One of the best things about the MAL Keionbu (as Smankh so affectionately nicknamed it) is the voyage of discovery that one gets by listening to a plethora of anime music that revolves around a common theme and delving, even if it’s just a little bit, into what we all love so much about the medium and the music that powers the emotions on screen. We’re no strangers to this week’s theme and from my standpoint, there’s no end to the number of stellar pieces that describe love, whether it’s the one shared between individuals, places, or ideals. So with lelangir leading the way on the blog front (and many others leading the way on the thread post front), here are my thoughts on the ten tracks nominated this week:
5 Centimeters Per Second – Sora to Umi no Shi
The piece starts out timidly and the soft piano melody gives me an image of someone acknowledging their feelings and in that moment, contemplating how to reveal them. As the piece continues, one can hear a certain amount of confidence settling in, indicating that they have an idea as to how to proceed and by the time you reach the climax at 1:01, the piece blooms wonderfully as it kicks into high gear with its expressiveness. The sort of emotional journey that this piece conveys along with “One More Time, One More Chance’s” heartbreaking poignancy, are what made 5 Centimeters Per Second such an unforgettable experience and it definitely makes for a strong track overall.
Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight – Seioh Gakuen Kouka
The imagery revolving around Manabi’s performance in the face of apathy is what makes this song particularly powerful and that pretty much lies in the presentation. It’s difficult to forget that moment as Manabi stood there like a beacon of light that pierced the cloak of apathy as she brought her emotions to bear and professed her love for Seioh. The way Yui Horie is able to impart Manabi’s feelings through the song is just spectacular. Everything about it flows naturally and convincingly, especially during the “ah ahhh seioh wo” moment that is nothing short of inspiring.
End of Evangelion – THANATOS ~if I can’t be yours~
I do like the blues lounge singing atmosphere but wow, the part around 1:57 really threw me for a loop and the only thought I was left with after that moment was how inconsistent this track is. I’ll pass on the weird chantings because they feel a bit too out of place and this track would have done better to remove them outright.
Rurouni Kenshin – Tsuiokuhen – In Memories “KO・TO・WA・RI”
This piece works wonders at complementing Rurouni Kenshin Tsuiokuhen’s grim atmosphere by mixing melancholy and tragedy together really well. The lonely vibe brings forth an image of the solitary swordsmen taking determined steps to overcome the obstacles in his path while reflecting upon his life choices. While my hazy memories do not allow me to recall whether he was reeling from his tragic relationship with Tomoe when this piece plays (it is pretty damn melancholic after all), this piece stands as a testament to Taku Iwasaki’s ability to bring out the strong emotions within that OVA. The amount of emotion it packs marks this one as my favorite piece this week, both in terms of its nostalgic value as well as its tragic beauty.
Bokura ga Ita – Fuan
Bokura ga Ita is subtle in its use of music and the pieces that I’ve listened to focus on creating that romantic atmosphere as well as the accompanying feelings like anxiety and comfort that arise from such a situation. Still, this piece is just a bit too subtle and while it does get better after each listen, in the field of strong picks that are available this week, this one just falls a bit outside the range of receiving any points.
ARIA the NATURAL – Itsuka Kita Michi
The Choro Club’s work on the Aria trilogy just manages to amaze me because I’ve yet to find any mediocre tracks in any of the three soundtracks. This piece in particular really fits the series’ serene mood and TheBigN’s writeup for this song in the nomination thread is spot-on when he says:
Though it can get schmaltzy at times, whenever I hear it, I think of Neo Venezia and Aqua in general. As the home planet is as much a character as the inhabitants that live on it (at least for the first two seasons), I’d to think that this is the “theme song” for the area. And I’d also like to think that this music goes though Akari’s head as she explores and enjoys her training to be an undine.
Beauty? Check. Serenity? Check. Love? Definitely! Hazukashii serifu kinshi!
Love Hina – Yakusoku
The nostalgia value that I derive from this track is really high since this was my introduction to the romance harem genre way back in the day and even after all this time, this song still has not lost its touch. Yui Horie delivers yet another strong, heartfelt performance that becomes even more poignant within the context of the anime. While it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that series, I can never forget this melancholy piece because its emotional impact is so strong. In light of some comments I’ve made about a recent single, this piece would be a wonderful example of a piece that can and has withstood the test of time.
Cowboy Bebop – Call Me Call Me
“Call Me Call Me” really does sound a bit too rough to fit in with my image of love and it’s also not quite as solid as some of the pieces we’ve heard so far, so I’ll be passing on this one.
Romeo X Juliet – Touch / Fureai
OK, I admit it, I’m a sucker for Sakimoto and have been since I first heard his music from Final Fantasy Tactics. Because of that, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I love this soundtrack to bits, especially when Sakimoto brings out the sweeping, epic, orchestral melodies such as this. “Touch” starts out quietly, but it builds up oh so wonderfully, giving me goosebumps as it progresses by adding instruments to that motive until the song comes to life around 1:44. Here, the various parts of the orchestra work well together to create the graceful melodic fabric that would serve as a lead-in into the clarion trumpet call at 2:13 where it makes way for a dazzling melody that leaves me in awe. It’s definitely one of the stronger pieces on the soundtrack and one that definitely earns points for this week.
Giniro no Kami no Agito – Ai no Melody
My experience with KOKIA isn’t as high as I’d like it to be, but between her performance in Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-’s OP and Red Garden’s last few tracks, my opinion of her has been positive. The way KOKIA performs this song is closer to the intonation she uses in Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-’s OP and it works pretty well in conveying her feelings towards the listener. For example, that wavering voice carries with it a sense of longing mixed in with serenity as she tries to reconcile her feelings in general. It should also be noted that there is a weird chanting bit that manages to succeed where “THANATOS’s” did not. Anyhow, this track has a certain sort lightness to it that carries strong, genuine emotions and makes it enjoyable through and through. The only regret I have is that I don’t have points to spare since this song is very deserving of a listen.
So there you have it! My point distribution can be found below. If I had a major gripe this week, it’s that the selections for the point distribution were really hard to make since many of the tracks were so enjoyable. Fortunately, that’s a good problem to have on one’s hands and I definitely look forwards to listening to people’s nominations for Week 3 where we’ll look into the theme of being “lost.”
(+2) Rurouni Kenshin – Tsuiokuhen – In Memories “KO・TO・WA・RI”
(+1) 5 Centimeters Per Second – Sora to Umi no Shi
(+1) Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight – Seioh Gakuen Kouka
(+1) ARIA the NATURAL – Itsuka Kita Michi
(+1) Romeo X Juliet – Touch