As of this posting, this blog’s finally hit the 50 post mark which is a milestone that’s cause for celebration. If you had asked me when I started this all the way back in April whether it’s likely that I would have abandoned this project after 3 months, I probably would have told you that it was highly possible due to a lack of interest and time constraints. But here I am, close to 8 months since I’ve started writing here and it’s still going strong. I don’t see my dedication flagging anytime soon.
It’s also quite interesting to see where this blog has taken me and if you’ve traced the path that I’ve traveled since I started writing, it’s been one heck of a journey. You’ll probably remember when I made the decision to join the Nihon Review in mid-August and ever since then I’ve never looked back. Even though I’ve been a staff writer with them for four months now, I’m still impressed by the commitment that my colleagues have made to writing insightful, analytical reviews. This level of earnestness and dedication isn’t something to be dismissed lightly because constantly striving for high quality reviews is difficult and effectively becomes a labor of love (to use Sorrow-kun’s words on the matter). I’ve seen other anime review sites crumble due to waning interest, especially in the face of the tremendous workload required. In the Nihon Review’s case, enthusiasm remains pretty high, so they’ll certainly be a fixture in the anime community for a long time to come.
In addition to the Nihon Review, I’ve also become more involved with the anime community. By interacting with people, both on internet forums and by commenting on other people’s blogs, I’ve opened my world up quite a bit and I can definitely say that the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.
Now that we’ve gotten the self-congratulatory stuff out of the way, it’s time to begin looking ahead and see where the journey takes us. At this point in time, I still think that the anime music community is as undeveloped as ever so there are a lot of inroads that can be made by exposing people to more anime music. As it stands, few people really know much about anime soundtracks beyond the composers I consider to be the big three: Yoko Kanno, Yuki Kajiura, and Joe Hisaishi. Though all three are famous for a reason, if people constrain themselves to just those three, they’d be missing out on other artists like Takeshi Senoo (Aria), Akira Senju (Red Garden), Ken Muramatsu (Sketchbook ~full color’S~), and Kaoruko Ohtake (Bartender) whose works are absolutely beautiful, but who barely ever get a mention for their outstanding compositions (And if you know of any places that have insightful discussions about any of these lesser-known composers, feel free to link me to them. I make no claim of being omniscient when it comes to the happenings of the anime music community).
It’s not an insurmountable problem because there are plenty of excellent soundtracks; the problem comes in getting more people to actively take in the entirety of the experience that anime has to offer. That means enjoying the plot, the dialogue, and of course, the music, which serves to prop up the scenes in ways that aren’t so readily apparent, but are still very important all the same. A botched implementation of the music (Gunslinger Girl ~Il Teatrino~ was noticeably guilty of this) can make for a scene that less powerful and less compelling than it would otherwise be and an excellent presentation (like Victorian Romance Emma) can put the viewer right into the mood and atmosphere of the series. Naturally, I wouldn’t advocate focusing solely on the music alone, but it’d be nice to see it mentioned more than it has been in the past. As such, one of my goals is to increase the level of dialogue revolving around anime soundtracks by making an honest effort to review some of the underappreciated works that are out there.
By doing so, I readily admit that there’s a major stumbling block that I need to overcome: OP/ED reviews. The issue that’s been on my mind is that this blog is packed to the brim with OP/ED reviews. And there’s a good reason for that. With OP/EDs, you have around two, maybe three tracks that you need to analyze in depth. For someone without a whole lot of time on his hands and who feels the need to provide a steady stream of content for this blog, the path of least resistance without sacrificing the quality of the reviews is to simply write OP/ED reviews. As much as I’d like to be able to churn out soundtrack review after soundtrack review, week in, week out, it’s just not possible when real life raises its head. Reviewing an entire soundtrack is a big time commitment and I have no idea how sites like RPGFan can keep up with their current pace when it comes to writing reviews in the world of video game music, but I certainly cannot do what they’ve done.
Perhaps it’s the time to change my working paradigm and not worry so much about keeping this site continually updated with content so much as to update it with soundtrack content only. Then again, you, the reader, might argue that the current method of having a lot of OP/ED reviews with a Vocal Collection or a Soundtrack review scattered in between is good enough. I’m certainly curious to know what you all think.
Regardless of how this falls, the amount of feedback that I’ve gotten with regards to my reviews has exceeded my expectations. My last soundtrack review for Natsume Yuujinchou was fairly well-received, at least if you judge based on the comments that I’ve gotten back about my evaluation of that particular soundtrack. All of those responses give me a lot more confidence in my ability to write good reviews. As one may very well expect, one semester of Music 27 in college is hardly sufficient to write technically fluent music reviews so the fact that people can even see where I’m coming from with my reactions is heartening in of itself and gives me the motivation to continue writing more.
So with everything that’s gone on, I’m continually looking to get anime soundtracks more recognition; a tough job since you’re talking about a niche of an already niche hobby. Still, the problem isn’t an intractable one. I continually point towards the game music community as a shining example of where anime music can be in a few years with slightly better organization and more people taking an interest in it. Of course, my hope for an all-inclusive anime music database is still out there and though I know that I ultimately won’t be the person responsible for putting in the hard work and labor of writing up the code for such a database, I eagerly await the day such a resource becomes available so that I can take part in the discussions and contribute to it in any way I can.