It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I think the last one was about a month ago. Now taking bets as to whether I finish this before the year’s up!
Anyways, 2006 has been hailed by quite a few as a banner year for anime, where many of the shows I watched still managed to stick within my memories surprisingly well. It does help that this year saw the appearance of heavyweights like Haruhi, whose impact on the anime scene can’t be emphasized enough as we’re still living with its repercussions. No fad has managed to supplant it to near-universal appeal like Haruhi did, and like it or not, it’s going to be a major part of what makes up the fabric of 2000s anime fandom.
That said, most of the musical offerings that I really love from 2006 do not come from this franchise. The celebrated Haruhi songs like “Bouken Deshou Deshou,” “Hare Hare Yuukai,” “God Knows,” and “Lost My Music,” have become overplayed to the point that it’s lost that sense of uniqueness even if they are pretty awesome when they first came out on the scene. It’s like how pieces like Final Fantasy X’s “To Zanarkand,” Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and “Fur Elise,” and, of course, Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” were enjoyable at one point, but I can’t stand to listen to them nowadays. Not trying to knock all of those mentioned above as bad because they aren’t; it’s just been overplayed and since my tendency is to seek out fresh and new stuff that’s underappreciated, I’m not going to bother with Haruhi for this column! There’s more stuff that’s worth one’s time at any rate!
So with that in mind, there’s a lot of good stuff from 2006. I’d be hard-pressed to put my finger on my favorite soundtrack from that year since there are no less than three soundtracks competing for that slot and each of them have something to the that I really like. As usual, clips are in their entirety and youtube videos are spoilered. With that, read on!
Ouran High School Host Club
Squaring off for the number 1 spot will be none other than Ouran High School Host Club. When I remember watching the first few episodes of this series, I was completely dazzled by the music. Yoshihisa Hirano’s compositions are really enjoyable in the way they mix various genres of classical music into a really nice package. Sure, if you were super serious about your classical music, you can gripe about how some of the pieces are just too short and Y. Hirano glosses over opportunities to develop the track further, but I was never bothered by these issues. On the whole, Hirano taps into the whole elegant/pretentiousness vibe associated with the Ouran school and its Host Club through tracks like the “Ouran Concerto” and the “Sinfonietta,” which are among many of my favorites. While Haruhi’s stuff is “been there, done that,” Ouran’s soundtrack still remains fresh and enjoyable to this day.
Ouran Concerto for oboe 2 horns violin and string[audio:Ouran – Ouran Concerto for oboe 2 horns violin and string.mp3]
[audio:Ouran – Sinfonietta C-dur.mp3]
Bartender is also going to compete for that top spot. You could classify many of the tunes from this soundtrack as being nothing more than elevator music, but it sure is damn good elevator music! Its jazzy soundtrack takes us into the soothing atmosphere of Eden Hall, run by Ryo Sasakura, where one can relax and rejuvenate oneself through his concoctions. The mood that “NO NAME ~Kami no Glass~” sets through its piano and percussion really work alongside the narration in the anime and I’m also drawn in to the calming aura that “CHRISTMAS CHAMPAGNE ~Kiyoshiko” brings to the table with its arrangement of “Silent Night.” The soundtrack as a whole is wonderful and if this is the kind of music you dig, you’ll be in good company with the rest of the music here. I only wish that its composer, Kaoruko Ohtake, would compose more music for anime.
NO NAME ~Kami no Glass~[audio:Bartender – NO NAME.mp3]
CHRISTMAS CHAMPAGNE ~Kiyoshiko
[audio:Bartender – CHRISTMAS CHAMPAGNE ~Kiyoshiko.mp3]
And of course, the last contender would be Red Garden’s soundtrack. I’ve already labeled this a masterpiece, and it’s not hard to see why through its emotional fare coupled with KOKIA’s vocals towards the end. I really do listen to this too much, but that’s fine since it’s still not gotten old and the melodies that I love from it continue to raise the hairs on my neck because of how beautiful they are. Also, I’m too lazy to switch it out with something else and so, it’s an album that seems to have a permanent spot in my car’s CD player.
Sumire ~ You to Tomoni
[audio:Red Garden – Sumire ~ You to Tomoni.mp3]
So yes, those would be the big three, but there’s something to be said about the huge diversity of stuff that’s made their appearance beyond just the pretty music that I love so much. Satoshi Kon’s Paprika movie also came out in 2006 and the soundtrack, composed by the old standby of Susumu “I ain’t Yui” Hirasawa, took me awhile to get into. It was bizarre listening to the bevy of sounds assault me for the first time, but once I watched the movie, all that cacophony somehow made sense. No, I’m not even going to try to explain it since it’s an experience you’ll have to encounter for yourself. Now, I’ve come to love its depiction of chaos through standbys like “Parade” and “The Girl in Byakkoya – White Tiger Field.” Its style may be jarring to those used to quieter fare, but give this one a few chances and it’ll grow on you pretty quickly.
Parade[audio:Paprika – Shizuku Ippai no Kioku.mp3]
The Girl in Byakkoya – White Tiger Field
[audio:Paprika – The Girl in Byakkoya – White Tiger Field.mp3]
Asatte no Houkou
Asatte no Houkou is one underrated gem, both from the music and the anime front. At its core, it’s a story about how two people’s wishes go awry, but along the way, the characters learn to be a bit more empathetic and understanding, resulting in a sweet story all around. The soundtrack by Shinkichi Mitsumune of Rozen Maiden fame also adds to the languishing feel of summer while sticking in a good dose of soft piano drama music to make things roll. The medley that starts the soundtrack covers most of the show’s musical themes and should prime your expectations as to what the rest of the soundtrack delivers upon. It’s delightful. Maybe not to the degree that some of the others are since it’s mood is rather subtle and I’d hardly classify this as being energetic, but I do listen to it quite a bit, most likely because it starts with the letter A and shows up when I scroll through the list of albums to tune into.
Kumikyoku [Asatte no Houkou]
[audio:Asatte no Houkou – Kumikyoku.mp3]
Le Chevalier D’Eon
I don’t know how many people have seen Le Chevalier D’Eon, but it certainly was an engaging anime series with its mystery and intrigues that viewers can unravel. Also, conspiracy theorists may find the cultists angle and their goal of controlling Europe’s major powers to be a fascinating bit, especially when names like Robespierre pop up. Michiru Ooshima’s compositions are often overlooked and even if they’re not quite as good as Fullmetal Alchemist or Sora no Woto’s soundtrack, they still demonstrate Ooshima’s ability to depict a European setting. One of my favorite pieces is “Cafe – Paris no Kensou,” which paints a relaxing scene as you sit in a cafe and looking at people walk by the Seine. The other tracks, like “PSALMS” hits the mood rather nicely with those tension-filled melodies that hint at the impending conflict.
Cafe -Paris no Kensou-[audio:Chevalier D’Eon – Cafe -Paris no Kensou-.mp3]
[audio:Chevalier D’Eon – PSALMS.mp3]
Renkin 3-kyuu Magical? Pokaan
Renkin 3-kyuu Magical? Pokaan is completely silly. I’ve already remarked about its misleading OP theme elsewhere since this series is all about a bunch of girls from a different environment trying to get used to modern-day Japan. The comedy isn’t exactly top-notch, but it does have its moments. The music, composed by Elements Garden’s Noriyasu Agematsu, matches the silliness for the most part, though his “seasonal” tracks using the Magipoka themes are the highlights along with the easygoing character themes. Well, assuming you like laid-back my-pace type music, which fits in with my tastes. So Magipoka wasn’t a particularly great, but its music was enjoyable and the whimsical tracks make for a great listen.
Magipoka Theme – Spring[audio:Magipoka – Magipoka Theme – Spring.mp3]
Magipoka Theme – Summer[audio:Magipoka – Magipoka Theme – Summer.mp3]
[audio:Magipoka – My-Pace Yuuma.mp3]
Yeah, this is a lot of stuff, but it’s no surprise given all the good shows that came out along with the scores which are downright excellent. The OP/ED section is similarly long, so on to Page 2!