As of this blog post for this week’s anime music selections, there are less than 4 hours left before I close things up and prepare for week 5’s stuff.
Anyhow, this week’s theme focuses on legendary anime pieces and we’ve got a pretty decent set with plenty of variety ranging from the expected militaristic fanfares and majestic tracks to ROCKIN’ songs as well as songs infused with a Spanish/Latin flavor. The quality of the selections made it difficult to assign the points, but in the end, four tracks managed to get my favorable nod while the rest fell into the Honorable Mentions category. And with that, here are the tracks from this most legendary week:
Twelve Kingdoms – Junigenmukyou (full version)
From the beginning, this track has an aura of mystery about it, as though it were depicting a world nestled away from the ravages of time. That atmosphere describes what I know of Twelve Kingdom’s setting really well, and it’s beautiful in that regard. Once the drumming section begins in 1:06, you begin to get a feel for the scope of this war-torn story, with its heroics and tragedies, bringing forth a sense of danger before leveling off into a sort of eerie tranquility which projects an image of the battlefield after a battle. The track’s depiction of the dichotomy between court life and the soldier’s life gives a complete picture of the political dealings of the bygone era, but it’s not over yet since the piece has one final surprise with the segue from the calm, courtly scene into a heroic, rallying battle-cry as you can feel the kingdom mobilize in an inspiring energy-filled melody. (+1)
Code Geass – Black Knights
The Spanish/Latin rhythm makes for a wonderful effect, especially when combined with the male choral part to yield a piece that’s filled with a certain grimness and works to bring out the seriousness of the overarching plot as well as the intensity of the action-y moments. While this track doesn’t get points this week, it does serve as an enjoyable change of pace amongst the tracks nominated this week as a result of this unique mixture.
Gigantic Formula – Main theme v.0
The fanfare in the beginning feels like a sunrise as it bursts forth in a showy display of brilliance. It’s not often that the hairs on the back of my neck raise up, but the introduction manages to achieve that like none other. The melody and the harmony complement each other so well in this majestic piece and I love the way the piece moves between the loud/majestic sections and the softer interludes that it’s difficult for me to feel bored listening to this. Awesome from start to finish and the images it instilled in my mind moved me to tears. OK, so I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff, but it’s definitely worth a listen. (+2)
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – “Libera me” From Hell
The opera part kinda fools you in the beginning into expecting some sort of brilliance like the Queen of the Night’s song in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, but that expectation is dashed once the rap part makes its entry. From what I’ve heard about TTGL (yes, I have not seen this series. BLASPHEMY!!!), I can see how it meshes really well with the themes it espouses. As for the music though, I have difficulty enjoying the opera singer’s performance since the part starting around 1:23 feels cacophonous and directionless even though (oddly enough) I found the rap part to mesh well with the instrumentals. At least it does its job in bringing out the epic side of things and had I seen the series, I think I’d be able to appreciate this track a lot more. As it stands though, the track is decent even if I wouldn’t elevate it to “amazing” status.
Heroic Age – Heroic Age
Even though this stands out as yet another majestic track, I can’t seem to be able to get enough of them. This piece’s puts in my mind an aerial view of a nice, quiet, beautiful valley just before dawn as the glider you’re riding upon flies into the heart of this amazing view, instilling you with a sense of serenity, as though to show the vastness and beauty that the world offers. The mood then changes and the sheer regality comes fully into being with the crescendo around 1:30 followed by a fanfare around the 2:00. There, the totality of its majesty comes into being, and one cannot help but look at in awe as it brings out that sense of sanctity, duty, and destiny. Naoki Sato deserves props for conveying that epic journey/view/whatever it’s describing. (+2)
Berserk – BEHILIT
Yes, this one is different and I wouldn’t call this legendary as much as lost… or maybe that’s because the track gives me the feeling I might get if I were in an untamed jungle where danger might lurk around any corner. You can sort of hear this from the harmony, which has an affect of creating tension through its tempo and repetitive nature. It’s a nice change of pace though, but not point-worthy in light of some of the better selections.
FLCL – I Think I Can
This particular piece actually sounds pretty good with all the awesome guitar work going in the background to provide an interesting backdrop to the vocals with all its grooviness while going through the verses. However, my rating on this piece plummets around 0:41 when the words “I think I can” are being sung in the chorus section. Those lyrics are just too cheesy for my tastes because it puts the image of The Little Engine That Could into my mind and I can’t divorce those intertwining thoughts from each other, turning a ROCKIN’ song into one that’s silly. If you wanted an example of a piece that could be ruined by just one section, “I think I can’s” chorus section would be a great example of that.
Read or Die OVA – Bring all the wisdom to Great Britain!
And yet… this piece also brings forth a bit of cheese, but it’s an enjoyable sort of cheese if you keep the backdrop of the series in mind since the concept of the British Library being in control of Britain’s super secret spy squad makes for an entertaining plot. The militaristic music is over-the-top, but I wouldn’t have it any other way and it makes for an enjoyable listen as you imagine the troops assembling to perform the task hinted at in the piece’s title through their objective of preventing powerful books from falling into the wrong hands.
Princess Mononoke – Legend of Ashitaka
I really love this piece and it’s probably one of the first soundtracks that caught my attention way back in the infancy of my anime experience. It captures the essence of the movie really well, starting off with the grim opening that paints Ashitaka as a man on a mission to cure his disease and in doing so, setting the epic journey into its proper perspective. It’s subtle, but emotionally stirring and it will always stand out as one of Hisaishi’s better pieces.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack – Segment III: Sally
“Sally” feels grim and brooding with a hint of impatience, conveying the atmosphere and emotions that people feel right before a battle is about to commence. The air is thick with anticipation and both sides seem to be eager to rush forth and engage the opposition and with that crescendo, the piece moves into a rallying cry of sorts. At this point, you can feel the intensity of the battle as both sides send their troops forth (or “sallying,” if you will 😉 ) with cries for heroism and valor. Another strong piece that edges out the preceding one based on the novelty factor. (+1)
So there you have it! My point distribution can be found below. Week 5’s theme will be based on pop vocals, so if you want to get a head start, feel free to start digging into that week’s selections. A voting thread will be created once I compile all the music together, but I look forwards to giving them a listen! And I also hope to see some new faces turn up!
(+2) Gigantic Formula – Main theme v.0
(+2) Heroic Age – Heroic Age
(+1) Twelve Kingdoms – Junigenmukyou (full version)
(+1) Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack – Segment III: Sally