Reminiscing over the Decade’s Anime Music – 2002


Artist: Shachi Kamaboko

2002 brings in more shows that I’m now more familiar with, though the one thing to keep in mind is that I didn’t watch these shows in 2002. It was a time where I was transitioning into a new environment and all of the excitement and anxieties that come with doing such a thing. So I ended up putting off anime for a whole year until 2003 rekindled my interest in the medium once more with a spate of shows that proved to be pretty damn awesome. Well, you weren’t really here to read my life story, so I’ll spare you the details for another day when it might actually be relevant.

Note: Youtube videos are spoilered, clips contain the entire track, and with that, let’s go! God help us all if your connection can’t get these clips fast enough or this site experiences slowdowns. Be patient!

You could probably guess that my fanaticism for Taku Iwasaki was fervently in full swing as it carried over from 2002 and even further back since he has not yet disappointed in the slightest. After all, we’re still three years away from the atrocity that was Black Cat. So needless to say, his work on Getbackers and Witch Hunter Robin, was a continuation of his great run in form.

Of the two albums, Witch Hunter Robin is by far the more consistent as it juggles between the soft, mysterious-sounding stuff and action-y tracks. The main draw of WHR was, as you might expect the action when you have Robin, Amon and the rest of the crew at STN-J rushing in and engaging in combat. Of those, “Flame” gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it as I anticipate the battle that is to come. Though there’s not whole lot in the way of development, I’m willing to give it a pass because of how much I’ve come to associate it with the fight scenes in this series. I suspect that for me, part of the attraction is the way in which each stage of the fight feels deliberate as the melody and rhythm shifts around a bit at certain points.

Flame

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Of course, the other part of what made the soundtrack enjoyable is the theme of the eponymous character, “Robin.” In listening to it, you get a taste for both her earnest and gentle nature. There is a hint of mystery surrounding her, which I think this track captures well and it does make for one of the better character themes out there. Maybe it’s because of the nostalgia factor.

Robin

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The OP and ED also deserve mention because “Half Pain” and “Shell” are pretty damn awesome, and though I don’t listen to rock all that much, these two tracks see quite a bit of playtime still even after all these years. OK, well, only one is actually rock. The ED is more piano plus an aura of loneliness or something with a bit of longing thrown in for good measure. I like it.

Witch Hunter Robin OP & ED »

Shell

Half Pain

Getbackers is not as good as Witch Hunter Robin because it’s not as consistent, but it’s pretty hard not to like the damn thing. Here, Iwasaki employs a healthy dose of jazz to mix things up a bit, and the result is a soundtrack that’s really fun to listen to. The sheer amount of style it oozes out of every pore cannot be praised enough, especially in the main theme, which demands your attention right off the bat with its badass action that is all too fitting with the pulpiness that this series is just filled with. The show itself is decent up to a certain point since the writing quality does drop quite a bit, but the soundtrack, especially the first disc, is one that I’d highly recommend giving a shot.

Getbackers

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Full Metal Panic offers a different sort of action from what Getbackers provides, and its serious tones are fitting with Toshihiko Sahashi’s compositions. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Sahashi compose a bad soundtrack, and maybe that’s because I haven’t been looking hard enough. Either way what’s always impressed me is how well he handles the orchestra bits, and his work on FMP is certainly no exception to that. His militaristic themes are always consistent; they won’t necessarily wow you per se, but they are a notch above some of the action tracks that I’ve heard. “Plan 1056” shines particularly brightly because of the urgency that you get through the drum section.

Plan 1056

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The slice of life moments are also enjoyable with its mix of easy listening tracks, which goes to show how versatile of a composer Sahashi is (and it’ll be something that’s in full display in 2003, mark my words). And if you want an awesome homage, look no further. The infectious A-Team Theme can be found here, and its inclusion earns my unconditional praise.

Tokkou Yarou

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Ootani Kou’s name should be familiar to many a VGM fan since he was responsible for the epic tracks in Shadows of the Colossus, but the intensity of the giant battles are almost nowhere to be found on his score for Haibane Renmei. Haibane’s peaceful, soothing score delivers upon so well is the way it conveys the feeling of rusticana through tracks like “A New Plate’s Rondo” and the upbeat “Starting of the World.” The former’s harpsichord and flute work together really well to immerse you into the setting as you alight upon a world that is far simpler and more relaxed, though I imagine people looking for an energetic start to the day will strongly favor the latter since it has the rhythm and tempo to create a hustle-bustle atmosphere. If that was all there is to it, this album wouldn’t be so highly regarded. The emotional piano tracks that pop up on occasion draw out the feelings of pain and regret, delivering it poignantly so that you, too, empathize with the characters’ struggles.

A New Plate’s Rondo

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Starting of the World

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So yes, Haibane might not be a show that I can say anything intelligible about, but thankfully, I can describe my feelings about the soundtrack. Its blend of calm, serene fare and the sadness that it imbues is really wonderful. And lest I forget, the OP, “Free Bird,” deserves a mention for its ability to distill the setting in a nutshell.

Haibane Renmei – Free Bird »

Free Bird

Finally, we come to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. Back when I watched the original OVA, I wasn’t quite able to come to grips with it, but in Quiet Country Cafe, I was slowly drawn into its fading world. The soundtrack, played by the Choro Club (and Taku Iwasaki might have a composer’s role here, I’m not sure), is beautifully serene. Yes, I’m quite the sucker for soft, pretty music like this and Choro Club has never failed to impress. As good as their work is here, I really like their work on a certain franchise a whole lot more. Look forward to it!

Cafe Alpha – Main Theme Orchestration

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Yuunagi no Jidai

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Hall of (My) Shame:

There’s a lot of patching up that needs to be done here, unfortunately, and I guess if there’s a year that can be called the “Lost Year” in the realm of anime music for me, it’d have to be 2002 since I’m missing quite a few gems (that people should comment about if they like this stuff!). Twelve Kingdoms is bound to get a listen one of these days once I find the time to actually watch the series. Ryo Kunihiko’s work on this anime, of the little I’ve heard, is positively epic. In listening to the opening sequence, it’s easy to get one’s breath taken away by the scope of what the series seemingly offers. And seeing how much praise it gets from people’s Decades lists, this show is a matter of “when I’ll get to it” rather than “if I’ll get to it.”

Twelve Kingdoms – Junigenmukyou (full version)

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.hack//SIGN also came out that year, and its snail-like pacing undermined its interesting premise. Through this show, I was convinced that Yuki Kajiura would only stick to mediocre anime (this prediction would be proven resoundingly wrong, by the way) but the little music that I’ve heard from this series does garner a favorable impression. Rahxephon’s absence is another headscratcher since its OP, “Hemisphere,” has been so widely praised. I hear the score is pretty good too.

Rahxephon – Hemisphere »

Hemisphere

2002 also saw the release of Chobits, and aside from a very catchy OP, in “Let Me Be With You,” I haven’t watched it and cannot comment further beyond “what’s with Clamp adaptations and their catchy openings?”. Even more damning is the lack of Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack for Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex. This was the series that brought Origa to my attention through her excellent performance of “Inner Universe” that leaves me feeling floaty because of her ethereal voice. Given Kanno’s stellar reputation, this soundtrack definitely demands a listen, but like all that’s been afflicting me as of late, the lack of time means that it’s sitting on the backburner. Along with about 3 dozen other things vying for my attention simultaneously.

Chobits – Let Me Be With You »

Let Me Be With You

GitS: SAC – Inner Universe »

Inner Universe

Hmm… now that I look back upon this lengthy entry, 2002 was an impressive year music-wise, wasn’t it?

zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

23 thoughts on “Reminiscing over the Decade’s Anime Music – 2002

  • January 27, 2010 at 9:55 pm
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    Actually, I was a little bored by Witch Hunter Robin ost except for the theme ‘Robin’ but that was a long time ago. As for Haibane Renmei, I think it was a masterpiece :)

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  • January 28, 2010 at 3:15 am
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    I’m glad you had Witch Hunter Robin on there. That anime is one of my top 5 or 10 anime mostly because of the soundtrack.
    Robin is particularly nice and has often been on my playlist when I want something chill.
    Haibane Renmei and .hack//Sign are others that I completely agree with. Key of the Twilight is one I really enjoyed.

    Looking back, I think around early 2000s is probably the peak of my anime interest, especially in terms of anime soundtracks. Noir is around this time period too and that also has a lovely OST.

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  • January 28, 2010 at 7:30 am
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    yeah, 12 Kingdoms was and will remain one of my favorite fantasy titles, unfortunately they are not going to finish it….”Junigenmukyou” and all its variations really helped add to the different moods depicted.

    that’s not bad, that FMP OST, i’ll have to go take a listen. but the highlight of Toshihiko Sahashi’s for me will definitely have to be Simoun’s and Gunslinger Girl’s OST.

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  • January 28, 2010 at 9:53 am
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    i-ooo i-ooo “yeah”

    Don’t know why I like that song so much.

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  • January 28, 2010 at 11:47 am
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    @Canne
    Awww, I think that was when Iwasaki was still doing pretty well. He has a knack for being able to create that grim, mysterious atmosphere without sacrificing melody for ambiance like other composers. Oh well :p

    But yes, as much as I love the soundtrack to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, I’d have to give the award for best soundtrack to Haibane.

    @Yi
    Heh, I thought the writing sorta unraveled towards the end (though you could speculate on what happened I guess), but I enjoyed it for what it’s worth. .hack is something that I’ve been putting off because the anime bored me so much, so I just need to sit down one of these days to give it a go.

    And you’ve already peaked? I guess I have too, though it’d probably be mid-2000s for me. Not rabidly consuming anime like I used to.

    @mei
    Of course. Sahashi’s excellence is in Gunslinger Girl for sure. Can’t say about Simoun, though the one track I’ve heard so far has been really enjoyable.

    @Glo
    There’s never a bad reason to listen to Round Table feat. Nino!

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  • January 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm
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    Damn there were some amazing soundtracks that year. Iwasaki in full flight, the amazing Haibane Renmei soundtrack, an excellent soundtrack from Kanno for RahXephon, etc, etc.

    “There’s never a bad reason to listen to Round Table feat. Nino!”
    QFT.

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  • January 28, 2010 at 8:16 pm
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    Ah, thanks for sharing as usual. I saw Witch Hunter Robin in the past, but have no recollection of “Flame” at all. Epic song that will be listened to more.

    Twelve Kingdoms is a must watch. I disregarded it at first after I read the summary, but finally got around to watching it after a friend highly recommended it. That’s an epic song as well.

    Too much epicness. GiTS SAC too.

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  • January 29, 2010 at 12:52 am
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    @Sorrow-kun
    Only the OP was composed by Kanno. Everything else was done by Ichiko Hashimoto. And yeah, after listening to Groovin’ Magic, there’s no way I’ll turn down a Nino song if it gets passed my way :p

    @Reltair
    Adding to the chorus of voices who are telling me to get to 12 Kingdoms. The DVDs sit on my shelf with a sad face since they’re still waiting for me to get to it.

    “Flame,” somehow jumped out at me when I watched it way back when. I dunno, maybe I’m just strange like that.

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  • January 29, 2010 at 11:43 pm
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    I share the opinion 2002 still is the definitive Iwasaki year in my opinion for his Getbackers and WH Robin OSTs (and YKK orchestral arranges). Electric Shock from the Getbackers OST and Flame, these two tracks especially get my approval for the dark sense of urgency that he puts in the cold-rage-y action sequences of those shows.

    As for Sahashi, while his FMP action/foreboding pieces are a lot of fun, his standout work that year remains to be Gundam SEED for me, since well, I don’t really like Sahashi’s brand of comedy and SoL tracks and all his loud brass and strings get to show themselves off unbridled.

    Haibane Renmei score <3, though I'm hard-pressed to recall much of it besides Free Bird. Gonna need a relisten.

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  • January 30, 2010 at 2:04 pm
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    @Ottocycle
    Ahh… so Iwasaki was in charge of just the orchestral arranging for YKK? That’s good to know and to have cleared up.

    Oddly enough, I haven’t gotten around to touching Gundam SEED aside from listening to the awesome orchestral rendition put forth by the London Philharmonic. Holy crap, was I blown away by the music. Quite impressed with that work overall.

    And pleasant Haibane music is pleasant. :3

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  • January 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm
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    Flame stood out to me as my favorite track in the Robin album, with Robin coming second. There’s something about the energy in the Flame track.

    Yoshihisa Hirano’s work with Harukanaru Toki no Naka De in 2002 should be checked out 😛

    All of my impressions are based entirely on the music apart from the anime, since I lack the time to watch the stuff.

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  • January 31, 2010 at 12:16 am
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    @Yu
    Yoshihisa Hirano… now there’s a name you don’t hear too often. If you happen to see my reply, I’m curious to know what kind of style he uses in Harukanaru Toki no Naka De. I have been impressed with his work on Ouran and Real Drive and if he sticks to the classical style that he’s established with the aforementioned, it’ll be worth taking a look at for sure!

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  • January 31, 2010 at 8:05 am
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    Yes, he does keep a classical style. The album also has a mix of some traditional tracks. Granted, the album does begin to get repetitive, but it’s worth a listen.

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  • February 1, 2010 at 2:08 am
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    @Yu
    Sounds good. That repetitiveness is something I sort of noticed on Real Drive as well, but Hirano is one of the better composers out there when it comes to making that orchestra work for him.

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  • February 2, 2010 at 11:42 am
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    Don’t forget that Twelve Kingdoms music includes two extra albums besides the OST, Single and the Image album, ‘Kokyu Memories’ and ‘Piano Memories’. The latter is one of my all time favourites, the ‘Juuni Genmu Kyoku’ and ‘Shihouka’ arrangements being extra dear to me.

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  • February 2, 2010 at 1:54 pm
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    @signorRossi
    Hey, I hadn’t realized that and I guess now that you’ve made me aware of it, it’s not altogether too surprising since Kunihiko does have a penchant for releasing piano arrangements of his own work. One of these days, I swear I’ll get around to watching the series, listening to the soundtracks, and the arrange albums. A show of that caliber definitely deserves that attention!

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  • February 4, 2010 at 2:59 am
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    I recently came across your blog because of Red Garden, for which I was browsing the Web for info after I bought the manga. I was instantly blown away by that soundtrack!

    I am quite familiar with 2002, as I have watched all of the anime mentioned above, with exception to Chobits, I only read the manga. The music is great!! I especially love Haibane Renmei for all its mystery and deep philosophy. Free Bird has been in my MP3 music list ever since I first watched the anime.

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  • February 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm
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    @cj
    Thanks for dropping by! The Red Garden soundtrack really is fantastic isn’t it? Hope you get around to giving that show a chance (if you haven’t done so already) since it’s a fantastic watch as well.

    Haibane’s soundtrack was the first work of Ko Ootani that I’ve listened to and I think he captures that mystery and the setting perfectly. It’s always been one of my favorite series even if it’s hard for me to articulate why I enjoy it so much.

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  • February 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm
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    I don’t know if you would count Gundam SEED in 2002 or 2003 but the music from that series has to be up there among all the Gundam series.

    Me, being a UC’er, was really disappointed with SEED but if there was one redeeming quality about the series it would be its music. I kinda expected that it would have some great music since I heard that the composer who did the music also did the music for Big O.

    I still listen to a lot of the music from SEED and it’s a shame that the actual show does not live up to the quality that the music puts out.

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  • February 17, 2010 at 1:45 am
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    @amuroray2000
    Agreed that SEED was an utterly terrible show filled with too much of the angst and that the only good thing to come out of it was in listening to the music. And if you’ve heard the symphonic arrangements, then that’s even better! Those were some really epic pieces and Sahashi shows his strength like he did in Gunslinger Girl, Full Metal Panic, and Big O.

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  • May 22, 2010 at 6:51 am
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    Just found this series of review (from browsing via aniblog tourney tthat’s going on at the moment) and it is definitely a nice recap of the music in this year:) Haibane Renmei’s soundtrack is definitely up there among my favourites of all time (Ailes Grises is just so good) and you definitely have to check out Twelve Kingdoms! I don’t remember too much about the music but the anime itself is beyond awesome:) However, no Azumanga Daioh? I love the carefree and happy tune in that. Who can forget Sora Mimi Cake once they have heard and seen the accompanying OP of it!

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  • May 22, 2010 at 9:41 pm
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    @aquabluesweater
    Good to see new readers around!

    12 Kingdoms is one of those things that’s just stuck in the rut for me and once I overcome the inertia, I think it’ll be very much to my liking. As is, the DVDs are sitting on the shelf, waiting for me to get to it so maaaybe once we’re due for a slow season, that’s what I’ll tackle.

    Haha, who can forget Azumanga Daioh? It’s one of those shows I found to be charming though the music doesn’t work as well without the context and if you can imagine what’s going on when a piece is played, it’s far stronger. Sora Mimi Cake if good for its whimsical feel though so yeah, that was an omission on my part =p

    Reply
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