As promised, this post will contain a short blurb of all the music posted for Set #1 of the BGM Music Quiz. Although the track identification count is at two, I still hope that you all derived some enjoyment out of the music since that’s the secondary motive for writing that post in the first place (the primary motive is to cover for a lack of reviews). Since you’re probably dying to know which track comes from which series, the answers are as follows (along with the full version of the track in question):
Anime series: Gunslinger Girl
Track title: TEMA I
A friend of mine complained about this track appearing far too much in the series, but I’m not really sure that it’s a reason to dislike this track. In fact, as I mentioned in the comments section of the previous post, Gunslinger Girl is pretty high on my list of favorite soundtracks, maybe second or third on my all-time list. Toshihiko Sahashi’s compositions do an excellent job of conveying the European setting and the soundtrack packs a lot of variety from the mournful to the upbeat. “TEMA I,” in particular, has this melancholy violin melody that invites the listener to take a step back and see these girls’ situation for what it is. Beneath their veneer of contentment lies a rather tragic past and this piece is a solid reminder of that, which makes it perfect for its role as the main theme of the series.
Anime series: ARIA the Animation
Track title: Natsu Tayori
It’s really hard for me to not go into fanboy mode as far as ARIA goes. Not only was that franchise a delightfully amazing watch, none of the soundtracks disappointed me even though I was pretty sure that by Origination, they’d have few original tracks to sprinkle around. “Natsu Tayori” jumps out at me by bringing out Neo-Venezia’s laid-back and upbeat atmosphere that comes from a combination of the whistling and the choro-styled melody (that’s why they call themselves the Choro Club I suppose) that makes this piece so relaxing and enjoyable. Along with pieces like “Aqua,” “Mangetsu no Dolche,” and “Mizu no Kagami,” the soundtrack to ARIA the Animation stands out as a wonderful work that’s unlikely to be matched for its grace and elegance as well as its optimistic outlook on life, a feeling that resonates strongly with the series itself.
Anime series: Oh! Edo Rocket
Track title: Rocket
Per nkcl‘s request, this answer is revealed! Though I have not seen Oh! Edo Rocket myself, a hat tip goes out to SeijiSensei from AnimeSuki for introducing me to this excellent soundtrack. Much of the music on this soundtrack is big band jazz, which will undoubtedly please anyone who loves that particular genre since it’s one that I’ve found to be sorely lacking in the world of anime soundtracks. Needless to say, I was completely blown away by how enjoyable the melodies are and would heartily recommend this album to anyone needing their jazz fix.
As a slight aside, Oh! Edo Rocket focuses a lot on the individual, which is quite a step from most anime series that have a group-focused approach to the plot and characters. This makes the usage of jazz all the more appropriate since that genre tends to be more individualistic with all those solo bits and improvisation during the course of a jazz performance.
Anime series: Le Chevalier D’Eon
Track title: PSALMS
The guesses for this track being from Blood+ aren’t far off the mark as far as genre is concerned since there is plenty of action and supernatural creatures running about (especially zombies, lots of zombies). This track hails from Le Chevalier D’Eon and I remember that when I watched the first episode, something triggered my memory and my first thought was “Huh… the music has Michiru Ooshima’s style written all over it” and my subsequent research confirmed those suspicions. Of course, most people know her better as the composer for Full Metal Alchemist, and if you listen carefully, you can definitely hear some “Ooshima-isms” (if I may call it that) scattered throughout the Chevalier soundtrack, especially in the way she uses the cello (maybe it’s a bass?) and clarinet in “PSALMS.” So for those of you who enjoyed FMA’s music, I definitely recommend giving this one a listen since it’s practically more of the same stuff from her. Good stuff at that.
Anime series: Planetes
Track title: Outside Atmosphere
Finally, we come to the track that everyone is waiting for. As Nazarielle was able to deduce partway and as I hinted, there’s a strong connection between this piece and Code Geass on two counts. The first and obvious count is that both series share the same composer: Kotaro Nakagawa. The second and less obvious count is that both Planetes and Code Geass are directed by none other than Gorou Taniguchi. Unlike Code Geass, Planetes is universally acclaimed, without the over-the-top plot twists or anything complicated; the series is much closer to a slice-of-life series that can be described as “salarymen in space.” Though I haven’t seen all of it, what I have seen of Planetes has been enjoyable and I highly recommend giving that one a look.
Nazarielle’s observation of this track wasn’t far off the mark either and I can definitely see how this track gives off the feeling an observer has upon gazing at some ancient ruins resulting from some great conflict. This piece starts out with a violin motive that exudes a sense of tranquility while conveying a sense of isolation. That is, apart from the ruined structures, there is no trace of human activity present as far as the eye can see. As the observer continues to stay in the area, the chorus section comes in followed by the violin which has a warm and comforting timbre as though this piece was describing a beautiful sunrise that bathes the world in its warmth and shines its light upon the land. Naturally, the above description is fitting if you imagine this piece describing the vastness of space as the characters are in orbit and witness a beautiful sunrise. Like in most things, context is everything I guess.
And that’s it! Again, I hope you enjoyed this exercise and got some utility out of listening to the tracks.