Anime Piece of the Week: #1 – Action

No, Touhou has nothing to do with anime... right?

The inaugural week for the MAL Anime Piece of the Week Club went pretty smoothly and I have to say, the selections were really solid all in all. The feedback also indicated that people enjoyed this immensely and needless to say, I look forwards to being able to listen to what people have to nominate for weeks to come.

Anyhow for those who have yet to take a peek, this week’s theme focused on action tracks, and not surprisingly, people selected heart-pounding tracks that conveyed the intensity of battle. So with that, let’s take a look at this week’s selections. Most of the participants have already made their comments in the respective voting thread and lelangir’s given his input on his blog so feel free to take a look as to what they have to say. As for what I have to say, find out after the jump.

G Gundam – King of Hearts:
[audio:G%20Gundam%20-%20King%20of%20Hearts.mp3]
The introduction sets the stage for the duel and I’m definitely impressed with the way the violins gave off that classic, old-school mecha vibe that conveys that small undercurrent of tension throughout the piece’s duration. But what really got me to perk up was the addition of the saxophone because of how it painted the image of two awesome characters going at it as they put all their skills up against one another in a very elegant display. Lelangir noted that the impact of this piece is probably greater with the context of the scene in mind, but for me, it stands well on its own and is definitely worth a listen.

Turn A Gundam – Final shore ~ Oo, Sairin Ariyato:
[audio:Turn%20a%20Gundam%20-%20Final%20Shore.mp3]
The opening choral part grabs at you rather quickly and quickly shifts a chant that, combined with the heavy percussion, gives off that rush of intensity before things begin to calm before doing another repetition of that first section. Just based on the first two minutes of this track, Smankh’s comparisons to this track and “O Fortuna” from Orff’s Carmina Burana are definitely apt because of the sheer intensity that it carries. The shift around the 2 minute mark eases off just a bit on the bombast, though the tension still remains through that chorus part that slowly adds on the layers gradually until it culminates in the crescendo around 2:53 that engulfs the listener with its sheer beauty. Afterward “Final Shore” begins winding down slowly as though to signal this conflict’s end, at least until the next encounter begins. Either way, this piece is probably my favorite track out of the ones nominated this week.

Gunslinger Girl – TEMA IV:
[audio:Gunslinger%20Girl%20-%20TEMA%20IV.mp3]
Short and sweet, and sometimes, that’s all you really need. The frantic violin part in the beginning and the choral section combine together really well to create the image of a chase scene along with the sense of urgency associated with trying to capture one’s quarry. But what really makes this track stand out, and humbug23 was quick to point this out, is the way it incorporates Gunslinger Girl’s more memorable melodies. Again, another solid track and one that’s aged really well. I only wish it were just a bit longer since the “ansia” theme is so poignant.

Appleseed EX MACHINA – SYNCHRONICITY:
[audio:Appleseed%20EX%20MACHINA%20-%20SYNCHRONICITY.mp3]
Tetsuya Takahashi seems to be doing a damned good job of trying to channel Harry Gregson-Williams, and most of the participants immediately made the comparison of this track to Gregson-Williams’s work on Metal Gear Solid. This track just exudes the concept of action, especially as it goes through different sections and all at a very hurried pace that gets your adrenaline flowing as it uses a variety of instruments ranging from orchestral to synth in some areas to the electric guitar in others. Overall, this track carries a grandiosity that leaves you feeling pretty pumped and because of that, I can overlook the fact that (as OneGreatTurtle noted) it might have been better off split into its component parts rather than be combined into one long track.

Soul Eater – harmoNIZE:
[audio:Soul%20Eater%20-%20harmoNIZE.mp3]
This song really in your face with its heavy beat to bring about an adrenaline rush stemming from the rapid beat that makes your heart pump in overdrive, but at the end of the day, it’s a track that I can appreciate but not one that I’ll give repeat listens mostly because it’s not my kind of thing. The vocals are a big factor, mostly because I’m not all too fond of the way the singer delivers that fierce and overbearing flurry of anger and emotion (though you gotta admit, I’m sure that’s what he was aiming for and he does do a good job of channeling that rage). I made a comparison of his delivery to that of an artillery barrage, which makes the calm section all the more appropriate (calm before the storm) before the barrage of vocals returns. It’s a very intense track and does what it seeks out to do really well. It’s just not the kind of music I’d consider to be up my alley.

Kara no Kyoukai “Fukan Fuukei” – M12+13:
[audio:Kara%20no%20Kyoukai%20Fukan%20Fuukei%20-%20M12+13.mp3]
Wow, that dissonance brings out a lot of that tension in the beginning and the piece certainly delivers on the chaotic aspects that one encounters during a combat scene. Smankh effectively describes the piece as follows:

Action : going from a thrilling and dangerous moment to a scene where the lead character has already retaken her composure and the lead in the fight. This piece expresses very well how she goes from defense to offense. A crescendo makes the transition between the thrilling music and the main theme and it’s accompanied by a chorus that gives a feeling of growing power in this particular scene. The end though is a little abrupt: the fight’s over in one move. Yuki Kajiura introduces here one of the main themes of Kara no Kyoukai with a subtle transition which emphasizes Shiki’s power and self-confidence. Not the best track in the various KnK OSTs but a wonderful action-packed piece of music.

I pretty much concur with this and the only thing I can say is that despite the fact that a lot of Kajiura action tracks are like this one, somehow, they never gets old. It does a really good job of bringing out Shiki’s confidence, making this a really beautiful, hauntingly elegant track.

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny – Kantai Shiki:
[audio:Mobile%20Suit%20Gundam%20SEED%20Destiny%20-%20Kantai%20Shiki.mp3]
Lelangir’s already got this track pegged down as being a waste of potential since it doesn’t build up to anything special. It’s certainly got Sahashi’s signature style written all over it and while the violins do set the mood rather nicely, it’s just a bit too repetitive for my tastes. At least the pacing was pretty solid all in all at delivering the tension and I did like the crescendo that comes in around 1:42.

So my votes are as follows:
(+3) Turn-A Gundam – Final shore
(+2) Appleseed EX MACHINA – SYNCHRONICITY
(+1) Kara no Kyoukai “Fukan Fuukei” – M12+13

For those of you with MAL accounts and want to participate in the voting process, feel free to visit this thread and put in your two cents after reading the voting guidelines on the front page and listening to the tracks themselves.

In any case, I’d like to thank the following people for their contributions in making this first week as awesome as it was: lelangir, OneGreatTurtle, jukebone, Omisyth, Smankh, and humbug23.

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 “Anime Piece of the Week: #1 – Action

  • May 18, 2009 at 8:11 am
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    I normally prefer orchestrated music over the modern rock stuff, but the electric guitar in the Appleseed song did wonders for it. Like you said, it makes use of everything. Strangely enough, I haven’t actually played Metal Gear Solid, but it sounds like it would make an excellent boss theme 😛

    Reply
  • June 1, 2009 at 1:53 am
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    I think I agree with you on Final Shore for the best piece.

    Overall I was a little disappointed with the themes picked. I like the epic soaring orchestral piece as much as the next guy and they fit well with grand battles but my favorite action pieces are gritty knock-down, drag-out, brawls. For me that screams electric guitar. The closest that comes here is soul eater theme but Iwasaki has to get all weird on the vocals again. I don’t know exactly what I’d pick in terms of electric guitar sounding songs but I’ve recently been digging a lot of Gintama fight scene music, but maybe that’s cause it comes once every 30episodes…

    One thing I remember about the Kajiura piece though was that scene was the exact moment I was sold on the series and the music of the series. Kajiura is really good at picking a theme and just varrying it so many different ways.

    Reply
  • November 11, 2009 at 10:45 am
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    @zzeroparticle

    could you plz get me another fix on this compilation because uploaded.to is being mean and is requiring premium account so i would be glad if you’d give me the compilation.

    greetz Dutchpanther
    csmulders@unic-utrecht.nl

    Reply

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