Previewing the Music for Winter 2011’s Anime Season

Other people toss up preview posts with the aim of highlighting plot, characters, seiyuu, and art design. Our idiom here is music all the way, so once again, we’ll highlight the soundtrack offerings for this Winter anime season. Naturally, there’s a high chance I’ll only get around to watching three or four shows (one of which will have noitaminA as its timeslot) since that’s all the time I can make these days, but if you wind up taking a look at all of these, you’ll know who to keep an ear out for.

Synopses will join the music commentary this time around for your pleasure. I’ll wind up paraphrasing from the Chart Driver’s hard work and if you want to eschew the music entirely and focus on some of the more traditional factors to choose your shows, you could just hit up the link above. For the rest of you who are curious about the music, see what I’ve got to say after the jump!

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
Composer: Yuki Kajiura
Synopsis: Madoka is an ordinary middle school student who will presumably turn into a magical girl at some point. Who knows what’ll happen next because Akiyuki Shinbo is sitting in the director’s chair for this one and we all know how awesome Nanoha was once we got through the monster-of-the-week episodes.
Thoughts: Can I safely say this is the show that’s got one of the strongest director/composer combos out of all the shows airing this season? The last time Kajiura and Shinbo paired up, they worked on Le Portrait de Petite Cossette. Kajiura did a great job on that one in the way her music brought forth the show’s eerie vibe through a beautiful soundtrack. That said, I’m not expecting a rehash of Cossette’s score. If anything, it’ll be more like the work she did for Mai HiME.

Starry Sky
Composer: Tomoki Kikuya
Synopsis: Tsukiko, a girl, attends a formerly all-guy’s school and is the only girl there.
Thoughts: Tomoki Kikuya seems to be on a roll as of late. His work on last season’s Ika Musume probably didn’t catch anyone’s ear too heavily since his music tends to blend in the background rather nicely as it did in the work he’s done for Hidamari Sketch. As for his work on Starry Sky, I’m not quite sure how it’ll go. I’ve never listened to any of his romance works really closely before (Da Capo II for instance), so this may turn out to be a novel listen. This show’s not exactly high on my watch list though, and so, it’s not likely I’ll get a chance to find out how his work fares here. Kikuya will also be busy scoring Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne—!!, a show that’s probably more to his style since it’s more of a slice of life, romantic… comedy?

Infinite Stratos
Composer: Hikaru Nanase (aka: Masumi Ito)
Synopsis: Females are the only gender capable of wielding the Infinite Stratos (IS), a weaponized exoskeleton system. So can Ichika Orimura, a boy, and he’s taken to a school to train alongside the girls on how to use the Infinite Stratos.
Thoughts: Well now, this actually sounds interesting. The potential for the music that is. Hikaru Nanase’s work on Bungaku Shoujo, a soundtrack I’ve been meaning to review but have completely stalled on, has yielded some really heartwarming, heartfelt tracks, something I’m sure will pop up here in her depiction of the developing romance between the male lead and his female classmates. The emphasis on weaponry and warfare should yield some good stuff too, given her past work on Chrono Crusade, which featured some really glorious, high-energy, orchestral tracks.

Composer: Kotaro Nakagawa
Synopsis: In addition to being a poor attempt at spelling “Gothic,” Gosick takes place in the made-up European country of Sauville where Kazuya Kujo, a student at St. Marguerite Academy, meets Victorique, a mysterious yet beautiful and brilliant girl, and together, the two solve mysteries.
Thoughts: You’d almost think Shinkichi Mitsumune would be scoring this given this show’s title since he did do the gothic lolita score for Rozen Maiden. I’m not particularly too worried about how this will turn out since Nakagawa’s got a sterling track record when it comes to scoring anime. He’s done pretty much every genre under the sun, from my first introduction to his works through Planetes, to the whimsical BGMs found in Hayate the Combat Butler. Most people will know him for the work he did on Code Geass, which wowed us with its Spanish flair. I don’t think we’ll see that here though. Sauville sounds kinda French, so I would expect music more in line with classical European mixed in with intense action tracks when the scenes call for it.

Composer: Masaru Yokoyama
Synopsis: Aliens have invaded Earth! To fight them off, Kazuya Aoi enrolls in a school to train to become a Limiter and partners up with Bridgette L. Satellizer, a Pandora, genetically modified girls who have great combat prowess.
Thoughts: It’s the Queen’s Blade composer! Or if that turns you off, it’s the Arakawa composer! Anything with Yokoyama in the composer’s chair has a lot of potential musically since he’s shown that, through the two works mentioned above, he can compose a score that fits nearly any show’s style. Almost like Nakagawa I suppose. Whether the show requires majesty, action, or drama, nothing’s really out of his reach, and so, I have high expectations that he’ll be able to come up with an excellent score once more.

Level E
Composer: Ryo Kunihiko
Synopsis: Boy who lives on his own for the first time stumbles upon a young man who claims to be an alien with a bad case of amnesia.
Thoughts: Ignore the flippant description since I’m pretty sure we’re looking at a real sci-fi anime. Make that a sci-fi anime scored by Ryo Kunihiko, who has no shortage of majestic scores through the years. The high sense of adventure that Kunihiko is capable of cultivating is illustrated wonderfully more recently in his work on Tegami Bachi’s soundtrack, but it’s always been there ever since he scored Twelve Kingdoms. You really can’t go wrong asking him to do adventuring music, and with the scope that Level E seems bent on, we’ve got a good fit here.

Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko)
Composers: Keiichi Okabe, Satoru Kousaki
Synopsis: Feminine boy meets tomboyish girl in what looks to be a warm, romantic anime with dramatic overtones as the two struggle to understanding themselves and each other.
Thoughts: This is a strange combination indeed since the last things I recall out of these two were the ska-frenzy of both Working!!’s soundtrack and Ore no Imouto’s. That’s probably not going to happen this time though, since the dramatic quotient, I’d like to think, will beckon more towards the soft melodies that something like Aoi Hana’s soundtrack would possess. With this MoNACA duo though, anything is possible and Hourou Musuko is capable of surprising us all, especially if they don’t default to minimalist fare that’s been Kousaki’s trademark thus far.

Composer: Souhei Kano
Synopsis: The “Fractale System” is beginning to collapse and Kurane’s chance encounter with a disappearing girl leads him to embark upon a journey to look for the girl. In doing so, he learns more and more about the secrets behind the “Fractale System.”
Thoughts: A show I’ll be picking up for sure and a show featuring a new composer I don’t think any of us know much about. Seriously, I don’t know where they picked him up and the only music-related thing that anyone pointed me to (thanks ottocycle!) is a song he wrote while he was at whatever music conservatory he studied at. Needless to say, it’s a pretty neat blend of dissonant orchestral music and some jazzy syncopation, and if this is what we get out of Fractale, we could be in for a wild, zany romp. There is method to that flurry of madness though and if you’re curious, you can listen to what I’m talking about below:

Final Notes:
I will do a reminiscence post for all of 2010’s anime music. I will not do it until March, since that’s when the last of the soundtracks for Fall’s shows will have been released and that I’ll have been able to listen to a majority of them to be able to highlight the good, the excellent, and a lot of the unappreciated!


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.

11 thoughts on “Previewing the Music for Winter 2011’s Anime Season

  • January 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I’d like to interject that the song by the Fractale composer is actually a wind ensemble piece; I don’t think I heard a single string instrument but a lot of saxophones haha. Awesomely cheesy blues progressions there, too. That song is very similar in tone and style to the first and third movements of Frank Ticheli’s “Symphony No. 2” with some whiffs of David Holsinger’s “Scootin on Hardrock” thrown in. I’m very excited or Fractale in general. I loved Bakemonogatari’s OST, so I’m looking forward to Wandering Son.

    YouTube link to Mvt. 1 of “Symphony No. 2”

  • January 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks for your hard work!

    I didn’t realize Ryo Kunihiko was attached to the Level E project. That guarantees my watching it, as I was already curios about how it was going to turn out.

  • January 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I’m pretty interested in the OP/ED for Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica since apparently, ClariS (Ore no Imouto) and Kalafina are doing the OP/EDs respectively. Hopefully the show will live up its title once it airs this week…

    Nevertheless, I’m still pretty interested on how the music from other winter shows will do…

  • January 4, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    The Chart Driver. That’s smart :v

    The composer seems very fitting for a show as… ‘diverse’ as Fractale. Don’t you think the music fits perfectly?

  • January 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    I like seasons with not-so-prolific composers- I’m usually pleasantly surprised. New names are exciting to see 🙂

    Da Capo’s music was okay. Not outstanding, but good for a relaxing listen. Ergo, I don’t have terribly high expectations, but Starry Sky will still be something I’ll check out. Fractale is certainly something to look forward to, if that sample was anything to go by.

    College application season is over, I have time to read your blog again!

    • January 5, 2011 at 12:01 am

      Thanks for the clarification there! We’ve been needing something who can double-check me on these kinds of things. But yeah, this one is certainly taking more of a modern bent than the stuff I’ll usually be listening to, but I hope this sort of boundless creativity is what we’ll be getting out of Fractale once it airs. As for Team MoNACA, I’ll still be cautious since they don’t always catch my fancy, but I’m hoping it’ll pull through.

      Level E could be good. Its premise and artwork have caught my eyes enough that I’m willing to give it a go. Heck, knowing me, I’ll give it a go nonetheless just to scout out Kunihiko’s work on there. Even if the show turns out to be meh, I can still have a soundtrack to look forwards to.

      Thanks for the info there. I’m not all too surprised to see Kalafina highlighting either the OP or ED since Kanno’s involved and all that, but to see ClariS’s re-emergence from their success with OreImou? Looking forwards to that! And yeah, I suppose once the flurry of soundtracks get released, you’ll be hearing me either cheer or gripe over twitter :p

      Fitting too!

      But yeah, Fractale has a lot of ambition behind it and I do hope that both the show and the soundtrack will shine through. If Kano can do a modernist bent on Hisaishi, I’ll be a very happy camper.

      Congratulations on that and hope you manage to get in the college of your choosing. Also hope you enjoy that next step since I had a blast back in the day.

      As for Kikuya’s score for Da Capo, I’m not too surprised by that description since he does do laid-back tunes rather well. As for Fractale, it was pretty much on my radar when I saw that it’d be a noitaminA show and the shows that have been airing on that timeslot have been chock full of quality, so I was going to follow it regardless. But that the potential exists for some eclectic tunes has me excited… and just a wee bit curious as to how it’ll come down.

  • January 5, 2011 at 5:05 am

    I got a namedrop! \o/

    Pfft I missed Ryou doing Level E while doing my own search for the whereabouts of them prominent composers this season. But if he maintains the level he did for Letter Bee, I’ll certainly be there as well.

    Regarding Freezing, here’s a minute-long BGM making-of video:
    Quite possibly this is the first time we’ve got a video like this. Passes my test for epic as I would expect, though what’s surprising about this particular piece is that it’s pretty similar to Takanashi’s epic mode (w/o the Celtic elements eg. in Naruto Shippuuden). Looking forward to it!

    On Fractale, here’s the trailer videos:
    A lot more orthodox than that piece above, and this might be the score to keep an ear out for since this show will have many world-building elements in the story, which probably means more atmospheric pieces which would be fun to listen to.

    Infinite Stratos trailer:
    I think you’re right on the money for this one. She’s definitely pulling out her Chrno Crusade stuff for the action if this is any indication.

    One score that’s not listed here but I’m keeping a lookout for is Kimi ni Todoke. I can see why it’s not on here given that it’s a sequel, but I certainly hope that the previous season score doesn’t simply get recycled here. :3

    • January 6, 2011 at 12:58 am

      I’m not Wikileaks yet, so no need to protect sources =)

      And thanks for the additional info. My thoughts:
      Freezing: Holy shit this sounds like some awesome saga in the works. I really love the way the melody channels that sense of the epicness and yeah… consider me sold since it really doesn’t get better than that!
      Fractale is pretty much the anime to be looking for with the new composer and all that. Its soundtrack does have the feel of an adventuring anime that carries a sound that reveals the wonders of discovery. As someone who’s done world design, I’m interested in seeing how the sound meshes with the setting.
      Infinite Stratos seems a bit more reserved than Chrono Crusade. It does have an interesting bit of electronica/synth mixed into the music to give it that sci-fi sound so I’m pretty interested as to how that one will turn out.

      As for KnT, maybe they’ll release all the tracks that never made it into the OST to the first season! Heh.

  • January 6, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Mahou Shoujo, Gosick, Level E, Hourou Musuko and Fractale is on my Winter anime to watch list so it’s automatic that I’m hearing out the op/ed/bgm/ost. I read the Freezing manga and found it to be mildly interesting. So unsure about the anime although that wee piece of bgm sounds exciting. Very much looking forward Ryo’s work for Level E and ya, Fractale’s newbie composer. I like what I heard.

  • January 6, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Immediately I see Yuki Kajiura and I’m excited. But then again, she has been known for wasting her talents on crappy anime. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica turns out.

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