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The main intended purpose of this thread is to be a place to post about new anime songs as they come out, as well as catalog discoveries. Therefore I'm starting it with a long (under spoiler tag) run-through of everything I would have posted here over the last three years, had this group been active, presented as a list of favorites. It's obviously too much to actually read, but the idea is you can skim through the bold song titles and if anything catches your interest, stop to read there.
Rather than posting a one-dimensional favorite list, ranked with numbers which after the first few would mean very little to me, let alone to anyone else, I've sorted the songs into different categories and forms of music enjoyment (based on the way my girly INFP brain responds to music). I'd like to see your picks in these categories, or perhaps you might create your own, like "Best songs from X anime genre," "Best songs of X music genre," "Songs with the most interesting compositions" according to criteria beyond my low level of comprehension, etc. You are also welcome to post a new thread with that criterion as topic, if you'd prefer.
Here are the categories I settled on (though of course most songs fit into more than one), with descriptions of what I meant:
Greatest of all time
>What song(s) could be your #1 favorite of all time?
>Your favorite untouchable classics
>>There is no minimum age. Put whatever is a classic in *your* life. My newest are from five years ago.
>Warm songs that bestow contentment buffs
>Relaxing like the above, but more cool than warm
>Songs with the power to give you the strongest feelings of sadness, joy, or a bittersweet blend
>>This may be due more to memories of the anime than to the song, but even if so, the song deserves credit.
>Highly subjective; from a certain point of view, black metal can be beautiful
>>I went conventional on this one, though.
Passion & Adrenaline
>Songs that get you fired up
And it turns out that 9,646 words / 63,505 characters is too much for one post. I actually tried to post it as a blog post, but it got cut off there, too. I guess I'll just TAKE THE SPOILER TAGS OFF and post it here in two replies.
"Hope you hate it!" -Reese Roper, Five Iron Frenzy
Modified by nDroae, Oct 6, 2018 9:49 PM
I'm not going to list all the anisongs I've ever rated 5 stars in iTunes or loved on Lastfm... though it may look like I have! And since I procrastinated exploring anime until 2015, there are still a lot of popular anime I haven't seen or heard. Sometimes I will go through a singer's or composer's entire works after they really get my attention, but that is time-consuming, and I haven't been thorough at all.
Yeah, I listen with a 2013 version of iTunes, on PC. I've never owned an Apple device of any kind. When I was a teenager I used Winamp, but switched to iTunes in 2005 so that I could buy music from the store. The last time I bought anything from iTunes was in 2009, but I kept using it, and at this point I have ratings on over 19,000 tracks. I could in theory transfer those to another player by dragging tracks of a certain rating into Explorer and importing those to the new player in batches, but I expect I'd have to split it into a lot of batches to avoid crashes, which would be time-consuming. Then there's the Date Added and Last Played data. I have smart playlists set up in iTunes so that I can control how I often I hear my favorite songs - daily, weekly, monthly, annually. This mitigates my problem of finding that it's unintentionally been years since I last heard an old favorite. I have smart playlists of old 4- and 5-star tracks that I haven't played in years. I have smart playlists of recently added high-rated tracks, I have smart playlists of high-rated tracks that I haven't listened to much. I daisy-chain smart playlists, using other smart playlists as sources. The only missing parameter that would be useful is a count of number of times played within a certain period of time, but even without that, it's a powerful system to combat the problem of unintentionally going years without listening to old favorites, of which I have thousands. I would only switch to a new player if I were forced to.
A word of warning, these will be far and away dominated by songs with female vocals, because that's my natural preference. And I encounter female vocals more often in the anime I watch. And for years I specifically disliked most clean male Japanese vocals I heard, a distaste which has only started to lessen since around 2016. There are exceptions which I would have always liked, like Space Battleship Yamato, Sono Chi no Sadame, and Hanezeve Caradhina. The kind I didn't like, and in most cases still don't, is exemplified by the visual kei band Versailles, and by the first Death Note OP (visual kei band Nightmare). Yes, I actually welcomed the switch to Death Note OP2 by Maximum the Hormone.
...Which leads into a second warning: as a rule my taste in music is as bad as my taste in anime, and I could hardly care less. One of my favorite things anyone's ever said about me was from a Madrilenian older woman on Lastfm, herself an ashamed ex-weeaboo, self-cursed with an unalterable romaji username, who told me I have "the music taste of a 12-year-old Australian girl from 2000." (I need more Kylie Minogue plays in my library though)
Naturally, anime fans who watch hundreds of days over years or decades of their lives often increasingly value unusual elements in anime, and devalue anything that sticks to a normal formula. This also applies in the music; any song of a genre less commonly found in anime automatically has a better shot at favor than does "the usual j-pop." That applies to me somewhat, but I think I'm still looking for good j-pop more than for a break from it. Either is good.
If I don't include a lyric credit, that means I only care about the music. ("Music" of course includes the vocal melody, the singer's voice and performance, but not necessarily the meaning of the words.) In many cases I've probably never known what the lyrics meant anyway. I'd like to, but again, I haven't been thorough.
I just tl;dr'd before even getting to the real tl;dr, this is so bad. Blame this on my charitable Lastfm friends, for claiming they enjoyed reading an absurdly long Delain album review I wrote in 2012.
Greatest of all time
Resuscitated Hope (Gosick ED)
Composed/arranged by Go Sakabe, lyrics by Shio Watanabe, performed by Lisa Komine
I discovered this when I looked into Go Sakabe, after being impressed by his work on Date A Live. I listened to it hundreds of times before finally watching Gosick in 2016. Aside from the epilogue, my favorite part of the show was an escape sequence that used the instrumental version as score. This song intersects all my ideals: pop-gothic symphonic rock, soft and strong female vocals, and lyrics that combine a palatable dose of emo with affirmations of the lovers' determination to strive toward a better life together. I used to say on Lastfm that in my most ideal songs, music and lyrics work together perfectly; this melody supports the text every step of the way. Oh how I wish for soothing rain that Go Sakabe had also been picked to compose the show score, so that I'd have more variations on this tune!
Thinking about Lisa Komine's voice, the word "rich" comes to mind. I bought two of her other CDs because of this song. Unfortunately she never recorded much beside a few anisongs, she hasn't performed in any anime since 2011, and her last music release of any kind was ここにいるから in 2013, which is out of print. Looking at her Twitter, she's clearly still performing, so perhaps someday she'll record more.
旅詩 / Tabiuta / Traveler's Song (Kado: The Right Answer OP)
Composed/arranged by Taro Iwashiro, lyrics by Sumiyo Mutsumi, performed by Mao Ichimichi (M・A・O)
It may seem reckless to have a song from a disgraced CG show that only aired a year ago up here, but no, I'm all in on this one.
What an absolute anomaly in my journey. I listened to the high praise this show got early on, figured I'd watch it later, but didn't want to. Then it ended, I read the backlash, I read full spoilers. I decided to watch only parts of it, then changed my mind and watched it mostly at 3x speed. Normally I never speed up even a hated show; I only do it if I have no interest in having a valid opinion. (For example, having been warned, I sped through the notorious misunderstandings arc in the first 2/3 of Kimi ni Todoke season 2, a move which greatly improved my experience of the season as a whole.) But I slowed down Kado for scenes with M・A・O's character Saraka, to whom this song is officially credited. I wish her story had been its own anime.
Oh, but that's not why I love this song. Early on, I was commenting that it brought to mind the openings of PBS' science series NOVA. Several years before Neil deGrasse Tyson came on to host a spinoff of the show, I grew up watching NOVA weekly, along with Nature. I remember using a library computer to send an email to PBS when they changed Nature's opening theme in 1999, asking them to change it back; judging by the comments on this video, almost everyone thinks the first version from their own childhood is the best. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeibDeCgppI It is unusual to get a bold, powerful anime song about curiosity and exploration rather than fighting or romance.
And so, without much regard for the anime, without understanding of the lyrics, I ended up listening to this song a number of times while out walking at night under the starry sky, and I completely fell in love. And somehow, I never get tired of it. The lyrics are actually excellent, but this song is unique in this top 3 in that my attachment developed almost entirely based on the music. It's an immensely satisfying melody, and I recently bought the soundtrack CD to get variations on it. It ascends, it descends, it turns in cycles, there is no complex brilliance (that I'm aware of), but it evokes wonder, the search for answers, the passage of seasons, the journey of a lifetime - lifetimes, in this case. It has been "my song" over the past year. It might even end up replacing Flyleaf's Arise as my top played song of all time.
時を刻む唄 / Toki Wo Kizamu Uta / A Song That Ticks Away Time (Clannad After Story OP)
Composition and lyrics by Jun Maeda, arranged by ANANT-GARDE EYES, performed by Lia
"Clannad is life," I saw someone post years ago, a phrase which as it turns out came from 2ch (link NSFW). Clannad was around the 10th TV anime I completed, and I retain a disgustingly positive opinion of it. Like many others, I can't listen to this song casually because it's emotionally overpowering, perhaps even sacred. I cried the second time I heard it: before I even started the first season, I was introduced to the show by a friend showing me After Story 18, which of course spoils 16. When I watched from the start and reached After Story, and the OP hit the chorus, it did me in. I memorized the words of the chorus, despite not knowing any of them but "suki" and "kaze" at the time. The long sustained syllables seem to give gravitas to the declarations Tomoya makes in the lyrics. And this is one of the most magical-sounding songs, with its sparkly keys, atmospheric synths, and strings that soar over the chorus.
Of the three, top lyrics: Resuscitated Hope; music: Tabiuta; emotion: Clannad.
''Libera me'' from hell (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann insert)
Composed by Taku Iwasaki, performed by rapper Tarantula and operatic soprano Yuri Kasahara
I relish this kind of audacious genre mashup; my favorite bands play a(n at this point cliche) mix of rock/metal and orchestral music. I don't always enjoy mixed genres (Diablo Swing Orchestra: maybe when I grow up), but sometimes a bizarre alchemical collaboration will succeed in producing true gold, and it's hard to think of any that tops this.
Originally I assumed that the soprano vocal arrangement was lifted from an unknown classical piece, but no; only its lyrics are traditional. The music is 100% original. No wonder it works so well. I fully support performing rap to classical music, though.
Inner Universe (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex OP)
Composed by Yoko Kanno, lyrics by Origa and Shanti Snyder, performed by Origa and Ben Del Maestro
Just three years earlier, Hollywood cyberpunk hit The Matrix had closed with a rap-rock song. I enjoy that genre at the right time and place (see Log Horizon under "Fun"), but looking back, I have to be grateful that Stand Alone Complex's producers did not order that the show open with Engrish rapcore. All of entertainment is a patchwork of good and bad decisions, with the bad often seeming to dominate in anime, and Stand Alone Complex being memorable as a rare case where just about everything went right.
A few years before I saw Clannad, I'd read on a forum that Stand Alone Complex was good, so I borrowed it from the library. I was instantly amazed. I don't think an OP on its own has ever got me as excited to watch a show as did this piercing, haunting vocal showcase. Yoko Kanno laid down a bed of synths which allows the singers' delivery of the main theme to completely dominate; normally I'd want an instrumental version, but in this case I don't think there'd be much left to hear without the vocals. And I like how the vocals are layered, perhaps suggesting the show's complexity or duplicity, where routinely a character's face and mind will say completely different things.
The late Origa became a legend to many of us because of this track. zzeroparticle reviews it much better than I could here: http://blog.animeinstrumentality.net/2015/02/memoriam-origa/
I also remember being impressed to learn, on picking up the soundtrack CD from another library, that boy soprano Ben Del Maestro had been recruited for this song. I knew of him from The Lord of the Rings, in which (tangent) his vocals over the Last March of the Ents had created the first scene to make me cry since childhood. (Apparently the hormonal changes I was undergoing at 15 got stuck that way, as it remains easy for media to make me cry to this day.)
Coincidentally, unlike Japanese, I've studied all of the languages used in this song, though I never got far - I took Latin in college, and more recently did six months of introductory Russian on Duolingo.
宇宙戦艦ヤマト / Space Battleship Yamato (OP)
Composed by Hiroshi Miyagawa, lyrics by Yuu Aku
1974 version performed by Isao Sasaki and Royal Knights:
2012 version performed by Isao Sasaki and Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus:
When I was watching this show (the 1974 original), I described its appeal as "primal" - black and white good vs. evil, a desperate last hope to save the world. The song is so good that it was kept unchanged for the second and third seasons, even though some of its lyrics were no longer applicable. (Sure, that saved money, but I think the song's quality is justification enough.) This was one of the first Japanese songs with male vocals that got me, when I started the show in 2015. Sometimes it's rewarding to discover more about a song over time - three years later, I was watching season 3 and it hit me again when I realized the singer was saying "egao de kotae," which literally means "answer with a smile;" some translations have this, but not the subs I watched.
Sono Chi no Sadame (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure  OP1)
Composed by Kohei Tanaka, arranged by Kow Otani(!), performed by Hiroaki TOMMY Tominaga
Another one for "I wish more male vocals sounded like this.
だんご大家族 / Dango Daikazoku (Clannad ED)
Composition and lyrics by Jun Maeda, performed by Chata
Also 小さなてのひら / Chiisana Tenohira / Small Palms, or the English title I prefer, "The Palm of a Tiny Hand" (Clannad After Story insert), arranged by Magome Togoshi, lyrics still by Jun Maeda, performed by Riya
Live concert, Chata - Dango Daikazoku: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PkbqdAFIRU
Comment by 903IDFOLEY: "Is it really safe to sing this to so many people gathered in one place??? The amount of tears might cause a serious flooding hazard..."
I read that and thought "Eh, it's fine-" and then the video hit 2:25. Ohhhhh damn.
Clannad is truth.
Icons subcategory: Bubblegum Crisis Soundtrack
Of all the anime I've seen to date, this eight-episode OVA from my year of birth is my pick for strongest collection of songs. I could claim it's not nostalgia, because I never saw/heard any of it until 2016, but that wouldn't be quite right, since the 80's synth-rock style itself appeals to nostalgia.
今夜はハリケーン / Konya wa Hurricane / Tonight... Hurricane! (or, less exciting, "Tonight There's A Hurricane;" episode 1 OP)
Composed by Kisaburo Suzuki, lyrics by Tomoko Aran, performed by Kinuko Oomori (seiyuu of character Priss)
As seen in the anime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRKWUY9DCco
Live music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y48ZwmVF-2M
I'm calling these songs "OPs," but rather than playing with a typical montage of contextless animation cuts, the song plays in full while the opening scene happens. In this case, the OVA intercuts between Priss's band performing the song, and android violence occurring on the city streets. @Beatnik's review (here) calls it "what might be one of the best opening 7 minutes of an anime ever." Sounds right to me.
クライシス~怒りをこめて走れ~ / Crisis ~ Ikari wo Komete Hashire / Crisis ~ Run With Anger (episode 4 OP)
Composed by Koji Makaino, lyrics by SHOW, performed by Yuiko Tsubokura
and ミステリアスナイト / Mysterious Night (episode 5 OP)
Composed by Koji Makaino, lyrics by SHOW, performed by Knight Sabers (Bubblegum Crisis main cast)
Song only: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo5w0wQgjtU
In the show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyRztDED0Gc&t=6m46s
To me these two synth-based tracks are flawless in every element: the electronic sounds themselves, the looped arrangements, the progression from line to line. Crisis ~ Run With Anger is MAD HYPE. Mysterious Night seems like literal "computer music," as if it were tracing logic pathways on a circuit board. I've said before that "I'm not a robot" (not a Marina reference), in response to excessive emphasis on singers' vocal ranges and other technical details, but there's satisfaction and a sense of rightness in this music. Music is typically a bridge between mathematics and emotion.
Say, Yes! (episode 7 OP)
Composed by Koji Makaino, lyrics by SHOW, performed by Maiko Hashimoto
In the anime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXUq4HG7fo8
Live performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFmgKyP59QQ
I particularly like the English version of this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uZQpdmkTC8
Calmer, but not weaker. Opens with an extended instrumental intro of the classic 80's variety (though it technically came out in 1990), gradually building until it reaches the chorus around 2:15. An uplifting song, with a lyrical theme comparable to Resuscitated Hope.
Icons subcategory: Sailor Moon
ムーンライト伝説 / Moonlight Densetsu (S1-4 OP)
Composed by Tetsuya Komoro, lyrics by Kanako Oda, performed by DALI
I never skipped Moonlight Densetsu on all 166 episodes it opened. I guess I could have watched an entire 1-cour show in that amount of time, but nope, no regrets. From the opening bell tolls to the unforgettable chorus, this is moon eternal power.
HEART MOVING (S1 ED)
Composed by Kazuo Sato, lyrics by Yoshiaki Tsushima, performed by Misae Takamatsu
One of the most transcendently magical songs I've ever heard. The old production sound triggers my surrogate nostalgia powerfully, and it's wonderfully romantic.
Moon Revenge (Sailor Moon R Movie insert and ED) (because it's too good to only play once)
Composed by Akiko Kosaka, performed by Peach Hips (Sailor Moon main five cast members)
This song really hit me during the rewatch at the movie theater this summer.
A clip from the "Moon Revenge" climactic scene was used in this Toonami intro; I didn't watch the show at the time because I thought my parents would disapprove, but that clip stuck in my mind for 16 years, until I finally saw the source. Moon Revenge is exactly what I want from shows about girls on a team: a defiant fight song, performed by the whole team in unison. The chorus begins with a mounting show of strength, but eases off at the end for a gentle, patient delivery of the line "it's moon revenge." I felt like that was implying assurance of victory. And it represents the "bishoujo senshi" dual nature, neither side detracting from the other.
Live concert version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU1MhWZLjxs Top comment by Brian Garon, "Well I suppose my voice would be a little shakey too if I thought I was performing for 13 year old girls and the entire audience was a bunch of ungroomed 48 year old men."
Some songs adapt to orchestration better than others (obviously mainly dependent on the arranger's skill), but Moon Revenge works perfectly in "CLOSURE: FUTURE ~ Sadness and Determination: The Final Battle," off the Sailor Moon R "Symphonic Poem" album recorded with City of London Sinfonia. The track also adapts 愛の戦士 / Ai no Senshi, which should probably be featured here too. I haven't been thorough.
セーラースターソング / Sailor Star Song (S5 OP)
Composed by Masaki Araki, lyrics by Naoko Takeuchi(!), performed by Kae Hanazawa
This is the most recent (in my experience) addition to this list, as I'm finishing up Sailor Stars now. I had been dreading the OP switch ever since finding out about it, but oh, wait, this song is amazing. If the whole season is the climax of the 200-episode show, then this should be the climax of Sailor Moon songs, and that's exactly how it sounds to me. The chorus beelines straight up to the high register and sets up camp there, making only limited forays to lower places. I wouldn't have expected it to work so well.
I could add more - Attack on Titan OP1 and OP2, the OP and "God knows..." from Haruhi, the OP from Lucky Star, Mahou Sensei Negima ED 1... generally anything from the other categories that's older and well-regarded.
I suppose I could be a little disingenuous (about what's honestly my favorite) and put the Gundam 0079 OP here. Or under Fun. Moeagare, Gandamu!
Oh... I forgot that that song is pretty great. I guess I can't really fault the Japanese fans for voting it #1 Gundam song of all time. Nostalgia uber alles.
The thing about Cruel Angel's Thesis is, it's a brilliant song (take that in both the normal and the British colloquial way), but I'm not keen on the original instrumentation. The song is intentionally misleadingly upbeat and positive ("shounen, become a hero"), and the brass feels like a part of that subversive ruse. I prefer Eri Kawai's acapella version, which takes the feeling of those mystical opening seconds and maintains it through the entire song.
And of course the objective greatest anime songs
"That's not real ASMR! You're just enjoying the sound of a woman's voice in your ears!"
~Pat, Super Best Friendcast (paraphrased)
I wrote out this entire section, and then realized my original source list (which I started a couple of years ago) had left out
For Fruits Basket (Fruits Basket OP)
Written and performed by the late Ritsuko Okazaki
This is the ultimate, isn't it? Does this song have healing powers? I've always liked the strings, too, especially the descending notes at the end.
If I close my eyes, I can still see them even now, the comments on that old 240p streaming site:
Let's stay together itsumo~
Great Days (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable OP3)
Composed by Yugo Kanno (score composer of Jojo Parts 3 through 5)
Performed by Karen Aoki and Daisuke Hasegawa
Japanese lyrics by Endcape: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoqH1Rk4ANM
English version lyrics by Karen Aoki: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFxCcBnG2hw
A warm song with friendly 70's-style brass and strings, which helped spur me to start exploring funk/disco music and such.
I ended up mainly listening to the English version; Japanese jazz singer Karen Aoki's English skills must be in the top percentage nationwide, because her work here puts the vast majority of English anime lyrics to shame (not counting those written by native English speakers).
恋愛の時空 / Ren'ai no Jikuu / Dimension of Love (Tenchi Universe insert), composed by Ikuro Fujiwara
Japanese version lyrics by Natsuko Karedo, performed by Ai Orikasa
English version lyrics by Lorraine Feather, performed by Diane Michelle (sometimes misattributed to Kit Thomas, who produced this version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdZ_QveGaTU Note: video comments spoil Tenchi Universe's canon pair.
Back in the 80's and 90's, it was more common for American dubbing companies to put in the extra work to record English vocals for songs, even if not performed by the characters in-universe. I kinda miss that, although I only rarely watch dubs. It's nice to have another version of a song, even if the original is preferable.
This was my first favorite anime song from my first anime, when I was 12. I wasn't pleased with the romantic outcome of the show, but I was enthralled with this song. I looked up the Japanese version not long ago, and I like it even more.
Just found a rearranged live version I've never heard before, which seems to feature all of the the harem's seiyuu. Nice! Wish it were the original arrangement, though.
Album (I failed to find it on VGMDB): https://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%80%8C%E5%A4%A9%E5%9C%B0%E7%84%A1%E7%94%A8-%E3%80%8D-LIVE-Tour%E2%80%9996-%E3%82%AA%E3%83%A0%E3%83%8B%E3%83%90%E3%82%B9/dp/B00005FXSB
Trust in me (ChäoS;HEAd character song, character Rimi Sakihata)
Composed by Seiji Katsu, performed by Eri Kitamura
It's like Dimension of Love reincarnated. I haven't seen this show; the only EUROPEAN;WORDS anime I've watched was Steins;Gate, which I was disappointed by, and if it's easily the best then I'm not keen to watch the others. I want to watch this one at some point because of this song, though. Even though, as far as I know, the song isn't even in the anime. Hey, I didn't say I'll watch it anytime soon.
永遠の祈りを捧げて / Eien no Inori o Sasagete (Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito ED)
Composed by Orie Kajiyama, lyrics by Keiko Kimoto, performed by Sanae Kobayashi
I was a little surprised to see in the video comments that other people love this obscure song. I discovered the show via one of the dumbest routes possible: there was a very cheap figurine from it available to add to a combined shipping order on eBay, so I bought it, and later watched the show. I liked it more than I think I should have, and likewise with the ED. It's a calm, pedestrian 2000's song with lame percussion, yet for months after finishing the show, I was listening to it at the end of the day almost every day. I've listened to it 90 times.
水の星へ愛をこめて / Mizu no Hoshi e Ai wo Komete (Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam OP2)
Composed by American singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka, lyrics by Masao Urino, performed by Hiroko Moriguchi
Many live videos:
2000's? (SD aspect ratio) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbshrfQm_L4
Could this OP be the reason why I have two Four Murasame figures? Probably. The chorus may have the loveliest 80's vocals I've heard to date. Zeta OP1 had been a cover of a song by Neil Sedaka, and he wrote this second OP's tune with the intent that it be another song of his own, but it was apparently never recorded.
アウステンアウスト / Austenoust (Maoyuu insert song)
Also アウステンアウスト (Acoustic Version), AKA [番外] (former tag from VGMDB, latter from Last.fm)
Composed by Takeshi Hama, performed by riya
Vocal versions unavailable on YouTube. Instrumental: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtMV5Hgp-_U
I found a lot to love in Maoyuu. There is a little romance, but more than that, Maou becomes a sort of super-mom to the entire world, laying out and executing plans to improve quality of life for everyone. Those moments are often framed by this tender leitmotif, whether in song or instrumental form; the show was also scored by Takeshi Hama. Maoyuu is one of the more painful cases of a show being certain to never get a sequel.
Little Busters! (Little Busters OP), composition and lyrics by Jun Maeda, performed by Rita
"Rockstar Busters! Little Busters! Arrange Album" version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KI6YUpsSIo
I listened to this a lot before I saw the anime, mainly the Rockstar version and this English fan cover. Though it's quite distinct from Clannad and Angel Beats with its rock sound (even in the original) and change of vocalist, it shares in common the powerfully emphasized lengthened notes in the chorus, which Jun Maeda is so good at. Listed under comfort because it's a happier song with a theme of finding home in a group of friends.
Date A Live (Date A Live OP), composed by Go Sakabe, performed by sweet ARMS
Among the Japanese vocal groups I've heard, there are two in particular I'd describe as having a "soft, warm" sound - Wake Up Girls, and Sweet Arms. When I started this show, I remember feeling like this song itself was aural fanservice for male otaku. And then I went out hunting for all the Go Sakabe music I could find, because this composition is fire.
Ninelie (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress ED)
Composition and lyrics by Hiroyuki Sawano, performed by Aimer with chelly
"Don't be afraid, daybreak has come." It was nice to get this soothing ED in every episode after the frustrations of the show.
Compliments to the production - this is four minutes of pleasing sounds to listen to.
君の知らない物語 / Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari / The Story You Don't Know (Bakemonogatari ED)
"Presented by" supercell (composition and lyrics by ryo, vocals by Nagi)
A good one for night walks, especially considering the lyrics. I haven't even seen half of Monogatari yet, but what I have seen has a lot of solid songs. I'll settle for being mainstream-basic and say this is my favorite for now. (Of course Hanekawa's slightly gothy songs appeal to me on the aesthetic level, especially when they have symphonic elements.)
Crossing Field (Sword Art Online OP1)
Composition and lyrics by Sho Watanabe, performed by LiSA
A song strong enough to get respect even among many of those who hate the show. My regard stems from my experience with SAO as a reintroduction to wish-fulfillment anime. I didn't watch Darling in the Franxx, but I read that it scored points with many for including the frequently unattainable holy grail of anime: a healthy active romance. Likewise with SAO.
オリジナル。/Original. (Demi-chan wa Kataritai OP)
Composed by Mitsugu Ichikawa, lyrics by Mari Okada, performed by TrySail
Post about it: https://myanimelist.net/forum/?topicid=1596885&show=0#msg50113175
自転車に花は舞う / Jitensha ni Hana wa Mau (Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club OP)
Composed by Shinya Tanaka, performed by A応P / AOP
In examining my reactions to various songs on this list, I've noticed that in several cases the main attraction is that I like the course the main melody takes, because it sounds right and feels whole at the end. This is another of those.
僕らのフロンティア / Bokura no Frontier (Scorching Ping Pong Girls ED)
Composed by Keiichi Hirokawa, performed by Wake Up, Girls!
Impressive chorus. I need to hurry up and listen to WUG's other stuff.
神様のいうとおり / Kamisama no Iu Toori (The Tatami Galaxy ED)
Composed by Yoshinori Sunahara, performed by Etsuko Yakushimaru
I usually say my favorite "instrument" is "20 violins" or a whole string section, but the sound I crave and don't get enough of is deep, reverberating chimes. There's Jean-Michel Jarre - Bells / iamamiwhoami - In Concert; T / Lacrimosa - Letzte Ausfahrt: Leben / Trail of Tears - She Weaves Shadows, and other old gothic metal, but I need more. I especially need more music with chimes throughout, like this song.
ニンギョヒメ / Ningyo Hime (Chobits ED2)
Composed by Akino Arai, lyrics by Nanase Ohkawa, performed by Rie Tanaka
I'm not sure if Chobits was worth sticking out and finishing, but I'm glad I didn't miss out on this haunting second ED.
ヨナカジカル / Yonakagical (Stella no Mahou ED)
Composed by Kokonoka, lyrics by Jinsei Kuroki, performed by Maria Naganawa and Ryoko Maekawa
A forgettable song from a forgettable show? Perhaps, but I thought it was quite magical, particularly with the high-pitched ethereal vocals on the two-note chorus.
And speaking of ethereal....
Pipo Password (Space Patrol Luluco ED), composed by TeddyLoid, performed by Bonjour Suzuki
Chill, or hot? Your mileage may vary.
(After #1 Clannad After Story OP)
But WOW is it hard to sort this section they are ALL SO GOOD
My Soul, Your Beats! (Angel Beats OP), composition and lyrics by Jun Maeda, performed by Lia
In OP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yp8fb8lu30Q
Full version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqcEYvc8u58
I wonder (putting aside that Jun Maeda wrote specific music for specific characters and stories), what if this piece of music had come first and had become the After Story OP (lyrics changed to fit the show), and vice versa? Would I then have this, instead, as my longtime favorite and current top 3 of all time? I can't be certain I wouldn't. This might actually be an even better song than Toki Wo Kizamu Uta. As if a child looking at the night sky could determine which was the highest star. Oops, neglected to reign myself in.
Servante du feu (Sora no Woto insert)
Composed by Michiru Oshima, vocal version performed by Matthieu Ladouce
I immediately liked this because it uses descending notes at the end of lines, which remind me of Resuscitated Hope's descending notes at the end of chorus lyric phrases ending in "you ni." That must be an element I like in music. In Servante du feu this is heard both in the strings before vocals kick in (first instance about 6 seconds in), and in the vocals.
I tend to listen to it and the ED together, using the instrumental version of Servante du feu. It was never released, so I took the audio from the end of the addendum OVA episode and made an MP3 of that. The dialog is the younger girls talking about their life aspirations, with their senpai Rio closing out the show with narration about pursuing dreams even if the world is ending - and I don't even mind anymore that there's no clean instrumental.
Girls, Be Ambitious. (Sora no Woto ED)
Composed by Kazuhiro Higure, lyrics by Yoshie Isogai, performed by Haruka Tomatsu
TV size: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns60aZCynzU
Live concerts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zsibsk7W0kA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_6MNebIO68
The show subverts the norm by having a slow OP and an upbeat ED. But even though it's a happy ska song which should belong under "Fun," I cried during the ED multiple times. (The experience was opposite TORCH, the infamously disastrous upbeat ED to Clannad After Story.) Favorite part: "watashitachi no harmony."
なないろびより / Nanairo Biyori (Non Non Biyori OP), composition and lyrics by Kimiko (nano.RIPE), performed by nano.RIPE
In OP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijpGNlWDG5k
Band music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6WuUAuD8JU
I rewatched the show recently. Those opening vocals. Every time. In my mind, Non Non Biyori may signify something loftier than its actual contents... but that's okay.
光るなら / Hikaru nara (Your Lie In April OP1), written and performed by Goose house
Music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5kc8hJ3GcA
Acoustic live performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnXkhkEvNIM
I was immediately biased to favor it when the chorus began with "Kimi da yo," inevitably bringing to mind "Kimi dake wo." Unlike with Clannad, in this case I'm in the camp that took serious issue with some of the decisions made in creating this story, but this song rises high beyond reach of any harm from that.
Allegro Cantabile (Nodame Cantabile season 1 OP)
Composition and lyrics by Atsushi Suemitsu, performed by SUEMITSU & THE SUEMITH
"This song is about what it means to live."
"Nodame could easily be my favorite anime just for the OP alone, with its awesome positive progression. Seriously, this OP descends on you like a thunderstorm." -@Boltz, in his music list blog
Oh, seems a k-pop girl group released a cover... just last month.
Not really sure what I think of it yet. If I'd heard this first, I probably would have loved it, but I really miss the rich instrumentation.
Credens justitiam / Believing in Justice (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
Composed by Yuki Kajiura, performed by Eri Itoh and Yuriko Kaida
Bit of a cheat to include this because it seems to be technically a score track, not an insert. I had discovered the full version (or shall we say radio-friendly version?) of the song, Kalafina's Mirai/未来, a month before I watched the show. It's a lovely theme which would also dominate the Comfort category, and fits perfectly as the leitmotif for the motherly character of Mami. Last.fm user Chiharo memorably wrote, "This is one of the very few songs that can make me feel even a tiny bit hopeful about [the] future."
少女はあの空を渡る / Shoujo wa Ano Sora wo Wataru (Hisone to Masotan OP)
Composed by Taisei Iwasaki, lyrics by Mari Okada, performed by Riko Fukumoto
I haven't seen the show because I decided to wait for Netflix, but this is such a beautiful piece of music that I broke down crying the first few times I heard it. After a couple of listens to the TV size, I ordered the single from CDJapan. I did listen to Taisei Iwasaki's OST once, thinking I might want to buy it too, but didn't notice much on it that I liked. High hopes for the show, as it combines some of my favorite elements, but even if I don't love it, this song remains a triumph.
Update September 21: Started watching, it's great so far. Only I don't like the video editing in the OP - the chorus should be set to big flight shots, as it was in PV 2. https://youtu.be/yhq8oNxaqhI?t=56s I took a look at OP 2: https://vimeo.com/279906660 It uses the less spectacular version of the song, CD track 2, 少女はあの空に惑う / Shojo wa Ano Sora ni Madou, but the choice of visuals is much better.
I like how the arrangement of the characters in the cover art has slight similarity to a thing I drew a few years ago:
Hanezeve Caradhina (Made in Abyss insert)
Composed by Kevin Penkin, performed by Takeshi Saito
From when the soundtrack came out, on Last.fm:
nDroae: Advantage of not starting MiA until recently: did not have a long wait for Hanezeve Caradhina. What an incredible vocal melody. Unearthly.
@Prog_upworks13: best insert song in this year ?
nDroae: Mmm, it's really hard to weigh it against for example Layers because they're so vastly different. To me Hanezeve Caradhina is more a piece of music that uses the human voice as an instrument than a song. But if it's categorized as a song then yeah, it's the best to a comical degree. Something within dies and is brought back to life with every listen.
And on MAL:
Hanezeve Caradhina inevitably brings to mind Jónsi/Sigur Rós, but I'm not really either interested in tracing its possible inspiration, or sufficiently well-versed in music to do so; I'd just like to continue enjoying it as its own entity.
Kevin Penkin gave interviews confirming that Sigur Rós inspiration. One:
I'd say Hanezeve Caradhina surpasses its inspiration, but I'm not really in a position to make that call; I've never been a big Sigur Rós fan. https://www.last.fm/user/nDroae/library/music/Sigur+R%C3%B3s
The revelation that it's even still possible, after all the music I've heard, for a simple vocal melody to feel as new and overpowering as Hanezeve Caradhina, was a significant point in my life as a music listener. Humbling and encouraging. Never stop exploring. (...for too long. But be sure to take breaks to enjoy old favorites.)
And I'm not even that much a fan of Made in Abyss.
暁の車 / Akatsuki no Kuruma (Mobile Suit Gundam Seed insert)
Composed by Yuki Kajiura, performed by FictionJunction YUUKA (Yuuka Nanri)
Live concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk7s_dCt2ww
I initially left this off this list because I wasn't even aware it was an anime song; I had found it via exploring Yuki Kajiura's discography. I may never watch Gundam Seed, at least probably not in the next 15-25 years; I've been powerfully dissuaded from that by Woolie of the Super Best Friends, and the only way I could be persuaded to watch it sooner would be if someone who watched UC Gundam first, like I did, were to convince me that I should. Or if I end up with a woman who loves Gundam Seed, then I'll watch it. Though that could be dangerous because I'd inevitably be comparing it to UC Gundam. Oh, this song? Absolutely gorgeous. With traditional instruments at the forefront, it seems stripped down compared to the layered synths and vocals I'm accustomed to with Kalafina; not that I wanted a break, but it's a fresh alternate sound. I like to pair it up with Free Bird, Ko Otani's instrumental OP to Haibane Renmei. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxY0ALI7izo
雨だれの歌 / Amadare no uta (literally "raindrops' song" - Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou insert)
Composition, lyrics and instrument performance / water sound sample arrangement by baker (Keisuke Hattori), performed by Inori Minase and Yurika Kubo
This 2017 show was my first time watching a show after catching up on the manga first, and it's my favorite anime since Girls und Panzer der Film (2015). I was particularly looking forward to this scene, but I was not expecting a full-length song with pseudo-acapella vocals from the two stars. Unique in its sound, unique in its context, unique in its beauty.
English translation: http://pizzaexofficial.blogspot.com/2018/01/english-translation-shoujo-shuumatsu.html
まどろみの輪廻 / Madoromi no Rinne (Utawarerumono ED), composed by Masumi Ito, performed by Eri Kawai
Another singer who is no longer with us. Eri Kawai's voice was one of the best I've heard, not only in Japanese music. Her acapella cover of Cruel Angel's Thesis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fEP-WNW-k8
宝石 / Houseki / Jewel (Le Portrait de Petit Cossette ED)
Composition and lyrics by Yuki Kajiura, performed by Marina Inoue, backing vocals by Yuriko Kaida
Live concert by Keiko Kubota / FictionJunction Keiko: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbiLjKgFDYQ
Another Kajiura favorite. It seems to suggest the title character's refined grace, with little dips like dainty curtsies in the chorus. The tone is fitingly dark and sad, unlike the other Kajiura songs I've listed, but there is still hope in the lyrics. http://www.animelyrics.com/anime/leportrait/lpdpchouseki.htm
"What, no Key of the Twilight?" I love that song's climax/bridge, but to me the rest is merely very good. Obviously if I had been introduced to it when it was new, rather than in 2015, I would have been amazed. But that didn't happen. And so, "I will be swallowed as a lonely observer...."
Passion & Adrenaline
Hacking to the Gate (Steins;Gate OP), composition and lyrics by Chiyomaru Shikura, performed by Kanako Ito
I'm not really a fan of Steins;Gate for various reasons, mostly involving my subjective preference for earlier time travel fiction. Even so, this song was in my top 3 until Tabiuta edged it out.
I'm going to go full subjective interpretation on this one, because sometimes it's fun to stray beyond "analysis" (to me that word now means "please click on my YouTube video") and read things into a work that the creator may not have intended, or even certainly did not.
The story's setting is established by the fast mechanical beat in the verses, which may resemble a sped-up clock, but to me also suggests the rigid confines of scientific fact, in this case the Alpha Attractor Field. The song builds up to the chorus, and the confines are shattered, the beat's incessant steadiness interrupted, while the vocals declare Okabe's intent to defy seemingly inevitable fate. The lines of the chorus are delivered in what I perceive as a call-and-response style, though there is only one singer; going purely by sound, not by the lyrics, it's as though the first half creates a setup, and the second half answers it, in parallel to the cause-and-effect pattern that repeatedly plays out in the story. That attribute makes it extremely satisfying to listen to, and it's the element I really miss in the Steins;Gate 0 OP (which was also composed by Chiyomaru Shikura). I never skipped either OP, and the moment where Hacking to the Gate's lyrics switched was unforgettable.
Chiyomaru Shikura seems to have developed Hacking to the Gate using ideas from his earlier work on the original visual novel's opening theme, スカイクラッドの観測者 / Skyclad no Kansokusha / Skyclad Observer, which was recently used as an insert song in the middle of Steins;Gate 0 episode 21. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrbJEyYn2xo
NO, Thank You! (K-On!! ED2)
Composed by Hiroyuki Maezawa, lyrics by Shoko Omori, performed by HO-KAGO TEA TIME
Live concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0nsn_jB7Hg
First heard this only a year ago. Lying in bed at the end of the day, I finished episode 14 on my phone, heard the opening notes, thought "Oh, this is going to be great," stopped, and saved it for the next evening. What a payoff.
Out of K-On's boastworthy song collection including four great EDs, this is my favorite, for its raw, driving emotional power. Any number of more dramatic/melodramatic shows could have benefitted greatly from such a song.
Apparently my weeb cortex likes it when moe anime songs use "Watashitachi no _______" prominently; this one uses it in three different phrases, my favorite being "Watashitachi no tsubasa." I would guess lyrics like that may be cliche cheese to many Japanese, but that doesn't matter to a broken marionette weeaboo like me. Many of my favorite English lyrics could be considered cringeworthy, for that matter.
[Gradual transition from Passion to Fun begins here]
Before My Body Is Dry (Kill La Kill insert)
Composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, lyrics by mpi & David Whitaker, performed by Mika Kobayashi & David Whitaker
But actually, my favorite version is the late game version - the score track 劇伴特化型1☆極★服, which has prominent backing vocalists, and is instrumental except on the chorus.
I'd assume most people got tired of the song in general after it became a meme (and then inevitably a dead meme), and for that matter I'm sure some were tired of it by the end of the show, but this song helped get me back into anime. I watched Ryuko vs. Satsuki from episode 3 in 2014, and that planted the seed. I may have seen better fight choreography and animation since, but in terms of pure hype, not much comes close to this. (I'm not really a fan of fight choreography anyway, see my 3/10 on One Punch Man and drop on MHA. But I watched Boruto 65 three times ;P) Admittedly, I can't say much with certainty about KLK, since when I watched it I had seen only 12 days of anime, and I haven't rewatched it yet.
Layers (Re:CREATORS insert)
Composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, lyrics by Benjamin & mpi, performed by Aimee Blackschleger
Fun chugging guitar, addictive rhythm, and good English lyrics. I assume Benjamin (Anderson?) is to thank for that - the lyrics are a massive improvement over the likes of DOA and The Reluctant Heroes. A "safe" opinion might be shØut > God of ink > gravityWall > Layers, but my respective plays go 14, 8, 32, 68. Re:Creators was quite rich in song.
吹雪 / Fubuki (Kantai Collection: KanColle ED)
Composed by Hige Driver, performed by Shiena Nishizawa
I seem to have listened to this over 100 times, and I'm still impressed by the blazing fast vocals. I'm not a big fan of KanColle, but I am a fan of moe military in general, and this is my #1 moe military anthem. The moment in the ED visuals when it hits the chorus with the low shot of the girls posing dramatically, that's powerful. I described the feeling as "legend of the war heroes" in the CGDCT club music thread. I would love to see future Strike Witches songwriting become a bit more serious like this. (Outside Idol Witches and the 4-koma spinoff, that is.)
I seem to keep ending up in conservative Japanese nationalists' musical territory, between Yamato and KanColle....
The Other Side of the Wall (Princess Principal OP)
Composed by Ryo Takahashi (Void_Chords), lyrics by Konnie Aoki and MARU, performed by MARU
The opening is hard-hitting like little else on this list. The intro builds up pressure like a steam boiler, then releases in an explosion of jazz-rock. Takahashi tastefully and skilfully incorporates musical elements which I like from earlier times in my life, and the English lyrics are solid, making what would have easily been my favorite OP of the last two, possibly three years, were it not for Tabiuta.
I seem to come across musical references to Monty Norman's James Bond Theme every few years, from Tarja's In for a Kill to (least surprisingly) Adele's Skyfall to this, and I would welcome more. It must one of the most important pieces of popular music of the 20th century (don't ask me what the others are, I wouldn't know), and its appeal is timeless. One of the first long media journeys I undertook, around 2005, was to watch every James Bond film, and there's some great music among them. If the Monty Norman references get tired, how about some John Barry? His main theme for On Her Majesty's Secret Service is fantastic, though in a mismatch all too familiar to any soundtrack fan, the film itself is one of the worst-regarded among fans.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUE9wiaRwFI This is BEST digression, not sorry.
Actually, let's go further - together with the 70's feeling I got from Jojo's Great Days, the 70's style strings on The Other Side of the Wall made me want to explore the original western strings of the era. I had learned the sound in my youth from the era's film and television. What I noticed in the chorus was the style where, in a quick succession of notes, the strings play each note distinctly and strongly. One particularly close example is the 1970 motown track Sounds Of The Zodiac by Gordon Staples:
Other examples of varying notoriety include The Trammps - Disco Inferno; The Spinners - I'll Be There; MFSB - Love Is the Message; The O'Jays - Love Train (one day I will cross that river and read Steel Ball Run); Leroy Hutson - Love, Oh Love; The Temptations - Masterpiece; Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street; The Dells - Wear It On Our Face ; Ray Conniff - Theme from S.W.A.T.; Silver Convention - Fly, Robin, Fly; and Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive.
A brief thread about strings in 70's pop music:
The question posed was whether strings were the defining instrument of the 70's, to which the answer was no. I've noticed more prominent brass than strings in what I've heard.
Here's an excellent article called "Strings Attached: How Symphonic Soul Scored Big In The 70s":
And its companion Spotify playlist:
The sound remains a fairly popular palette choice for a cool retro feel. The Hisone to Masotan score uses it on some tracks, and it's prominent in Persona 5 (the game - haven't seen the anime).
I'm also posting this in the Music General Discussion thread, so I'd suggest replying there Re: 60's and 70's western music, or here Re: anime songs with that sound, but it doesn't really matter.
Walküre Attack! (Macross Delta insert song)
Composed by Kotaro Odaka and UiNA (Yui Nagata), performed by Walküre
Live concert (recommended): https://streamable.com/csbqe
In the show, episode 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apXF1eNGdQQ
In the show, episode 13: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVVj-XykhkM
Like Sailor Star Song, it's ALL climax! Climaxes upon climaxes!
I have complained too many times that this song was barely used in the show, while others were reused over and over. And yet this was the title track of the first Walküre album. I don't get it.
You might think that, as an 80's music fan, I'd like something from the original SDF Macross, but not really. That and Delta are the only Macross I've seen or heard, but I plan to watch the rest by 2021. In retrospect I probably should have jumped to Frontier.
Let Me Hear (Parasyte: The Maxim OP), written and performed by Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas
In 2009, an online friend introduced me to the trance metal song Freedom by BLOOD STAIN CHILD. I had so much fun with it that I listened to it 50 times, despite assurances of its terribleness from others on Lastfm. Let Me Hear is fun in a similar way, but it's also quite moving... until it hits the midsection.
THE HERO !! ～怒れる拳に火をつけろ～ (One Punch Man OP)
Composed by Makoto Miyazaki, performed by JAM Project
"Sanjo! Hissho! Shijo saikyo!" sounds like the language of the Judoon, a race of anthro rhinoceroses from Doctor Who: https://youtu.be/FLL71cFj_5U?t=26s
Pre-Parade (Toradora OP1)
Composed by Kaoru Okubo, performed by Rie Kugimiya, Eri Kitamura, and Yui Horie
When I was... a young boy....
Could have filed this under Icons. This is THE cute anime girl hijinks attack anthem. I don't think it can ever be topped, it's sheer perfection.
database (Log Horizon OP), written and performed by MAN WITH A MISSION
Music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzWcameJDow&t=18s
(must have been nice for the editor, not having to sync lips)
I was introduced to this song by the Super Best Friendcast mocking it and the show. Some time later I watched the show, it was great, and I never skipped the intro. Basically the theme of 2018 MAL: LOG IN YOU DAMNED ONES CRUSH THE WON'T YOU COMPROMISE. Hilarious and I love it.
あなたのお耳にプラグイン！ / Anata no Omimi ni Plug In! (Sore ga Seiyuu ED)
Composed by ENDO., performed by Earphones
Oh, the full length version is finally on YouTube! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM_KUW36SfU
But if that goes down, here's the TV size: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2-8L2A5SfI
Could go under Comfort Food. It seems to have been constructed around the basic framework of Cruel Angel's Thesis, which fits in perfectly as the first episode's mid-credits "special request" insert, and is the only one included in the full length version. (Every episode's ED had a different one.) A lot of the full song is just spoken moe conversation (of which I've never found a translation), but the chorus and the bridge at 3:52 are pure happiness.
狂乱 Hey Kids!! / Kurotte Hey Kids!! (Noragami Aragoto OP)
Composed by Takuya Yamanaka, performed by THE ORAL CIGARETTES
The most fun I've had with this kind of sound since Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out.
お先にシルブプレ / Osaki ni S'il Vous Plait (GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class OP)
Composed by Junichi "IGAO" Igarashi, performed by 彩井高校 GA Girls (Ayanoi Koukou GA Girls)
Hitotsu hitotsu hitotsu hitotsu! Another happiness-inducing OP. The sound is nothing unusual for a moe slice of life show, safe and friendly, with perhaps an intended connection to European art history via prominent use of accordion. What most sets it apart to me is the galloping rhythm, which reminds me of Muse's Knights of Cydonia (the first half). But whereas that was a passionate battle anthem, this is "Yay, let's make some art!"
SATSUGAI (Detroit Metal City OP)
Composed by K.A.Z, performed by Detroit Metal City
Live action glorious 240p: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=medrxWiodho
TV size: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6b9npf
While this genius comedy anime is not 1:1 comparable to Metalocalypse/Dethklok, the OP is! Delightfully over-the-top lyrics.
サクラサク / Sakura Saku (Love Hina OP)
Composition and lyrics by Ritsuko Okazaki, arranged by Tomoji Sogawa, performed by Megumi Hayashibara
This last-minute addition is the only song on this list which I think is legitimately bad, the fault lying on the arrangement/production side. Just listen to this mess! Harsh digital percussion, shrill electronic noises, DJ record-scratching sounds which may have been passé at the time, extra digital effects... a fitting song to herald the first ever all-digital 2D anime.
I once had someone in real life say some anime song was bad; and I replied "You ain't heard nothing yet" and played this, and he was astounded.
And yet, despite all that, I find it fun to listen to.
ふわっふわのまほう / Fuwafuwa no Mahou (Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan ED)
Composed by Kenichi Maeyamada, performed by Kanae Itou, Mai Aizawa, and Shiori Mikami
What hath mankind wrought? https://vimeo.com/96930234
"+1 for the catchy ED theme song." -JDS_Mirai
"The ED is incredibly catchy and by the end I found I knew the words and the dance far too well." -Infinite
"The ending song o_o'' MORE BREEAADDD! D:" -Zeurivar
"by god the ending is scary to watch." -Selsica
shut up you haters, this anime has the best ED ever in history. If that aint enough reason for you then you are not a true anime fan.
In recent anime:
The vocal style of Attack on Titan 3 OP1 reminds me of reunited British boy-idol pop group Take That, specifically this song, which is one of my favorites:
A haven't read the Attack on Titan manga, but the narrative leading up to this season was that the opening "conspiracy arc" would be offputting to anime-only viewers, and that it would have been dangerous to end season 2 with it, even if it had been possible for S2 to be 2-cour. So it wasn't really a surprise that the producers chose a new artist to deliver a completely different opening song. It's fine, and I'm sure OP2 will be "epic" as usual.
This situation reminds me of a conversation in the podcast Star Wars Oxygen: The Music of John Williams:
This was from 46 minutes to one hour into episode 14, the first discussing The Phantom Menace. All issues with the film aside (I am or was a fan of Red Letter Media, though I dropped off watching their stuff around 2014), a suggestion was raised that the infamously boring opening crawl could have worked better, even unchanged, had it not been bound by tradition to be accompanied by the Star Wars Main Theme fanfare. (John Williams calls it "obligatory" in a sample from an interview.) The contrast between the familiar "epic" brass-led anthem and text about tariff disputes should feel wrong, even if you think economics and politics in that universe could make a good film (which I do).
P.S. I think this is already my favorite Attack on Titan season. So satisfying.
My favorite song I've heard from this season is インキャインパルス / Inkya Impulse, the Asobi Asobase ED. Me being a predictable Babymetal fan again.
I've also never skipped the Overlord III OP (Myth & Roid - VORACITY).
Is bass synth blasts against silence a trend now? I'm thinking of Shoji Meguro's Rivers in the Desert from Persona 5 (the game). Thinking back, there was Linkin Park's "When They Come For Me" in 2010: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cC4LQV2tf8 And much further back, composer Don Ellis was inspired by the sound of an industrial tool when he used Inception-ish bass brass blasts in The French Connection (1971), check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4ew7UH9Y64
As for the use that sound is put to in service of Lord Ainz, to me it sounds like influence was drawn from 30's swing music, for example Sing, Sing, Sing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2gCNDA6Nyg
Boruto is yet to have an OP I really like, but it's had some good EDs.
ED5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBTOJipVA3U (Coala Mode - Kachou Fuugetsu)
And I think I love ED6, with its "indie" rock sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXniyLogwas (Bird Bear Hare and Fish - Leica)
Some songs from recent(ish) anime I didn't watch:
Lost Song OP: 歌えばそこに君がいるから / Utaeba Soko ni Kimi ga Iru kara ／ Konomi Suzuki
Just a pretty J-pop song.
Caligula ED: HYPNO
Nice to listen to except for the screeching section around 4 minutes in. Look, producers, this is a song, not a drama or a musical number.
Golden Kamuy ED: THE SIXTH LIE - Hibana
Vocals remind me of Anberlin at times. :D B-side "Flash of a Spear" is an infectious romp (does that sound reviewerly?)
I think I'm going to have to make an exception to my general apathy toward J-rock bands and check them out.
...I sampled their stuff on Spotify. SINGularity is good; Another Dimension, In This Mirror, Wake Up Your Fire are alright; most of the rest is samey soft electropop. Now I know!
Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits ED: Manami Numakura - 彩 -color-
Pleasant, with a similar sound to the Tsuki ga Kirei OP. I checked and sure enough, both were composed by Makoto Nishibe, aka WEST GROUND. https://vgmdb.net/artist/15790
As above, on checking out the single I was more impressed by CD track 2, RELOAD (composer: RYLL). I do like a distinctive, attention-grabbing noise, as both this and THE SIXTH LIE's B-side have. Is there a term for that other than "hook"? The violins in Linkin Park's Faint are an obvious successful example. Hey anime producers, might you perhaps be playing it safe having composers not put bold signature sounds like that on your anisongs? There is a risk of backlash if it ends up annoying people, like the high-pitched vocals in Centuries. http://www.mtv.com/news/2065614/fall-out-boy-apologizes-espn/
In theory I should like how Sawano's Binary Star from the LOGH remake uses the chorus from "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship, but I don't know. Guess I should give it more listens to decide.
Modified by nDroae, Sep 27, 2018 9:18 PM
The first song to really grab my attention this fall is Haruka to Miyuki - 17-sai (ハルカトミユキ - 17才), the OP to Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara / Iroduku: The World in Colors.
If that goes down, it plays at the end of the first episode.
I don't want to be overconfident about how much staying power / replay value it'll have, since I often lose interest quickly in this type of song, but it will at least be one to come back to now and then. I'm attracted to the chorus, mainly how it sounds like it's being delivered as a confident declaration. Which, checking the lyrics, it does end with one: "the rainbow will come after the rain."
And are those... CHIMES? They're slightly buried in the mix, but once again: I ask, Japan delivers.
Composed by Miyuki
Arranged by Haruka to Miyuki, Yoichiro Nomura
Modified by nDroae, Oct 21, 2018 9:38 PM
I want to put together a rundown of songs from this season, but... in the mildly Engrish words of the Higurashi S1 ED, I noticed the fact there was not time. I've been watching that show, and the pleasant opening notes of that ED sometimes lead to me letting it play, despite knowing that the lyrics' pronunciation and syllabic delivery are slightly maddening. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRgAzd3LfTU Consequently, I've had that ED stuck in my head multiple times.
Higurashi's OP, on the other hand, is great!
New category: Haunting :P
ひぐらしのなく頃に / Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Composed by Tomoyuki Nakazawa, lyrics and vocals by Eiko Shimamiya
That opening chant is so good. I'm not sure yet what to think of the show (I'm on episode 18), but despite that, hitting the OP is exciting every time. Then come the beat and synths, which wouldn't sound out of place in Ghost in the Shell, and mournful chorus vocals befitting of gothic/doom metal. It's not a recipe I'm used to, but it comes together remarkably well. My general impression is that in 80's and 90's j-pop songs, synths tend to age well, but 2000's synths have more mixed results; this case is a success in my opinion.
I ought to arrange the anime songs I like chronologically, to get a better sense of their origin and place in time, since most I discover years or decades later.
Also shout out to this:
天使のゆびきり / Tenshi no Yubikiri (Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou OP)
Composed by Nobuo Ariga, lyrics by Fumiya Fujii, performed by Mai Fukuda
This song was a "sleeper hit" for me; it didn't quickly grab my attention, but gradually, over the course of watching the show - never skipping it, and always reading the lyrics - I grew to love it. Always nice to hear the instrumental versions in the score, too.
-Boogiepop Phantom opening
Version with the lyrics (they're really nice): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW1KLw0peYU
And a cool live version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKAz1-CuWbs
I can not say if it fits with the anime, but I cant imagine what other type of song could have worked. It's a really comfy love song.
Huge contrast there against the new Boogiepop series' OP (MYTH & ROID - shadowgraph), which is in this PV: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2018-11-30/boogiepop-and-others-anime-2nd-promo-video-reveals-14-more-cast-members-january-4-debut/.140176
It sounds good (I generally like MYTH & ROID), but my first thought is that the late 2010's trendy style of the new OP may sound dated within a decade. And that might be fine if the anime were entirely a contemporary product of this period, but it's not; it's a new adaptation of renowned classic source material.
That said, one could hurl the criticism "They're playing it safe" from either side. Yes, the style they went for will appeal to the young target audience. But if they had gone for a traditional sound like the first anime, that would be "playing it safe" in a way, too.
Modified by nDroae, Dec 15, 2018 8:48 PM