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
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.