Reminiscing over the Decade’s Anime Music – 2004

In looking at a list of shows and movies released in 2004, the one thing that I notice is the huge gulf in the quantity of shows released during 2004 versus 2003. When I look at such lists, it becomes a constant reminder of what great shows I’ve missed out on. For instance, 2004 was a year that saw the airing of titles like BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad, Elfen Lied, and Paranoia Agent and I have yet to see any of those. Perhaps time will be kind enough for me to go back to give these shows a fair shot, but at this stage in my life, that’s not exactly an option.

So what of the shows that I did see? It’s so huge a list that to cover them all requires me to spend days happily rolling a soundtrack and taking in every note and chord that comes my way and describe it in elaborate detail. In short, it’s not practical, so I’ll keep it as short as I can and leave it to you readers to reminisce and explore these soundtracks on your own.

Note: Once again, youtube videos are spoilered, clips contain the entire track, and with that, let’s go!

It’s really hard for me to believe that Mai-HiME came out in 2004 since it’s always seemed like only yesterday that I watched the action and drama unfold. Maybe a part of that is because how often I give Yuki Kajiura’s score a listen and how tracks like “Ensei ~Omou Kokoro~” are always going to impress me in the way it weaves a mix of mystery and beauty while tracks like “Gakuten-Ou Kenzan!” never skimps out on the action. The soundtrack covers its bases pretty well, and it’s not a surprise that of Kajiura’s soundtracks, this gets the most listens from me.

Ensei ~Omou Kokoro~

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In contrast to Mai-HiME, Fafner in the Azure might have had action, but it left me utterly bored. The effect that this had was that I ended up paying a whole lot of attention to the soundtrack because it was that good. I really marveled at Tsuneyoshi Saito’s compositions because his orchestral melodies that bordered on the epic while retaining a sense of the melancholy. While the orchestral bit is usually enough to win me over, he also puts in a piano concerto in “-SHOKO-,” which elevates the soundtrack further. I just love the way “-SHOKO-” brings out the depths of despair as we are constantly reminded of the tragedy. Also, you won’t find any atmospheric pieces as this soundtrack brings a really strong focus on the melody which is something I can definitely appreciate.

-SHOKO-

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We depart from the action-oriented shows and get into the taboo love that characterizes Koi Kaze. Not only were they able to bring out a really mature story given the setup they had, the soundtrack was also a blast with Takumi Masanori and Makoto Yoshimori at the helm. I’m particularly won over by the former’s piano tracks through with stuff like the “Main Theme” catching my attention really well. Maybe that’s just because I’ve really enjoyed it after listening to it on loop in the DVD’s menu. The general atmosphere is emotionally rich, yet restrained which reflects the taboo-laden nature of the relationship between the two siblings.

Main Theme

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Since we’re pretty heavy on the themes of love, Tenmon’s soundtrack for Beyond the Clouds: The Place Promised in our Early Days is always worth a listen. There might be quite a few similarities across Tenmon’s works, but this consistency allows us to compare how he depicts his love themes. “Beyond the Clouds” might start a bit heavily, but as the piece progresses, it sure does an excellent job of bringing those heartfelt loving feelings to the surface.

Beyond the Clouds – The Promised Place

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Finally, we come to Rozen Maiden, which features a good mix of violin, piano, harpsichord, and other instruments scattered about the album which works together to match the show’s setup. In a way, this show requires the mix that you get from a show like Mai-HiME; that is, you need many different kinds of themes to capture both the serious and the whimsical moments that the show serves up. For the most part, Shinkichi Mitsumune succeeds in delivering them unto us.

Bright Red

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It ain’t over yet though. This list is already getting too long and is sorely in need of a page 2 where I’ve cobbled a list of OPs (and an ED) that I found to be worth my while. They might be worth yours too.

On to Page 2

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.

0 thoughts on “Reminiscing over the Decade’s Anime Music – 2004

  • March 3, 2010 at 8:16 pm
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    I listen to a lot of stuff from 2004…more than I expected anyways. So it seems familiar and all…

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  • March 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm
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    Many of the songs chosen for 2004 seem to have a slower pace with instrumentals being used. The general atmosphere seems to be dark/foreboding/mysterious. This is just the type of music I’m in the mood for tonight.

    It has been six years already since Beyond the Clouds? I’m feel like I’m getting old.

    Reply
  • March 3, 2010 at 10:07 pm
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    i was happy in 2004, especially with the Fafner’s OST. I very seldom watch mecha, but the OST was just a notch above everything else. I still have it in my permanent playlist on the PC/phone. You are right, “shoko” was just apt in bringing across the hopelessness of the situation she was in..i was just touched.

    And Tsuneyoshi-san went to top himself with Fafner’s prequel “Right of Left” and the equally wonderful Dennou Coil OSTs. Funnily enough it’s the melancholic pieces that are the biggest draw for me.

    Wonder if he’ll be doing the OST for the Fafner’s Heaven and Earth movie.

    Kajiura’s work for Mai Hime was to me, her high point, since i’ve been measuring all her subsequent works against this and nothing seems to be able to match up.

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 12:46 am
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    The School Rumble OP is awesome. Fits the show perfectly. The music video disturbed me though. It was the first time I was exposed to the idea that an adult woman acting like a 3-year-old kid was supposed to be cute.

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  • March 4, 2010 at 2:22 am
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    @omo
    Didn’t miss anything… I hope.

    @Reltair
    I think that has a lot to do with my general preferences in that I tend to go for darker, more melancholy themes in soundtracks since those just seem to have a bigger emotional effect. Glad to know it suits the atmosphere you’re looking for!

    And you young uns need to stop commenting about age :p

    @mei
    Tsuneyoshi’s efforts on the movie top even the Fafner TV series stuff? Guess that means I owe the movie soundtrack a listen since I loved the TV’s OST to bits!

    As for Kajiura topping Mai-HiME, I have to say that her work on Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles might not surpass Mai-HiME, but I’d like to think that it comes close. At least, Tsubasa is my second favorite Kajiura anime album after HiME.

    @Baka-Raptor
    I personally lost all hope for Japan’s ability to churn out a decent music video after watching that and a variety of other videos featuring different anisong artists. The song was pretty good though…

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 2:50 am
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    Just checked it up, and you’re right about the AliPro composer (Katakura Mikiya) doing the MariMite OP, and of course he goes on to do the entire soundtrack as well. Funny how his name hasn’t popped up in recent times.

    Also, given context of Elfen Lied and Monster, both make my hairs stand in the creepy manner. =)

    Sahashi had two major works in ’04 in my opinion, one being the aforementioned Gundam Seed Destiny, and the other being the oft-overlooked Zipang. In GSD Sahashi basically pulls out all the stops in bombast and manages to simply outmuscle the previous installment (Gundam Seed). IMO Zipang’s soundtrack shows a bit of finesse in similar themes as GSD, and is worth a listen. Fortunately, he balances out the two aspects a little more in FMP2’s soundtrack which hopefully would feature in your next column.

    This period simply wasn’t Iwasaki’s time, I’ve got to say. And the Bleach BGMs get a little too repetitive due to their use of the exact same score for over 60 episodes. Oh goodness that “Number One” song. Thankfully its third soundtrack introduces a brand new Spanish theme, which is pretty enjoyable.

    No Koi Kaze OP and Groovin’ Magic?

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 4:17 am
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    @zzeroparticle
    oh, that didn’t come across right, my apologies. I was wondering if Tsuneyoshi would be doing the movie OST, since i still can’t find information on it, and the movie’s supposed to come out this year. But if he does, i think we’ll be in for quite a nice reward :)

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm
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    @ottocycle
    Yeah, AliPro hasn’t been too active since… how long? It didn’t strike me initially, but I can see how that violin work it Marimite might transfer over to AliPro’s usual line of work.

    Notes to self: Guess I’ll just toss in a Sahashi work whenever I can find it, and yeah, he’ll definitely make an appearance with TSR’s OST. I was initially afraid he’d recycle his themes in that one, but he manages to bring out new stuff that’s impressive all the same.

    Thanks for mentioning two themes that really do need to be shared. Thank goodness for the internet where I can edit things on the fly :p

    Also, can we call this period Iwasaki’s dark age?

    @Mei
    Actually, I screwed up in that I should have said that I meant to look up the prequel and give it a listen rather than the movie. I guess I must have thought that the prequel was another movie or something. Oops!

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 9:24 pm
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    Kaleido Star has the same composer as Kannaduki no Miko. It has an energetic piano solo which I greatly enjoy. Also, Meine Liebe, by Hirano Yoshihisa (I think I’ve advocated him before) is also a notable.

    Elfen Lied’s soundtrack in itself is decent, besides just the OP. Half the tracks reflect the horrific and frightening aspects of the anime, and the other half reflect the rare moments of pain, peace, and tranquility. (Being a cellist, two beautiful cello tracks won me over).

    Also, I would listen to Howl’s Moving Castle before dismissing it as one of Hisaishi’s minor works. Watching the movie with it always helps.

    In general I do not enjoy Taku Iwasaki’s compositions as much as some others. He is not very consistent but once in a while he’ll churn out a masterpiece.

    Reply
  • March 5, 2010 at 12:51 am
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    On the pseudo hip-hop funky side of things we had the Tenjo Tenge OP and the Gantz OP.

    BECK’s music is pretty decent but it’s mostly vocal rock/pop type stuff from many different artists. The opening by BEAT CRUSADERS is enjoyable pop/rock/engrish. If you want BGM I’d look elsewhere. Which is similar to another OST; the Appleseed movie’s ost. It’s like BECK in that it’s composed of many different artists though it leans more to the techno side of things.

    The Elfen Lied OST is really eclectic as the story varies from bloody violence/crushing sadness or despair/moeblobs acting cute. It’s all cute character designs till someone loses an arm….actually vice versa but w/e. One song that has always stuck with me not sure why was “Yokusoku” which has some really lovely cello/violin work. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwqAhGd8o2A
    And it might be worth it to hear some of Konishi Kayo and Kondo yukio’s work since they are doing the music for next seasons Manglobe production: Sarai-ya Goyou.

    Reply
  • March 5, 2010 at 9:06 am
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    I feel that Mai-hime is only yesterday as well, though I cannot recall its soundtrack as well as its sadistic-possessive-yuri character (the high school president, what was her name?)

    Elfen lied is, predictably, on my favorite list.
    As for Howl’s ost, it contains less catchy melodies than Spirited Away and Ponyo and it keeps to the same standard.

    Reply
  • March 5, 2010 at 12:16 pm
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    You really need to see Elfen Lied. It has GREAT OP. A BEAST of an OP. An OP BANGOUT. It’s opera and it’s FANTASTIC.

    Reply
  • March 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm
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    @Yu
    Kaleido Star’s been one of those shows that I really need to get around to watching. The DVD box sets are sitting on top of the shelves and really demands to be seen though I haven’t made the time yet. I should check it out though since the director’s pretty big on background music. He was the one who got Muramatsu on board for Umi Monogatari after all.

    I also had the inkling that someone would tell me to give Howl’s another chance. Guess it’s just one of those times where I’ll have to find a quiet moment to sit down with it and savor the music.

    Finally, I do wonder if Iwasaki’s inconsistency comes from his tendency to experiment with different genres? As though he’s flinging stuff at a wall to see what sticks.

    @Taka
    I saw the Appleseed soundtrack in the store recently and was curious to check out who was behind that. I think the variety of composers credited made me a wee bit hesitant to take the plunge, so I’ll most likely try it out through the usual channels first.

    As for “Yokusoku” I think I see what you and Yu were talking about. And it looks like a lot of the soundtracks from 2004 have that dual nature; that is, they contain the happy-go-lucky tracks, but also the more somber pieces.

    @Canne
    Interestingly enough, it was the music that drew me into Mai-HiME and the action second. When I watched the show for the first time, I was really entranced by how different it sounded from Kajiura’s usual fare.

    But yes, you can’t really forget the Natsuki-Shizuru pairing 😀

    Reply
  • March 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm
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    @Glo
    I know. I should just watch it so that I know what the hell people are talking about. Time, or rather the lack of it, is what’s killing me. :\

    Reply
  • March 6, 2010 at 1:33 am
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    From among this list, I think Mai-HiME has the most memorable and the best soundtrack. Yuki Kajiura is just superb. Other than that, I found many others simply decent. Some are interesting while others are kind of unique, but none really attracted me as much as Mai Hime’s music.

    Reply
  • March 7, 2010 at 3:29 am
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    @Yi
    That’s why it’s listed first! I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Mai-HiME’s soundtrack was the best of what we got out of 2004.

    Reply

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