Previewing the Music For Winter 2012′s Anime Season

Intro by zzeroparticle: For those of you who follow this site pretty closely, you may have noticed that the Fall 2011 preview was conspicuously absent. School hammered me pretty hard and I just wasn’t able to find the time to put it together. To make amends, allow me to say this: Kousuke Yamashita’s work on Chihayafuru’s soundtrack is my most anticipated anime soundtrack from the current crop of Fall shows. Yes, I’m looking forward to it more than I’m looking forward to Yuki Kajiura’s work on Fate/Zero and more than Hiroyuki Sawano’s work on Guilty Crown. If you’ve never been exposed to Kousuke Yamashita’s work on either Glass Fleet or Shion no Ou and enjoy good music, you owe it to yourself to give both soundtracks a whirl just to see what he’s capable of.

Anyway, this niche column once again makes its return for Winter 2012. And like columns past, this one is sparse on plot elements since its focus is on the composer rolls, stuff they’ve done in the past, and wild speculation as to how well their music will mesh with the series in question. Onwards and sideways! (Note: sequels are not covered here.)

Ano Natsu de Matteru
Composer: I’ve Sound (but mostly Maiko Iuchi)
Synopsis: A romantic comedy involving two girls, Ichika Takatsuki and Remon Yamano and a boy, Kaito Kirishima.
Zzero’s Thoughts: As long as Maiko Iuchi reins in the heavy electronica he generally uses when working on I’ve Sound’s vocal projects, I think I’ll live. Those were probably the tracks that bugged me the most when I listened through Toaru Majutsu no Index’s soundtrack, but given that this is a rom-com, I’m hoping the heavy electronica will either be toned down or be absent altogether. Those types of pieces are really the only ones I didn’t like about Index anyhow; the rest of them were generally pleasant, enjoyable, if not overly memorable.
Yu’s Thoughts: Maiko Iuchi’s score for Toaru Kagaku  no Railgun was decent, and I did enjoy the few slice of life tracks mixed in with the electronica battle stuff. If him scoring a romantic comedy means more of the slice of life pieces, this album might actually be okay. However, it’s also very possible that he’ll just incorporate synth into his slice of life compositions, and those kinds of OSTs are usually pretty mediocre.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: I’ve got few nice things to say about Iuchi’s work on Railgun, and his lack any other notable releases doesn’t have me looking forward to Ano Natsu. There might be a synthesizer.

Composer: Kou Otani
Synopsis: 26 years ago, an honors student suddenly dies and in 1998, a fearful aura continues to hang over the classroom as Koichi Sakakibara transfers in.
Zzero’s Thoughts: If I had decided to talk about the web series Kyosogiga in this article, I could have made a joke about Another anime scored by Kou Otani, but alas. It is interesting to see him working on a Japanese horror anime considering that none of his past works suggests that his strength is in this area. You’d think something like this would go to Yasuharu Takanashi, but he’s probably overloaded at this point with PreCure and Fairy Tail’s soundtrack. Still, the snippets of music in the preview does fit the creepy mold, and I do hope to see his music immerse me in the show’s horror atmosphere since it’s definitely a show I’ll be checking out this winter.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: Like zzero mentioned, Otani has never scored a show like this before, and it intrigues me how his style will adapt to this sort of setting. Some of you may know that Kou is my favorite composer, but I haven’t heard anything truly impressive from him in a long time. Only thing that worries me, though, is that horror OST’s generally consist of not much more than slowly crescendoing high-pitched strings and boomy percussion. I hope Kou will be able to break the mold, but don’t know if his typically reserved style will find a home here.

Aquarion Evol
Composer: Yoko Kanno
Synopsis: 12,000 years after the events in Aquarion, the reincarnated characters return once more to fight enemies from another world in their giant robot while making pleasurable noises when their individual machines combine to form said giant robot.
Zzero’s Thoughts: I think I said something about no sequels being on here. Well, time to make this entry the sole exception to the rule. So when this anime was announced, I had a hunch that Yoko Kanno would make her return here and that turned out to be right, bringing with it a bit of excitement. After all, hasn’t there a big time gap between this and the Macross Frontier movies? The question though is what new tracks Kanno will be composing and whether it can live up to the work she did for Aquarion. “First Love Final Love” isn’t my favorite Kanno finale piece for nothing and if she can deliver the same sort of epicness in this Aquarion incarnation, I’ll be a very happy music reviewer.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: Who is this fresh-faced newcomer? This certainly isn’t the washed-up composer that crumbled into a flaming pile of disappointment in Darker than Black or the one whose reputation is becoming increasingly stained with accusations of plagiarism! Hopefully this newbie will be able to make a name for herself in this soundtrack!

Black Rock Shooter
Composer: ryo (supercell)
Synopsis: Split between school life and alternate universe sequences, the Black Rock Shooter OVA saw Mato Kuroi’s bond with her new friend Yomi Takanashi grow as Mato enters a new school. Meanwhile, in an alternate universe, Black Rock Shooter finds herself involved in a struggle of epic proportions against her nemesis, Dead Master.
Zzero’s Thoughts: Given how strongly ryo’s career has skyrocketed in terms of his melodies’ popularity, one might be tempted to eagerly await what he has in store for Black Rock Shooter’s soundtrack. This eagerness is tempered by the fact that the soundtrack might not be anything more than arrangements of ryo’s music, making him less of a primary composer than simply a source for arrangers to draw from. We’ll just have to find out.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: I doubt Mr. Oh-so-busy ryo will actually sit down to compose all the cute little incidental numbers for this score. Expect a soundtrack with him receiving too much credit for too little work. They’re moving on name recognition here, and he’ll contribute, at most, one or two battle themes, or maybe an OP/ED. Expect remixed versions of his older songs. OR I’ll eat my words, and this will be a lovely soundtrack with lots of new, exciting themes composed for the show by none other than the supercell man himself.
Yu’s Thoughts: The first BRS OVA had a soundtrack that was very much meh, with nothing in it that stuck with me after listening to it a few times. The only exception would be the Black Rock Shooter song, but that was composed before the OVA. I’m expecting more unremarkable things from this. That is, unless the second OVA just reuses all the music from the first one. After all, everyone knows BRS is just running off of the popularity of the original video.

Composer: Seikou Nagaoka
Synopsis: The adventures of 10 legendary warriors from Japan’s Sengoku period.
Zzero’s Thoughts: Normally, a soundtrack by Seikou Nagaoka would be cause for some optimism, as I did like the work that he put into Strike Witches. The character themes were very fitting and the music composed for action sequences were outright inspiring. Eagerness quickly turned to disappointment as I checked out the PV, though, where I was treated to a bunch of generic action tunes. Nothing stood out, nothing was very compelling musically, and watching that effectively killed any excitement I might have had for this series. Someone call in Sawano since he actually did a decent job with Sengoku Basara.

Daily Lives of High School Boys
Composers: Audio Highs
Synopsis: A slice of life comedy revolving around… what else? high school boys.
Zzero’s Thoughts: The team responsible for the Bakuman and Gintama soundtracks makes their return once more with what will most likely be yet another eclectic soundtrack. I could see their works going well with gag anime given the snippets that I’ve listened to from Gintama, but somehow, I don’t think it’ll do anything beyond fitting in with the anime.
Yu’s Thoughts: Comedies almost never have memorable music, that’s all that needs to be said.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: Comedies often have memorable music, that’s all that needs to be said.

High School DxD
Composer: Ryosuke Nakanishi
Synopsis: Issei Hyodo finds himself killed on his very first date and reincarnated as a devil serving Riasu, a devil who also happens to be the prettiest girl on campus.
Zzero’s Thoughts: Beyond his work on Majikoi, Nakanishi doesn’t really have that many composer credits to his name. Most of his work history has been in arranging; he’s done a lot of work arranging the likes of the B-side on Sketch Switch as well as composer credits for the odd track here and there from Kiniro no Corda and Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 Kurenai no Tsuki. I haven’t seen any of the shows listed here, so his body of work is effectively still an unknown quantity. Given that I don’t hear much raving about his works, I can safely assume I’m not missing out.
Aftershok’s Thoughts: Having actually seen some of Majikoi, I can assure you I don’t remember a thing about the music. That can mean one of only three things:

1) The show did not have music.
2) The music was so awful that I forced myself to forget everything about it.
3) The music was highly unmemorable.

Whichever one it is, it doesn’t look good for High School.


Mouretsu Pirates
Composers: Elements Garden
Synopsis: Marika Kato, a high schooler, finds out one day that her father was once the captain of the space pirate ship, the Bentenmaru. Because of how the succession rules work amongst space pirates, Marika is to inherit her father’s position and embarks on a new life filled with adventure.
Zzero’s Thoughts: As an entity, Elements Garden doesn’t seem to have many anime soundtracks to their credit, but when you break it down into individual composers like Noriyasu Agematsu and Fujita Junpei, you’ve got quite a few titles ranging from White Album to Ga-Rei -Zero-. All of these soundtracks have been enjoyable, and given the grand odyssey that this anime hints at in the synopsis, the music should be very fitting, especially if Agematsu brings the action-oriented flair he’s offered us through the Wild Arms series of video games.
Yu’s Thoughts: Noriyasu Agematsu did a great job with Ga-Rei -Zero-‘s soundtrack. It demonstrated that he could write both depressing and upbeat themes and have both sound good. Hopefully this displayed versatility will apply to this soundtrack, because if it does, I’ll be looking forward to this release.

Recorder to Randoseru
Composer: Takaaki Anzai
Synopsis: An adaptation of a 4-koma, this series focuses upon Atsushi, who is 11 years old but looks much older than that and his sister Atsumi, who is 17, but still looks like an elementary school student.
Zzero’s Thoughts: Is there really that much one can say about this show? The composer is a virtual unknown; the people I know who watched Fortune Arterial didn’t really have much to say about the music. And judging from the levels of (non)hype surrounding this series, I’d say Anzai’s compositions will register on my radar in some other series far into the future. Just not this one.

Rinne no Lagrange
Composer: Saeko Suzuki
Synopsis: Kyono Madoka rides a robot and fights against aliens.
Zzero’s Thoughts: The anime titles that I most associate with this particular composer are the Keroro Gunsou movies. The downside? I haven’t actually gone out of my way to give any of them a full listen-through. Based off of a few samples of tracks from those aforementioned OSTs, I can say that none of it sounds really all too compelling since they’re really all too short for the composer to really be able to strut her stuff and write music that really makes me sit up and take notice.

Sennhime Zesshou Symphogear
Composers: Elements Garden
Synopsis: Vocalists Tsubasa and Kanade team up to fight against monsters simply known as Noise.
Zzero’s Thoughts: While I have little faith in this show’s ability to execute its premise in a way that’ll leave me entertained, I will say that having Elements Garden on board leaves me with much hope on the musical front. Elements Garden’s vocal music has generally jibed with me, and given of this show’s idol-centric focus, I do hope to see them bring forth some memorable pop songs that’ll stick with me for a long time to come. After all, many of my favorite works of theirs features Nana Mizuki’s stunning vocals (see “Justice to Believe” from Wild Arms V). And wait… Nana Mizuki is also going to be in this anime? Sounds like a winning combination to me!

Zzero’s Final Thoughts: Winter 2012 seems to be a barren season. None of the plot synopses looks particularly exciting beyond the three or four sequels that I just might follow. Furthermore, the composers that have been called up to score these shows haven’t been all too compelling, either. Aside from the likes of Yoko Kanno, Kou Otani, Elements Garden, and maybe Audio Highs, this upcoming season is lacking in the big names, or even the lesser names of much merit. Kajiura is probably continuing on with Fate/Zero and Iwasaki frankly does need to take a break to let his creative juices rest since his last couple efforts have been lackluster compared to his usual ability to impress. If nothing else, this upcoming season might be just what I need to catch up on some of the soundtracks from 2011 that have passed me by. And for that matter, catch up on 2011 anime too.

Anime Instrumentality Staff

A collaboration between the staff members at Anime Instrumentality to bring you the best of all the anime music out there! Or silliness, whichever it is that happens to come first.

23 thoughts on “Previewing the Music For Winter 2012′s Anime Season

  • December 29, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Judging by the music that was in the preview of Senki Zesshō Symphogear that appeared on Youtube, this series could have an amazing collection of music.

    • December 29, 2011 at 10:39 pm

      I could probably use a bit less in the synth department, but damn, when you pair it with Nana Mizuki’s vocals, that stuff sounds absolutely stellar!

  • December 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    It seems like winter is always a weak season compared to the rest, but at least we will be getting a new Yoko Kanno soundtrack. It’s been quite a while since I’ve heard something new by her (I haven’t seen the Frontier movies, but I’m assuming there wasn’t any new instrumental music for it). I was also glad when I heard AKINO was back for the theme songs. “Sousei no Aquarion” is still one of my favorite opening themes.

    I definitely have to agree about Black Rock Shooter. I’d be very surprised if we got a soundtrack with completely new music all composed by ryo. At the very least, supercell will be performing the ending song. I wouldn’t be surprised if ryo is in charge of the opening theme as well. Seems like his name is everywhere nowadays.

    You haven’t liked Iwasaki’s recent works? Even if they aren’t as amazing as some of his other works, I’d still say they’re above average. Also, he has already been confirmed as the composer for White Fox’s adaptation of Jormungand, a Black Lagoon-like action series airing later this year, so don’t expect him to be gone for too long.

    • December 29, 2011 at 10:44 pm

      The only caution I have is that AKINO might not deliver something quite as compelling as “Sousei no Aquarion.” Not that it’s a bad thing since the song sets such a high bar. Well, we’ll see how the intro goes. The first few listens didn’t make a deep mark, but maybe it’s one of those things that takes awhile to sink in.

      With Iwasaki, I’m a bit down on him since I wasn’t completely won over by either [C] or Kamisama no Memochou. Maybe Ben-to will be a return to form? I see Taka loves it, so there may be hope yet? Also, I do look forward to Jormungand as he’s shown general excellence when composing for action anime, so here’s hoping that one turns out to be an enjoyable listening experience.

  • December 29, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Well, with Kanno and Otani, there is something to look forward to at least. Also, I have yet to see an announcement for the Phi Brain OST. The series has some very interesting BGM, but so far all that has come out are the OP and ED. Granted the OP (Brain Diver) is fun as hell, but I want that OST.

    • December 29, 2011 at 10:47 pm

      Phi Brain is bound to be interesting. Though I’m not following the series at the moment, I do have high hopes for the soundtrack to any anime that’s directed by Junichi Sato. That guy has good taste and knows what to look for when he commissions a composer to work on his anime as seen in Tamayura and ARIA. Thanks for alerting me to that!

  • December 29, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    No matter what, it seems that Nana Mizuki’s music always seems to impress with some exceptions, although the anime in question is very questionable. Still, there is always something to look forward to in the weak winter season.

    (Aside from that, I did enjoy “Scarlet Knight” and “Purity Paradox”)

    • December 29, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      Weak pretty much nails it. But hey, I’ll have no issues sinking some time into Symphogear since the Mizuki songs in the PV were pretty solid. Then I can just drop the show and let her singing voice delight me through and through.

  • December 29, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I’m interested in the Daily Lives of Highschool Boys not just because Gintama is one of my favorite anime and OSTs but because Shinji Takamatsu is directing it. Since he also did the first 100 eps of Gintama this may be another case where the music fits very well in the series.

    Also: No mention of Iwasaki’s OST for Ben-To? I thought the music was pretty eclectic, quirky, and awesome. It’s the OST I’m looking forward to most.

    • December 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm

      It also helps that the initial impressions of the pre-air have been positive.

      Also, not really, but then again, I’ve only seen one episode so far and didn’t really think too much of the music since it seemed like standard Iwasaki fare without any visible track that really grabs at my attention in the vein of stuff like “Bahasa Palus.” If you can promise me a track along those lines, then I’m all ears.

      • December 30, 2011 at 1:14 am

        Ben-to’s music is standard Iwasaki fare, except for one cool techno track (during the fight scenes) which reminds me a lot of Boom Boom Satellites. Just check another episode for that track.

      • December 30, 2011 at 1:25 pm

        Thanks. I’ll be going over to a friend’s place later today and he’s been following up on that show, so I’ll give it a peek.

  • December 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Oh, and I just noticed something. There’s another big name composer from this season that you forgot about. Kotaro Nakagawa is composing the music for Inu x Boku SS. I’ve yet to be disappointed by his works, so I’m obviously looking forward to his music for this.

    • December 29, 2011 at 10:52 pm

      Kotaro Nakagawa is pretty damn consistent as far as his music’s concerned. Thanks for the heads up and I’ll keep that on my radar. I really loved the stuff he did for Gosick.

  • December 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    At first, I was excited when Noriyasu Agematsu was listed as the musical director for Symphogear, but then I remembered UtaPrince and how generic the music was for that show (given it was a show about music), and my hopes suddenly went down.

    I have deep respect for Elements Garden as a musical group. They’re like wizards who mastered their craft of making anime music, and they have lent their incredible talents to several artists and shows. Unfortunately, I’m already at that stage where their music doesn’t do much for me anymore. I don’t get that same kick from their songs now because I realized I was listening to the same style and same arrangement with the same musical mindset from the start.

    But the good thing about this upcoming show is Nana Mizuki is in it. I still remember the first time I fell in love with Elements Garden, it was back then with Nana Mizuki circa Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Their music works best with her, and Nana’s powerful vocals works best with their style. After that, they kinda went their own separate ways. And now I don’t listen to Nana Mizuki anymore. But I will still watch this show because I want to give their combination one last push, and after that I will move on. And I hope their thing works with the show’s premise.

    As for the other composers, it’s too bad Mako Iuchi would have to tone the ambient electronic and trance music down a bit for the show, given that is his forte in music. But his other works isn’t all that bad either.


    • December 29, 2011 at 10:56 pm

      Your feelings for Elements Garden are pretty much exactly how I feel about ryo(supercell) these days. I do hope to see the pairing of Elements Garden x Nana Mizuki succeed, if nothing else, then nostalgia’s sake for the excellence they did for Nanoha. And yeah… my listening of Nana Mizuki has also dropped off as of late. Maybe Symphogear can bring her back to my attention the way White Album did.

      And that clip pretty much nails what I’d expect out of Iuchi for a slice of life anime. If it can be upbeat while differentiating itself from the umpteen millions of ordinary life anime OSTs, I’m certainly not going to complain.

      • December 30, 2011 at 1:11 am

        Not related, but just as I was typing that comment, I began to wonder if Maiko Iuchi was male or female. Turns out she is female. Haha.

        And yeah, I feel that about supercell too, but I still have hopes for him because his musical direction is way more creative than most composers. Too bad since his name is everywhere now, it would eventually dry out his creative juice (just like what kinda happens to Iwasaki now and then) and his tunes would end up just run-of-the-mill and not that impressing.

        And funny how we must write ryo with a (supercell) to not get it confused with Ryo (with a capital R, another anime song composer). LOL

      • December 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm

        People with names ending in -ko usually are female (there are a few exceptions though as one of my classmates can attest to since his name is Hiroko).

        I’m just worried that he hasn’t really forced himself into many different musical structures and that has the unfortunate tendency for his songs to start sounding the same after awhile. How many more instances of soft piano leading to a grandiose buildup do you need before that gets old? Fortunately for him, his melodies are still very solid; I just wish he’d take that to try something different.

        And yeah, too many artists named Ryo. Gotta figure out how to differentiate them one way or another :3

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  • December 31, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I’m a fan of Nana Mizuki, Yoko Kanno, and some others so that should be pretty nice, even though I do agree… This season looks a bit more barren in terms of anime. Still, I think that before most seasons, and usually I’m surprised.

  • February 9, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    I like your previews, but perhaps, you could embed some music from a composer’s previous works, just to give us a taste of what it’s like? Just like how other season previews add trailers to give us a feel for the story, Anime Instrumentality sounds like a place that should add music to give us a feel for the music. Obviously, not for every show, but sometimes, words just don’t work, right?

    (And I realize also that sometimes, previews don’t matter – it’s all about the first-hand experience! But oh well.)

    • February 13, 2012 at 2:14 am

      That would be an interesting thought though it might help if we took music from lesser-known composers as a way of highlighting their past works… I’ll have to make that a part of the process next time!

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