Anyhow, I’ve been warned about 2007’s list since it’s a disgustingly huge list to pick from, and when you casually look over what the music selections are like, you’ll find a lot of solid names to highlight. 2007 saw the coming of shows such as Gurren Lagaan, Baccano!, ef, and Sketchbook. All of these shine in quality on the content front, but it’s a sure bet that people can pick out a track or two that they really enjoyed from these shows. The problem is that we’re looking at the tip of the iceberg here. As much as I’d like to knock a few shows out of this grouping, it just wouldn’t do. So strap yourself in and prepare to go through this slowly. Music is, after all, best savored rather than chugged.
With that, let’s begin with something VGM fans can appreciate:
Romeo x Juliet
I’ve already heaped enough praises on Romeo x Juliet’s soundtrack, partly because I’ve been a fan of Hitoshi Sakimoto’s music ever since I’ve played Final Fantasy Tactics. Even so, it never hurts to give this OST a few more plaudits. While his music wasn’t able to keep me from dropping the series towards the middle, it does compel me to give the soundtrack repeat listens, especially when he serves exciting, majestic music like “Touch,” which is by far and away my favorite track on that album. Add a few more tracks like “Neo Verona” and “Fate” and you’ve got the trappings for a fantastic score that finishes up as my favorite anime soundtrack from 2007.
Sketchbook ~full color’S~
There are two aspect to Sketchbook ~full color’S~ that warrant a mention here. The first is the OP, titled “Kaze Sagashi,” with Natsumi Kiyoura’s soothing voice moving in like a light wind to lift us up and take us on a journey through time and space as we alight upon the idyllic setting of high school life where our attention falls upon members of the school’s art club, each with their own distinct, quirky personality. At this point, this is where the second part kicks in: Ken Muramatsu’s score. Muramatsu dabbles in a fusion of traditional Japanese music and light jazz and though his style hasn’t really changed much as you listen to his later works, none of those works have quite surpassed his compositions for Sketchbook. When you’ve got lazy, drift-y pieces like “Balloon Mode ~Yume Kara Samete Mo~” and “Yuumagure no Kuni,” you know you’ll be in for a treat, especially if you’re keen on relaxing fare. Unlike the next soundtrack, you don’t actually have to watch the series to appreciate it!
Balloon Mode ~Yume Kara Samete Mo~
Yuumagure no Kuni
And while we’re on the same subject as Sketchbook, do check out Tomoki Kikuya’s compositions for Hidamari Sketch since the two are somewhat similar in the way they depict high school life. Initially, I didn’t even pay attention to the background music since the series captivated me through its likable cast, whose camaraderie would guide them past the difficulties of living alone without adult supervision while only attending high school. The interactions make for a heartwarming series even if there isn’t much that happens. Because of that, do prepare yourself for a slow-paced soundtrack that, like Sketchbook, carries that light, jazzy feel. It helps to have knowledge of the context, since the music’s ability to conjure up scenes from the anime is the key to really getting the most mileage out of it.
a sunny place 1
And before I forget, I love the OP, “Sketch Switch,” with its energy and it was what had gotten me to try the show to begin with. The ED, “Mebae Drive,” is where my introduction to marble came about, and I’ve really come to enjoy their mellow sound in their subsequent offerings, especially for the HidaSketch franchise.
Shion no Ou
And if you’re for something completely different, Kousuke Yamashita’s compositions for Shion no Ou should be fairly satisfying. The show’s mood is dark and serious; there is a murderer afoot who is paying particular attention to the eponymous shougi player and at times, you feel that it’s a race against time to expose him before it’s too late. In combining the suspense inherent in the murder mystery with the tension of the shougi matches, Yamashita’s compositions yield a darker, despairing flavor along with the dramatic music that comes in as the shougi players meticulously plan out their moves. It’s a very underrated effort all around, but I really enjoy it, especially for stuff like “Akai Kioku,” which reeks of horror and despair, and “Niten Santen,” where you can feel the intensity hit its stride as the shougi match winds its course to end it all on a note of finality.
Oh! Edo Rocket
Whether my perceptions are absolutely warped or I have this overwhelming love for the underdog, Baccano’s jazz doesn’t get me as excited as Oh! Edo Rocket. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore “Gun’s and Roses” as much as the next person since the music sets up the show’s tone perfectly, but lately, it’s moved into overplayed fare, which really isn’t its fault. So when people bring up that song, I give it the recognition it deserves, but beyond that, I’m content to let others do the praising.
So when people say they’re looking for a jazz soundtrack, I’ll bypass the low-hanging fruit and toss up Oh! Edo Rocket as a strong recommendation. Even though I’ve no context of the show since I haven’t seen it, the sort of feeling I get from the music is that it’s a brash and bold show. That is, the characters are aiming for some lofty ambitious goal that they’ve come up with out of the blue, and damn it all, they’re going to try it, no matter what anyone else says. There will be hi-jinks to be had as they pursue this dream and the swagger that pieces like “Rocket” and “Swing” bring to the table indicate that there will be no giving up in this neck of the woods. It’s do or die, and the audacity is what I love so much.
ef – a tale of memories
Rather than mention Tenmon’s score for 5 Centimeters Per Second, which is solid overall, I’ll instead talk about the ef – a tale of memories soundtrack, which still contains his characteristic style that’s packed to the brim with drama borne about through the piano, strings, and synth. The soundtrack is a treasure to pick through, especially through the tracks that depict the meetings and the moments of tension, but nothing seems to be able to eclipse the sheer beauty exhibited by “A Moon Filled Sky’s” violin. It might exhibit a lot of melancholia, but it’s hard to turn away from the yearning emotions it wears on its sleeve.
A Moon Filled Sky
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Did someone call for Taku Iwasaki’s rise back to prominence? After a few years of mediocre output, but a slow resurrection in Giniro no Kami no Agito and Kekkaishi (so I’ve been told for the latter), Iwasaki goes back into full form with the epic TTGL soundtrack. I’m not going to claim to know much about the show beyond the memetry that’s come forth from people who have seen it, but when I listen to the soundtrack, everything just feels BIG, and I do mean BIG. How it could it not? When you have perennial favorites like “Libera Me From Hell” and “Pierce the Heavens With Your XXX,” the former with its blend of rap and opera, and the latter, with its opening fanfare that calls in a new chapter in mankind’s destiny. Or something like that. Together, you’ve got music that fits a modern epic. Not that Gurren Lagann needs any help in that department.
Libera Me From Hell
Pierce the Heavens With Your XXX
Despite never having seen this show, I’m still very much in awe of Hiroyuki Sawano’s score, which instill images of heroism as people rise to the occasion to deliver an effort that will be talked about for years to come. Though if given half a chance, I could babble on and on about the main theme, it wouldn’t be fair to neglect some of the more introspective stuff, like “Ring” which always stood out to me. The interplay between the piano, violin, and the rest of the strings really hit the feeling of nostalgia really well. All in all, I really can’t praise this score enough and even with other works like Gundam Unicorn’s soundtrack to consider, I don’t think any of his other works quite surpass this one.
MAIN THEME (ver. 0)
Seirei no Moribito
Remember when I said something in the post for 2006 about Kenji Kawai redeeming himself? Well, his work for Seirei no Moribito would cover that quite well. When I listen to this soundtrack, a lot of my thoughts wander back on the feudal setting and the mystical events that occur during the course of the series and for good reason: aside from maybe 4-5 tracks, that Kawai’s melodies can stand well on their own since a lot of it focuses on capturing the atmosphere rather than give us something beautiful to listen to. So if you can immerse yourself into the setting (and it’s a beautiful setting to be sure), you should be able to enjoy what he has to offer. Otherwise, just home in on stuff like the stately “Omoi Haruka,” which moves at a steady rhythm that conveys the epic scope of the anime series or, if you’re looking more for the fast-paced action, then “Karu!” does a good job of that too.
Finally, we come to the humble Strike Witches to round out the list. Opinions on that show just might be mixed because of how the fanservice-y elements distract from what is a heartwarming series about friendship and camaraderie, but if there’s one thing I’ve gotten from it (despite not having seen it), it’s Seikou Nagaoka’s music, which delivers on character themes (“Perrine’s” daintiness, for one) and of course, fantastic military fanfares in “Striker no Hishou” which are absolutely grand.
Striker no Hishou
10 soundtracks in all! I did warn you before though, so if you’ve made it this far, congratulations. On to page 2, if you’re not asleep yet!