The Best Anime Music of 2013

attack-on-titan
2013 was a pretty good year for anime and anime music, with a wide variety of styles to choose from. Whether you’re a fan of orchestral, bombastic flair, or are looking for a lighter side of life, there were many soundtracks and anime theme songs that were up to bat.

As is our usual tradition, we’ve provided a writeup of what we thought was the best anime music of 2013. Some of you may find the results of this list to be surprising, especially since 2013 was the year in which Attack on Titan let loose its fury upon the anime fandom. But alas, it did not win best anime soundtrack; that prize went to the lesser-known, but far better Tanken Driland, an anime based on a mobile game, but received a big boost by being scored by Yoshihisa Hirano. Yoshihisa Hirano also managed to pick up the best anime composer award, not only for his work on Tanken Driland, but also his work on the Hunter x Hunter movies, Phantom Rouge and The Last Mission. Hirano’s consistency is a shining point and his versatility is a big bonus, since he composes rock, electronica, and throws in a bit of jazz in addition to his usual classical style to top things off.

When you look at the theme songs, many of the winners weren’t from the big shows that caught people’s attention. The award for best opening theme went to Red Data Girl‘s “Small Worldrop”. This single by Annabel shines in its simplicity and her delivery gives it much heart and nuance to settle us in nicely. Probably to the relief of many anime fans however, Attack on Titan‘s “Guren no Yumiya” did manage to snag the runner-up position.

On the ending theme side, our staff’s love for KOKIA’s music once again reared its head and we found ourselves falling for Space Battleship Yamato 2199‘s “Kioku no Hikari”. KOKIA’s voice is flawless in its delivery and we loved the way it flows and recedes in perfect harmony. And again, simplicity won out for the runner-up position, which went to The Wind Rises‘s “Vapor Trail”. Sung in 1973 by Yumi Matsutoya, we felt that it captured The Wind Rises‘s sentiments beautifully and was a perfect way to close out Miyazaki’s career.

So, go read our full impressions and let us know what you think of our selections. Any other anime soundtracks or theme songs you think are more deserving? Comment away!

Oddball Anime Music Combo – Norio Wakamoto Sings Madoka’s Credens Justitiam

Never one to pass up on an opportunity for silliness, this was one anime song cover we just had to share. Norio Wakamoto and Madoka together in perfect harmony is something that’ll be most dissonant, but enjoyable because of it.

If you’ve been keeping track of the anime fandom for any stretch of time, you’re probably no stranger to the effect that Puella Magi Madoka Magica has had. The anime, combined with Yuki Kajiura’s appropriately foreboding soundtrack, brought about a memorable experience that’s often talked about as a most excellent twist on the magical girl genre.

So to say that we love the music is a bit of an understatement, especially when tracks like “Sis puella magica!” draw us in with their melancholia, foreshadowing the fate of the magical girls in Madoka. But before the show even gets to its depressing stage, the anime serves up some more heroic tracks, none of which stand out more than Mami’s theme, “Credens Justitiam.”

In the original “Credens Justitiam,” you had a song delivered by the lilting chorus provided by Kalafina, which provided the song with a soaring quality that spoke of lofty ideals, giving it a sense of grace, and, of course, beauty. Here, we have longtime anime seiyuu Norio Wakamoto giving his rendition of “Credens Justitiam.” Wakamoto, known for voicing characters as The Emperor Charles Zi Britannia in Code Geass, Oda Nobunaga in Sengoku Basara, and the narrator in Hayate the Combat Butler.

His delivery contrasts with the original’s aspirational qualities, instead, coming off as being rather silly as his trademark deep voice rolls the “rr” sounds in the song and the way he harmonizes. Needless to say, it’s a novel and hilarious twist on a well-known song that’s become part of the anime music/Yuki Kajiura canon that’ll succeed at the very least in bringing a few chuckles or grimaces, especially when he narrates about magical girls halfway though this song or simply roars/groans all the way to the finish.

Attack on Titan’s Guren no Yumiya Set to Jazz

Given how popular Attack on Titan has been in 2013, there’s been a lot of fan works related to not only the series, but also the music. One notable example of music-related works has been the many arrangements of Attack on Titan’s OP theme, titled “Guren no Yumiya.” For example, you could hear this get a piano treatment at AnimeNZ and TehIshter’s concert called Attack on Piano concert.

While there are other examples, few of them match the fineries of this jazzy arrangement which sees the keyboards bearing most of the melody. It’s certainly light and stays mostly faithful throughout. Will this ever turn into anything on the level of a Platina Jazz? Well, the artists do have other works on their Youtube channel so you can definitely check those out to decide for yourself!

Anime Music Tournament Finals: Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari vs. Wareta Ringo

The Anime Music Tournament, which had started around August of this year, will finally come to a close once the Finals matchup is over. With this rendition of the tournament, we see an intriguing matchup between two songs, both of which have been reviewed on the Anime Instrumentality Blog.

The first song is the well-known “Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari,” which served as the ending song to Bakemonogatari. This song effectively brought ryo of Supercell from the Vocaloid scene out to a wider audience. The same can be said for Yanaginagi’s music career as well since her voice meshes very well with ryo’s instrumentals.

The second song is from a more recent anime titled Shinsekai Yori, but it too, is an ending theme. The song, titled “Wareta Ringo,” features Risa Taneda, Shinsekai Yori‘s seiyuu, on vocals and a very distinct guitar stutter which has garnered annoyance and delight.

Needless to say, the matchup looks to be tilted in favor of “Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari” but it’s hard to say at this point. Polls will remain open until Wednesday, so check out the Anime Music Tournament’s Finals and cast your vote!

Little Witch Academia 2’s Kickstarter in Full Swing, Adds Soundtrack Release

Little Witch Academia Kickstarter
If you’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on in the world of anime Kickstarters, you’ll know that the Kickstarter for Little Witch Academia opened a mere three days ago, but has now succeeded in getting fully funded in a matter of six hours and continues to be going strong as it has now doubled the amount it originally wanted to get funded at as its funding now exceeds $325,000.

For those who aren’t aware of what this Kickstarter is all about, here’s some background: earlier this year, Studio Trigger released an anime short titled Little Witch Academia as part of the Anime Mirai 2013 event meant to showcase new talent amongst Japanese animators. This anime focused on a group of girls going through a Witch Academy not unlike Harry Potter’s Hogwarts where they learn to fly on brooms and perform magic. While it got a warm reception in Japan, fans overseas were really excited about it and left comments on the youtube video of the short saying they wanted more, prompting the director to look into Kickstarter as a funding possibility.

Obviously, with this success on the Kickstarter stage, there will be calls for amazing stretch goals and Studio Trigger has delivered on that front, saying in their latest update that if the Kickstarter reaches over $500,000, those who’ve donated for the Limited Edition Blu-ray will receive a soundtrack!

Now this news should resonate with anime music fans because composer Michiru Ooshima is behind these efforts. Her previous works included the amazing soundtrack to Sora no Woto as well as the original Fullmetal Alchemist and the Tatami Galaxy soundtracks. Suffice to say, with those titles under her belt, her efforts on Little Witch Academia have proven themselves worthy since the music was the next best aspect of it after the animation. So for those looking to get the soundtrack, rest assured it’ll be worth every penny!

Time of Eve Kickstarter Continuing to Shine

time-of-eve
Time of Eve, also known as Eve no Jikan, has been pulling strong through its Kickstarter Project. The goal for the Kickstarter was to raise $18,000 towards releasing the entirety of the movie in Blu-Ray format for a worldwide audience. Given that we’re about halfway through the campaign, Time of Eve has managed to raise nearly $107,000, which is considerably more than its goal amount. In doing so, it’s also succeeded in passing the stretch goal of $50,000, which allows the Eve no Jikan movie to have an English dub. Currently, there are no further stretch goals down the road, but nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what comes down the pipeline seeing that there are still 15 days left.

In light of that, we do encourage you to give this film a try if you’re interested in a science fiction kind of story. On top of that, the Eve no Jikan soundtrack was released about three years ago. With anime music by Tooru Okada, the soundtrack comes across as a minimalist work. Perhaps overly so because it can be hard to listen to this music on a standalone basis. Nevertheless, we definitely recommend giving it a go. It can certainly be worth your while in any case as the nostalgia factor comes in as well as the wonderful ED theme by Kalafina.

An Anime Music Retrospective: 2011 Tunes and a Chiaki Ishikawa Concert Report

2011’s anime music offered a lot of interesting melodies with composers like Hiroyuki Sawano and Yoshihisa Hirano topping the charts with anime like Guilty Crown, Ao no Exorcist, and Hunter x Hunter.  If you’re looking to see what managed to top our list of the best 15 anime soundtracks from 2011, check our anime music retrospective post, complete with plenty of samples for you to listen to so that you can figure out whether this is right up your alley.

In addition to that, we had a post recently by Arthur, who attended a Chiaki Ishikawa concert where she sang a lot of the music from when she was in the anime music group See-Saw.  No Chiaki Ishikawa concert would be complete without Bokurano’s OP theme, “Uninstall” however, and they did give that song an airing.  So if you’re interested in his thoughts on Chiaki Ishikawa’s concert as well as a concert where he got to see famed composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, head over and give his post a read.

Macross Musicalture Musical Kicks Off On Stage in October

The Macross franchise, so well known for combining mecha, music, and romance into compelling anime, will be celebrating its 30-year anniversary with a live, on-stage musical.  Titled Macross the Musicalture, the performance dates for this musical will run from October 3 to October 10 at the Tokyo Dome City Hall with tickets priced at 6800 yen.

Currently there have been some details as to what the musical will focus upon as well as a preliminary character and staff list released which features Takuya Kikuchi as Vigo Walgria and Tsuchiya Zion as Ash Anderson, the Macross Musical’s male characters.  Female characters will include Sakura Crawford, played by Kana Megumi, and Daryl Walgria, played by Risa Uesugi.

Macross the Musicalture is probably a long time coming given that a major component for the Macross franchise is its music, with the most recent entry, Macross Frontier, getting strong reviews for its soundtrack.  Whether the music will shine remains to be seen, but here’s hoping for a strong showing!

More details can be found on the main website at Macross the Musicalture.

Yoko Kanno/Shinichiro Watanabe’s Jazzy Sakamichi no Apollon: Kids on the Slope Begins + Soundtrack Info

For those of you who have been eagerly waiting, the first episode of Sakamichi no Apollon: Kids on the Slope has been released. Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe with music taken from classic jazz albums, along with works by composer Yoko Kanno, Sakamichi no Apollon follows the story of a transfer student, Kaoru, a chance meeting with the school delinquent Sentaro, and how that eventually draws him into the world of jazz.

In our coverage of the anime, we will not only go over the plot points, but will also go into detail regarding the jazz pieces featured in the anime as well as put the pieces within the historical context of jazz as a whole. So for those who want to follow our episodic posts, you can use the episodic category.

Also, the soundtrack for Sakamichi no Apollon will be released on April 25, 2012 and can be pre-ordered through CDJapan. There’s also a collection of jazz pieces that have been compiled together. That disc was released in 2009 and can also be ordered through CDJapan.

PES: Peace Eco Smile – Toyota-Sponsored Anime Short with Pleasant Synth & Electronica

Last year saw a curious 4-episode anime titled Houkago no Pleiades, a joint work between Gainax (Evangelion, Gurren Lagaan) and the carmaker Subaru. The plot consists of Subaru, a young girl, and four other girls who become magical girls and are tasked with finding engine fragments. Its execution was a bit silly all in all, with a bit of product placement in the sound effects and the logo.

Well, it looks like Toyota is also getting into the action, partnering up with Studio 4°C to create an anime short titled PES: Peace Eco Smile. The plot centers around PES, a humanoid alien accompanied by beings called NaSuBi. Both have found Earth to be pleasant and seek to learn more about people. To find out more, the trailer has already been released and you can see it after the jump. [Read more…]

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