Posted by : mr. take it easy Thursday, October 24, 2013
Anthony is back to bequeath his anime song knowledge to you all.
When it comes to QUALITY anime music though, the gloves are off. My otaku mode is switched on and I turn into a rambunctious food critic going wild in a faulty restaurant.
2 years ago, I've written something on how the present day anime songs are not as good as the oldies.
I'm not saying that the present day anime songs are bad, it's just that the overall pick for tie-ups (ie: indie punk rock bands, cutting costs perhaps) and original composition has gone downhill compared to the early 90s-early 2000 works.
Nowadays you can barely find songs that are so catchy they can hook people into watching the show.
Remember Cowboy Bebop? Kaleido Star? Gravitation? Fullmoon wo sagashite? Hikaru no Go? Bakuretsu Hunters? Exactly.
Your mileage may vary, but those titles have songs that actually attract people into watching the show.
In order to explain the subject better, let us go through a more concrete example with 8 comparatively newer anime songs, separated into two categories:
"unfinished", "Kimi no Shinwa", "Self Producer", "connect"
"Scarlet Knight", "Brave your Truth", "ZERO!!", "Be My Friend"
Which category do you think have songs that will still be sung in karaokes in 10 years time from now on?
Which category have songs that make you think, "Oh, the song is cool, let's check out the show"
Things like syllables per stanza, repetitive melody, rhymes, and song pacing actually don't matter right? Right?
Ultimately it's up to your preferences and there's no clear answer to which category is better, but the two categories have a very subtle difference.
Yes, the difference is too subtle to be noticed, especially for those of you who don't listen to anime music as much, but those subtle differences are what separates potential AAA-classic anime songs with the rest of the flock.
Unfortunately, present day anime songs lack this "hooking" factor.
Especially the present comedy-harem-romance-nonsensical shows, which modus is apparently "let's mash various noises without a clear direction, make it so the tempo is fast but the vocals can't catch up and will jump all over the place, and insert a really catchy chorus later"
Seriously, even THIS SONG has a clear direction, and the vocals keep on sticking to the music, not jumping everywhere.
This is a very good example of a nonsensical music done with an amazingly catchy intro and chorus aaaand... verses with an out of place vocals.
In the field of music where "good" and "bad" is completely subjective, the "hooking" factor can make or break your song in terms of attractiveness.
Perhaps, they cut corners for tie-up choices. Remember any truly memorable songs out of the dozens Naruto-Bleach-Fairy Tail-One Piece themes? I bet you can only mention a few (unless you're a die-hard fan), and even then, those are sung by prolific artists like FLOW or UVERworld or Bump of Chicken.
Perhaps, they focus too much on the concept of the show -especially when it's harem cum romance cum comedy shows- and they cut corners for original compositions.
Another theory of mine is that the anime industry is now in such a booming state (otakus from all over the world WILL watch most anime titles every season no matter what), that producers just stopped caring to attract new consumer base by means of quality music.
For example, School Rumble can also be summed up as a romance-comedy-harem-nonsensical show, but the music is so iconic you'll remember it for ages. It might make people want to check out the series years after its conclusion, filling them with nostalgia once the song starts.
Compare it to current shows with the same genre. Exactly.
To sum it up, producers nowadays may only care about maximizing profit and might have lost interest in establishing a legacy, a solid image of the show that will still be remembered for a few decades.
just a hypothesis of mine though.
However, note that this notion of 'present day anime songs are getting worse' does not apply for certain series with a strong image, Gundam and Macross franchise for example.
Almost all of Gundam songs are catchy and memorable, not just any song can become a "Gundam Song" since they need to carry the Gundam brand image, and the producers need to live up to the series legacy by choosing high quality music.
Macross series, being a space musical of sorts, has brought quality anime music since the dawn of "Macross: Do You Remember Love?" to the latest Macross FB7 movie.
Similar to Gundam songs, all of Macross songs are of the highest quality, most of them included in various "Best anime song" polls.
Without further ado, here's a list of 10 classic anime songs that can hook you right from the start:
"Cruel Angel's Thesis" - Neon Genesis Evangelion
"dis" - Mugen no Ryvius
The review basically said that Ryvius has some of the worst pieces of music and the idea of contemporary jazz mixed under hip-hop and r&b is very strange on paper, feels unnatural and doesn't fit on the show.
The first thing that came to my mind was, "This guy clearly never heard of Samurai Champloo before", which one of its selling point being its music, oh and Persona 3, and Third Strike.
I can't really judge on the guy's way of thinking since music is subjective, but one thing for sure is that the guy is absolutely wrong.
I can safely say that "-dis-" is one of the most chill anime songs ever made, it's the kind of song you blast on your speakers when you're out for a session of night driving.
Personally I was sold in just a mere 5 seconds into the song, that's how powerful and memorable the intro is. -dis- R&B version -dis- English version
"Grant me the light!
In order for me to go to that different place, so that I know when will we meet again
Though I don't know how I'll do it, though what I want has no form at all
I'll smash the final space and head now to tomorrow
To the hiding place of that invisible thing that connects us"
"Saa!" - Mamotte Shugogetten
The title is literally translated to "Go ahead", or can be interpreted as an invitation to do something, perhaps in this case, to laugh at how pathetic the guy is.
At any point of a relationship, you might fight with your partner, sometimes even leading to a break up.
You kind of knew that it was mostly your fault, but your bloated ego refuses to acknowledge it.
Then, after some time has passed, you realized that you were such an immature asshole and begged for your partner's forgiveness.
Yes, this song basically tells a story of a useless guy and his stupid ego.
Also, Mamotte Shugogetten is a pseudo Harem-romance-comedy show, why can't the directors decide on using this kind of songs for the present harem-romance anime titles instead of the current "let's mash various cute noises without a clear direction and insert a really catchy chorus later"?
"I keep on bluffing, "I can do everything by myself", fully knowing that I can't do anything without you
Now that this small room looks a little larger, I opened the fridge and I find nothing inside
Go ahead and laugh with your innocent smile, tease me again like what you used to do,
"What a useless guy", or "It's too late that you realized it now after we're separated"
Go ahead and devour me down, so that I will lose my useless pride
As I thought I love you more than anyone else, I can't say goodbye to you"
"HARUKA ~ Sailing for my Dream" - B't X
Although they didn't contribute as many songs as their peers did for the anime industry, their anime works are nothing short of astounding.
Haruka is probably their most well-known contribution and is forever imprinted in the memories of 90s kids as the opening of Steel God Machine B'tX, shortened B'tX.
The song is, well, like any shonen standard issue. Dreams, hopes, love, etc.
The path to the future is in front of your eyes, it should not take you that long a time to choose. Just jump first and think of it later, time is precious, and so on and so forth.
"Piercing the clouds, betting it all on this love of mine, I can overcome everything if it's for you
No matter what hardships are waiting for me, I shall hack them to pieces and aim for the tomorrow Setting my anchor to the skies of that faraway future so that I can chase my dreams
It has begun, this real overflowing power will grant way to that everlasting light
Shining upon us all"
"Through the Night" - Outlaw Star
Songs like this might just be one of the reasons why producers nowadays don't seem to be bothered to make quality music anymore: "Well fuck, songs like this will cost a fortune, might as well don't give a fuck about it"
From the very first second, you can already tell that shit just got real with that powerful hooking intro.
Up to the very last second, "Through the Night" oozes out epicness while still maintaining that amazing pacing, that's like press instant classic button yo.
Now that you think of it, space opera almost always have amazing songs. Starting from Uchuu Senkan Yamato, Cowboy Bebop, Kiddy Grade, Uchuu no Stellvia, Starship Operators, Gundam series, Macross series, and so many more, including Mugen no Ryvius featured above. Fuck, even a space harem-comedy-romance show has a kickass music too.
It's like, things went from primary math to rocket science when space is involved. Oh wait...
"Seems that I've always been swayed by your kindness, but sometimes it makes me feel insecure
I've been doing whatever I want as much as I wanted to, but as I thought, being close to your chest is the best.
Don't cheapen it! Don't destroy it! Don't give it up! Everyone has something that they will never give up.
Only love, only dreams, only you. Those are the things I'll never let go, ever.
What do you want? What do you want to do? Where do you want to go?
Cut through the darkness and run to grab it through the night"
"Mienai Chikara ~Invisible One" - Jigoku Sensei Nube
In the latter half of 1990s, Japanese musical landscape was forever changed by B'z with their era of power ballad. The duo set the highest standard of power ballad in Japan, producing all time classics like "Konya Tsuki no Mieru Oka ni", "Yume mi ga Oka", and "Brotherhood".
Mienai Chikara is one of them, and as a part of B'z oricon legend, it (and all other B'z singles and album) topped the chart on the first week of its release.
Suffice to say that it can capture your heart faster than you can spell the word "capture".
The costs of doing a tie-up with B'z might be astronomical, but the result is a sustainable image of your show that can last for generations to come.
Even now, people remember Nube as "that one show with such a good ending song" and voila!
Nube is forever engraved in your memories.
"What were the words that I truly wanted to say?As much as I regret it, those days will never return
Unchanging power whispers to you now
'It's OK, baby, don't be afraid to go on living while loving somebody'
Why has it taken so long to finally reach my heart?
Everyone is connected by this invisible power
It's not important whether you're by my side, or we're apart
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, your smile will always be in this heart of mine"
"In My Dream" - Brain Powerd
The show itself however, does not reflect what's inside the lyrics.
Well, there are some incest and sexual undertones but not as much as you think, at most it's at EVA level. Of course, the opening sequence full of flying naked women and obvious phallic symbolisms certainly didn't help at all.
On the other hand, you can think of the lyrics as the female characters' wildest dreams, since in the end, all of the female characters main desire is for someone to love them truly.
Brain Powerd is famous for its intricate female character development, it's like a shoujo manga with good character background (rare as fuck, I know) and robots!
Which is saying alot since its one of Tomino Yoshiyuki's own creation.
If in Gundam series, female Newtypes are shunned since their emotions can create mental instability in the battlefield, Brain Powerd is the complete opposite, with emotions being the key to control and empower the Brains, robots that can be said are the pilots' children.
Suffice to say that the show features a lot of feminine topics, which shortly becomes the central issue behind the story: Motherly love, female jealousy, over-possessive lovers, hunger for love and affection, blind love and loyalty, incest, May-December romance, etc.
"You appear in my dreams whenever you want
Like a nightmare, you make me go crazy for you and disappear every morning
Tossing and turning me over the grass, he's like a different person
I want you to tease me, excitingly, passionately
In my dream, let’s spread red roses all over the room and make love in a bed of silk until morning
I can't get enough of your love
In my dream, don’t let me wake up, I won’t let anyone get in our way
Keep whispering in my ear like an endless tape: Love me forever"
"Ohayou" - HUNTER X HUNTER
For those who don't understand Japanese, one thing amazing about this music is how it depicts a guy who is completely fine being friendzoned.
One way of interpreting the lyrics is that the guy wants to be her lover, but still finds her to be his irreplaceable friend.
Give the guy a cookie for being a man and doesn't whine about friendzone.
For you comrades struggling in the friendzone, take a chill pill, cheer-up, and stay positive! In the end, it's not like you're going to die if you remain as friends.
The more friends the merrier, life it is.
"I've been getting awkward. Something is holding me back and I can't see the most obvious things
I know that the only one who can love me more than myself is YOU, and it's kind of annoying but hey,
I've been thinking too, you know.
If it doesn't turn out well, it's like I self-destructed
So I stood on the starting point even if it's too late, made my first step, and hope for the best.
Circling my arms around your shoulder, connecting my hands with yours
Even if we turns out to be lovers, I also want us to stay as friends
so a "Good morning" to you and let us shower each other with dreams again
I'm blessed with this natural way of living"
"Itoshisa to Setsunasa to Kokorotsuyosa to" - Street Fighter II the animated movie
Even if you're not familiar with the world of anime music, as long as you're into the Jpop culture, you're bound to know this song.
Literally translated to "Desire, Sadness, and Willpower" (another alternative is "Heartwarming, heartwrenching, and heartening feelings"), this masterpiece is the love child of prolific singer-actress Shinohara Ryoko and Japan's father of digital composition, Komuro Tetsuya.
The song is extremely popular it always makes it into various lists of "most memorable songs" in Japan, and has been covered by dozens of artists all over Japan throughout the years.
This theme kicks in on the final showdown between Ryu-Ken and Bison. AAA official cover m.o.v.e official cover, "Schwarzgazer" Kikkawa You official cover Komuro Tetsuya Vocaloid tribute album
"I gazed at the distant sky that day, still a youth craving for experience
I dreamed of my life ahead in eternity.
I can't ever do those days over again, but I can't live without looking back
I long for that time, but little by little I'm beginning to understand the need to fight!
Heartwarming, heartwrenching, and heartening feelings
I always have these feelings whenever I look at you,
You, who keeps on moving forward, fearing no mistakes and hiding your tears
I just want to gaze at you"
"Totsugeki Love Heart" - Macross 7
You know you're in for a treat when that hearty guitar riff kicks in.
Totsugeki Love Heart is widely popular in the anime song community and has been featured in numerous "All time favorite anime songs" lists in various Japanese anime magazines.
This song is not only popular due to its catchiness, but also the Basara effect it had on various shows and games that starred him.
It takes gigantic balls to go to an intergalactic warzone armed with only your guitar, shooting out speaker pods to your enemy while blasting out your song, "War is foolish, listen to my song!".
From then on, Basara singlehandedly stopped the universe-threatening invasion of soul-sucking alien force AND MANAGED TO TAME THE SHIT OUT OF A RAMPAGING GALACTIC WHALE JUST BY SINGING.
That's how badass and iconic Nekki Basara is, he proves that the power of singing can save the universe.
Even though out of all the songs in this list, Totsugeki Love Heart has the cheesiest lyrics, the Basara effect alone made it to be one of the most epic anime songs ever made.
Totsugeki Love Heart Acoustic version
Totsugeki Love Heart Fukuyama Fire tribute by ANTHEM
Re: Fire Totsugeki Love Heart A.D. 2060 future version
Macross FB7 Totsugeki Planet Explosion feat. Sheryl Nome and Ranka Lee
"There's a love heart soaring through the night sky, carrying our burning emotions, shooting down sadness and hatred everywhere it sees it in sight.
There's a love heart beating inside you too, telling you to take destiny head on
Rush on, no matter how many hundred million of light years, Charging Love Heart!"