Reminiscing over the Decade’s Anime Music – Afterthoughts, Random or Otherwise

And so it ends, this opportunity to present unto you the wonderful snippets of music that have become near and dear to me. I hope you enjoyed this exercise. I know I certainly did when I scoured through all these albums in search of those wonderful melodies that have become a mainstay in my anime experience where both the music and the wonderful scenes it conjures up remain etched in my mind. Well, that’s mostly true since I have this bad habit of listening to soundtracks without watching the anime. So yes, I have made a ton of promises I most likely can’t keep about actually watching some of those shows, but hey, that’s just how I roll!

Whether you’re new to this article series or you’ve hung around since its inception, here are all of the posts exploring the past, located in a list for your convenience. Feel free to reminisce along; there’s no expiration date when it comes to gushing about the music that’s defined some of your favorite shows:

On top of all this, I’ve gotten close to two dozen recommendations for stuff I should be listening to, from the near-unanimous cry for giving Toshihiko Sahashi’s Simoun score a shot (many consider it to be his best work), to Yasuharu Takanashi’s Towards the Terra, to a couple shots completely out of left field in Kaze no Shoujo Emily and an anime baseball movie. There’s obviously a lot to try out, and as the Fall 2010 season has shown so far, the quantity of good soundtracks continues to pile on with no end in sight. I’d go as far as to say 2010 has been an enjoyable year musically, and you can look forward to a summary once the year ends.

When all is said and done, I’m left with a huge queue of stuff to review and as daunting as it seems, I really look forward to exploring the albums of yesteryear while keeping my ears alert for newer stuff. I’ll also try to come up with another article series to give myself some breathing room between review writing just to mix it up a bit. If you’ve any suggestions on what could make for a fine article series, feel free to send them my way.

Random thoughts that prevent this post from being content-free:

  • Is there a Japanese-run anime music blog that does what I do here? Even if I have to run that site through Google Translate, I’d still like to know. Save for contests like Saimoe, there seems to be very little cross-pollination going on between the fanbases in Japan and those in the West. I’d like to see that changed somehow. For now, links to anime soundtrack sites is sufficient.
  • While we’re on the bit about cross-pollination, what about the lines drawn between anime and game music? Will there be more artists who cross the lines and work in both mediums? Already, names like Nobuo Uematsu, Kou Ootani, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Taku Iwasaki, Michiru Ooshima, Yoko Kanno, Yuki Kajiura, among others, have worked on both game and anime music, and I expect this number to increase as games become more and more cinematic, and so, will have similar requirements for their melodies.
  • To stir the pot a little, my top 10 soundtracks from the last decade are, in order: Spirited Away, Red Garden, ARIA (entire franchise), Gunslinger Girl, Kenshin Seisouhen, Romeo x Juliet, Ouran High School Host Club, Mai HiME, Haibane Renmei, and Spice and Wolf. I expect some vehement disagreements here and that my responses to at least half of those will be: “I haven’t listened to that soundtrack. Sorry. :p”
  • The above list is a boring concept. I should come up with a list of the best soundtracks you’re not listening to though given my readership, I don’t know how well that’ll fly since you might be listening to them already.
  • One short project up for consideration is to determine whether the soundtracks to all yuri anime are solid and enjoyable. Number of counterexamples found so far: 0
  • Composers who aren’t as well known, but who I’ve learned to look out for: Masaru Yokoyama, Makoto Yoshimori, Shougo Kaida, Ken Muramatsu, Akihiko Matsumoto, Kotaro Nakagawa, and Hiroyuki Sawano.
  • Composers who need to write more anime music: Kaoruko Ohtake (maybe I should just listen to more Natural Highs), Takeshi Senoo, John Williams (I can dream, right?).


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.

16 thoughts on “Reminiscing over the Decade’s Anime Music – Afterthoughts, Random or Otherwise

  • November 19, 2010 at 7:25 am

    About the artists who do both anime and game music, you can now add Toshihiko Sahashi to the list..

    any thoughts on the Rebuild of Evangelion soundtracks? The OST for the second movie is probably one of my favorites alongside both Simoun OSTs, Romeo x Juliet, My Neighbor Totoro Orchestra Stories, Eureka Seven OSTs and Katanagatari.

    and +1 on the Simoun OST, you must check it out when you have time…


  • November 19, 2010 at 9:32 am

    There’s a lot of cross pollination between game composers and anime composers, but one thing that increase this decade, too, is cross pollination between Japanese tv/drama/movie composers and anime composers. I mean, that was Hisaishi’s bread and butter right? Then you got people like that Muramatsu guy who does Kurenai. Or the insurgence of covers (tho that is not BGM per se). Or how in general anison is on a huge up-trend this past 5 years, rubbing shoulders with mainstream. Plus you got things like Eminence and other similar efforts.

    Your list is quite boring, I agree with you ;). I mean there is really nothing controversial in it. It’s also a good list to demonstrate why I’m not huge on game music composers…I mean RxJ is a good example why I like Sakimoto but would probably not buy his soundtracks.

    Will have to second/third/fourth/nth Simoun, if I haven’t yet. Definitely my fav Sahashi work.

    Bah @ John Williams. Mark Mancina, man, he’s done anime now!

  • November 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

    as for blog/fandom cross pollination, the language barrier just seems too large. Japan still is #1 in hits for my blog but that’s mostly a click-and-download thing. You’d need a truly bilingual blog for global pollination, but that seems like an OSV-scale endeavor(?)

  • November 19, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Well, at least you’re aware of what you’re missing out on. 😉

    Yearly posts on anime music will be welcome. As for what you could do to loosen up the monotony of simply reviewing albums, everyone enjoys a ranking, as controversial as it might be. Summarizing the style and best works of one composer in one article might be an option as well.

    And my goodness Japanese websites are cluttered. Not unexpectedly, searches turned up mostly download sites or blogs that listed releases. Most other results were personal blogs. Unfortunately blogs which give in depth reviews seem to be hard to find..

  • November 19, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Have you checked out the Jigoku Shoujo OST’s at all? I personally consider it to be some of Yasuharu Takahashi’s best work, although I will note that not everything on those OST’s is his work, and his portion of the content of those OST’s is significantly better than the other content. I’m also looking forward to getting my hands on the Shiki OST, as he’s helming the music composition on that.

  • November 19, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    I’m surprised at how many overlaps our top tens have: Gunslinger Girl, Aria, Haibane Renmei, Mai HiME, and Spirited Away. ^ ^

    “One short project up for consideration is to determine whether the soundtracks to all yuri anime are solid and enjoyable. Number of counterexamples found so far: 0”
    Haha. ♥

  • November 19, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Holy crap that’s exciting news. Listening to that Majin interview with Sahashi brings back all the memories of all the excellent work he did for the Gundam SEED, especially when he talks about his experience with the London orchestras. Thanks for alerting me to this since I really love the work that Sahashi’s done.

    As for Rebuild, I guess you invoke my “sorry, haven’t listened to it :p.” I think I saw it in my local CD shop though, and if I do catch it, I’ll give it a listen since Shiro Sagisu’s track record has been solid the whole way through.

    Oh yes! Obviously, my knowledge of drama composers is pretty limited, but I can think of Akira Senju and Hattori as being one of those who do dabble in dramas. I’m pretty sure other people can come up with a longer list of names too about some prominent composers who do both.

    And yeah, we do need to get more Western composers to do anime stuff. I might rage if everything starts sounding like Hans Zimmer though.

    That’s where they have potential since I do think they have Japanese translators on staff. They don’t post and are more behind-the-scenes kind of thing. I know VGMdb could also be that link since they get plenty of visits from Japan due to the huge database of Touhou stuff.

    The barrage or recommendations will cause me to crack sooner or later. Most likely sooner. I’m already giving Emily a shot :p

    And yeah, I do have a plan to run an article series along that kind of vein. It’ll probably get started on my next non-review post…

    Lastly, that’s unfortunate, but hopefully there’ll be some stumbling on either their part or ours that’ll increase the level of cross-pollination since the dialogue it fosters could be pretty awesome.

    Shiki’s score has been awesome since there’s plenty of conventional stuff as well as the eerie chants that help craft the atmosphere so well. Needless to say, that’s one soundtrack I’m really eager about giving a listen since his work has been pretty strong. I really do need to give Jigoku Shoujo both a listen and a watch since the subject material is kinda interesting. Also, I think Takanashi’s work on Mononoke was also pretty solid.

    It’s true! I’ve yet to find one and I do hope this quest turns up some awesome music in the vein of Strawberry Panic and Kannazuki no Miko since those, by all accounts, are solid soundtracks.

  • November 20, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I really have enjoyed listening to Toshihiko Sahashi and Michiru Oshima’s work for both anime and drama works although we need more of each. I wish we had a better avenue for finding out what all is out there from a certain Japanese composer because I would love to be able to someday buy all the soundtracks from my favorite composers that I haven’t heard yet or knew existed.

    Thankfully VGMDB has opened up to include anime soundtracks and the people who normally update the site have also been good at listing new releases of anime soundtracks along with the game ones. Someday when you get a chance, I think you should do some reviews of game music because there are a lot of great soundtracks out there. I could give you a list to start from but it would be quite long. At the very least you should try to check out Hitoshi Sakimoto’s game music since you are a fan of his work on anime.

  • November 20, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I recall there being a jpopwiki that actually covers more than just J-pop. Although the focus is mostly on the singers, they’re decent enough in paying attention to composers so that’s one resource that’s potentially viable.

    Yes, thank goodness for VGMdb expanding their scope since I was waiting for a reliable database for oh so long and didn’t have the skills to be able to create one myself.

    Sadly, I won’t be doing game soundtrack reviews unless it ties in with an anime somehow (like maybe Valkyria Chronicles or the Tales series), and there are (imo) several good reasons for this. Originalsoundversion, Squareenixmusiconline, and RPGfan are very solid in that department, both in terms of the breadth and the depth of all the game soundtracks that they cover. Second, anime soundtracks receive so little coverage that if I don’t walk the path less traveled, no one else will. Thirdly, writing about anime music consumes a significant part of my time so I’m not sure how much more time I can devote to game music. At least, writing about them (you will see a few articles sprinkled here and there when something game-related grabs my interest, but beyond that… eh).

    Lastly, Sakimoto’s been pretty much on my radar since FFT and I agree that he’s been solid through and through. He’s certainly no stranger given that I love his stuff on Odin Sphere, enjoyed Stella Deus (with Iwata), Valkyria’s been mentioned and I own that CD, Archaic Sealed Heat was pretty good, I’m currently enjoying the remastered work he did on Tactics Ogre (Ogre Battle was pretty good too), and of course, Vagrant Story with its awesome ending and Truth theme along with some electronic-y fun with Gradius V. OK, I’m going to stop gushing now since this is wading too deep into fanboy territory for me.

  • November 21, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Really glad to see RxJ and Ouran ranking so high on your fav list. ^=^ And I also totally agree Kotarou Nakagawa’s stuff are good.

    As for the recommendations, I second Simoun’s soundtrack. For Yasuharu, I actually prefer Mononoke to Towards the Terra. If you’re looking for something more exotic, Mononoke is definitely the way to go. Of course, his stuff for Naruto Shippuden is excellent too.

  • November 22, 2010 at 12:54 am

    I’ve really been feeling the need to give his work on Hayate no Gotoku a go. I mean, unlike Geass and Planetes, this is a comedy show! But it still works based on the samples that I’ve listened to! Yeah, there’s some serious work ahead for me.

    I guess it’s not an exaggeration when Simoun is this popular. I also know that you’ve praised Mononoke’s soundtrack in the past and will give it a shot since Takanashi has done good work in the horror genre. At least, if the currently-airing Shiki is of any indication.

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