Monday OP: Kiznaiver

[Video Missing…]

Arrangement/Performance: Boom Boom Satellites

LAAAAAAAAAY
YOOOOOOOOUR
HAAAAAAANDS
OOOON MEEEE…

Weekly ED: Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete

Waremete, AKA In Search of Lost Future, has proven to be a decent story of a plan to save one loved one but creating another instead, causing a ‘Temporal Love Triangle’ (sorry, but I love that term). As such, it’s full of missed or lost opportunities, cases of bad luck or bad timing, and other general longing and malaise. Yet for all of its tragedy, it’s a beautifully-executed show full of hope and love. Ugh, listen to me going on about it…

Anyway, I good way to sum up its story in musical form is to simply listen to the ending theme, an equally beautiful, earnest piece called “Ashita Mata Aeru yo ne” (明日また会えるよね;We’ll Meet Again Tomorrow, Right?), fittingly sung by Takada Hatsumi & Tomonaga Akane, who voice the lead girls Kaori and Yui, respectively.

This is the first of two arrangements of the song; frankly I kinda like the more subdued version, but couldn’t find any video of it. That version is also accompanied by a tightened-up version of the visuals, which even here in their rougher state are a neat concept: two-dimensional figures traveling in a world made of words.

Weekly Music: Parasyte: The Maxim

It took twenty-six years for the Kodansha manga Parasyte to get an anime, and its theme has a defiant “FINALLY” sound about it. I’m not talking about its opening theme (by Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas) but its orchestral theme, composed by Sato Naoki. He also composed the music to Blood-C, and has a good ear for epic horror. The video above is an abridged version much like the one used for next episode previews, which give me goosebumps every time I see them.

The four-note leitmotif is generally associated with scenes of the parasytes doing parasyte shit, but also when things start getting intense for Shinichi, such as when he has to fight his former mother and Shimada, and when this music starts to rise, my adrenaline rises with it.

I want to say the chorus is singing something in Latin, but I haven’t been able to find anything about what they’re saying, in truth. Nevertheless, its music that lends the show a lot of its gravitas, and along with the D&B and dubstep pieces, make Parasyte’s one of the better soundtracks of the Fall.

Weekly OP: PSYCHO-PASS 2

My first listen of the indie rock trio Ling Tosite Sigure (“Cold Seasonal Rain”) was actually not by the trio itself, but by it’s guitarist/vocalist TK (Toru Kitajima), in the theme to Tokyo Ghoul, entitled “unravel”. I found the vocals to be an…acquired taste, but one I eventually acquired!

When I rushed to watch the first run of Psycho-Pass before the sequel came out, I heard that distinctive falsetto wail again, this time by the whole band, in the show’s opening theme “Abnormalize”. Not fixing what wasn’t broke, LTS returned for the opening theme of Psycho-Pass 2, with a song called “Enigmatic Feeling” and combined with much of the same dizzying cyberpunk visual style as the first show’s sequence.

I’m not typically one for wailing or whining in my vocals, but even I have to admit it just works here, and admire the vocal gymnastics that are going on in this song. Both TK and Miyoko “345” Nakamura make a male-female vocalization is a perfect match for the dark, brutal, yet beautiful mood of the show, as well as the immense inner and outer struggles the Tsunemori Akane must tackle.

While dark and desperate, there’s also a hefty portion of high tech sci-fi glitz to the visuals, distressed and distorted much like the music playing over them. It’s an OP I look forward to each week. It’s a show-defining sound.

Weekly OP: GARO: Honoo no Kokuin

GAAAARROOOOO!

“Honō no Kokuin -Divine Flame-” by JAM Project is pretty much the perfect song to open this show about a bunch of pariah knights darting around in awesome suits of armor punching grotesque monsters in the FACE.

It’s bold, it’s burning with passion (listen to that dude belt it out!), and it’s an interesting blend of (sorta) traditional Japanese singing style with contemporary orchestration. The fluid, morphing animation is pretty rad, too, as is the idea of making a Western font based on the Makai tattoo designs.

GAAAARROOOOO!

Weekly OP #2: Shingeki no Bahamut

What would happen if you mixed the hard riffs of thrash metal like Slayer with the reggae-inspired licks of Sublime? You’d get something like “EXiSTENCE” by SiM, which nicely complements the polished, stylish, striking visuals of the OP of Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis. Like any good OP, it gets you pumped up to watch, without giving too much away.

Weekly OP: Cross Ange

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo is second only to Shingeki no Bahamut in terms of shows I look forward to most each week. Yes, it’s dark and bloody and more than a little messed up, but that’s the point!

Meanwhile, it also has a pretty sweet OP, one of the more memorable of the Fall season due to its combination of usual sci-fi mecha J-Pop styles with a welcome infusion of the kind of Celtic instrumentation usually reserved for lower-tech fantasy shows.

It works because not only is this a sci-fi mecha series with a fallen princess (and that music is a nice reminder of the fancy, ideal life she used to lead), but there’s also knights and dragons.

And yes, Ange herself, Mizuki Nana (you may also know her as Saya from Blood-C and Kirihara from Darker than Black), sings the vocals to the opening theme, “Forbidden Resistance.”

Midweek Music: Mahouka OST: “Miyuki”

At the end of its first cour, I just couldn’t go on with Mahouka. It’s not that it was a terrible show, just a bad fit. But it did have some elements to it I liked quite a bit: one of them was Shiba Miyuki, who while often subservient to her dear brother, was always portrayed as a total badass with impeccable manners and frightening magical power, who could hold her own against practically anyone, her brother included. Hayami Saori was a great choice to voice her.

Another element I liked a lot was Iwasaki Taku’s soundtrack, which nails the “futuristic/magical high school” aesthetic. My favorite piece is “Miyuki”, which I believe we first hear when Miyuki visits Tatsuya in his room to show him her Mirage Bat uniform, then suddenly notices he’s floating above his seat, and proceeds to test out his new flying magic. It’s certainly not the most important scene from a plot perspective, but I consider it one of the best of that first cour, and the music that accompanies it is a huge reason why.

“Miyuki” is an ideal theme for Miyuki, as the overlapping female vocals represent her innate beauty, grace, elegance, and gentility, while the sick electronic beats symbolize her strong will and formidable magical power. In hindsight, it was probably Iwasaki’s soundtrack that kept me watching the show as long as I did. Like the OP and ED of DRAMAtical Murder, I simply enjoyed listening to the music.

Music: Onimonogatari – “An Old Story”

Last week’s Space Dandy got me thinking about other phenomenal episodes of anime I’ve watched in the past few years, and I actually ended up re-watching the second episode of Onimonogatari, informally known as “The Demon’s Sililoquy” from the “Shinobu Time” arc of Monogatari Series Second Season (my original review, which didn’t really do it justice, is here). It’s as rule-breaking and polarizing as the Monogatari series itself; in a way, it’s a distillation of its essence: deep, rambling dialogue, occasional linguistic puns, gorgeous imagery…and little to no conventional action.

Visceral reactions aside, one of the practical reasons why I loved the episode so much was the music that accompanied that gorgeous imagery, so I finally did some very shallow digging and found out that the composer for the entire Monogatari Series thus far, as well as other favorites like Suzumiya Haruhi and Oreimo, is a fellow named Kosaki Sotaru. His MAL picture makes him look closer to fourteen than forty, but don’t let the babyface fool you: the dude knows what he’s doing.

Shinobu’s sprawling, epic, gorgeous, ultimately heartbreaking tale of how she came to Japan from Antarctica four centuries ago, became a god, met, made, and ultimately lost her first minion in the worst way, demanded a soundtrack to match its scope and gravitas. The kind of music you’d put to a vampire jumping from Antarctica to Japan in one leap, inadvertently forming Lake Biwa.

The piece that opens the episode is appropriately called “An Old Story,” is just what the vampire storyteller ordered. Apropos of nothing, I wonder if Kosaki-san ever listened to The Verve…

Weekly OP: Aldnoah.Zero

(Unfortunately this seems to be the best version of the OP on YouTube…sorry about the reverb, it’s not my video.)

I’ve previously known (and enjoyed) the band Kalafina from the theme songs to Kara no Kyoukai series, as well as the ending theme of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. 

Their unique blend of esoteric and futuristic sounds meshes well with Aldnoah.Zero, and “Heavenly Blue” has a nice earnest defiance about it. Unsurprisingly, it would also make a good Gundam theme.

Visually speaking, my favorite part of the OP is the very end, in which a fretful Princess Asseylum points a gun at the camera before a cut to the title.

My first thought was that she’s pointing it at the other main protagonist, Inaho (hardly an original thought, mind you), but OPs don’t have to always make narrative sense, so it’s just as likely to be a visual euphamism rather than foreshadowing.