Heralding our 4th Year, Some Musings, Some Polling

FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS!

Thankfully, there are no such things as term limits here, so we can assert our power over the anime music space with impunity, indefinitely. As long as the quality of anime music continues to stay its course, we’ll be here for a long time to come. After all, the quality of anime may go through cycles, but we’ve yet to encounter any similar sorts of trends in anime music, which has remained remarkably consistent.

From the post title, yes, we are entering our 4th year. Also known as the length of time most people will take to graduate from undergrad. Or how long Pep Guardiola has coached FC Barcelona. Or the lifespan of the almighty Didelphis virginiana when raised in captivity. These inane comparisons only further the idea that four years is a weird spot to be in as far as festivities are concerned. 1 year is a fine milestone. 2-year milestones are also worth celebrating since it’s the only even prime. 3-year anniversaries are worthy because it means you’ve gone through endless trials by fire and have a very good chance at avoiding blog death (as opposed to dying in a blogging accident or something). 5 years is also a fine number and makes it a great moment to dig into our history. But 4? What can we celebrate with 4? Well, there’s never a bad time to reaffirm what we’re all about.

Where anime music is and what we foresee happening

The anime music fandom has come a long way. From the early days, anime music never seemed to get much recognition, when it did, it was either people talking about J-pop OP/EDs or confined to a fansites dedicated to one specific composer. There’d be the occasional conversation to pop up on forums/messageboards, but the dialogue would either fizzle fast or lack substance; you can only squeeze so much participation out of a “Name your favorite tune” thread anyhow.

Needless to say, in the face of these conditions, building an anime music site that 1) tried to go more in-depth into anime music through reviews and 2) provided no downloads (I know, right?) was a daunting task in terms of drawing general interest. But the passion of its author(s) (and a healthy dose of stubbornness) carried the site through to where it is today. We’ve managed to expand our presence a slight bit with me interviewing with Justin from Organization Anti-Social Geniuses and Aftershok appearing on the Anime Afterlife Podcast. And as we look around, we can’t help but feel that people are talking about the musical component just a wee bit more. Whether this is more a function of the people we converse with over Twitter, it’s hard to say, but things have been looking up for quite some time, and we’re pretty happy with all the work we’ve poured in, gushing over the latest score and interacting with all of you.

We’d like to think that, as a result of our efforts, we’ve been able to gradually bring the anime music niche out of obscurity and into a larger portion of anime fans’ consciousness. The realization of the extent to which music is integral to drawing out the emotional impact or accentuate the action in certain scenes is an important one because it’s the foundation upon which we can build upon to make people aware that the musical side is enthralling enough to be worth experiencing on a standalone basis.

So hopefully, our work has paid off! The biggest sign that this might become relatively more mainstream (sorry, fellow hipsters!) is when an outfit like Random Curiosity enters the soundtrack reviewing game. My hope is that, with their huge number of readers, they can convert a few into rabid soundtrack geeks, which will make for a greater diversity of discourse and opinions. It’s certainly not an opportunity to be wasted in any case and we’ll be keeping a close eye on them.

The short road ahead

There’s not a whole lot planned for the immediate future. That said, there is one important thing I’d like to announce:

Remember that Composer Profile thing we did way back when? Truth be told, that was one hell of a fun project! Time-consuming, yes, but very fun since we got a chance to sample a composer’s anime discography in all its entirety and explore how they’ve evolved stylistically over the years. Everything was fine and good until we got to Kenji Kawai.

If there’s anything we learned by listening to his music, it’s that he composes way too much and, on top of that, nearly all of his compositions are terrible. We have no clue what people see in him since it’s rare to see people praise anything of his beyond Seirei no Moribito and Fate/Stay Night. And because of that, it pretty much killed our motivation to continue. Do people care that we skip over Kenji Kawai? We sure don’t want to torture ourselves by listening to his music any more than we have to and so, we’re going to skip him entirely.

Some polls are important; some more important than others

So if you even keep up on events in the world of anime blogging, you will know that there are some polls going on at the moment. In fact, we’re going to be in one of those polls sometime soon. That said, polling isn’t the best metric when judging quality because of so many confounding factors, so instead, we’d like to turn to those who appreciate the musical side of the anime fandom and ask how we can be even better at what we do. So for the regulars who’ve come to rely upon Anime Instrumentality as a resource for musical recommendations, musings, and information, we’re curious to know about the following:

  • We never did get much feedback on our Weekly Music Musings and I’m really curious what people think of it. It’s one of those little side projects we came up with as a way to break out of the more formal review structure and simply let my mind float wherever the music takes me. So in that respect, the Weekly Musings succeed. But do people actually find it interesting? I’m all for scrapping it entirely if people find it boring, but if people do find it valuable, it’ll become a mainstay for an indefinite period of time until we come up with something more awesome. Or maybe we just need to post on less-obscure series as we’re wont to do.
  • It’s actually kind of hard to come up with new ideas/projects to undertake (the weekly musings are a thought, though the jury is still out on how effective that is), so we’re curious as to whether people have any thoughts on what new content we could potentially offer. For that matter, are we even asking the right questions?
  • Finally, this isn’t so much a question as much as it’s a thank you to all the readers who’ve responded to that poll I put up for my Japan tourism project. The data we got from anime fans pretty much dwarfs every other demographic, and left some of my group members confused about some of the responses, which is pretty much just as planned. We’re still collecting data, so anyone who wants to put in their thoughts can still do so. All I can say is that we’ll have some damn interesting recommendations to give to the JTA once it comes time to present.

So with our eyes firmly fixed on the future, we enter our fourth year! Wish us luck, enjoy our continuing stream of thoughts, and we look forward to hearing from you all!

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.

40 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. random says:

    Yes, more composer profiles please. They were some of the most interesting posts on this blog. I don’t really care if you skip Kawai. It looks like all his votes came from MAL-like sites anyways, so they don’t really matter. Just replace him with a good composer that didn’t make the list.

    I like the Weekly Musings since it guarantees at least one post a week. The selected tracks have been nice too.

    • @random
      Yeah, I’ve never really gotten a good answer out of Kawai fans and my reaction towards him ranking so high is one of puzzlement. If only I knew what work of his people find themselves so enamored by!

      And from the standpoint of the weekly musings, I do have something whipped up for tomorrow. And it’ll make up for last week’s absence partly due to projects/finals!

  2. chikorita157 says:

    Also, it’s kind of interesting how you bring up Anime Music becoming mainstream in the blogosphere as there are also a few blogs that focus on music, but not in the same way. Of course, I focused on music occasionally since it’s something I grew up with as a child when I had piano lessons. But yeah, good luck on the fifth year… I’ll still be around since I got new hosting (in the process of moving to) and I’m doing it in the long run. Cheers!

    • @chikorita157
      Yeah, as much as more people are writing about anime music, most aren’t going in nearly as much depth since the most common way of going about it is to write lists of what the author’s favorite pieces are. Thanks for the well wishes. I don’t know if I’ll have to switch hosts given what Scamp has gone through, so something to keep in the back of my mind.

      • chikorita157 says:

        Oddly enough, I never see downtime on this site compared to mine as I suffered numberous downtimes with them. Unfortinate for me, I suffered probably 20+ hours of downtime with them and to add salt to the wounds, tech support don’t even respond until hours later. But seeing that you have a bigger package and don’t get over 1000 visitors a day, you should be fine… but keep a lookout on downtime (Pingdom is a useful tool in monitoring it).

  3. V says:

    I love the composer profiles because it gives me expanded my understanding of the different genres did my composer done… I don’t mind if you skipped Kenji Kawai because I didn’t like his music much anyway, except for some in Fate/Stay night and Sky crawlers… I would like to see some from Hiroyuki Sawano :P
    I haven’t read the weekly musings much since I preferred instrumentals…

    • @V
      I really liked listening to Hisaishi’s music and how he transitioned from electronic/synth music over to the refined orchestral sound that’s been his hallmark for quite some time. Of course, he does cheat by having an orchestra backing him up, but it’s still nice nonetheless. Sawano is someone we’ll have to cover for sure. As for the weekly musings, most of those are instrumentals! I think…

  4. Kaikyaku says:

    - Go ahead and skip Kenji Kawai. It’d be nice to see the series back again. As far as I am concerned, you guys can choose whomever you want.

    – For the MMMs, I will always check the title of the posts. If it’s a piece or series I know or am particularly interested in, I’ll definitely read it. Otherwise I’ll read it if I have some extra time. I like the idea of being able to focus on one song or a small selection of songs that have some special significance or impact. It also gives some deeper insights into your personal tastes. I’d definitely like to see the series continue.

    – I see the value in reviewing an anime soundtrack as a whole, but for a lot of series there are a couple songs that seem more iconic. I think the MMM is a good opportunity to place more focus on these, or you might consider doing some comparisons across series, i.e. take two battle themes or two hero themes and look into what defines them as such and what makes them unique. I’d be interested in some more content around the role of the soundtrack in the larger picture. Another idea would be looking into the difference influences reflected on some soundtracks (for example, the Wolf’s Rain music was influenced by Brazilian music) and seeing how different styles have found there way into various soundtracks and why. It would probably take a lot of research though.

    I hope this helps!

    • @Kaikyaku
      I kinda figured that part of the reason was that I tended to pick from relatively more obscure series for the MMM posts. Thought about picking something more people have seen, but… where’s the fun in that?

      That last suggestion also gives me an excellent idea to work with for this upcoming MMM installment. Thanks!

  5. Joojoobees says:

    I have learned a lot from this site, and the composer profiles really are good for that, because, instead of just an appreciation, it is a rare opportunity to see across the individual works. I often get ensnared in a given album, or maybe a few favorite albums by a composer, but you guys did a great job of putting the individual works into context, by showing the breadth of a composer’s work.

    BTW, I liked the Monday Musing idea, although I don’t always have time to spend on Monday musing about things, so I often don’t get to it until later. I also really enjoyed Aftershock’s analysis of the solo in Tank.

    • @Joojoobees
      With the MMM posts, I kinda was hoping for there to be a silent majority who enjoyed them. Glad to know from all these responses that it’s what seems to be the case. Also, we should all pester Aftershok to do more of those analyses that he’s so good at doing.

    • Aftershok says:

      Joobs, you just made me shed a tear that someone out there actually found that analysis post interesting. I poured my heart and soul into that post but was crushed at the chilly response. Many thanks at your kind words and frequent contributions in the comments.

  6. w says:

    Personally, I’d like to see more reviews (or just thoughts in general) for doujin albums. More stuff like the Platina Jazz, perhaps.

  7. Don says:

    Write about what interests you, not what you think will be popular. Don’t make the amount of feedback the sole criterion for deciding whether to continue your Music Musings or any other feature. I comment only when I have something to contribute to the discussion, which is rare. If feedback were the most important element of blogging, I would have quit eight years ago.

    I’d be curious to read your evisceration of Kenji Kawaii. There’s no need to subject yourself to all his works. Just pick one representative example and tear it to shreds. You can make fun of his hair, too.

  8. You should have fun and/or have passion for what you’re doing. So if a passion-killer (e.g., Kenji Kawai) comes along and brings a delightful and valuable venture (e.g., Composer Profiles) to a halt, that blocker should be set aside – or the sparkling brook should be rerouted around the obstacle. JMHO. Please continue the Composer Profiles without reviewing Mr. Kawai’s body of work (and only if that is something you still want to pursue).

    Congratulations on four years of awesomeness! I think I’ve been following along nearly the entire time.

    • @LovelyAngel Amy
      A reader for way back when! Thanks for sticking around and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed out insights and thoughts on this little niche. Kawai may have killed our drive to complete his profile, but thankfully, didn’t kill our passion for anime music. If he were able to accomplish that, it would be a huge tragedy. You can look forward to a new installment in that series soon enough.

      • I’m sure you have a lot of lurkers like me, as you surmise in your tweet regarding the 1% rule. I know I’ve been following Anime Instrumentality for a long time as I remember my unhappiness with “Triangular” sung by Maaya Sakamoto – and your site was a place where I could get a sanity check.

        But the earliest reference to Anime Instrumentality in my own blog is only back in August 2009.

      • @LovelyAngel Amy
        Nice picks! You’re a fellow CD hoarder then?

        And seriously, I was pretty excited to hear that Maaya Sakamoto did the opening theme to Macross Frontier, but never did I think it’d be that bad. I can’t think of any worse Sakamoto/Kanno pairings than that track at the top of my head. What a shame, especially considering how good the stuff for Wolf’s Rain was.

      • I don’t know that I’m a CD hoarder. (^_^) As a 20-year anime fan (my first anime convention was AX92) I’ve acquired on average 4 CDs a year – some years adding none or just one – and a single anomaly year (2010) buying 13. I think now I’m back at a more normal rate of 4 or 5 per year. CDJapan likes me!

        (It’s always been a minor question of mine… wondering how the reviewers of Anime Instrumentality can afford so many CDs. Not that I don’t appreciate your expansive coverage!)

        My most recent addition is the Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon OST. That series is my guilty pleasure from 2011, and I love the soundtrack.

      • @LovelyAngel Amy
        CDJapan has been getting a lot of business from me for newer releases and back when I was working, my living expenses weren’t so high as to make 1-2 CDs a month an unbearable deal. Now that I’m back in school, I’ve had to rein in that impulse somewhat.

        That said, if you live in Southern California, there are a bundle of CD shops that sell anime soundtracks. Granted, they are used copies, but it’s much less than it otherwise would be if you import them through CDJapan. That’s been a fertile ground for me to build up my collection at least.

        Finally, Mandarake is a decent store too and they have a lot of used copies that are in excellent condition, so definitely check them out.

  9. Baka-Raptor says:

    C’mon, write a bash post on Kenji Kawai. C’mon…

  10. signorRossi says:

    Please continue with the composer profiles, and it doesn’t matter if you skip Kawai. But what did he do to anger you that much? I like a few bits of his works quite a bit (SnM, GitS-movies), but have no problems to skip works of a composer I don’t like (Hisaishi is almost a saint for me, but I can’t stand his ‘Venus Wars’ music and some of his earliest works at all). Could it be that you forced yourself too much by trying to listen to everything he has done? Even a non-musician like me realizes that some of his themes repeat over and over again. ;)
    And like someone else said already, go ahead and do posts about stuff you like and want to do, that’s the best prerequisite for enjoyable and worthwile posts there is.

    • @signorRossi
      I don’t think it’s because we’ve forced ourselves as much as a large part of his music is of the bland atmospheric variety, so we cant’ really get into the kind of stuff he produces. His soundtracks, aside from the aforementioned Seirei no Moribito have bored me to tears and every time I listen to those, I get pretty fidgity and impatient.

  11. bobbierob says:

    This post has enlightened me to a few of the past posts that I haven’t encountered before! Namely the composer profile things. The one on Kajiura Yuki and especially Joe Hisaishi were both filled with great music and pretty informative. Being a soundtrack geek long before I encountered anime blogs and etc., (meaning before it was cool…err), this blog is the only one regarding anime music that I visit with any frequency. Great job on the 4 years, wish you the best of luck continuing.

    tl;dr yes do more composer profile things they’re great

    • @bobbierob
      We won’t disappoint and thankfully, the next few won’t cause us to ramble for too long. Glad you found our thoughts insightful and we’ll certainly be hard at work cranking those out. Thanks!

  12. I like anime music a lot! Makes me remember of those anime soundtrack I was listening to before.

  13. Canne says:

    I noticed more mention about the music in general anime reviews, too (though not a whole lot, to be honest). But that is a good start. I was also reminded constantly of the importance of music by this site and I suspect that also translated to my anime review posts. In which I almost always give brief impressions to the original soundtrack.

    This site is irreplaceable. Please continue writing! ^_^

    • @Canne
      Thanks! Any mention, even if little, helps a lot! And to think of us as irreplaceable is quite the compliment. Hope to continue turning out good work!

  14. maskerade says:

    Congrats guys! And thanks for the opportunity as well. It’s a great site and the community here is amazing. As is the hard work placed in it. I’ve been trawling the aniblog posts and smile at the positive responses have for the work you guys do. This blog fits a niche, a beautiful, required niche that is brimming with energy. And it does it well!

    So congrats once more! And yes, not a Kenji Kawai fan as well. Though his GITS and Seirei no Moribito soundtracks kick a bit of ass.

  15. Dave Heuseveldt says:

    I love the website; until stumbling across this website I always figured that listening to background music was a weird hobby that I happened to have. What I loved/love about background music is that it creates an atmosphere in itself; good music has the ability to create feeling and emotion on its own.

    When I discovered this website a few months ago that describes and analyzes anime music, it was a perfect opportunity to expand my passion about anime music. I’ve been following your blog posts since then, and whenever I have some time on my hands I delve deeper into your archives to read your earlier reviews.

    I just wanted to say: keep it up guys :)

    • @Dave
      Thanks! I guess this site does serve as a good nexus for people who are fiends/fanatics about this particular topic. Wait until next April where I dive into detail about my personal history and how I got to this point. Pretty happy with this niche and where we’re at, but always looking for opportunities to open new doors and experience new things. Hope you’ll stick with us over the long haul!

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