The love and joy that countless hours of anime music have brought me were what led to Anime Instrumentality being founded. While the J-popping OP/EDs are enjoyable, it’s been the BGM, especially those that are so rich in energy and emotion that they transcend the context entirely, that continue to endure in my consciousness and enrich my life as I marvel at their beauty.
Kai of Deluscar definitely feels the power that great BGM can deliver unto listeners. Here are his thoughts on how his interest in anime soundtracks has enriched his anime viewing experience and provides a touch of inspiration outside of anime so that he can pursue his passions while overcoming the obstacles that lie in his path.
The Aspect of Listening to OSTs Standalone
Ever listened to some great music tracks in anime? If you did, I’m sure a majority of you would get the anime’s OST albums and listen to them standalone. Chances are, listening to them standalone won’t be much different; they retain the same high-quality music, as though you are listening to them in the anime itself, or it might evoke different feelings and opinions you had toward those very songs.
Is the ability to listen to these music tracks standalone necessary? Before we dive into the question, we need to have a look at a certain element – immersion. One of the main aims of anime OSTs is to help bolster the feeling of immersion towards the show – the mood of the settings, the atmosphere of the scenes, or even the characters’ emotions – all these intangible emotional facets can be strengthened through music alone, creating a better sense of immersion.
For example, Aria, which features one of my most favorite soundtracks, bolsters the relaxing ambiance of it’s setting. While the world of Aria already feels magical and fantastical by itself, the music pulls you in further. In contrast, songs from anime like Death Note feel incredibly different – the tracks seem to spark off negativity, delivered through somber guitar chord progressions, mysterious melodies and creepy ethnic vocals. Most noteworthy however, are the pieces which play during intense psychological scenes where Light tries to outwit his opponents. Usually in such scenes, orchestrated pieces paired up with ethnic vocals are used, and when you add the timing of the rhythm and the animations – results in a dramatic effect, heightening the viewer’s sense of thrill and excitement. Indeed, who can forget that epic potato chip scene?
However, this is when both these soundtracks are matched hand-in-hand with their respective shows. What if we listen to them standalone?
This is when subjectivity and personal circumstances come into play – affecting the quality of soundtracks when listening to them standalone. I find myself inclined more towards relaxing music; Aria‘s OSTs are definitely the main choice but a few more relaxing OSTs that I really like and listen to frequently comes from anime like Anohana, Hanasaku Iroha and Tamayura. This is another thing I find interesting, which deals with immersion: when I close my eyes and listen to these relaxing soundtracks, I can somehow, just somehow, feel myself inside their respective anime worlds. And that’s only through casual listening of their soundtracks without watching the anime. Aria‘s soundtrack is a particularly strong case in this regard. This sense of immersion is why I very much prefer relaxing soundtracks nowadays. After all, I don’t want to immerse myself in a psychological battle with Kira, nor to immerse myself in a fight against the titans, especially when just I want to relax.
Aforementioned, personal circumstances also comes into play, and during very difficult and stressful moments when I want to strengthen my fighting spirit against said ordeals, I like listening to adrenaline-pumping rock songs. My favorite soundtrack to hear during these times would be Fairy Tail. Fairy Tail‘s folk/Celtic rock, in spite of being “heavy” songs, nonetheless contain melodies that inspire hope, accompanied with powerful electric guitar chord progressions that strengthen one’s fighting spirit and willpower. This is why I like Fairy Tail‘s music so much: aside from the unique fusion of Celtic/folk and rock, the general atmosphere of Fairy Tail‘s music really gives me a positive morale boost, or as Natsu always says, “I’m fired up!” Outside of anime, during these times, I also like listening to songs from a video game music composer: Daisuke Ishiwatari, who composed the music to Guilty Gear and Blazblue and stuffed them with hard rock and metal music.