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Discuss all topics related to anime.
561

Don't mind me, just another anime music thread
Topic by: ahogue
Posted: August 4, 2006 - 10:36 AM PDT
Last Reply: August 15, 2006 - 5:31 PM PDT

author topic: Don't mind me, just another anime music thread
ahogue
post #1  on August 4, 2006 - 10:36 AM PDT  
I must admit, before getting into anime I used to snicker at anime music threads. A lot of anime music is pretty bad, and a lot of people like anime music, I think, for the same reason that people like whatever gets played on the radio: because if you listen to something repeatedly for a long period of time you start to like it.

This has happened to me plenty of times. Watching the first disc of Last Exile, I had to steel myself for the theme song, which belongs to a genre of music I generally hate. But by the time the kids got abducted by pirates I loved it.

And don't get me started on the wildly, jarringly incongruous japanese funk-jazz opener tacked on to the dark, brooding, and otherwise supremely atmospheric Boogiepop Phantom. What in the world were they thinking?

BP's score was otherwise excellent, though most of it consisted of various kinds of noise rather than music per se. Other great anime scores:

Akira and GITS2

(I know I'm the only person in the world who likes these films, but (call me crazy) even their most vicious detractors should admit that the music is great in both cases.)

Paranoia Agent

(Again, not wildly popular around here, but come on. That creepy lullaby at the end is absolutely brilliant.)

FLCL

(Well, an obvious choice. I really like that song over the ending credits. What is that band called? The Pillows? One of the FLCL disks even has a charming music video in the extras.)

Cromartie High

(Okay, yeah, I know. More of a personal choice. Not exactly great. But I love the weird psycho-prog-punk-rock ending theme, the weirdly swaggering opening theme with its mock-heroic lyrics, and the dissonant string quartet music in between which sounds like someone rounded up the Chronos Quartet and is in the process of torturing them. Ah yes, and then there's the humming contest. Too bad this show hasn't got the attention it deserves.)

Samurai Champloo

(Another obvious one. Yawn.

Oh, by the way, what is up with that episode where they eat mushrooms and wind up working with zombies, then it ends with a mushroom cloud and says "to be continued"? WTF? Some strange allegory about WWII, no doubt, but what exactly does it mean? What's it trying to say? Anyone?)

Cowboy Bebop

(I seriously doubt anyone would remember this series if not for the opening theme. The ending theme's rather good too, though.)

Magnum PI

(Just kidding. Everyone know's this isn't anime. All must do obeisance before the towering genius known as Mike Post, though.

Ha ha, that was a joke. Everyone knows he's single-handedly responsible for almost all 80s TV music.)

Hm...enough for now.

Wait a minute...another S Champloo question. In that episode there's a biwa player who starts singing about the slaughter of a clan (the Heike, I believe). It just so happens I recently saw Kwaidan and could swear that this was a reference to the final story in that film. Anyone know what I'm talking about? With the blind biwa player?
hamano
post #2  on August 4, 2006 - 11:56 AM PDT  
I like anime music. It's a very experimental area in modern music because composers have freedom to play with so much they've heard from all around the world. It's a crazy melting pot of pop, rock, jazz, classical and world music. Sometimes all in one score.

I think some of the most creative Japanese composers and songwriters are working in anime today. Also, anime producers seem to have a knack for picking very interesting J-pop out to use as OP/ED themes... a good example is the show BLEACH, which is a rather workmanlike action show that has a pretty good track record of picking great songs from various genres.

Of course there IS a repetitive "overuse" quality to the music, but that's the same with any TV show, live action or animated, American or Japanese. The trick to enjoying the music is to filter that factor out... but it becomes problematic when the show begins to use the music as a Pavlovian cue when they've reached a creative dead end (the shootouts in NOIR are a good example).

I think the mushrooms episode in SamCham was an example of the writers going all "Big O" on us. Puzzling, but funny.

The ancient feud between the Minamoto clan (the Genji) and the Taira Clan (the Heike) split Japan into two factions that fought to the death. At the end, remnants of the Heike sank beneath the waves in the straight between Honshu and Kyushu in a final decisive sea battle, and Minamoto no Yoritomo was made the first ever Shogun, signaling the start of government by the military-samurai class rather than the Imperial family. It is said that the native crabs of these seas still bear a likeness of the faces of the drowned warriors.

It is said that the survivors of the Heike who hid themselves in remote mountain villages gave rise to the Buraku-min, Japan's old "untouchable" class. Also many ghost stories revolve around the Heike clan nobles and ladies who were killed.
hamano
post #3  on August 4, 2006 - 11:59 AM PDT  
I have a particular fondness for the Loveboat theme... if you listen carefully, it shares a lot of qualities with the first Cardcaptor Sakura OP song, Catch You Catch Me by GUMI.
hamano
post #4  on August 4, 2006 - 12:03 PM PDT  
Oh, the anime music playlist on my iTunes has 761 titles... I know I have more than that, too, archived somewhere.... only 278 Bollywood songs...
ahogue
post #5  on August 4, 2006 - 12:17 PM PDT  
> On August 4, 2006 - 11:56 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
>
> The ancient feud between the Minamoto clan (the Genji) and the Taira Clan (the Heike) split Japan into two factions that fought to the death. At the end, remnants of the Heike sank beneath the waves in the straight between Honshu and Kyushu in a final decisive sea battle, and Minamoto no Yoritomo was made the first ever Shogun, signaling the start of government by the military-samurai class rather than the Imperial family. It is said that the native crabs of these seas still bear a likeness of the faces of the drowned warriors.
>
> It is said that the survivors of the Heike who hid themselves in remote mountain villages gave rise to the Buraku-min, Japan's old "untouchable" class. Also many ghost stories revolve around the Heike clan nobles and ladies who were killed.
> ---------------------------------

Ah, I knew it was the same. And I take it then that the biwa piece played in both SamCham (only for a few seconds) and Kwaidan is probably pretty famous.
hamano
post #6  on August 4, 2006 - 12:26 PM PDT  
Probably, but they're like all the world's ancient songs sung by wandering minstrels... I don't know if there is a definitive version...
Battie
post #7  on August 4, 2006 - 12:59 PM PDT  
I liked some of the music in Shakugan no Shana. There was a haunting instrumental at the end, but it didn't come included with the OST. I also downloaded Paradise Kiss's OST...and kept The Babys tracks. Ha! Of course, Elfen Lied's OP..

But the topper is Gankutsuou. :D I liked a rather good amount of music from that OST.
hamano
post #8  on August 4, 2006 - 1:31 PM PDT  
Yeah, they had some really nice bits in the Gank OST. But I hated the OP/ED songs, with that guy who can't sing from The Stranglers. They shoulda let someone else sing them... he's a Japanese karate 2nd level master, though.
jross3
post #9  on August 4, 2006 - 2:56 PM PDT  
> On August 4, 2006 - 1:31 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> They shoulda let someone else sing them... he's a Japanese karate 2nd level master, though.
> ---------------------------------

That might be why he is the singer. hahaha.

I think Hamano pretty much said it: anime music is great because there are lots of great creative people working in it, and they incorporate all kinds of worldly genres. It doesn't always work out for every anime, but it does keep things interesting year after year.

A few of my favorite composers:
Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop, Wolfs Rain, a hundred others...); Susumu Hirasawa (Paranoia Agent, Berserk), Yuki Kajiura (.hack//Sign, and unfortunately Noir, plus she composes for "FictionJunction", which has a bunch of good songs)

there are only 556 songs in my itunes library specificly labled "anime" (I'm usually too lazy to specify a real genre for anime OSTs), as well as 102 "J-Pop" and 55 "J-Rock" (and one "Polka"), and a bit of Japanese music in the "rock" and "pop" categories as well. All together that's a bit over half of the music I have. I don't get bored, because there's quite a lot of hidden variety in that "anime" genre.

current favorite songs: The second ED for xxxHolic ("Kagerou" by Buck-Tick) just came out, and I got a bunch of Eureka Seven songs the other day too. I think my favorites are "Niji" by Denki Groove and "Storywriter" by Supercar. They're all really good though; Hamano was right about how picking good OP and ED songs is key (although Niji is an insert song, heheh).


Now, if I may complain: WHEN is the single for "Tonight Tonight Tonight" by the Beat Crusaders going to be released? I've been holding my breath since the first time they used it as the OP for Bleach, and if I wait much longer I'm gonna pass out...
Battie
post #10  on August 4, 2006 - 3:05 PM PDT  
> On August 4, 2006 - 1:31 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Yeah, they had some really nice bits in the Gank OST. But I hated the OP/ED songs, with that guy who can't sing from The Stranglers. They shoulda let someone else sing them... he's a Japanese karate 2nd level master, though.
> ---------------------------------

I know! The OP was somewhat appropriate, but I honestly thought it was some random fansubber doing a voice over...badly. Rotfl.
hamano
post #11  on August 15, 2006 - 9:18 AM PDT  
> On August 4, 2006 - 12:17 PM PDT ahogue wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Ah, I knew it was the same. And I take it then that the biwa piece played in both SamCham (only for a few seconds) and Kwaidan is probably pretty famous.

Ah, actually there IS a sort of definitive version. During the Kamakura period (under the reign of the Genji shoguns) there were itinerant blind musicians who specialized in telling the tale of the tragic Heike, and they even used a special kind of biwa (classical Japanese/Chinese lute) to accompany their sagas... I found this because I was watching Ep. 25 of Mushi-shi again which revolves around a blind biwa player who sings songs about mushi.

Tale of the Heike tradition.
ahogue
post #12  on August 15, 2006 - 1:48 PM PDT  
> On August 15, 2006 - 9:18 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Tale of the Heike tradition.
> ---------------------------------

Excellent. Thanks for the link.
ahogue
post #13  on August 15, 2006 - 2:00 PM PDT  
> On August 15, 2006 - 1:48 PM PDT ahogue wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On August 15, 2006 - 9:18 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > Tale of the Heike tradition.
> > ---------------------------------
>
> Excellent. Thanks for the link.
> ---------------------------------

Hm. Judging from comments like the reviews here, it looks like this poem has a lot in common with European medieval poetry, particularly the "didactic excursions".

I need to find a good (abridged) recording, I think.
hamano
post #14  on August 15, 2006 - 5:31 PM PDT  
Heikyoku - Heike Monogatari recited with biwa accompaniment.

This page has a sound file.

Another page.

free Kwaidan ebook by Lafcadio Hearn!

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