Reminiscing over the Decade’s Anime Music – 2004

OP/EDs

Though I haven’t seen Elfen Lied, I’m not about to forget the OP theme “Lilium” which delivers the operatic flair really nicely. I remember the first time I saw it, the hairs at the back of my neck stood up because of how breathtakingly beautiful both the melody and the singing was. When people write their favorite OP/ED lists, this song inevitably makes it on the list and it’s not hard to understand why.

[spoiler show=”Elfen Lied OP”]

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And if you’re looking for something that’s also hair-raising, but in a different way, Monster’s OP, “Grain,” fits the bill. The haunting vocals are a big part of what makes this song so creepy. It depicts that deranged killer out on the loose and the urgent aura lurking about demands the protagonist find said killer before it’s too late and more people end up dead.

[spoiler show=”Monster OP”]

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And for something completely different, I’d have to say that Genshiken wasn’t a show that really appealed to me all too much. But its OP exposed me to manzo and does a good job of injecting that big dose of enjoyment that you get when you’re really involved in something that you really love doing. As for the ED, the music is much quieter and it’s just an enjoyable pop song. I don’t think there’s any major tie-in to be had through this, but I like it all the same.

[spoiler show=”Genshiken OP”]

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[spoiler show=”Genshiken ED”]

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I have not yet been able to come up with an instrumental-only OP that I dislike and Maria-sama ga Miteru’s “Pastel Pure” is no exception. Like I discussed in my previous post, this one would be a good example of an OP that sets the tone for what the show entails. Somehow the whole strings, piano, and woodwinds suits the feeling of the series perfectly in its depiction of blooming love, even if it’s (maybe) that of a sisterly variety. Also, I think it was composed by the person from Ali Project, but someone can check me on that.

[spoiler show=”Maria-sama Ga Miteru OP”]

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Paranoia Agent is just… strange. At least, the accompanying animation is. The song, I have no issues with since it does a good job of getting you to wake up from a surreal dream and enter a world of chaos, and the OP only reinforces that with the settings in which it places the characters. I really do like what it has to offer here though and it shows once more that Susumu Hirasawa is awesome when it comes to instilling madness and chaos in his music.

[spoiler show=”Paranoia Agent OP”]

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School Rumble’s OP is a bit more bombastic, conveying the boundless energy that it serves up in every episode through the characters’ misadventures. There’s a lot of energy to be had in the song and that Yui Horie’s performing doesn’t hurt either since her fun, pop delivery is very easygoing on the ears.

[spoiler show=”School Rumble OP”]

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Tsukiyomi Moon Phase gets a mention since I loved its quirky nature, so why not. It was 2DT that gave an identity to this OP as part of the Shibuya-kei mold and though some may hate it, its whimsical nature is enough to win me over.

[spoiler show=”Tsukiyomi Moon Phase OP”]

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Brief Mentions

I’d imagine that on a list of “old reliables,” you’d be able to find Shiro Sagisu’s name on there since his efforts on Evangelion and Kare Kano were pretty memorable. So the fact that I’ve yet to listen to Bleach’s soundtrack despite having watched 60-odd episodes of the series means that there’s quite a hole that I really need to fill. Same goes for Toshihiko Sahashi’s efforts on Gundam SEED Destiny. Though I might not have been a fan of SEED, its music was good and I’ve yet to hear Sahashi really screw up, so I figure this one’s worth a shot too. While I’m at it, I’ll also confess to needing to give Le Portrait de Petite Cossette a few more whirls. Somehow, I’m not remembering all too much from that soundtrack.

As for old reliables that aren’t enjoyable? How about Taku Iwasaki’s compositions for Yakitate! Japan? Those pieces were drab and dull, which would foreshadow a similarly lackluster effort on Black Cat’s soundtrack.

When it comes to style, and by that, I mean a departure from the orchestral/classical flavor, you can’t go wrong with Samurai Champloo’s hip hop atmosphere. The ED’s R&B feel and the OP’s rap are a huge departure from most anime series and while I don’t think that a similar setup can be applied to other shows, it complements the series perfectly. Samurai 7 also differs from your normal anime soundtrack with its focus on rhythms that are readily identifiable as being Japanese. It’s not my kind of music since the tracks are overwhelmingly rhythm-based, which does a great job of channeling the action and conflict, but leaves little room for melodic pieces. There’s only one that comes to mind that I really like and that would be Kirara’s theme.

Stuff that I hear is good but that I really cannot claim to really know since I haven’t explored them? Well, people have told me to give Kannaduki no Miko a try. Same goes for Howl’s Moving Castle since it’s Joe Hisaishi, but after listening to snippets of the soundtrack, I’m not completely sold compared to his work on Spirited Away and Ponyo. Maybe I’m just lacking the context needed to really appreciate the sort of imagery that Hisaishi was trying to sculpt for that movie.

And last, but not least, if I didn’t mention Gankutsuou in the previous post, I’d have mentioned it here since the OP is still among my favorites.

Additions:

Thanks to ottocycle for prodding me with two OP themes that deserve a mention. The first is Koi Kaze’s OP which carries the characteristic softness that you expect from Ritsuko Okazaki. Her passing is a huge loss since I loved her themes so much. The second is Diebuster 2’s “Groovin’ Magic” which only confirms that there’s no such thing as a bad Round Table feat. Nino track.

[spoiler show=”Koi Kaze OP”]

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[spoiler show=”Diebuster 2 OP”]

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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.

0 thoughts on “Reminiscing over the Decade’s Anime Music – 2004

  • March 3, 2010 at 8:16 pm
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    I listen to a lot of stuff from 2004…more than I expected anyways. So it seems familiar and all…

    Reply
  • March 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm
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    Many of the songs chosen for 2004 seem to have a slower pace with instrumentals being used. The general atmosphere seems to be dark/foreboding/mysterious. This is just the type of music I’m in the mood for tonight.

    It has been six years already since Beyond the Clouds? I’m feel like I’m getting old.

    Reply
  • March 3, 2010 at 10:07 pm
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    i was happy in 2004, especially with the Fafner’s OST. I very seldom watch mecha, but the OST was just a notch above everything else. I still have it in my permanent playlist on the PC/phone. You are right, “shoko” was just apt in bringing across the hopelessness of the situation she was in..i was just touched.

    And Tsuneyoshi-san went to top himself with Fafner’s prequel “Right of Left” and the equally wonderful Dennou Coil OSTs. Funnily enough it’s the melancholic pieces that are the biggest draw for me.

    Wonder if he’ll be doing the OST for the Fafner’s Heaven and Earth movie.

    Kajiura’s work for Mai Hime was to me, her high point, since i’ve been measuring all her subsequent works against this and nothing seems to be able to match up.

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 12:46 am
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    The School Rumble OP is awesome. Fits the show perfectly. The music video disturbed me though. It was the first time I was exposed to the idea that an adult woman acting like a 3-year-old kid was supposed to be cute.

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 2:22 am
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    @omo
    Didn’t miss anything… I hope.

    @Reltair
    I think that has a lot to do with my general preferences in that I tend to go for darker, more melancholy themes in soundtracks since those just seem to have a bigger emotional effect. Glad to know it suits the atmosphere you’re looking for!

    And you young uns need to stop commenting about age :p

    @mei
    Tsuneyoshi’s efforts on the movie top even the Fafner TV series stuff? Guess that means I owe the movie soundtrack a listen since I loved the TV’s OST to bits!

    As for Kajiura topping Mai-HiME, I have to say that her work on Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles might not surpass Mai-HiME, but I’d like to think that it comes close. At least, Tsubasa is my second favorite Kajiura anime album after HiME.

    @Baka-Raptor
    I personally lost all hope for Japan’s ability to churn out a decent music video after watching that and a variety of other videos featuring different anisong artists. The song was pretty good though…

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 2:50 am
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    Just checked it up, and you’re right about the AliPro composer (Katakura Mikiya) doing the MariMite OP, and of course he goes on to do the entire soundtrack as well. Funny how his name hasn’t popped up in recent times.

    Also, given context of Elfen Lied and Monster, both make my hairs stand in the creepy manner. =)

    Sahashi had two major works in ’04 in my opinion, one being the aforementioned Gundam Seed Destiny, and the other being the oft-overlooked Zipang. In GSD Sahashi basically pulls out all the stops in bombast and manages to simply outmuscle the previous installment (Gundam Seed). IMO Zipang’s soundtrack shows a bit of finesse in similar themes as GSD, and is worth a listen. Fortunately, he balances out the two aspects a little more in FMP2’s soundtrack which hopefully would feature in your next column.

    This period simply wasn’t Iwasaki’s time, I’ve got to say. And the Bleach BGMs get a little too repetitive due to their use of the exact same score for over 60 episodes. Oh goodness that “Number One” song. Thankfully its third soundtrack introduces a brand new Spanish theme, which is pretty enjoyable.

    No Koi Kaze OP and Groovin’ Magic?

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 4:17 am
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    @zzeroparticle
    oh, that didn’t come across right, my apologies. I was wondering if Tsuneyoshi would be doing the movie OST, since i still can’t find information on it, and the movie’s supposed to come out this year. But if he does, i think we’ll be in for quite a nice reward 🙂

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm
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    @ottocycle
    Yeah, AliPro hasn’t been too active since… how long? It didn’t strike me initially, but I can see how that violin work it Marimite might transfer over to AliPro’s usual line of work.

    Notes to self: Guess I’ll just toss in a Sahashi work whenever I can find it, and yeah, he’ll definitely make an appearance with TSR’s OST. I was initially afraid he’d recycle his themes in that one, but he manages to bring out new stuff that’s impressive all the same.

    Thanks for mentioning two themes that really do need to be shared. Thank goodness for the internet where I can edit things on the fly :p

    Also, can we call this period Iwasaki’s dark age?

    @Mei
    Actually, I screwed up in that I should have said that I meant to look up the prequel and give it a listen rather than the movie. I guess I must have thought that the prequel was another movie or something. Oops!

    Reply
  • March 4, 2010 at 9:24 pm
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    Kaleido Star has the same composer as Kannaduki no Miko. It has an energetic piano solo which I greatly enjoy. Also, Meine Liebe, by Hirano Yoshihisa (I think I’ve advocated him before) is also a notable.

    Elfen Lied’s soundtrack in itself is decent, besides just the OP. Half the tracks reflect the horrific and frightening aspects of the anime, and the other half reflect the rare moments of pain, peace, and tranquility. (Being a cellist, two beautiful cello tracks won me over).

    Also, I would listen to Howl’s Moving Castle before dismissing it as one of Hisaishi’s minor works. Watching the movie with it always helps.

    In general I do not enjoy Taku Iwasaki’s compositions as much as some others. He is not very consistent but once in a while he’ll churn out a masterpiece.

    Reply
  • March 5, 2010 at 12:51 am
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    On the pseudo hip-hop funky side of things we had the Tenjo Tenge OP and the Gantz OP.

    BECK’s music is pretty decent but it’s mostly vocal rock/pop type stuff from many different artists. The opening by BEAT CRUSADERS is enjoyable pop/rock/engrish. If you want BGM I’d look elsewhere. Which is similar to another OST; the Appleseed movie’s ost. It’s like BECK in that it’s composed of many different artists though it leans more to the techno side of things.

    The Elfen Lied OST is really eclectic as the story varies from bloody violence/crushing sadness or despair/moeblobs acting cute. It’s all cute character designs till someone loses an arm….actually vice versa but w/e. One song that has always stuck with me not sure why was “Yokusoku” which has some really lovely cello/violin work. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwqAhGd8o2A
    And it might be worth it to hear some of Konishi Kayo and Kondo yukio’s work since they are doing the music for next seasons Manglobe production: Sarai-ya Goyou.

    Reply
  • March 5, 2010 at 9:06 am
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    I feel that Mai-hime is only yesterday as well, though I cannot recall its soundtrack as well as its sadistic-possessive-yuri character (the high school president, what was her name?)

    Elfen lied is, predictably, on my favorite list.
    As for Howl’s ost, it contains less catchy melodies than Spirited Away and Ponyo and it keeps to the same standard.

    Reply
  • March 5, 2010 at 12:16 pm
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    You really need to see Elfen Lied. It has GREAT OP. A BEAST of an OP. An OP BANGOUT. It’s opera and it’s FANTASTIC.

    Reply
  • March 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm
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    @Yu
    Kaleido Star’s been one of those shows that I really need to get around to watching. The DVD box sets are sitting on top of the shelves and really demands to be seen though I haven’t made the time yet. I should check it out though since the director’s pretty big on background music. He was the one who got Muramatsu on board for Umi Monogatari after all.

    I also had the inkling that someone would tell me to give Howl’s another chance. Guess it’s just one of those times where I’ll have to find a quiet moment to sit down with it and savor the music.

    Finally, I do wonder if Iwasaki’s inconsistency comes from his tendency to experiment with different genres? As though he’s flinging stuff at a wall to see what sticks.

    @Taka
    I saw the Appleseed soundtrack in the store recently and was curious to check out who was behind that. I think the variety of composers credited made me a wee bit hesitant to take the plunge, so I’ll most likely try it out through the usual channels first.

    As for “Yokusoku” I think I see what you and Yu were talking about. And it looks like a lot of the soundtracks from 2004 have that dual nature; that is, they contain the happy-go-lucky tracks, but also the more somber pieces.

    @Canne
    Interestingly enough, it was the music that drew me into Mai-HiME and the action second. When I watched the show for the first time, I was really entranced by how different it sounded from Kajiura’s usual fare.

    But yes, you can’t really forget the Natsuki-Shizuru pairing 😀

    Reply
  • March 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm
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    @Glo
    I know. I should just watch it so that I know what the hell people are talking about. Time, or rather the lack of it, is what’s killing me. :\

    Reply
  • March 6, 2010 at 1:33 am
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    From among this list, I think Mai-HiME has the most memorable and the best soundtrack. Yuki Kajiura is just superb. Other than that, I found many others simply decent. Some are interesting while others are kind of unique, but none really attracted me as much as Mai Hime’s music.

    Reply
  • March 7, 2010 at 3:29 am
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    @Yi
    That’s why it’s listed first! I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Mai-HiME’s soundtrack was the best of what we got out of 2004.

    Reply

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