Influenced by ELP and 1970s Italian progressive groups such as Goblin and Il Balletto di Bronzo, ArsNova was formed in 1983 by keyboardist and composer Kyoko Kanazawa (bass), Yumiko Saito (drums), and Keiko Tsubata (keyboard), who met at a university in Tokyo. In 1985, Tsubata left and was replaced by Keiko Kumagai. Kumagai left to get married not long after, and the band broke up.
Reforming in the early '90s at the instigation of Made in Japan producer, Numero Ueno, the all-female group produced Fear and Anxiety in 1992, which was acclaimed for its strong classical sound. After Saito left, Akiko Takahashi (drums, violin) joined the group in time for Transi, which was released in 1994 and sold reasonably well in Europe and Japan. The Goddess of Darkness followed in 1996. 1998 saw the release of Reu Nu Pert Em Hru, which was based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Without a bassist for the album, Ken Ishita was featured as a guest. Mika Nakajima made the group a trio again in 1999, playing keyboards and violin in addition to performing as vocalist. She appeared on the group's album with Gerald (1999), Keyboard Triangle, a tribute album to progressive rock. The group's next album, Android Domina, was released in 2001. By that point, ArsNova were among the most respected groups in their field.