Previewing the Music For Summer 2011′s Anime Season

It’s that time of year again, and, with zzero currently busy making sure he doesn’t start WWIII and harming US-Japan relations, I have taken it upon myself to put together this preview of the music of this coming summer anime season. Those looking for frivolous trifles like “plot,” “seiyuu,” and other non-musical staffers can go somewhere else for their needs. Here, it’s all about dat muzak. Click past the jump for them composers!

Because it’s just me this time, following the usual brief blurbs, I will include a quickie ratings score as a concise summary of my rough expectations of the soundtrack of the show. The ratings are not absolute and all contain a level of uncertainty, as they are predictions, not reviews. The higher the number, the higher the chance that the music will not suck. The ratings will be on a scale from lol to 5:

5- Chances are good that the score will be of consistently high quality that greatly enhances the experience.

4- Expect an enjoyable listen, with a solid number of fantastic moments.

3- Look forward to an entirely competent soundtrack with some great, if unremarkable ideas.

2- Nothing particularly of note, or perhaps there is a major caveat that I suspect may prevent the score from succeeding.

1- Don’t get your hopes up. There is a chance that the soundtrack will be phoned-in, distracting, lackluster, or otherwise unenjoyable in some way.

lol- lol

N/A- I cannot make a reasonable assessment with my given experience/resources.

Appleseed XIII
Composer: Conisch
Synopsis: Elite LAPD SWAT operative Deunnan Knotts and her cyborg buddy Brialeos defend the city of Olympus, which has become the world’s hub of control in an age of near global destruction. Also, they go around philanthropically planting apple trees, spreading their message of love and peace.
Thoughts: The composer for this one scored everything from To Heart to Mardock Scramble, and that’s only from a total of 8 different anime works, so there’s not much consistent history on which to base an assumption. His work on Hetalia and Linebarrels of Iron can lead you to suspect orchestration interspersed with synthesizer untz, with a heavy emphasis on distorted piano. Having no previous experience with this studio or franchise, I’m willing to give it a shot based on the plot summary alone.
Rating: 3

Blood-C
Composer: Naoki Sato
Synopsis: A Production I.G. original production based in the existing Blood world. A sword-wielding girl does violent things as tidbits about her mysterious past are slowly revealed. At one point, a boy enters the scene and shakes things up a bit. She may cry at one point, thinking over the sad things that have occurred. There may be an ambiguous ending.
Thoughts: I actually find myself rather looking forward to this one, as Naoki Sato was also responsible for the music behind Eureka 7, a score known for its eclectic genres and wide scope. Sato can be a bit over the top at times, but there will likely be plenty to look forward to here. I’ll definitely be checking this one out, if only for the director/studio combo and to see how it stacks up against Eureka.
Rating: 3

Gosick Dantalian no Shoka
Composer: Yo Tsuji
Synopsis: A black-haired blond guy becomes acquainted with a gothic lolita, book-loving, blond black-haired girl in the top floor basement of a library. The girl has read watches over all of the books in the library. Together, they use deduction and reasoning magic and happenstance to solve the mysteries behind what’s happened.
Thoughts: Being a Gainax production with a number of pretty high-profile seiyuu, I’m rather surprised that a more well-known composer wasn’t signed on for Dantalian. Tsuji has a paltry seven anime lead composer credits under his belt, and only 3 of them were in this past decade. Often, a composer with such a short, staccato name signifies some fresh faced hotshot trying to make himself stand out with a flashy (see: Tite Kubo) pseudonym, but that obviously isn’t the case here, with his earliest work dating back to 1991. I expect dramatic strings and quaint European countryside-style music. Call this one the wild card of the season.
Rating: N/A

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée: The Animation
Composer: Yoyo Ma Ko-Ko-Ya
Synopsis:Japanese influence is starting to bleed over into the West, as Yune, a young Japanese girl follows a man named Oscar on his journey back to France. The true meaning of love and friendship is learned by all, as Yune is taken in by Oscar and his family.
Thoughts: The plot description sounds pretty slice-of-lifey, doesn’t it? Is this the kind of animusic Ko-Ko-Ya does best? No one really knows, because they’ve only done the music to one other show before, and that was Ristorante Paradiso back in 2009. Incidentally, I absolutely adored the soundtrack to Ristorante, with its folky-Italian-villa lilt and relaxed, laid back, I’ll-get-to-it-eventually attitude that wasn’t afraid to pull some emotional punches. Given the potential similarities in tone between that show and Ikoku, I have high expectations for Ko-Ko-Ya and their sophomore anime effort.
Rating: 4

Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel: Kyun Kyun Tokimeki Paradise!!
Composer: lol
Synopsis: lol
Thoughts: lol pachinko game adaptation lol KugiRie lol JC Staff lol
Rating: lol


Kami-sama no Memo-chou
Composer: Taku Iwasaki
Synopsis: Narumi Fujishima is a bit of an outcast. One day, a classmate named Ayaka asks him if he wants to join the gardening club, introducing Narumi to a hikkikomori sleuth named Alice. Hijinks ensue, and they find the rabbit hole goes deeper than they suspect regarding their investigation on a certain illegal drug called “Angel Fix.”
Thoughts: Awww yeah. In an almost humorous contrast to Kaitou Tenshi above, JC Staff seems to be giving it their all on this one. With veritable superstar composer Taku Iwasaki on board and a director that contributed significantly to works like Toradora and Revolutionary Girl Utena at the helm, this show has one of the best pedigrees of the season, and thus perhaps one of the highest expectations. Also (plus?), the hikkikomori chick looks like a loli version of HanaIro’s Minchi.
Rating: (cautiously) 5


Kamisama Dolls
Composer: Masara Nishida
Synopsis: Drinking is involved, and people are wrongly accused of murder. In other news, I don’t really take these synopses seriously.
Thoughts: Nishida’s work thus for on projects like Kodomo no Jikan and Karin can be said to be competent at best, uninspiring at worst. He has done some decent work as an OP/ED arranger, but hasn’t had a breakthrough composer role just yet. Brain’s Base works tend to have very good music, though, so that alone puts me on the positive side of indifferent.
Rating: 2

Mawaru Penguin Drum
Composer: Yukari Hashimoto
Synopsis: Features the life of siblings Kanba, Shouma, and Himari Takakura. It may involve a penguin. Otherwise, no one really knows what it’s about.
Thoughts: Vestigial relations with Toradora and Utena seem to be a recurring theme for the soundtracks to look forward to this season, as Mawaru features the composer and director, respectively, to those two works. To say I’m excited for this is an understatement; the maestro who composed this gem and the man who directed one of the most seminal works of the past two decades? Consider me intrigued. Hashimoto has yet to have her own “hit,” so to speak, but her work on Toradora (and various ED compositions with SHAFT) was just so spot-on and well executed that it’s hard not to get worked up over this, especially considering the fantastic music behind Utena.
Rating: 5


Mayo Chiki!
Composer: Yukari Hashimoto
Synopsis: For some reason, 17-year-old Kanade Suzutsuki has a butler named Konoe Subaru who is the same age as she is. Konoe apparently does not need an education. One day, classmate Kinjirou discovers that Konoe is actually a girl (which draws attention to how feminine all the other guys in the school must have looked if Konoe was able to pass as a guy for that long). Wacky hijinks ensue.
Thoughts: In an ironic twist, Yukari Hashimoto’s other project for this season falls next in alphabetical order. Perhaps it was because I allowed the director to boost my expectations of Mawaru’s score, but I’m somehow expecting less out of Mayo. I enjoyed the more dramatic, orchestrated musical moments of Toradora than the comedy scoring. While Mawaru at least has hints to a more serious side, considering the genderbending scenario behind Mayo Chiki!, it looks like the funnier tone of Toradora may prevail. Don’t expect sheer mediocrity, just an acceptable competency. How Hashimoto went from working with the director of freaking Revolutionary Girl Utena to composing for the studio that brought us KissxSis and Yosuga no Sora is like a girl designing propulsion systems for NASA Monday through Friday and then working at Hooters on the weekends. Actually, that would be awesome. Mayo Chiki!, I think, won’t be.
Rating: 3


NO.6
Composer: Keiichi Suzuki
Synopsis: (Stolen from THAT) The story is set in No. 6, a future model city in 2013. Raised as a top-ranking elite since the age of 2, a boy named Shion lives in an exclusive area in No. 6. On the night of his 12th birthday, he rescues a boy who calls himselfNezumi (Rat). Nezumi ran away from the city’s Special Security Area. From that moment on, Shion’s life is changed forever…
Thoughts: High profile studio, high profile timeslot, newbie director, low key composer. Keiichi hasn’t done much composing for anime, and his most notable work in the past decade was the soundtrack to Tokyo Godfathers, which you’d think would give him a boost in composer roles. At the very least, as we learned from Fractale, a Noitamina show may suck, but it can still have some great music.
Rating: 4


Usagi Drop
Composer: Suguru Matsutani
Synopsis: I liked this one because I already knew the plot. Daikichi is a 30 y/o bachelor whose mother is always pestering him to get married. At his grandfather’s funeral, he discovers that grandpa’s been secretly raising an illegitimate child. When no one in his family is man enough to step in and take care of her, a frustrated Daikichi takes on the challenge. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. It will be heartwarming and adorable.
Thoughts: The Nodame composer in my Usagi Drop? Much fun will be had. Mautsutani has literally never worked on anything else other than the Nodame franchise anime-wise (other than a live-action adaptation of Touch [which is still awesome]); it will be interesting to see what he can bring to the table with Usagi. Considering how heavily the setting affected the Nodame scores, this may turn towards the more mundane, but I greatly anticipate how he handles the more dramatic moments.
Rating: 4

Uta no Prince-sama: Maji Love 1000%
Composer: Elements Garden
Synopsis: Girl and multiple love interests. Idol training school. Bishounen. Contrived exposition.
Thoughts: No thoughts. Just rage.
Rating: 1

Yuru Yuri
Composer: Yasuhiro Misawa
Synopsis: Four friends do fun things afterschool in a clubroom. One All of them may be a lesbian are definitely lesbians.
Thoughts: I’m holding out on this one because it’s the director/series composer/music composer trifecta from the first season of Minami-ke. Otherwise, I’m not expecting much from the music.
Rating: 2

Final Thoughts:

Did I miss anything? Forget to mention a show you were looking forward to? Totally miss the point? Let me know in the comments, or drop any other tidbits you’d like us to know. There were more 1′s and lol’s than I would have liked, but you shouldn’t take those scores seriously anyway. All in all, in terms of music, will we ever have another Cowboy Bebop or Aria? I like to think so. Will it be this season? Probably not.

About the author

Aftershok A huge jazz nerd and unabashed fan of alternative rock, I joined Anime Instrumentality in December 2010. I tend to get very passionate when it comes to music and try my best to understand how it works. An enormous fan of The Pillows, among my favorite anime composers include Ko Otani and Yoko Kanno. My tastes in anime vary wildly, but I try to be as thoughtful about my viewing as I am about my listening. I play the saxophone.

9 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Maxwell says:

    As far as i know the Kamisama Dolls OST will be composed by Chiaki Ishikawa and Masara Nishida, and Masara is the usual arranger of her songs.

    here is the info (in japanese) http://kamisama-anime.jp/music/

  2. Joojoobees says:

    The two shows I’m most looking forward to are Ikoku Meiro no Croisée and Kami-sama no Memo-chou and my curiosity is strongly piqued by Penguin Drum, so I’m right there with ya.

  3. chikorita157 says:

    lol pachinko game adaptation lol KugiRie lol JC Staff lol

    Typical JC Staff, oh we love you all.

    In all seriousness, the only summer show that caught my attention is Ikoku Meiro no Croisée: The Animation but pretty much it. This year’s Summer offerings are extremely dry, compared to Spring and Winter offerings.

  4. ottocycle says:

    Let’s not forget Sacred Seven which is another one worthy of note besides Satou and Iwasaki in terms of composer pedigree, what with Sahashi Toshihiko making his grand comeback through this show. Last time Sunrise and Sahashi came together, it was Gundam Seed Destiny and that score was nothing short of win. Definitely a 5-pointer for me.

    The other one I’d like to add is Takada Ryuuichi who will be doing his solo composer debut in Idolm@ster. All this time I’ve heard him playing second fiddle to Kousaki Satoru with stuff like Star Driver and the Haruhi Disappearance movie, and to Nakatsuru Junichi with Namco game franchise scores like Soul Calibur and Ace Combat. I hope he doesn’t trip with the stage all to himself this time. 2.5 points from me.

  5. Jen says:

    Oh yes, Sacred Seven! I’m excited about both the soundtrack and Fiction Junction doing the OP. As for Ishikawa’s first shot at composing a soundtrack… Can only say that I’m cautious…

  6. Suda says:

    I’m particularly waiting for Memo-chou’s Iwasaki, and Usagi Drop’s Suguru Matsutani, since everything else I’m watching this season is moeblob and then there’s Blood C. Haven’t heard any of Sato’s works.

  7. Yi says:

    I was very impressed with all the music in the three series I’m watching so far: Croisee, Usagi, and Penguin. I found Croisee’s and Usagi’s especially nice, very beautiful styles and very relaxing respectively.

    “Yoyo Ma Ko-Ko-Ya”
    Loll, I see what you did. ^ ^

  8. macattack says:

    “No thoughts. Just rage.”

    Bit curious about this comment. Elements Garden usually does pretty decent music. Ga Rei Zero is a powerful Hollywood-esque score and Sola was probably this composing group’s finest work emotion-wise.

  9. Aftershok says:

    @Max
    Ah, I just figured one of them was just a performer of something, thanks for the correction.

    @Joojoo
    Agreed, Mawaru will be (and so far has been) awesome.

    @chikorita
    Ikoku has proven to be a sweet little slice-of-lifer, but I refuse to believe a season is all that bad if Ikuhara is at last working on another show (Mawaru).

    @otto
    I was unable to find the composer for S7 at the time of writing, but thanks for setting that straight. Hopefully that show doesn’t follow suit ala Seed Destiny, where a terrible show was propped up by a great soundtrack. As for Idolm@ster, I had no idea Ryuuichi was involved in those other projects. I haven’t exactly been keeping up with that show, but I wish him all the best.

    @Jen
    Better cautious than wary. Wait.

    @Suda
    The music for Memo-chou has so far been excellent, but I am tiring quickly of JC Staff’s bland direction and ambitionless screenplays.

    @Yi
    I expect great things from all three of those, especially Usagi and Mawaru.

    My jokes. They are legendary.

    @macattack
    You may have caught me with my pants down, here, as I was talking more about the show than the music. Talking about a show about becoming an idol and cycling through multiple 2-dimensional pigeon-holed musical love interests, my intention was (somewhat unfairly) to convey that the soundtrack would be similarly dismissable. Sorry for any confusion.

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