Intro by zzeroparticle: For those of you who follow this site pretty closely, you may have noticed that the Fall 2011 preview was conspicuously absent. School hammered me pretty hard and I just wasn’t able to find the time to put it together. To make amends, allow me to say this: Kousuke Yamashita’s work on Chihayafuru’s soundtrack is my most anticipated anime soundtrack from the current crop of Fall shows. Yes, I’m looking forward to it more than I’m looking forward to Yuki Kajiura’s work on Fate/Zero and more than Hiroyuki Sawano’s work on Guilty Crown. If you’ve never been exposed to Kousuke Yamashita’s work on either Glass Fleet or Shion no Ou and enjoy good music, you owe it to yourself to give both soundtracks a whirl just to see what he’s capable of.
Anyway, this niche column once again makes its return for Winter 2012. And like columns past, this one is sparse on plot elements since its focus is on the composer rolls, stuff they’ve done in the past, and wild speculation as to how well their music will mesh with the series in question. Onwards and sideways! (Note: sequels are not covered here.)
Ano Natsu de Matteru
Composer: I’ve Sound (but mostly Maiko Iuchi)
Synopsis: A romantic comedy involving two girls, Ichika Takatsuki and Remon Yamano and a boy, Kaito Kirishima.
Zzero’s Thoughts: As long as Maiko Iuchi reins in the heavy electronica he generally uses when working on I’ve Sound’s vocal projects, I think I’ll live. Those were probably the tracks that bugged me the most when I listened through Toaru Majutsu no Index’s soundtrack, but given that this is a rom-com, I’m hoping the heavy electronica will either be toned down or be absent altogether. Those types of pieces are really the only ones I didn’t like about Index anyhow; the rest of them were generally pleasant, enjoyable, if not overly memorable.
Yu’s Thoughts: Maiko Iuchi’s score for Toaru Kagaku no Railgun was decent, and I did enjoy the few slice of life tracks mixed in with the electronica battle stuff. If him scoring a romantic comedy means more of the slice of life pieces, this album might actually be okay. However, it’s also very possible that he’ll just incorporate synth into his slice of life compositions, and those kinds of OSTs are usually pretty mediocre.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: I’ve got few nice things to say about Iuchi’s work on Railgun, and his lack any other notable releases doesn’t have me looking forward to Ano Natsu. There might be a synthesizer.
Composer: Kou Otani
Synopsis: 26 years ago, an honors student suddenly dies and in 1998, a fearful aura continues to hang over the classroom as Koichi Sakakibara transfers in.
Zzero’s Thoughts: If I had decided to talk about the web series Kyosogiga in this article, I could have made a joke about Another anime scored by Kou Otani, but alas. It is interesting to see him working on a Japanese horror anime considering that none of his past works suggests that his strength is in this area. You’d think something like this would go to Yasuharu Takanashi, but he’s probably overloaded at this point with PreCure and Fairy Tail’s soundtrack. Still, the snippets of music in the preview does fit the creepy mold, and I do hope to see his music immerse me in the show’s horror atmosphere since it’s definitely a show I’ll be checking out this winter.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: Like zzero mentioned, Otani has never scored a show like this before, and it intrigues me how his style will adapt to this sort of setting. Some of you may know that Kou is my favorite composer, but I haven’t heard anything truly impressive from him in a long time. Only thing that worries me, though, is that horror OST’s generally consist of not much more than slowly crescendoing high-pitched strings and boomy percussion. I hope Kou will be able to break the mold, but don’t know if his typically reserved style will find a home here.
Composer: Yoko Kanno
Synopsis: 12,000 years after the events in Aquarion, the reincarnated characters return once more to fight enemies from another world in their giant robot while making pleasurable noises when their individual machines combine to form said giant robot.
Zzero’s Thoughts: I think I said something about no sequels being on here. Well, time to make this entry the sole exception to the rule. So when this anime was announced, I had a hunch that Yoko Kanno would make her return here and that turned out to be right, bringing with it a bit of excitement. After all, hasn’t there a big time gap between this and the Macross Frontier movies? The question though is what new tracks Kanno will be composing and whether it can live up to the work she did for Aquarion. “First Love Final Love” isn’t my favorite Kanno finale piece for nothing and if she can deliver the same sort of epicness in this Aquarion incarnation, I’ll be a very happy music reviewer.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: Who is this fresh-faced newcomer? This certainly isn’t the washed-up composer that crumbled into a flaming pile of disappointment in Darker than Black or the one whose reputation is becoming increasingly stained with accusations of plagiarism! Hopefully this newbie will be able to make a name for herself in this soundtrack!
Black Rock Shooter
Composer: ryo (supercell)
Synopsis: Split between school life and alternate universe sequences, the Black Rock Shooter OVA saw Mato Kuroi’s bond with her new friend Yomi Takanashi grow as Mato enters a new school. Meanwhile, in an alternate universe, Black Rock Shooter finds herself involved in a struggle of epic proportions against her nemesis, Dead Master.
Zzero’s Thoughts: Given how strongly ryo’s career has skyrocketed in terms of his melodies’ popularity, one might be tempted to eagerly await what he has in store for Black Rock Shooter’s soundtrack. This eagerness is tempered by the fact that the soundtrack might not be anything more than arrangements of ryo’s music, making him less of a primary composer than simply a source for arrangers to draw from. We’ll just have to find out.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: I doubt Mr. Oh-so-busy ryo will actually sit down to compose all the cute little incidental numbers for this score. Expect a soundtrack with him receiving too much credit for too little work. They’re moving on name recognition here, and he’ll contribute, at most, one or two battle themes, or maybe an OP/ED. Expect remixed versions of his older songs. OR I’ll eat my words, and this will be a lovely soundtrack with lots of new, exciting themes composed for the show by none other than the supercell man himself.
Yu’s Thoughts: The first BRS OVA had a soundtrack that was very much meh, with nothing in it that stuck with me after listening to it a few times. The only exception would be the Black Rock Shooter song, but that was composed before the OVA. I’m expecting more unremarkable things from this. That is, unless the second OVA just reuses all the music from the first one. After all, everyone knows BRS is just running off of the popularity of the original video.
Composer: Seikou Nagaoka
Synopsis: The adventures of 10 legendary warriors from Japan’s Sengoku period.
Zzero’s Thoughts: Normally, a soundtrack by Seikou Nagaoka would be cause for some optimism, as I did like the work that he put into Strike Witches. The character themes were very fitting and the music composed for action sequences were outright inspiring. Eagerness quickly turned to disappointment as I checked out the PV, though, where I was treated to a bunch of generic action tunes. Nothing stood out, nothing was very compelling musically, and watching that effectively killed any excitement I might have had for this series. Someone call in Sawano since he actually did a decent job with Sengoku Basara.
Daily Lives of High School Boys
Composers: Audio Highs
Synopsis: A slice of life comedy revolving around… what else? high school boys.
Zzero’s Thoughts: The team responsible for the Bakuman and Gintama soundtracks makes their return once more with what will most likely be yet another eclectic soundtrack. I could see their works going well with gag anime given the snippets that I’ve listened to from Gintama, but somehow, I don’t think it’ll do anything beyond fitting in with the anime.
Yu’s Thoughts: Comedies almost never have memorable music, that’s all that needs to be said.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: Comedies often have memorable music, that’s all that needs to be said.
High School DxD
Composer: Ryosuke Nakanishi
Synopsis: Issei Hyodo finds himself killed on his very first date and reincarnated as a devil serving Riasu, a devil who also happens to be the prettiest girl on campus.
Zzero’s Thoughts: Beyond his work on Majikoi, Nakanishi doesn’t really have that many composer credits to his name. Most of his work history has been in arranging; he’s done a lot of work arranging the likes of the B-side on Sketch Switch as well as composer credits for the odd track here and there from Kiniro no Corda and Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 Kurenai no Tsuki. I haven’t seen any of the shows listed here, so his body of work is effectively still an unknown quantity. Given that I don’t hear much raving about his works, I can safely assume I’m not missing out.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: Having actually seen some of Majikoi, I can assure you I don’t remember a thing about the music. That can mean one of only three things:
1) The show did not have music.
2) The music was so awful that I forced myself to forget everything about it.
3) The music was highly unmemorable.
Whichever one it is, it doesn’t look good for High School.
Composers: Elements Garden
Synopsis: Marika Kato, a high schooler, finds out one day that her father was once the captain of the space pirate ship, the Bentenmaru. Because of how the succession rules work amongst space pirates, Marika is to inherit her father’s position and embarks on a new life filled with adventure.
Zzero’s Thoughts: As an entity, Elements Garden doesn’t seem to have many anime soundtracks to their credit, but when you break it down into individual composers like Noriyasu Agematsu and Fujita Junpei, you’ve got quite a few titles ranging from White Album to Ga-Rei -Zero-. All of these soundtracks have been enjoyable, and given the grand odyssey that this anime hints at in the synopsis, the music should be very fitting, especially if Agematsu brings the action-oriented flair he’s offered us through the Wild Arms series of video games.
Yu’s Thoughts: Noriyasu Agematsu did a great job with Ga-Rei -Zero-‘s soundtrack. It demonstrated that he could write both depressing and upbeat themes and have both sound good. Hopefully this displayed versatility will apply to this soundtrack, because if it does, I’ll be looking forward to this release.
Recorder to Randoseru
Composer: Takaaki Anzai
Synopsis: An adaptation of a 4-koma, this series focuses upon Atsushi, who is 11 years old but looks much older than that and his sister Atsumi, who is 17, but still looks like an elementary school student.
Zzero’s Thoughts: Is there really that much one can say about this show? The composer is a virtual unknown; the people I know who watched Fortune Arterial didn’t really have much to say about the music. And judging from the levels of (non)hype surrounding this series, I’d say Anzai’s compositions will register on my radar in some other series far into the future. Just not this one.
Rinne no Lagrange
Composer: Saeko Suzuki
Synopsis: Kyono Madoka rides a robot and fights against aliens.
Zzero’s Thoughts: The anime titles that I most associate with this particular composer are the Keroro Gunsou movies. The downside? I haven’t actually gone out of my way to give any of them a full listen-through. Based off of a few samples of tracks from those aforementioned OSTs, I can say that none of it sounds really all too compelling since they’re really all too short for the composer to really be able to strut her stuff and write music that really makes me sit up and take notice.
Sennhime Zesshou Symphogear
Composers: Elements Garden
Synopsis: Vocalists Tsubasa and Kanade team up to fight against monsters simply known as Noise.
Zzero’s Thoughts: While I have little faith in this show’s ability to execute its premise in a way that’ll leave me entertained, I will say that having Elements Garden on board leaves me with much hope on the musical front. Elements Garden’s vocal music has generally jibed with me, and given of this show’s idol-centric focus, I do hope to see them bring forth some memorable pop songs that’ll stick with me for a long time to come. After all, many of my favorite works of theirs features Nana Mizuki’s stunning vocals (see “Justice to Believe” from Wild Arms V). And wait… Nana Mizuki is also going to be in this anime? Sounds like a winning combination to me!
Zzero’s Final Thoughts: Winter 2012 seems to be a barren season. None of the plot synopses looks particularly exciting beyond the three or four sequels that I just might follow. Furthermore, the composers that have been called up to score these shows haven’t been all too compelling, either. Aside from the likes of Yoko Kanno, Kou Otani, Elements Garden, and maybe Audio Highs, this upcoming season is lacking in the big names, or even the lesser names of much merit. Kajiura is probably continuing on with Fate/Zero and Iwasaki frankly does need to take a break to let his creative juices rest since his last couple efforts have been lackluster compared to his usual ability to impress. If nothing else, this upcoming season might be just what I need to catch up on some of the soundtracks from 2011 that have passed me by. And for that matter, catch up on 2011 anime too.