Really, I swear I’ll finish this before the year’s up.
As usual, don’t forget that all previous installments are filed under the “Decade List” tag and if you wanted to knock yourself silly by listening to the stuff I enjoyed from 2007 on back, that’s the place to go to.
Anyways, 2008 once again saw a slew of excellent shows gracing the small screen accompanied by solid music, even if, when compared to 2007, it felt like a bit of a drop-off. Still, there were plenty of notable shows like Macross Frontier which renewed fans’ interest in the Macross franchise while also bringing in a boatload of new fans, Casshern Sins would also hearken to older fans as well, while Code Geass would fire off a sequel with plot twists that became far too numerous to keep track of. Musically, it was a pretty strong year as well, with artists like Akihiko Matsumoto, Yoshimori Makoto, and Yuuji Yoshino putting their stamp on this year’s works.
So as usual, full clips are delivered here while the ones done through Youtube are spoilered. Be warned though the some of these will be short as I’ve already reviewed them someplace and if you want long, drawn-out thoughts, go check there. So with that out of the way, let’s explore this year’s offerings!
Spice and Wolf
I don’t know if this year had any clear winners since the quality of the music remained high though no one soundtrack really towered above the rest. Still, if there was one that stood out to me, it’d have to be Yuuji Yoshino’s work for Spice and Wolf. The dynamic between the two leads, Lawrence and Horo was already captivating, but what made it better was the way Yoshino brought the setting to life through his music. Tracks like “Shounin to Okami to, Tabi no Nibasha” and “Hikaru Wadachi” evokes the Middle Ages/Early Renaissance sound to help you get immersed into the show’s setting. To top it all off, the anime came with a solid opening theme in “Tabi no Tochuu” where Natsumi Kiyoura once again brings her dreamy voice which, while soothing, gets us started upon a long journey.
Shounin to Okami to, Tabi no Nibasha
And competing with Spice and Wolf for my top spot is none other than Kanno’s soundtrack for Macross Frontier. The background music features some really eye-opening stuff reminiscent of Western film music, especially with tracks like “The Target” and “TALLY HO!” with their quotation of John Williams and Hans Zimmer respectively. But Kanno does show her bouncy, lighter side in “Test Flight Delight” which feels free in its expression, putting the feeling of flying in music really well. Age has also dulled my annoyance regarding May’n as my Anime Expo concert report will attest, though the wish that all the BGM were put on one disc still stands.
Test Flight Delight
Speaking of action, one of my readers pointed out that I had completely forgotten to cover Code Geass in one of the previous years, and that’s my mistake really because Kotaro Nakagawa’s music has always been pretty enjoyable. Even though I’ve not watched the anime, I’ve always been enthralled by the music whenever it crops up during some MALKeionbu week. The feeling that I get out of Code Geass is its bent towards a Latin/Spanish flavor, carried through in works like “Black Knights” that also uses an awesome chorus part. But hey, there’s also a dab of Celtic in “Continued Story” (complete with ethereal Hitomi vocals) to enjoy too.
Kure-nai’s soundtrack is wonderful, employing more of Ken Muramatsu’s jazzy rhythms that he used in sketchbook. That said, the first disc felt inconsistent, and I could never really get into the groove. But once the second disc rolled around, tracks like “Surf Song ~Oikaze wo Ukete” and, of course, “Suiheisen no Mukou ni,” which some of you may know better as the instrumental rendition of the song the characters performed in the musical episode. Come to think about it, that track may very well be my favorite Muramatsu piece to date.
Surf Song ~Oikaze wo Ukete
Suiheisen no Mukou ni
True Tears irked me in a few ways, but on the whole, it was a positive experience. The music, aside from the ending theme at least, was solid through and through; I don’t think I have to go to deep into why I like “Reflectia” more than once. In addition to composing that opening, Hajime Kikuchi goes on to write beautiful piano and violin melodies throughout the show’s soundtrack. I particularly liked the way he captures Noe’s eccentricities in her theme while delivering a rather nice buildup through the strings in pieces like “SeLecT.” Still, nothing quite beats the upbeat tracks, featured in “Nyuushakou ni, Migite wo Kazasu,” which creates a pretty strong first impression when you first give the soundtrack a go.
Nyuushakou ni, Migite wo Kazasu
Kage Hazumi ~theme of noe~
Toshokan Sensou is enjoyable as far as one can find the concept of militant librarians battling to preserve the written word against censors to be enjoyable (which I do) and still has enough time to develop its romantic angle. The music is by Kanno. Yuugo Kanno, that is and though I wouldn’t give the soundtrack plaudits, I do want to highlight the main theme which is absolutely jaw-dropping; a superb example of orchestral music done right as all these woodwinds weave in and out, creating a piece that is stately and majestic. I remember being really enthralled by this piece the first time I heard it and now, I’ve listened to it so much that there’s no way I can forget it at all. The last track at the end is also beautiful and once again, you can hear that main theme crop up.
Toshokan Sensou -Main Theme-
Toshokan Sensou -END TITLE-
I love the One Outs soundtrack! That has to be said loud and clear and repeated over and over since this work by Summer Wars’ composer Akihiko Matsumoto is so woefully underrated. It didn’t help that this show didn’t register on many people’s radars and fewer still will have actually listened to the soundtrack. But those who have given it a shot have enjoyed it; I’m not the only one. I’ll continually highlight tracks like “Aerobatic Funk” and “Wild & Crazy” as the pieces which really are awesome because of how different they are compared to the BGM you’ll normally find. It’s a breath of fresh air to be sure and with his work on Summer Wars, I feel that Akihiko Matsumoto still has plenty of upside since his two soundtracks that I’ve listened to have been solid and I hope that he continues to improve.
Wild & Crazy
Another composer who also has displayed a knack for improving, Yoshimori Makoto, has gone a long way since Baccano! and shines with Natsume Yuujinchou’s soundtrack! This guy will explore the boundaries of music and try to turn whatever he gets his hands on into music. At least, that’s the only way I can explain off the track that features a mosquito buzzing around (worse than a vuvuzela. Fact.) and the one that features weird-ass ghoulish noises. Well, through tracks like the main theme, Makoto shows that he is capable of composing what many of us would consider to be normal fare, and tracks like the theme to Natsume Yuujinchou which has the lazy feel of a summer day though “Kimi ni Fureta Hikari’s” piano wins me over every time. Especially when it shifts at the 4:50 mark (yes, make sure you get to that part at least!!) in the way it evokes that sense of happiness and joy.
Kimi ga Yobu Namae ~Natsume Yuujinchou no Theme~
Kimi ni Fureta Hikari
No, I haven’t forgotten Kuroshitsuji. Taku Iwasaki continues a good run of form and hits gold by nailing the darker aspect of the show while also showing a good amount of skill in his composition of Indian music, which I’ve rarely heard in anime music thus far. There’s not a whole lot more I can add to my Kuroshitsuji soundtrack review. Oh well, have some Indian music to close it all out.
The Stranger from India
Long journey isn’t it? We’re more than halfway through, and that’s only because there’s not a whole lot of OP/EDs to highlight because my focus kind of shifted away from those as of late. Still, see which ones made the cut on page 2!