “Sincerely (English Version).”
“Start” is energetic in an upbeat, positive way, so I hope it becomes a number that people listen to to make a fresh start whenever they need courage when they’re feeling down.
“Sincerely” is a cover of one of TRUE’s songs. It was the opener of the anime show Violet Evergarden, which I also love, so I’m honored to be able to sing the English version. The original is a ballad, but my rendition is more rock-oriented. It has really lovely lyrics that will evoke scenes from Violet Evergarden.
Where do you see your career taking you in the future?
I want to sing songs of various genres, and I’d love to collaborate with many different artists. I’ll keep working hard to be able to stand on the same stage as my idols LiSA and TRUE someday, if possible. And I’d love to try my hand at voice acting in Japan, too. But I’ll have to work on my Japanese a lot more for that!