1st Annual Anime Music Awards – The Best of 2010

In the course of reflecting upon the music of last year’s anime, an idea as obvious as recognizing some of the best of the best soundtracks and OP/ED songs has to be done. In years past, that idea materialized in the form of a Decades post series where we looked at some of the more notable works to come out during a given year. Seeing that we’re probably not in a position to wait another ten years before attempting a similar feat, we’ll just move in the sanest of manners and cover each year as it goes by.

Now, the answer to the obvious question regarding why we’re doing this now when five months have passed instead of January or February has to do with erratic soundtrack release schedules. In short, some OSTs from 2010 didn’t get a release until April, and so, we feel that despite that late release, they merit a listen all the same and we wish to make sure that all of our bases are covered before rendering final judgment. Anyhow, it’s time to take a look at the best of 2010, right after the jump.

Soundtrack of the Year – Fairy Tail

From the moment the first notes sounded out Fairy Tail’s main theme, the gut reaction is that this soundtrack was going to be something special. Nowhere before (in our memory at least) has there been such a prodigiously awesome fusion of Celtic, rock, and a sprinkling of Eastern tonality all joined together into such a splendid package. Though most of us rarely check out the music to shounen anime, when we discovered that Yasuharu Takanashi would be helming the soundtrack for Fairy Tail, there was no way we could ignore it.

The main theme is a shining example of how to score a shounen anime. While the word epic is simply overused, no word in can justly describe the sheer intensity conveyed through the main theme’s Celtic rock, which fittingly conjures up kickass fight scenes and evokes the vibe of the legendary journey to the point that listening to the music is an experience in and of itself. Fairy Tail excels in conveying all facets of the grand odyssey that the characters embark upon, ranging from the physical tests, the determination that drives them onwards, and the emotions that swirl about, all the while keeping us enthralled. Though a few soundtracks from 2010 come close to Fairy Tail’s quality, none exceed it. That’s why Fairy Tail’s soundtrack rightfully deserves the award for Soundtrack of the Year.

FAIRY TAIL Main Theme

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Magic Invocation

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Destiny

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Composer of the Year – Michiru Ooshima

With so many great composers out in the field, it’s difficult to single out an individual as the “best” composer of them all. Composers the industry over toil over their work endlessly, carefully digging through the recesses of their minds for that uncanny spark of inspiration that will set the train in motion for just a few more measures. And 2010 was a year where many composers got to strut their stuff.

This year, we give this honor to Michiru Ooshima, the creative mind behind the soundtracks to Sora no Woto and The Tatami Galaxy. Ooshima has been able to craft songs that complement the anime’s narrative. Compositions like “Une Lumiere Envoutante” from Sora no Woto’s soundtrack are deeply moving and affecting, setting the foundation for the anime’s war-torn, broken land while succeeding at sounding lovely as it brings an underlying complexity that doesn’t just reiterate the exposition but enhances it. She’s also adept at cultivating the mixture of idealism and despair in Tatami Galaxy as she pulls the viewer into the story, allowing us to empathize with the characters, all without forgetting to write good music that stands strongly on its own.

Opening Theme of the Year – Working!! – Someone Else

If Working!!’s amusing antics weren’t already enough to cement it in the anime fanbase’s memory, its OP definitely completed that task, no sweat. Sung by the show’s starring female seiyuu (Kana Asumi, Saki Fujita, Eri Kitamuri), the song is an insanely addictive ska experience. The energy of the brass and enthusiasm in the seiyuu’s voices add to the catchiness of the tune. Of course, the chorus can’t be forgotten either (as if it can be forgotten). The adorable mispronunciation of English words makes the repeating calls of “SOMEWAN” echo in your mind long into the future. Somewan! Wan wan! Wan wan wan…

Ending Theme of the Year – Tatami Galaxy – Kami-sama no Iu Toori

Of all the artists to have entered our collective radars, I think Etsuko Yakushimaru has us the most entranced. Her performance on “Venus to Jesus” for Arakawa Under the Bridge’s opening theme is engaging as she brings her soothing voice along with a catchy rhythm and chorus to draw people in.

But of her songs, nothing quite stands out like Tatami Galaxy’s “Kami-sama no Iu Toori.” With Yoshinori Sunahara’s synth compositions leading the way, Etsuko Yakushimaru delivers a methodical, robotic performance, and in doing so, gives the song as a sinister aura. There’s barely a hint of emotion in her delivery as if she’s completely numb; the only trace of feeling is when she implores God for guidance. While that’s normally a weakness in any other song, her vocal qualities work well in conjunction with the instrumentals to keep us completely hypnotized, rendering it an unforgettable experience.

Notes: While we’re taking this opportunity to showcase what we thought were the best of 2010, rest assured that this won’t be the last you’ll hear out of 2010’s offerings since we do intend to give 2010 the same treatment we gave all of the soundtracks and OP/EDs from 2000-2009. So stay tuned for our upcoming articles.

Anime Instrumentality Staff

A collaboration between the staff members at Anime Instrumentality to bring you the best of all the anime music out there! Or silliness, whichever it is that happens to come first.

20 thoughts on “1st Annual Anime Music Awards – The Best of 2010

  • May 29, 2011 at 8:07 am
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    2010 had a lot of strong OP/EDs, so I have a tough time choosing. I’d probably go with your choices in the end, but then the OPs for Giant Killing and Durarara were also excellent, and the EDs for Hanamaru Kindergarten and Durarara were also right up there with Tatami’s. Heck, even Letter Bee and Kuragehime had strong OP/EDs. And Fullmetal Alchemist’s OST easily gave Fairy Tale’s a run for it’s money.. not an easy choice.

    Reply
  • May 29, 2011 at 9:16 am
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    I am a huge Yasuharu Takanashi fan, despite only having listened to Mononoke and Halo Legends (where he only did a few parts of the soundtrack, though they were the best). His tone is shows excellently in Destiny. Disappointed in the celtic rock though.

    I certainly agree with choosing Ooshima as one of the best for 2010. The soundtrack for The Tatami Galaxy is one of my favorites..

    Reply
  • May 29, 2011 at 10:50 am
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    I really like The Tatami Galaxy ED It has something special in the interpretation, which makes it fascinating, even hypnotising. I can’t wait to hear more songs by Etsuko Yakushimaru.
    Working! OP enthousiasm made it memorable and is one of the few songs that gives you an instant boost in motivation :-)
    This two nominations make much sense to me, these songs made a strong impression on me while watching the shows.
    I definitively must check Fairy Tail and Sora no Woto.

    Reply
    • May 30, 2011 at 1:24 am
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      @Hogart
      Yeah, as I’ve kind of hinted on twitter, we’re basically looking at somewhere around 15 soundtracks that get coverage. As for the OP/EDs, you can pretty much count on Giant Killing’s and Hanamaru’s getting a mention in there somewhere.

      But ouch! We might have to disagree with FMA:B since I’ve griped before about how the OSTs for those sound more like sound cues than the flowing narrative tracks that we tend to favor more than just the ambient stuff. You’ll definitely want to check out our thoughts on the first two FMA:B OSTs if you haven’t already.

      @shlap
      I’d give the edge to Sora no Woto because I do like the happy-go-lucky stuff that she’ll put forward, but Tatami Galaxy is good in its own right in being able to handle the wider range of emotions. Ooshima hasn’t really skipped a beat and has proven to be excellent time and time again.

      Also, what was so disappointing about the Celtic rock? I really enjoyed the way it captures one’s attention and felt it fit the description of the show really nicely.

      @Mayachiel
      I think that’s the best way to describe Etsuko Yakushimaru’s music: captivating. It’s an odd blend no doubt, but the way it’s executed just grabs your attention and holds it through her sexy-sounding voice.

      And do check out those two soundtracks. If you’ve gone through our review archives, you’ll be able to get a broader idea for why we love those two OSTs so much. Or you can wait until we get our OST article out sometime in the next few days.

      @Joojoobees
      And how. Wait til the next article comes out.

      @Chikorita157
      Oh I don’t know about the karaoke bit. The tempo does move at a fast clip, and it can be pretty easy to mess up with Someone Else. That said, it is amazing to watch people attempt to keep up!

      Reply
  • May 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm
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    Tough to criticize these choices, though, as mentioned by @Hogart, 2010 had a particularly strong field to choose from.

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  • May 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm
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    While I’m not too familiar with some of your picks, I agree that 2010 was a relatively good year for Anime Music for the most part… (with certain exceptions withholding with the extremely mediocre Girls Dead Monster.)

    I do agree though that Someone Else is pretty addicting, especially when people start to sing karaoke with the song.

    Reply
  • May 30, 2011 at 4:40 am
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    My favourite ED of 2010 was Sakasama Bridge by Suneohair; there’s a certain charm in his voice which always evoke a sense of calmness and nostalgia to me (also happened to be the case when he did the ED for Honey & Clover).

    Although, I think Etsuko Yakushimaru is one of the few vocalists that can captivate the listeners with little to no emotion in her voice. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that ‘Kami-sama no Toori’ was the main reason why I started Tatami Galaxy.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2011 at 11:35 am
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      @HirakuNoShadow
      It’s kind of weird thinking of Suneohair’s song as being a fitting one for Arakawa’s ED theme because of how much I’ve come to associate it with the angst that Honey and Clover put forward (good angst, mind you). On its own, it probably is a lot more enjoyable than if paired alongside the anime.

      But yeah, Yakushimaru’s excellent vocals have drawn me in regardless of the flavor of the song she sings. I’ve dug through a few of her other works and they’ve been pretty engaging overall. Quirky too!

      @Karisu
      I think you must be one of the few who wasn’t dazzled by the displays of kickassery that Fairy Tail’s soundtrack hints at! I’d love to hear a dissection though as to what you didn’t like about it since I figured that if anything, Fairy Tail’s soundtrack blends in those shounen elements rather nicely while being a memorable listen. So yeah, the interesting part (for us anyhow), is if you can delve a bit more into what you found irksome about FT :p

      Bakemonogatari we considered a 2009 show, so no go there. Durarara though, you’ll want to talk to Aftershok on that since that album was by far his favorite. Well, we’ll be gushing over those OSTs pretty soon (by the end of this week even!).

      Reply
  • May 30, 2011 at 8:10 am
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    With the exception of the Soundtrack of the year, I think all the picks are spot on. Absolutely some of the best to be seen from 2010. Kami-sama no Iu Toori from Tatami Galaxy is one of my absolute favorite songs from the past couple of years. It has a haunting quality to it that keeps it from ever leaving my mind. And no one can deny the perfect fun that Working’s Someone Else brings. It’s zaniness is a perfect compliment to the show.

    Now, on to that soundtrack… perhaps I’m just rather not fond of Celtic music (or more specifically a Celtic rock infusion), but if I had to rate Fairy Tail’s OST I’d have it somewhere towards the bottom of my list. I kind of actively dislike the music on display here. Had you closed your eyes and pointed at a list you’d have had a much better change of hitting what I’d consider to be a better replacement for Fairy Tail. :p

    But of course this is all opinion and I don’t want to berate something the staff obviously loves. I’m not sure what I’d pick, as I haven’t put a lot of time thinking about it in, but I’d more likely put Bakemonogatari (an OST I know zzeroparticle was not fond of) or even Durarara’s soundtrack on my list. Both of witch were much more minimal but significantly more emotionally impacting to me and just flat out enjoyable to listen to while being perfectly fit for the series they were composed for.

    Though I may disagree I’m still very much looking forward to see what makes next years list! :)

    Reply
  • May 31, 2011 at 1:59 pm
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    Freaking classicalfags cokblocking all my votes grumblegrumble

    At least the Tatami ED made it. Oh, and the SoreMachi OP > Working!! OP 😀

    Reply
  • May 31, 2011 at 9:28 pm
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    @zzeroparticle
    To be fair to the staff’s pick of Fairy Tail, the full extent of my knowledge of that soundtrack are the three tracks from the article. And to be honest, I listened to the first two tracks only before casting judgement (I know, a total party foul). Having now listened to it, the third track, Destiny, is fantastic and rightly worthy of praise. And maybe that’s a hint towards my preference as that 3rd track lacks the kickassery of the former two. Not to say I don’t like to get the adrenalin running, just that these tracks didn’t quite get me there.

    I would frankly blame it -mostly- on the musical style just not being my cup of tea. What can I say, Celtic rock is just not something that appeals to me.

    It also doesn’t help that I am no real fan of shounen anime. Always leaned towards the shoujo personally. Big guns and fight scenes have never particularly interested me, so perhaps a genre bias is at hand as well there? The last show that I watched that I might classify as shounen was Code Geass. However, I never watched that show for the mechs, it was purely for the drama (and boy did it ever have that in spades).

    On a technical level the music is more than fine, but as is often the case with me, the animation and the score are forever intertwined, so I can’t help but feel that my complete apathy towards Fairy Tail (the show) is having an effect on me with it’s music. Heck, I know that frequently I only begin liking (or even loving) a series OP or ED after continued exposure to them from watching along with the show.

    So, I’m not sure if I was able to offer more of an explanation there, and perhaps given the chance to really take in the work I’d find it as amazing as all the rest here, but for the moment I’ll have to remain the dissenting opinion :p

    Reply
  • June 1, 2011 at 5:07 am
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    @zzzeroparticle

    It’s just taste. I bet it really fits for the anime though.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2011 at 10:52 am
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    @Aftershok
    We do form a most formidable voting bloc!

    @Karisu
    OK, I think I can hazard a guess then that you prefer the quiet, drama-y pieces over the loud sort of bombast that Fairy Tail brings forth? That’s a pretty reasonable stance to take, especially if nuance is more your kind of thing. And as you might expect, Fairy Tail is anything but nuanced!

    @shlap
    Got it! It wouldn’t surprise me either, but then again, I haven’t seen the anime. Heh…

    Reply
  • June 3, 2011 at 11:52 pm
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    Kami-sama no Iu Toori is by far my anime song of the year. Great selections, guys. I don’t watch much shounen or expect particularly great OSTs from them, so Fairy Tail’s was completely outside my radar!

    Reply
    • June 5, 2011 at 1:10 am
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      @BakaTanuki
      As I kinda mentioned to others, most people just don’t check out shounen shows too often (and I can’t blame them either), but if you’re not going to check out Fairy Tail, do give the OST a go, since the melodies and rhythms it serves up are very much fantastic!

      Reply
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  • June 29, 2011 at 1:52 am
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    Totally agreed with the ending theme award. I didn’t even watch Tatami Galaxy, but I still love the ED so much. Etsuko Yakushimaru is quickly becoming one of my favorite artist. Also, the sequence is brilliant!

    Reply
  • July 30, 2011 at 4:24 am
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    Kinda responding late to this.

    Glad Fairy Tail Ost got a very high award here. I love the Fairy Tail Ost. So many osts I listen to there are a few songs I like in them. Fairy Tail Ost kicks butt in song after song. I write a lot of stories, action stories, and I almost always flip on the Fairy Tail when a battle comes up. (Bleach used to be it but Fairy Tail has usurped its role in my battle soundtrack mind)

    I wish more Shounen Animes had osts like this that just make you want to run out and beat people up! :) (…But in a good way!)

    Anyway. It was this ost that helped me fall in love with Fairy Tail.

    On another note… I am only sad that DRRR!! didn’t win something for its ED or OP. I have probably listened to the OP 100+ times and the ED 1000+ times… Love them. And the ost was rather great, too, though not in comparison to FT’s.

    Reply
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