Data Mining the 50 Questions Posts in Relation to Anime Music

Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a trend in the anime blogosphere in which bloggers answer 50 questions about anime and about themselves. To my delight, Ace Railgun, who started this trend, did put a few questions related to anime music, and because so many took on the challenge of answering them (37 people, give or take a few), there’s quite a lot of data I could mine. And yes, me being who I am (a notorious procrastinator who will find any reason to duck out of doing schoolwork), I was curious enough to dig through every single one of these posts to see what observations I could make about the anime blogosphere as a whole on the soundtrack front.

Keep in mind that this is hardly scientific and only represents people who have been narcissistic enough to undertake such a writeup. This might be valuable, might not be. I just did it for amusement value and to satisfy my curiosity about anime blogger’s tastes in music. It’s a nice exercise at any rate and do forgive my tongue-in-cheek editorializing here and there. More after the jump.

Basically, the three questions bloggers were told to answer are as follows:

3. What is your favorite anime soundtrack?
4. What is your favorite anime opening + animation?
5. What is your favorite anime ending song + animation?

Observations

  • Most-mentioned soundtrack: Guity Crown (6 mentions).
    By most-mentioned, I mean that some bloggers listed more than one soundtrack while they were going through their favorites. Some people had difficulties picking a favorite and listed 3-4 soundtracks they really really enjoyed. Others had a clear favorite, but mentioned a few others. The runner-up was the soundtrack to ARIA the Animation (4 mentions). As an ARIA fanboy, this definitely made me happy that people recognized how enjoyable the soundtrack is. Other mentions include: Shiki soundtrack, 5 Centimeters per Second soundtrack, and K-ON!’s soundtrack (insert incredulous face on that last one).
  • Most of the entries suffered from recency bias.
    That is of the soundtracks listed, 25 out of the 60 listed are from relatively recent shows, or, for the purpose of this definition, shows that came out sometime in the last 3 years. Part of this isn’t a surprise since people are going to enjoy soundtracks of shows they’ve actually seen and if people’s memories are like mine, they’ll remember the more recent stuff with greater ease. Also, I’m tempted to say that many of these bloggers who’ve written the 50 Questions posts tend to be relatively newer fans and because of that, they haven’t had time or chance to see some of the older classics. At least, I’d like to think this explains why…
  • Only one person picked Cowboy Bebop’s soundtrack as their favorite.
    Granted, it’s not my favorite soundtrack either, but given the fact that when I trawl twitter to see what people are saying about anime soundtracks, you’ll inevitably find someone talking about how awesome Cowboy Bebop’s music was. Ditto goes for Samurai Champloo with its hip-hop/R&B influences, which seems to be a fan-favorite. Oh well. At least FLCL’s OST got mentioned twice. Power to The Pillows.
  • Some people (10% of respondents) still can’t tell the difference between soundtracks and OP/ED themes.
    This was actually slightly disappointing. I’m okay if people consider opening and ending themes as part of the soundtrack since there’s no denying how strong a role they play within the anime musical experience. But to mention opening and ending themes exclusively when expounding upon why one likes an anime soundtrack? A travesty!
  • Opening themes are all over the map.
    The tendency towards the recency bias mentioned above still stands, but there’s really no strong consensus on what people collectively enjoyed most. Repeated mentions include Shiki’s first OP (2 mentions), ef – a tale of memories OP (2 mentions), Baccano!’s jazztastic OP (2 mentions), and Nichijou’s OP theme (also 2 mentions.
  • People gravitate to Bakemonogatari’s ending theme.
    With 4 mentions, that was the top pick. Not hard to see why since the energy that ryo puts into his melodies and nagi’s vocals are absolutely awesome. Not even Haruhi’s “Hare Hare Yuukai” was able to take it down, though it was the runner-up with 2 mentions.
  • Regression stuff people who aren’t me can try doing: Figure out how long respondents have been fans of anime, try to determine correlations based on year released of favorite shows, scenes, characters, soundtracks, basically, the entire gamut of the questionnaire. There are probably other things you can do with all this data that someone with only one semester of statistics under his belt (me) haven’t even thought of. I’ll leave this as an exercise for someone more proficient in the art.

Hope you enjoyed this fun exercise. Feel free to debate/theorycraft/whatever below in the comments.

EDIT: Per Marina’s request, I’m throwing the spreadsheet here. The data is far from organized, but you can see what was going through my head when I did my analysis and what factors I considered.

About the author

zzeroparticle Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

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12 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Marina says:

    To make your findings even more interesting and believable, it would be helpful if you linked to the blogs that you surveyed. That a large number of answers for favorite OST are for newer anime and may come from newer anibloggers makes sense given that the 50 Questions trend works as a filler post when you don’t really know what else to post about, or are just killing time. It seems like those who have blogged for a good amount of time are already set in their grooves and don’t feel the need to reaffirm who they are for their readers.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on what you read :)

    • @Marina
      Oof, if you want me to do that, it might just be easier to link the Excel spreadsheet that I put together since 37-off blogs are a handful to actually link to in a post. This will be after I tidy it up, of course including maybe deleting some not-nice comments I wrote in there regarding people who can’t tell OP/EDs from the entire musical package.

      I do think you’re correct in that the vast majority of blogs surveyed are from newer sites who don’t have established readers and are trying to get their names out there and the anime selections are a good reflection of that. Once I clean up my spreadsheet, do expect to see it posted online. So stay tuned!

    • @Marina
      As a note, I’ve started prettying up the spreadsheet. You’ll find it towards the end of the post.

  2. chikorita157 says:

    Quite frankly, I took a course on Business Statsics and used a program called Minitab. Yeah, I even entered in the scores I gave for anime just to come up with a distribution. But yeah, the results seems interesting, although I kind of laugh at the K-On Soundtrack, which is very dubious although I did enjoy the anime.

    Someday, someone should really make a survey mostly on Anime music… I wonder what people would answer.

    • @chikorita157
      I was debating whether or not I should have loaded up the stats program I used last semester for this. I decided against it since the datasets weren’t large enough to justify it and opted for a simple Excel spreadsheet with conditional formatting.

      Good question as to what such a survey would entail. I’d be more inclined to run an anime music contest first though…

  3. random says:

    I wouldn’t say the results are surprising or anything. Recency bias happens with everything. If there’s a question about favorite anime on that survey, I’m sure the results are similar as far as recency goes.

    >People still can’t tell the difference between soundtracks and OP/ED themes.
    Sad, but not surprising. I often see anime reviews that only mention the OP/ED themes when it comes to the music section of the review.

    >Only one person picked Cowboy Bebop’s soundtrack as their favorite.
    This one is probably the most surprising one. People always mention Cowboy Bebop’s music whenever it comes up, so I’d certainly expect it to be mentioned more than once.

    • @random
      I’m wondering whether nostalgia bias can counter recency bias. That’s what I was kinda hoping for in this instance, but I guess the bulk of the respondents are newer fans, so that’s why the results skew the way they currently are.

      Guess there’s still a long ways to go in spreading the good word about anime music. I wonder what the best way of increasing awareness of this niche subject is… surely there have to be other options beyond just blogging. Heh.

  4. Mushyrulez says:

    Recency bias for some anibloggers (that is to say, me) probably is because of what you pointed out, that we’re recent fans. After all, if you want to episodically blog about anime, you’ve have to have (perhaps that was one have too many) seen newer anime, but not necessarily older ones. Well, perhaps not (with emperorj’s LoGH posts), but…

  5. kevo says:

    I facepalm so hard every time I say “soundtrack” and they start talking about theme songs. Now, I understand that not everyone is a soundtrack nerd like me, but I expect fans — and ESPECIALLY anibloggers — to understand the basic differences in what makes up an anime.

    I remember when once I referred to an anime as “scored beautifully by Yoko Kanno” and someone responded: who’s that? What score did they give it?

    • @kevo
      It’s pretty much grown to become a pet peeve at this point. I guess that’s why I’m jumping in on the panel circuit and doing some edumucating. Heh.
      “I really liked Fullmetal Alchemist’s soundtrack.”
      “Oh, I know! L’arc-en-Ciel are just absolutely awesome, aren’t they?”
      RAEG!

  6. random says:

    Info from the spreadsheet, for anyone who cares.

    Composers with more than one mention
    Hiroyuki Sawano: 10
    Yuki Kajiura: 8
    Yoko Kanno: 6
    Choro Club + Senoo: 5
    Taku Iwasaki: 3
    Jun Maeda: 3
    Joe Hisaishi: 3
    Kow Otani: 2
    Satoru Kosaki: 2
    Tenmon: 2
    Yasuharu Takanashi: 2
    Hajime Hyakokku: 2
    The Pillows + Shinkichi Mitsumune: 2

    Year breakdown
    2011: 22
    2010: 8
    2009: 5
    2008: 4
    2007: 3
    2006: 3
    2005: 9
    2004: 3
    2003: 1
    2002: 1
    2001: 1
    2000: 3
    1999: 0
    1998: 1
    1997: 1
    1996: 0
    1995: 0
    1994: 1
    1993: 0
    1992: 0
    1991: 1
    1990: 0
    1989: 0
    1988: 1

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