Why yes, I have been quite busy as of late.
Anyhow, it was nice getting that chance to look really deep into the shows that aired in 2000 since delving to those lengths is a luxury from here on out, mostly because of how my interest in the medium grew somewhat around this time period. I say somewhat because there was a bit of a lull from 2001 and 2002, but that is a story for another day.
But with the focus on 2001, I can say that I saw a lot of enjoyable shows surface and some not-so enjoyable shows that nevertheless had some pretty awesome music.
Disclaimer: I unfortunately have not been able to solve the problem on how to turn myself into a being who no longer requires sustenance or sleep, both of which cut into my being able to watch copious amounts of anime and listen to all of their soundtracks. As such, it will be a given that I will not be able to touch upon all of them in this series. If a particular show that came out during the year highlighted did not receive a mention and you believe that it merits one because of its soundtrack, feel free to note that in the comments section. Being the soundtrack freak I am, I will add it to the list of stuff I should listen to. After all, if I can sit through Lingerie Soldier Papillon Rose’s soundtrack, I figure I can stomach anything you can throw my way.
Youtube videos are spoilered, clips contain the entire track, and with that, let’s go!
The Read or Die OVA gave me a lot of things that I found to be awesome. The production values were superb, the animation was crisp, the plot wasn’t something I had seen before, and, of course, the music was fantastic. The soundtrack oozed that cool vibe with its blend of jazz, electronica, and orchestral music into one enjoyable package that has had a remarkable amount of staying power. Even now, when I need a bit of energy and inspiration, I’ll turn to tracks like the glorious-sounding “Bring all the wisdom to Great Britain!” and the “Read or Die Theme” with its groovy, jazzy flavor that reminds me of those 1970s spy flicks.
Bring all the wisdom to Great Britain!
So yes, the R.O.D. OVA OST cements Taku Iwasaki as one of the most consistent anime composers in my book (at that point). And as if his reputation needed any further bolstering, he also goes on to compose music for the Kenshin Seisouhen OVA which is utterly fantastic.
Anyone who has listened to his work on the Kenshin Tsuiokuhen knows that it’s a dark, brooding soundtrack that is wonderful to behold and I’d go as far as to say that it is probably his best work of all time!
ALL TIME!!! Nevertheless, this followup manages to meet the expectations that the Tsuiokuhen OVA sets in terms of musical quality. To say that I love the orchestral pieces in Seisouhen is an understatement. Even though the Seisouhen OVA is a bit underwhelming at times, the music helps save it with awesome warrior-esque themes like “Heart of Sunrise” (now on a MALKeionbu Companion CD near you!) and the badass “The Duel in the Name of Love” which depicts the ebb and flow of a fight perfectly in the way it handles the intensity.
The Duel in the Name of Love
It’s not hard to see why an orchestral fiend like myself enjoys this sort of stuff so much.
Moving on, we come no Noir. Though it’s not quite as badass as Iwasaki’s work on Kenshin Seisouhen, Kajiura’s first notable soundtrack managed to grab anime viewers’ attention with its use of vocals, fast-paced action tracks, and the slower, more introspective works. The amazing thing about all this is that Kajiura’s only improved with time and I’ve been very impressed by her advancement. It shows that when I give Noir a listen, I find it a bit lackluster compared to the music she’s putting out nowadays.
Still, you’ll have pieces that will remain classics no matter what. The action-oriented tracks are what really rule the day here, especially with the awe-inspiring “Salva Nos” which sounds like some divine entity delivering that bolt of judgement on all the sinners out there through the soaring vocals. It’s an amazing piece no doubt, one that’s practically unforgettable, especially if you’ve seen the show itself.
Angelic Layer also has some action-oriented moments given its plot revolving around a girl who competes in a doll battle arena tournament, but I don’t find the battle themes to be quite as riveting as the slice of life/character theme components. Kouhei Tanaka sculpts a very pleasing soundtrack overall though, and while some of the tension-filled themes can get a bit repetitive with its ominous rhythms (sort of like how Saki’s can get a bit wearisome), the light-hearted moments and the graceful melodies are the tracks that make this album a good choice for those pick-me-up moments.
Speaking of light-hearted feel-good anime, Fruits Basket also came out in 2001. The soundtrack never struck me as being a memorable affair, but this anime does give us the poignant “For Fruits Basket” theme song which, for many anisong fans, carries a special weight because it’s hard not to think of Ritsuko Okazaki when one listens to it. Rest in peace, wherever you may be.
Finally, we also got two movies that are worth mentioning. Spirited Away is the better-known of the two and here, Joe Hisaishi once again leaves us in awe with his ability to compose a soundtrack that draws us into the movie’s setting. The music is light for the most part and there’s a dab of melancholy that permeates many of the pieces depicting Chihiro’s journey and growth as she goes from place to place, seeking out her parents while coming to terms with the changes in her life. Although tracks like “One Summer Day” is memorable, as it turns out, a lot of people like “The Sixth Station” much more (myself included).
One Summer Day
The Sixth Station
Princess Arete would be the other movie, and the only reason why I even watched this movie at all was due to Akira Senju’s compositions. While the movie left me wanting at times because it falls short of its potential, there’s no denying that the music leaves a very strong impression. The pieces in this movie are comparable to the music in Spice and Wolf in its incorporation of medieval/Renaissance themes. However, the piece that stands out the most here is the piece that introduces the anime, “Kiniro no Tsubasa.” Sung by Taeko Onuki, its melody caused me to melt in my seat, leaving me in a state of bliss the first time I heard it, reinforcing Akira Senju’s position as one of my favorite anime music composers.
Kiniro no Tsubasa
Despite all that, there are a few notables that I left out that’s worth chastising me for. I have seen Millennium Actress and I’m sure it certainly deserves a mention if I ever get around to giving that album a go. Earth Maiden Arjuna also has some good music, but again, I haven’t seen the series or listened to the music enough to give an informed judgment. Finally, for all that one Kokoro Library track did to leave me impressed, I still haven’t gotten around to giving that soundtrack its time to shine even though it’s packed with piano melodies which is normally a sure winner with me.
Anyhow, as I mentioned, I’ve been busy as of late, but I’ll hopefully have a few news tidbits to toss around in the next few days.