As the year draws to a close, now’s a good time to bring out my list of OP/EDs that I found to be remarkable for the Fall Season. Yes, I’m aware that it’s probably more fitting to generate a list for the entire year, but if I’d done that, my list would be about as long as this one with pretty similar picks. Furthermore, I think it’d just be better to make this a recurring event after the end of each anime season to make my life easier and spread out the writing over four quarters rather than one big megapost at the end of each year.
With that said, one should keep in mind that I haven’t watched or heard all of the OP/EDs that have come out during the Fall. There’s far too much anime for me to keep track of and I find that it’s really hard to be able to find the time to listen to it all, so there will be a few gems that I’ve missed out on. That’s what the comment box is for: for you guys to bring them to my attention.
Finally, a quick perusal over my list this quarter reveals that all of them are OPs! I’m sure this is no coincidence because OPs generally have a catchy melody since its goal is to make the viewer interested in the show and hold the viewer’s attention long enough to want to watch the introduction before diving into the meaty parts of the show. As such, their tendency to grab at my attention gives them a slight edge over the EDs, few of which really stood out as being all too remarkable. So with that said, let’s take a look at the list:
Anyone who’s followed my review of this song should pretty much know why this is my number one pick but regardless, I’ll say it again here. This song has an emotional rawness to it that really is heartbreaking, bringing with it a depressing feeling that becomes even more apparent once you understand the lyrics. Lia delivers her best effort since Tori no Uta and her ability to convey the sad feelings is absolutely stellar, making “A Song Engraved in Time” touching and beautiful. It’s not often that a song is able to have such a strong emotional impact upon me, but this song manages to do just that and when combined with the plot to Clannad ~After Story~ makes the song a perfect fit with the series.
The third movement of Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18” provides the foundation for “Sky High,” and that’s pretty much all it took for me to really enjoy this song. The atmosphere of the song, pushed along by the singers and the background instruments, does an excellent job of evoking the feel of a big city in which Nodame Cantabile ~Paris Chapter~ takes place and in this regard, it creates the similar effect brought about by Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” (though the latter’s inclusion in Fantasia 2000 might have helped there). Overall, “Sky High” is just slightly more refined while possessing the sense of euphoria and fun that characterized “Allegro Cantabile,” making this song a very enjoyable OP that brings out the characters’ growth since the first season.
I’ve acknowledged a penchant for pompous, operatic themes and “Ano Sora wo, Ike” certainly delivers the goods here in addition to conveying the scope of Tytania’s war-ridden plot. Ken Nishikiori’s voice is perfect for putting the immensity of the struggle to music and though there are times where he falters ever so slightly, you can’t deny that there’s this grandiose sense of majesty in it before this song closes out with a rousing finish that doesn’t try to hide its pomposity and overblown orchestral flair. Awe-inspiring and epic (at least to me anyways), “Ano Sora wo, Ike” brings out the heroic aspects of Tytania’s central conflict in all its full-blown glory.
#4. Michiko and Hatchin – Paraiso
The only piece I haven’t formally reviewed yet (I don’t think the single has been released), Michiko and Hatchin’s OP, “Paraiso,” packs an energy-filled, jazzy melody with (as someone corrected me) a Latin American flavor. Jazz is not one of the wider genres used in anime openings, but I find that when it is used, it’s done so to great effect by bringing forth the chaotic nature of the series as well as its sense of style (especially with Baccano!. “Tank!” is a bit more structured, which is befitting of Cowboy Bebop). Similarly, “Paraiso” serves as an excellent representation of the whacky nature of the relationship between Michiko and Hana and the situations that the two often get themselves into. Its frenetic pacing and its catchy melody complements the animation style, which seamlessly blends Western animation with its Japanese counterpart to create a unique feel.
Someone who’s read my blog fairly recently told me that my review of Paradise Lost felt more like a play by play of the song rather than an actual, opinion-saturated review and after rereading the review, that criticism is spot-on, so this is where I make amends for my lack of opinions. The two aspects that really drew me to this song are the melody, which grabbed at my attention because it is really catchy, and its pacing, which effectively propels you into the piece through its sheer intensity and energy. That I can summarize the essence of what makes this song appealing in so few words is indicative of how much depth this song has. Nevertheless, the side of me that still finds joy in catchy themes refuses to go away and Minori Chihara’s ability to convey the sense of anger over the loss only makes the song more enjoyable.
And interestingly enough, the two that I thought were worthy of honorable mentions are both EDs. I don’t think I can offer up an explanation for why it turned out the way it did, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
Toradora! – Vanilla Salt
No, I didn’t pick this because it makes some people feel super special, but like the post I linked, there’s just something about this song that’s enjoyable, especially when it’s viewed within the context of the series. Maybe I’m just enamored with the wordplay with “vanilla” and “burning love” or I find the sugary sweet nature of the song to be overwhelming. It just might even be the fact that I’m drawn to Horie Yui’s voice, which rarely fails to please my ears. On its own, I’m not sure how well it’ll fare, but with the ED sequence it tow, it’s worth both watching and listening.
Kannagi – Musuhi no Toki
“Musuhi no Toki” is a good departure from many OP/EDs which veer towards the bombastic side, allowing this song to differentiate itself by bringing out the other side of Kannagi that we don’t see until the very end. This song’s mood is one of quiet contemplation and solace which contrasts well with the OP sequence that showcases Kannagi’s far more energetic side. “Musuhi no Toki’s” mellowness might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly resonated with me, especially towards the last three episodes of the series.
Expect to see a post that lists out my top 5 soundtracks for the entire year in the near future.