Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Anime Music Tournament Picks

The folks over at Anime Instrumentality are bringing together a contest pitting the great anime songs of all times against each other. You can see more details on the project's main site - .

The more the merrier, I say, so I thought I would use this opportunity to post my nomination picks and discuss some of my favorite anime OPs, EDs and inserts. With the theme of the tournament in mind, I paid little attention to the visual side of things this time around. That said, the reasons each song got on the list are still quite varied, as you will no doubt see below.

(Click on the titles for youtube links to the songs.)

There is no song in recent memory that had to carry as much a burden as Kibou ni Tsuite. It is still easy to write songs on freedom, artistic passion, adolescent dreams or the vast expanse of a future interplanetary civilization. What is difficult is twining all those themes together in a single musical feat of world-building and keeping the emotional flavor and balance of it all. Kibou ni Tsuite takes voice talent rooted in AKB48 and brings them out of their comfort zone into new and exciting territory. A make or break OP that brought it off perfectly.

Were I to make a list of the best opening sequences, Higurashi would be a strong contender for the top spot. How much less would the show have been if burdened by a piece more generic than this gateway to a land horror and beauty. Leave your sanity on the doorstep, for this is a different world.

Used to its utmost potential an ED or an OP is a sword, cutting deep and leaving scars that remain forever. And Magia was unleashed mercilessly, cleaving through the falsehood of its show only to reveal yet greater despair to come. Haunting and beautiful, yes, but cruel in its beauty - a proud representative of Yuki Kajiura on this list.

If you ask me for the best songs K-On has to offer, I would point you to No, Thank You, followed by Singing!. In short, Mio (Hikasa Youko) songs.

But then, U&I is less a song than a confession. It does things only an insert song can do. It takes Yui, the eternal airhead, and puts her face to face with her shortcomings. It fills me with pride for Yui, happiness for Ui. A piece that earns its greatness by being a integral part of a story, supporting it and finding supported in turn.

It was a long time before I gave the Shana franchise a fair chance. This was one of the things that convinced me.

The track I will forever remember as my introduction to Nana Mizuki. Not unlike the track above, this opening convinced me to give Nanoha a chance, and I regret nothing. Innocent Starter is also a beautiful reminder that even as there are beamspam battles and inhuman genetic experiments going on in the background, the first season of Nanoha is about a girl reaching out her hand to help another.



The "you've-made-Nanami-mad-now-pay-the-price" background music from Katanagatari. Of course, it was played in other scenes too, but that Ep. 7 clash remains forever imprinted in my mind.

The background choir gives this track a classic theater feel. One of the advantages of theater over recorded media is how it brings you close to the events playing out, sucking you in. But there is a terrifying element to that, as no matter how close up you are, you can only watch the events unfold, powerless to prevent the inevitable resolution



Rather than a favorite song, this is a hats-off to the entire musical side of the Yuru Yuri franchise - songs so thoroughly vapid as to become art. Even the typographical details of the lyrics were made with sugar-high schoolgirls in mind. But it is because of stuff like that that your defense is down by the time My Sweet Memory rolls around.



Come on, it's Katyusha. How many anime insert songs can you name that made half as much of a buzz as this one did? And it is an old classic outside the anime world, too.



There was one karaoke outing with my non-otaku Japanese friends where somebody felt like risking their dignity and chose a somewhat embarrassing song to perform. Before long, things started escalating with ever weirder song picks until things ended with half the room singing the above. Oh the memories xD.



If you thought great openings necessarily go along with great anime, think again.



Does this require any introduction? 2006 was the year when I first started watching up to date anime fansubs. Haruhi turned out to be a very, very good place to start with.



When you knew all good things,

all beautiful colors in the world,

yet knew nothing of the world.

Welcome back, to that time.

May I glomp the lyrics?



The full length TV version - people who have seen the show will know how that every detail of "how" this was sung is important - the overly long intro, the vocal switch etc. Every time you listen to this, you remember the goose-bumps of one of the best scenes in the anime.



There is some territory popular music will not dare tread upon, but anisongs are too wacko to care. (But it is a beautiful song about peace and understanding each other!) Had to pick between this and Happy New Nyaa.



You know how you are always bound to forget at least one favorite when nominating a lot of things? This fits the bill for me in terms of this tournament. By far one of my favorite ED themes. Where many EDs fail to contribute much to the series they represent, Strength spins a completely new, unnerving story. It shows a possible dark future where the main characters have failed in their quest, serving as a perfect balance for the more light-hearted elements of the show. Even without the anime connection, though, Strength is a really powerful piece.

Of course, there are many great tracks that I could not fit into my ballot. Which is why you should go and . Have a fun tourney~.
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