2010′s Anime Music in Review – Intros/Outros Edition

While much of our staff’s focus tends to fall on the BGM/instrumental tracks, the vocal stuff isn’t forgotten since a lot of it does serve as a first impression of sorts as to what we should expect out of an anime. So with that thought in mind, we shall strive for completing the musical experience by sharing some of our favorite songs to come out of 2010. We’ve already collectively given our opinion on what we thought was the best of the best; these are the rest that we thought were pretty enjoyable and are worth checking out if you haven’t heard them already. So let’s jump in!

Hanamaru Kindergarten
As much as this writer’s memory of Hanamaru Kindergarten has turned hazy with time, that the image “Kigurumi Wakusei” planted in his mind still has not faded is a testament to its timelessness. A parody of space opera, “Kigurumi Wakusei” opens with the chorus cultivating the grand scale of the on-screen conflict, followed by Ayahi Takagaki’s forceful delivery in her Hiiragi voice, which gives the whole song an odd dichotomy, but one that is definitely memorable in the way it strangely fits together.

Hanamaru Kindergarten – Kigurumi Wakusei »

Sora no Woto
While Kalafina’s music is frequently marked by Kajiura’s typical mysterious style, “Hikari no Senritsu” departs from this by incorporating an atmosphere of antiquity into its melody. It could very well be a traditional folk song, perhaps recalling a traveler burdened with long memories searching a vast land for something of importance. All of this is only enhanced by the folksy instrumentals and the vocalists’ (Hikaru especially) pure vocals that swell with nostalgia and emotion. For anyone who has watched the first episode of Sora no Woto, the song is crucial to setting the opening atmosphere of rusticism. “Hikari no Senritsu’s” seamless unity with the anime makes it one of the most immersive OP’s of the year.

Sora no Woto – Hikari no Senritsu »

Giant Killing
As much as Giant Killing’s opening theme tickles this football fan with its hilariously effusive engrish introduction, the overall feel is perfect in bringing the excitement of a football match to his ears. Rather than reflect the actual football match itself, “My Story ~Mada Minu Ashita e~” is more of an homage towards football fans everywhere. The Irish melodic introduction sets the tone for revelry, a feeling reinforced once the boisterous vocals come in, carrying that undercurrent of excitement that matches the electric atmosphere at any important match where fans get whipped up in a frenzy in support of their favorite side.

Giant Killing – My Story ~Mada Minu Ashita e~ »

Eve no Jikan
When I first heard the ending theme for the Time of Eve movie was called “I Have a Dream” done by none other than Kalafina, you can’t blame me for getting excited for a darkly scored, moody, emotional take on a musical version of a certain famous civil rights speech. What I got instead was something very different, but nonetheless just as fulfilling. Kalafina, thankfully, doesn’t overdo it for this one, and manages to sound dramatically uplifting without sounding like depression on a rainy Sunday afternoon and you’re all out of Zoloft. It has this caring immediacy to it, like an embrace from a mother assuring her child that everything will be OK and that dad will get help for his drinking problem. With a hint of Celtic flavor, it does remind me of “My Heart Will Go On,” except instead of an ocean liner catastrophically colliding at sea, “I Have a Dream” has connotations of people treating each other equally, whether you’re white, black, or robot.

Eve no Jikan – I Have a Dream »

Break Blade
Through the short OP sequence alone, viewers are taken on a journey, from the serenity weighed down with tones of despair in the opening stanza, the pulsating sense of hope and belief in the chorus and the slow crescendo at the end of the chorus which ties it all off with an optimism against all adversity. This is the strength of KOKIA’s vocals, which carry the march of the instrumentals onwards, creating a slow but deeply entrancing OP.

Break Blade – Fate »

Angel Beats!
I don’t know whether others are of the same mind as I am, but between the two songs that Angel Beats! features for its intro and outro, I really like the way the ED, “Brave Song,” turned out. Moreso than the opening theme in fact. Aoi Tada’s voice brings out an air of calmness to it all as she delivers her soft, longing, wistful tones to end each episode of the anime; tones that are altogether fitting with the show’s focus on the regrets that plagued the characters in their former lives as they enter this purgatory.

Angel Beats – Brave Songs »

But one shouldn’t discount Lia’s efforts on “My Soul, Your Beats” either as she consistently delivers time after time. While her inflection is lyrically pleasing, I can’t say I really love the way the background instrumentation partners up with her because of it’s lack of cohesion. It’s still a solid opener though, but to get the best effect, you’ll want to check out the unofficial duet between Lia and LiSA.

Angel Beats – My Soul, Your Beats »

Seitokai Yakuindomo
A good amount of explosive energy (projected the right way, by the right people) is an amazingly effective attention catcher. And who can do it better than Angela, with the powerful and flexible vocals of atsuko and imaginative composition of KATSU? The generous sprinkling of brasses (and other orchestral instruments in the full version), the lack of any reservation with the heavy percussion beats and the energy from a group of children chanting along with the vocalist firmly place this ED at the top in term of sheer craziness.

Seitokai Yakuindomo – Aoi Haru »

Durarara!!
When this writer listened to “Aoi Haru,” his mind directly made the jump from that song to Theatre Brook’s OP theme to Durarara, with its harder rock sound that brings to mind the urban cityscape and the uncertainties that lurk within Ikebukuro. There’s a sense of desperation to be had from the tempo and through its rhythm, an image of a flurry of activity comes to mind as the sun begins to set. For as they say, night time is the right time if you’re looking to do some major plotting and the vocals and instrumentals do have that sneaky, almost chaotically conspiratorial vibe to it all.

Durarara – Uragiri no Yūyake »

Hidamari Sketch x★★★
Though this writer has expounded at length on why marble’s music continues to be a source of enjoyment, their mellow stamp that they’ve made upon the year can be so easily forgotten sometimes, especially when placed alongside the bolder, high-octane J-pop tracks. So here, I’d like to give a nod at how their works for the Hidamari Sketch franchise have always been stellar and each subsequent followup continues to get better. So with little surprise, “Sakura Sakura Saku” has risen to become my favorite. The impact lies in the delivery; during the course of the music, micco’s voice blooms absolutely radiantly, bringing with it an air of optimism and reassurance for what the future holds, fitting in the way it nails the anime’s sentiments.

Hidamari Sketch x★★★ – Sakura Sakura Saku »

Arakawa Under the Bridge
Of all the artists to have entered my radar this year, I think Etsuko Yakushimaru has me the most entranced, quite possibly taking the award for being the best of the best as far as new anisong artists go. Her performance on “Venus to Jesus” is just so engaging. Her soothing voice, coupled with the catchy rhythm and chorus, keeps me hooked as it draws me into the dreamy world that she sculpts.

Arakawa Under the Bridge – Venus to Jesus »

And don’t even get me started on “Cosmos vs. Alien.” While that’s a song that, on paper, defies every single element I value musically, it still manages to reel me in hook, line, and sinker. From the engrishy opening in “See her?” “No I don’t.” “Now you see her. Now you don’t.” to the off-tune-sounding-but-not-really chorus line, the first reaction is to be baffled, but as you continue to listen more, Yakushimaru’s mysterious vocal powers exert themselves once more. Though I somehow doubt this song falls under the denpa genre, I do say that Yakushimaru does well in channeling that denpa onna vibe here. Perhaps that quality is what’s so addictive about this particular song?

Arakawa Under the Bridge – Cosmos vs. Alien »

Bonus points go to Miyuki Sawashiro’s fantastic delivery which reeks of pure dismissive, verbally-abusive bliss. Her portrayal of Maria’s personality really comes out in full force through “Title Nante Jibun de Kangaenasai na” and though it might be second to “Venus to Jesus,” it’s still fairly engaging all the same.

Arakawa Under the Bridge – Title Nante Jibun de Kangaenasai na »

The World God Only Knows
OK, let’s get this straight. With any other singer, “Koi no Shirushi,” probably wouldn’t warrant a mention. It is, after all, a catchy, but run-of-the-mill love song at best, until you factor in the amount of enjoyment I derive from Kana Hanazawa’s musical delivery. With her on the pedal, getting drawn in by her rendition of “Koi no Shirushi” was pretty much an inevitability given how addicting “Renai Circulation” turned out to be. Yes, the song is heavy on the autotune, but come now! Autotune, no matter how well-applied, doesn’t come off that moe. Also, as much as Ayahi Takagaki’s rendition might be better technically, my tastes flow towards Hanazawa, so on that count, this version stands out as my favorite of all the girls’!

The World God Only Knows – Koi no Shirushi »

Tales of Symphonia Tethe’alla Hen
The highly effective opening of the ED with the flute melodies, Shikata’s light vocals and the trickle of the rainstick just beckons one to dive deeper into this ED. Even though the ending animation does absolutely no justice to the song as a whole, it definitely stands out as one of the best singles based purely on how beautiful, elaborate and magical it is.

ToS – Inori no Kanata »

Kuragehime
As much as Chatmonchy’s waifish voice didn’t appeal to me during other times, I have absolutely no problem with its presentation in the opening, which provides us the kind of happy-go-lucky energy that’s been absent in her other works and, when coupled with all those movie references, makes for an engaging watch altogether. But between the opening and ending, nothing beats the sheer emotive power behind Sambomaster’s “Kimi no Kirei ni Kizuiteokure” which wins purely for being so expressive in its loving sentiments while packing a rock sound with strings to keep you rapt at attention.

Kuragehime – Koko Dake no Hanashi »

Kuragehime – Kimi no Kirei ni Kizuiteokure »

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
Finally, allow me to really reminisce here. Youngster, let me tell you about a time when men were men, jazz was king, and those confounded bloggers wrote articles on time. They were simpler times. More honest times. Happier times, with music with real class and gumption. None of that beepin’ or boppin’ stuff made by those computing machines! Real music! Take that “Down Town” from the opening of that Japanese animation television program Soredemo something or other. Boy, they sure don’t make them animu openings like that no more. Real happy-go-lucky, with a dash of pluck and jazz band brass from the gut, you know, sonny? And it’s got this quirkiness, see, with all these string instruments whirlin’ about like them city folk and their crazy flyin’ machines. Old folk like me don’t like nothin’ too heavy, you hear, but this song, it’s got this lightness, like it wants to tell you that everything’s gonna be dandy and those calls from the man from the insurance company don’t mean a thing. That Maaya Sakamoto gal is great, too. I get the feeling that earthquake fella from that anime music blog really liked this here song. Like it was his favorite openin’ song last year or somethin’. Just the feeling I’m gettin’ in my bones. Not enough morphine these days.

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru – Down Town »

Final Notes: Yes, we did leave out Sphere’s best song of 2010, “Now Loading… Sky,” but that’s because on closer listen, there’s not a whole lot that really stood out about that particular track. Beyond that, we’d like to think we’ve covered all of our bases, but if you’ve any others to share that you think were unjustly left out of it all, be sure to let us know!

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.

12 thoughts on “2010′s Anime Music in Review – Intros/Outros Edition

  • June 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm
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    I didn’t realize that the song by Angela went down so well, I loved it but thought that it was the sort of song everyone else would hate. As for Down Town, Kimi no Kirei ni Kizuiteokure I couldn’t agree more (and the music video for Kimi no Kirei ni Kizuiteokure was adorable).

    Thought I should put a word in for the most catchy songs brought out, which are both from ClariS, Irony was amazingly catchy and I still like to listen to it now, and Connect was catchy too, though due to it’s association with Madoka it no longer feels so light hearted, and feels like a song of helplessness. A catchy song though.

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  • June 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm
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    My favorites of the year would be Hikari no Senritsu and Inori no Kanata. The youtube videos don’t make them justice tho, especially Inori no Kanata @ 360p sounds really of.

    I also really liked ClariS work including some good B-sides.

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  • June 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm
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    The tv-size of Kigurumi Wakusei is pretty cool but the full version is AWESOME. The sort of early pseudo-bridge especially shows off the opera skillz of Takagaki. If the GOKIGENO! sets the mood for the song the bridge takes the song to lofty heights.

    I really liked a lot of the OP/ED themes from last year. To name a few not already mentioned here:

    I LOVED the House of the Five Leaves opening “Sign of Love” by Immi. It’s the song I play when I feel especially dead tired in the morning or need to take an early test. Something about playing it when the whole world is quiet relaxes me well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHf1ZAjrLMM

    I feel Maigo Inu to Ame Beat by Asian Kung-Fu Generation got overlooked a bit because of Etsuko Yakushimura’s ED for Tatami Galaxy but I think the OP is excellent. Catchy, singable, and fits the animation perfectly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgOUobL553o

    Despite what you think of the show you have to admit Passionate Squall the Seikon no Qwaser ED makes an impression. I actually wrote a piece on this for digitalboys Acadime awards that I realize now was never published….so much for that. http://youtu.be/zzSj8FRz9mk

    There were a couple songs that I liked for god knows what reason like:
    -Oshichau Zo! by AyaRuka the OP for Omamori Himari http://youtu.be/SIIaSwD_uSY
    -The strange Lady Gaga parody that is Sweet Romance the Yumepat Professional OP
    http://youtu.be/e6YfU3FjeAQ
    -Yuuki Rinrin the infectious Shin Koihime Musou ED http://youtu.be/RrQJNwyvisc
    -I don’t know why I enjoy singing Roulette the Heroman OP so much http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYbRcdiCYKU

    Lastly the greatest ED no one heard and no one will ever hear because getting the hands on the single much less the soundtrack is utterly impossible: Cobra the Animation ED – Kimi no Uta by Shigeru Matsuzaki http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTQ0MTM0NjYw.html
    It’s not even on youtube.

    P.S.
    Zzero is a K-On h8ter.

    Reply
  • June 11, 2011 at 10:50 pm
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    I actually liked Durara’s Uragiri no Yuyake… Also, Kuragehime theme are very good.

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  • June 12, 2011 at 3:37 am
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    Oshichau Zo? My god, there was someone else who liked that song other than me. And I forgot about The Tatami Galaxy Opening and Ending, both on my Ipod, great songs.

    Oh, and I’ll admit to liking the song Diver by ‘Nico Touches the Walls ‘ which was used in Naruto – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZWj-6fDckM.

    Also, I love the song “Everyday Sunshine Line!” by Natsuko Aso (the ED to Ichiban Ushiro no Daimuou), it is so upbeat and cheery, which I usually can’t stand, but I love in this case. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XUJdTipeZ8

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  • June 13, 2011 at 6:52 pm
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    You mention the ED to The World God Only knows but not the OP?

    I personally thought “God Only Knows” by ELISA was one of the best openings of the year. Eight full minutes of goodness.

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  • June 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm
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    Because zzero is currently busy overthrowing the government of Croatia with the CIA, I will step in to respond.

    @The Second Raid Fumoffu!
    The Seitokai ED was a favorite among the staff. It has a certain brash style to it that almost comes off as harsh but is done well enough to be enjoyable. It reminds me heavily of the Maria-Holic S1 OP for some reason, but that’s just me.

    As the earthquake fellow that the elderly man was talking about, I can attest that the SoreMachi OP was totally ace. As for ClariS, they certainly have come into prominence as of late, no surprise considering they were featured in the OP of two shows that were very successful with the otaku crowd. Thing is, like “Connect,” anisongs will forever be colored a little bit by the shows they were in, just like how the Pillows will forever be known to some as “the FLCL band.”

    @Ix (9?)
    Don’t leave me hanging like that, man. Finish that preposition! The suspense is killing me!

    In all seriousness, though, I’ll put up a higher quality version as soon as zzero is done toppling the political establishments of impoverished Eastern European countries.

    And we should definitely keep an eye on ClariS.

    @Taka
    Wow, what a list. Kigurumi Wakusei is indeed awesome. I don’t know how I kept it off my list. I’ve never heard the full version, but if Rasmus Faber’s version is anything to go by, I can expect great things.

    As for the Tatami OP, I loooooved it. It was my #2 OP/ED of 2010, but it was voted out of the best-of post and I forgot to mention it above. Thanks for giving it the attention it deserves.

    Rest assured, zzero may hate K-On, but I for one… wait, I also hate K-On.

    @Kuro
    Would’ve preferred a jazz followup to Brain’s Base’ Baccano! but Uragiri no Yuuyake definitely has its charms, though I don’t really like it until the chorus.

    @Fumoffu!!
    After the Curry of Life filler arc, I don’t think I’ll ever touch anything animated labeled as “Naruto” ever again. I’ll have to take your word for it.

    @random
    I loved the The World God Only Knows OP… given I pretend she is singing in Romanian or something. The beat is great, the melody is fantastic, but I just cannot get past that debilitating engrish. It commits both of the sins of foreigners using English in their songs:

    1) Bad pronunciation
    2) Bad grammar/syntax, etc.

    If it made sense, but was just pronounced terribly, then that’s somewhat acceptable. The reverse is a little less bearable but usually ok. The World God Only Knows’ did both things wrong and kept it off the list, at least in my book. I just couldn’t take it seriously, which is a shame because the music itself was great.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2011 at 11:46 am
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    Thanks for the list! Loved Sora no Woto’s, Kuragehime’s, Giant Killing’s and Durarara’s OP. The Angel Beats ED was really pretty. I also really liked Senkou no Night Raid’s OP Yakusoku, as well as Shinrei Tantei Yakumo’s OP Key and Arakawa’s second OP.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm
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    @ Nyitora
    Oh yes! Yakusoku! How could I have forgotten…? Yep, I agree that’s a pretty good openings. I remember when I first heard it, I was hooked on it for quite a while. It just gives off a sense of assurance, which I really like.

    As for Key, I’m not sure if you refer instead to its ED, Missing You by Komine Lisa. If so, I completely agree. Feel like kicking myself again for forgetting… If you meant Key… Well, I honestly thought the main vocals was a joke. Instrumental track was quite good though.

    Reply
    • June 14, 2011 at 9:39 pm
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      @Taka
      If you’re just going to list a batch of enjoyable tracks like that, you might as well join up and contribute to this site’s cause (/so not trying to poach you, heh). As for K-ON!, yeah, my hatin’ credentials are in full swing, but even I can say that the ED and Fuwa Fuwa were enjoyable. The OP/EDs for the second season, however, were not.

      Reply
  • June 15, 2011 at 8:05 am
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    @Zzeroparticle Utauyo Miracle was awesome. Though that was really a combination of musicals and visuals. Speaking of which I never cared for the top OP/ED in that other post. I can only see them having that much popularity based on the combination of visuals and music. They were both good but I wouldn’t even come close to considering them the best. Not to mention I though the Etsuko Yakushimaru song paled in comparison to Venus to Jesus. (related: I’m enjoying Denpa Onna’s ED by her)

    I can understand peoples distaste with Go Go Maniac.

    Also I barely contribute to Digitalboy’s site. I would consider it but I generally just don’t have enough time. I have to cram the majority of my anime viewing into the end of the week.

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  • June 29, 2011 at 12:51 am
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    Sora no Woto’s OP is pretty nice. I really like the traveler, folksy feel. But of all the 2010 anime OP/EDs in 2010, those by Etsuko Yakushimaru stick in my mind the most. I have become a huge fan of hers, as well as Soutaiseiriron. Such quirky style. ^ ^

    Reply

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