Artwork by Qinni (thanks!).
The further I progress into the 2000s, the more familiar the shows look and the more music I seem to have accumulated from those series. That’s no accident given how much more I watched from the second half of the decade and so, the lists start becoming really long and it is in 2005 where I really have issues figuring out which soundtracks I’d consider my favorite because there’s just too many to choose from. I’ve reformatted this year’s selections somewhat to make it easier to read if you’re skimming through. Hopefully, that helps with the deluge of shows that I’m showcasing.
Same goes for OP/EDs for that matter. Fan favorites like Air’s “Tori no Uta” can be heard since 2005, but there are a handful of other good ones that deserve mention. Do be warned though. This list is huge. Ridiculously so. I’d listen to a few and then come back otherwise you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of awesome tracks on here.
Note: Youtube videos are spoilered, clips contain the entire track, and with that, let’s go!
Blood+ is a good place to start as any because it’s one of the few (I’m guessing) anime soundtracks composed by Western composers. And notable composers at that. I still remember the moment I spotted Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer in the opening credits and how my eyes bulged out as I began to expect a soundtrack of grand proportions. Both of them are widely known for their film scores and here, their work does not disappoint. The standouts like the “Grand Finale” are absolutely fantastic, but the track that really takes the cake lies in “Diva” which never fails to raise the goosebumps with its hauntingly beautiful melody. Just don’t try to whistle along unless you can hit those high notes.
Grand Theme[audio:Blood+ – Grand Theme.mp3]
[audio:Blood+ – Diva.mp3]
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
A lot of people say that Mai HiME was their favorite Kajiura soundtrack, and I’d largely agree with that sentiment. However, the soundtrack to Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle is really solid and though it wouldn’t top Mai HiME, it certainly comes close. Here, Kajiura dispenses with her usual style to create that mysterious atmosphere through the violins and chorus parts. Still, it’s the tracks ringing with emotion like “Guess How Much I Love You” that win me over alongside with action-y tracks like “Break the Sword of Justice” that bring to mind some of her video game music in the Xenosaga series.
Break the Sword of Justice[audio:Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle – Break the Sword of Justice.mp3]
Guess How Much I Love You
[audio:Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle – Guess How Much I Love You.mp3]
Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid
Sequels generally mean same composers and rehashed music, but for what its worth, some of the newer tracks that showed up in FMP:TSR were pretty impressive on the whole. The main theme in particular struck me as being more memorable and part of that is attributable to me liking the military themes in this series as well as the overall darker atmosphere that Sahashi puts forward. Even his more emotional tracks like “Looking Back” are able to take the main theme of the series and work it in such a way as to bring about an air of calm that works as a way to get you to be introspective. And of course, “Counterattack” takes the theme and delivers a grandiose fanfare that leaves you feeling damned inspired to fight on!
Looking Back[audio:FMPTSR – Looking Back.mp3]
[audio:FMPTSR – Counterattack.mp3]
Victorian Romance Emma
Beyond the idea of maids done right, this Victorian Romance Emma features some excellent music by Ryo Kunihiko, whose compositions capture more brimming love than an aim to recreate Victorian English music. You do hear quite a few harpsichord tracks here and there, but the recorders are what set this soundtrack apart, especially in the ending sequence that brings out the sort of music you’d expect out of a country fair. Still, with a solid opener in “Silhouette of a Breeze” and the piano stuff like “Emma,” which captures her quiet, introspective, but dignified demeanor, this soundtrack was a love at first listen.
Silhouette of a Breeze[audio:Victorian Romance Emma – Silhouette of a Breeze.mp3]
[audio:Victorian Romance Emma – Emma.mp3]
ARIA the Animation
I really don’t know how else to put it. ARIA’s music is pure magic, bringing together waves upon waves of relaxing sentiments that makes you want to run away from the hecticness of day to day life to paddle around in a gondola and experience life through rose-colored glasses. The music certainly helps in that regard with the Choro Club and Takeshi Senoo bringing in both light, bouncy fare like “AQUA” that sets the main theme of the entire ARIA franchise to stunning, heartfelt tracks like “Mangetsu no Dolche” with its cello melody that really succeeds in bringing unto the listener the feeling that they’re privy to a scene that is wonderfully precious. And lest I forget, there are quite a few tracks propped up by Eri Kawai’s serene voice, and listening to her singing makes her passing feel that much more of a loss.
AQUA[audio:ARIA the Animation – AQUA.mp3]
Mangetsu no Dolche[audio:ARIA the Animation – Mangetsu no Dolche.mp3]
Santa Claus no Sora
[audio:ARIA the Animation – Santa Claus no Sora.mp3]
I’ve already mentioned Air and the music for the VN is probably my second favorite after Clannad’s awesome soundtrack. There’s a reason for this blatant favoritism: the gap between Clannad and Air is pretty wide and I’m not sure I can point out to many of Air’s tunes that are immediately memorable but don’t strike you as “generic dating sim music.” Well, there is Jun Maeda’s “Summer Lights” that’s always going to be a fan favorite. The piano melody is nothing complicated, but the way it conjures up the image of the countryside summer (cicadas not included!) through its breezy feel is catchy and wonderful the whole way through. Yes, there is also “Tori no Uta” on top of that if you want something that’s really memorable. I’m sure that was pretty much everyone’s first introduction to Lia’s voice.
[audio:Air – Natsukage.mp3]
Sousei no Aquarion
Sometimes, anime directors make the darnedest things. I’m not sure if this series was supposed to be a joke, a parody, or something borne out of madness, but drawing those comparisons between those unification sequences and sex is far-fetched, but if it’s meant to be played for laughs, then it sure as hell succeeded. Anyhow, Kanno once again showcases her talent for diversity while doing a heck of a job with what she pulls forth. It’s almost like how she conducts herself in Wolf’s Rain because of how it mixes all those musical genres and have it be pretty solid on the whole. Oddly enough, I don’t find myself listening to the first soundtrack a whole lot; the second one is where the songs that really catch my attention are located. “Shinwa Teki Gikou Sonata” nails the kind of fast-paced piano music I really like to hear. If it’s grandiosity, then look no further than “First Love, Final Love” which brings out that finale that fills you with the sort of feeling you’d get out of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah. Maybe that’s just intentional since the main character is supposed to be that messianic figure reincarnated.
Shinwa Teki Gikou Sonata[audio:Sousei no Aquarion – Shinwa Teki Gikou Sonata.mp3]
First Love, Final Love
[audio:Sousei no Aquarion – First Love Final Love.mp3]
That should be it for the BGM. Page 2 is where you want to go for them OP/EDs.