Kantai Collection (KanColle) Music Reviews

KanColle Anime
For a series that should have been at least as good as Strike Witches, Kantai Collection, also known as KanColle, has severely underperformed in pretty much all but one aspect: the music. We’ve finally been able to review all of the aspects of KanColle‘s music and have been won over not only by the ending theme, but also completely floored by just how good the anime’s soundtrack is.

Granted, not everything was sunshine and rainbows. When we looked at KanColle‘s opening theme, Miiro, and saw that it was sung by the formidable AKINO of bless4, we braced ourselves for powerful power-pop that would have us enthralled by AKINO’s enthralling singing on top of a catchy melody. Unfortunately, that did not come to pass and it remains the weakest component of KanColle‘s music.

But when you looked at KanColle‘s ending theme, Fubuki, the song created a bit of confusion since Shiena Nishizawa’s energetic performance made it more suitable for an opening theme. Which is to say it was energetic, catchy, and emphatic! Definitely a solid debut for Nishizawa and we hope to see more of her performances since her delivery, while nothing jaw-dropping, is pretty competent.

But the anime’s crown jewel by far is none other than KanColle‘s soundtrack itself. Composed by Natsumi Kameoka, KanColle‘s soundtrack is thrilling, mixing in some of the most glorious orchestral pieces I’ve heard lately. It does everything right, from the wonderful character-centric themes, to pleasant depictions of the setting and of day to day life, to even battle music that packs quite a punch. It’s not necessarily the kind of fare you’d expect out of a show meant to please fans of a popular web game, but in hiring Natsumi Kameoka and having her compose the score, they really hit it out of the park. KanColle‘s soundtrack is a real treasure, one that commands your attention if you enjoy orchestral anime music at all.

Weekly Anime Music Releases – May 8

All the anime music releases seem to have been slowed down for this week. This Wednesday is also Constitution Day in Japan, so that’s probably why the releases have been moved over to Friday. In any case, it’s a smaller amount of releases and that certainly helps to make my workload a whole heck of a lot easier. So here’s the anime music you’re getting from this week:

Anime Openings and Ending Themes

Ore Monogatari OP

Ore Monogatari!!

Album Name: Miraikei Answer
Artist: Trustrick
Purchase at: CDJapan
The duo of Sayaka Kanda and Billy are back again. After releasing “Flying Fafnir” for Juuou Mujin no Fafnir‘s OP, they’ve gone ahead and released this latest single with the opening theme to Ore Monogatari!!. The song isn’t much to speak of since it’s pretty much standard J-pop, but the show is cute and worth checking out if you’re a fan of cheesy romances.

Nyaruko-san OVA

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san F

Album Name: Haiyore Once Nyagain
Artist: Kitto Engage
Purchase at: CDJapan
Call them whatever you want, but I’ll always find the opening songs by the Haiyore! Nyaruko-san seiyuu to be absolutely hilarious. Their modus operandi always seems to be creating raucous singing that’s fun with the memetic repetition that you don’t mind that it’s not, by all accounts great music. But since we’re dealing with anime music, we should be thankful that we don’t need to take this medium toooooo seriously.

Anime Soundtracks and Albums

Nyaruko-san Mini Album

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san

Album Name: Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Best Selection Mini Album Jasenkyokutachi
Artist: Kana Asumi, Miyu Matsuki, Yuka Otsubo, Ryoka Yuzuki, Eri Kitamura, Wataru Hatano, Rie Kugimiya, Mariko Kouda, Aya Hisakawa
Purchase at: CDJapan
And if the above album doesn’t do enough to satiate your love for Haiyore! Nyaruko-san, then this album certainly will. After all, it contains most of the music from the previous anime seasons, starting off with the infamous “UUUUU! NYAN! Let’s NYAN!” theme that everyone loves so much. Shrill singing it may be, but once again, fun wins the day!

Death Parade Music Reviews

Death Parade
Death Parade is an anime about people who have died and are sent to the sinister Quindecim bar. There, they must play a game ranging from darts to billiards where, in the course of playing, they will be judged by the barkeep, a solemn man named Decim so that their eventual fates are revealed. Although the anime ended less than a month ago, if there’s anything that separates Death Parade from all the other shows, it’s that music is excellent.

Recently, we got a chance to review some of the music. We listened to Death Parade‘s opening theme, “Flyers” by a band called Bradio and we came out of it very impressed. The music has a rock quality to it that’s exciting and the dance rhythm they throw around is absolutely thrilling. When you tie that in with the dancing in the visuals that play during the opening, it makes for a fun atmosphere that’s certainly different from the kind of atmosphere you’d expect out of Death Parade.

Rather, when you check out the Death Parade soundtrack, that’s when the music becomes much more appropriate. Here, the music can be a lot more somber, especially with that delicious piano track at the very end titled “Moonlit Night”. The other tracks range from quieter, more introspective piano music to wild chaotic affairs that really hit the jazzy vibes really nicely. Composer Yuki Hayashi demonstrates a great amount of range in his music and you come out of the soundtrack experience feeling pretty gratified with what he comes up with.

In the end, Death Parade’s music is an overall positive experience, one that takes in a diverse range of themes and melodies to return a wonderful listen. While the opening theme might be the star of the show, it’s the soundtrack, with its weighted emotions, that leaves you with the memories that the show carries around all the way to the end.

Weekly Anime Music Releases – April 29

A torrent of anime music awaits us at the end of April and boy are there a lot of singles to really digest and ponder over. Not so much on the soundtrack side though where you get a small dose of Bahamut, but it’s still something to consider since Yoshihiro Ike isn’t much of a slouch. Here’s a look at what’s coming out this week:

Anime Openings and Ending Themes

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan OP

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan

Album Name: Fure Fure Mirai
Artist: Kitakou Bungeibu Joshikai
Purchase at: CDJapan
The first of the albums that we’re looking at comes from the well-worn Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya franchise featuring probably the best girl in the series, especially if you saw the movie. In terms of this single though, you’ll get to hear Minori Chihara and many of the side characters from the Haruhi franchise take it away. If you’ve liked their previous stuff, this disc becomes a no-brainer. Besides, it’s a lot of fun!

Kin-iro Mosaic 2 OP-ED

Hello!! KINMOZA

Album Name: Yumeiro Parade/My Best Friends
Artist: Rhodanthe*
Purchase at: CDJapan
So Rhodanthe* is really a group made up of voice actresses Asuka Nishi, Manami Tanaka, Risa Taneda, Yumi Uchiyama, and Nao Toyama and they’ve also performed the opening theme to the first season of the show. With cutesy vocals, a giant ska opening, and happy bouncy lyrics, this set captures the lives of young girls effectively and I can see people actually being drawn to this single. It’s certainly a lot better than many of the other seiyuu stuff out there.
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Weekly Anime Music Releases – April 22

And as if to put the past couple weeks to shame, the barrage of new anime music releases begins. Here’s a look at what’s coming out this week:

Anime Openings and Ending Themes

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Sound! Euphonium

Album Name: DREAM SOLISTER
Artist: TRUE
Purchase at: CDJapan
It’s interesting to hear the differences between the lackadaisical atmosphere of the show and compare it to the much more dynamic opening theme for Sound! Euphonium. I mean, the song isn’t really anything special since TRUE delivers a by-the-numbers J-pop song, but at least there’s some energy to be had whereas the show’s main character seems listless, lacking for an energy that would make this anime more captivating.

Blood Blockade Battlefront OP

Blood Blockade Battlefront

Album Name: Hello, world!/Colony
Artist: BUMP OF CHICKEN
Purchase at: CDJapan
Although this anime season’s opening themes aren’t much to speak of, you really can’t go wrong with Blood Blockade Battlefront‘s opening theme by Bump of Chicken. Strange band name aside, they’ve done a lot of good works where the rock isn’t so harsh and grating. If you’re a fan of the softer side of rock, I’d recommend giving this group and, by extension, this single a listen.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid OP

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid

Album Name: Angel Blossom
Artist: Nana Mizuki
Purchase at: CDJapan
This might just be the nostalgia fan in me talking, but I’ve always enjoyed the work that Nana Mizuki has put into the Nanoha series. They might not necessarily be her most stellar work, but I could at least call it pretty competent. And I’m hoping for more of the same here.
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Weekly Anime Music Releases – April 15

We’re still seeing only a trickle of new anime music releases for April 15. In fact, aside from the opening and ending singles, a huge chunk are soundtrack albums from earlier in the year, or even from shows from last year. So aside from Gundam Reconguista in G, there’s just not a while lot to excite me in the least. Either way, here’s a look at what’s coming out this week:

Anime Openings and Ending Themes

Choucho High School DxD

High School DxD BorN
Senran Kagura ESTIVAL VERSUS -Mizugi Darake no Zenyasai-

Album Name: BLESS YoUr NAME
Artist: ChouCho
Purchase at: CDJapan
I’ve always enjoyed ChouCho’s voice. She has a very pleasant quality that allows you to just relax and soak in her vocals, so that you really don’t feel much pressure and can be free as a result. I especially liked her performance on Gargantia‘s ED theme, “Sora to kimi to message” for being a quiet jaunt that’s beautiful to listen to, making it one of the standout OP/ED themes from 2013.

Uta no Prince-sama Maji LOVE Revolutions OP

Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji LOVE Revolutions

Album Name: Shine
Artist: Mamoru Miyano
Purchase at: CDJapan
Does Mamoru Miyano have a sexy, bishie voice? That’s the only explanation I get for why he gets so much work as a singing seiyuu on so many shoujo anime shows. Well, for what it’s worth, he is capable of delivering a decent effort, but whether that effort will actually be memorable is a whole new other issue. Count me in among the more pessimistic crowd.

Anime Soundtracks and Albums

Gundam Reconguista in G OST

Gundam Reconguista in G

Album Name: Gundam Reconguista in G ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
Artist: Yuugo Kanno
Purchase at: CDJapan
Yuugo Kanno’s music has always been solid and his work prior to Gundam Reconguista in G was the very solid soundtrack to Psycho-PASS. While I’ve watched bits and pieces of Gundam Reconguista in G, nothing in the music has really impressed so far, a problem, especially if we haven’t encountered that one really good Kanno track in the album.

noiaminA fan Best

noitaminA Anime

Album Name: noitaminA FAN BEST
Artist: Various
Purchase at: CDJapan
This album as a concept is a very good one, especially when you look at the track list and feel happy that democracy doesn’t yield tastes that are too bad. In looking through what’s on offer on this album, you see things like Nodame Cantabile‘s “Allegro Cantabile” as well as some exciting stuff from the Guilty Crown anime series. So given the strength of the music alone, this album looks like a clear winner even if you might consider it cheating for joining together so many hopeful pieces.

Choro Club Returns to Compose Aria the Avvenire Music

Aria the Avvenire
ARIA the Avvenire might be a continuation of the ARIA franchise or it might be a series of flashbacks involving the ARIA characters. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to reliving the anime series that stirred my heart as I watched the characters start off as gondolier novices to become full-fledged professionals.

But if there’s anything I’m looking forward to even more in ARIA the Avvenire, it would be the return of the Choro Club and Takeshi Senoo to work on the soundtrack. Below, you can find the short trailer of Avvenire confirming that much, though they use the track “AQUA” from ARIA the Animation instead of any new composition. Still, it’s a nice way to bring out the nostalgia surrounding the anime.

The ARIA soundtracks are some of the best anime music I’ve ever heard. And if you’ve read my review for the ARIA boxed CD set, you’ll find that I regard it as more or less a masterpiece. So I’m hoping for more laid-back music in this go-around in a way where I can say it’s the same, but different. One thing that the Choro Club and Takeshi Senoo have done well is in melding the new tracks from subsequent seasons while maintaining the integrity of the common musical thread that runs throughout the entirety of the series.

So, once again, here’s hoping for a sterling effort all around from the Choro Club and Takeshi Senoo. If they can at least preserve the wonder and the charming atmosphere of the ARIA series, that’s about all I can ask for. But if they can amaze me with some new tracks and themes, then I’m prepared to be blown away by their excellence.

Platina Jazz’s Rasmus Faber Composes Asterisk War Anime Soundtrack

Asterisk War
At Anime Boston and Sakura-Con this past weekend, Aniplex announced that they would do an anime adaptation of Asterisk War, a work based on a Japanese light novel series written by Yuu Miyazaki. The anime follows a boy named Amagiri Ayato who participates in a battle for supremacy and is set to air Fall 2015.

But the most important revelation (to us, anyway) is that Asterisk War‘s soundtrack will be composed by Rasmus Faber. Rasmus Faber’s anime work has been confined mostly to excellent jazz arrangements of anime themes through his Platina Jazz albums. He’s arranged themes as varied as Dragonball Z‘s song “Cha-La Head-Cha-La” and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind‘s theme, but for Asterisk War, Rasmus Faber goes back to his roots as a house artist. Check out the trailer for the anime below, which features some of his music:

From the video, you can definitely hear the electronica playing a prominent role in the combat sequences, giving the scenes a feeling of intensity while also fitting the anime’s futuristic setting. But those heavy beats are also accompanied by some synth strings which give those scenes a sort of grandeur and excitement you wouldn’t normally get from pure electronica alone.

While that snippet provides a small taste of what’s to come, Rasmus Faber’s excellent credentials as a musician gives me hope that, in spite of the anime’s trashy setting, Asterisk War will sound good musically. At least, that should be the case if the anime’s director, veteran Manabu Ono does a good job in utilizing his music. And from our side, we wish Mr. Faber well in his original anime music debut!

Weekly Anime Music Releases – April 8

Seeing that we’re barely a week into the Spring 2015 anime season, this week’s anime music releases is fairly light indeed. In terms of openings and ending singles, all we’re getting are CDs from franchises that are already well-established and don’t actually need good quality to move discs. And the same can be said for the albums too. I think Nisekoi might be the only major franchise handing anything out this week in terms of albums. Either way, here’s a look at what’s coming out this week:

Anime Openings and Ending Themes

Uta no Prince-sama Maji LOVE Revolutions ED

Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji LOVE Revolutions

Album Name: Maji LOVE☆Revolutions
Artist: ST☆RISH, Mamoru Miyano, Kenichi Suzumura, Takuma Terashima, Junichi Suwabe, Hiro Shimono, Kisho Taniyama, Kosuke Toriumi
Purchase at: CDJapan
The theme songs for Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ isn’t anything more than comical, even if they have a decent group of male idol seiyuu to back them up. But like the next track, this isn’t a franchise that I’ll go out of my way to uncover, so I might as well dignify this single by saying as little as possible.

Kuroko no Basket 3 OP

Kuroko no Basket 3

Album Name: ZERO
Artist: Kensho Ono
Purchase at: CDJapan
There’s really not a whole lot here to praise or hold in disdain since I simply don’t care for the inevitable rock that comes out of the Kuroko no Basket franchise. As they say, it’s all about the apathy and I’m most certainly apathetic to this release since I know little about artist Kensho Ono and I’m not too inclined to learn more.

Anime Soundtracks and Albums

Seven Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins

Album Name: The Seven Deadly Sins Original soundtrack 2
Artist: Hiroyuki Sawano, Takafumi Wada
Purchase at: CDJapan
Hiroyuki Sawano is brash and bold and Takafumi Wada is a relative newcomer whose previous roles has been as a music programmer. Given Sawano’s idiom, the soundtrack to The Seven Deadly Sins is probably going to be like the loud Hollywood sound that’s become virtually commonplace at this point. While I don’t hold Sawano in as high a regard anymore, I do sometimes sit and hope that whatever he’s working on next will have the nuance needed to prevent it from being overwhelming dreck.

Nisekoi Best Songs

Nisekoi

Album Name: NISEKOI BEST SONGS
Artist: Nao Toyama, Kana Hanazawa, Mikako Komatsu, Kana Asumi, Yumi Uchiyama, ClariS
Purchase at: CDJapan
There’s not much to say here that hasn’t already been said. This album represents a collection of music from the anime series Nisekoi, which is only something you’ll watch if you’re fond of a little cockblocking and getting into spirited debates over which girl is better. Anyway, this album is a good fit for the Nisekoi fan, mostly because it has the theme songs as well as a few character songs to gush over. That said, it’s not my kind of thing and I’d rather find some good music relief elsewhere.

Anime Music Events at Anime Boston

Anime Boston
Sakura-Con isn’t the only anime convention to be happening this weekend. Up in Boston, at the Hynes Convention Center and the Sheraton Boston Hotel, Anime Boston will be opening its doors to anime fans in the Northeast!

This year, Anime Boston has quite the lineup, but for fans of anime music, the main highlight this year is the power-pop artist, LiSA, who has made quite a name for herself.

LiSA

LiSA first started in the anime scene as a singer on Jun Maeda’s anime Angel Beats. In that anime, she was assigned the singing role for a character, Yui, who became the lead singer of the fictional band Girls Dead Monster. In that capacity, she sang the insert song, “Thousand Enemies”, which showcased her vocal strengths.

From there, she would go on to perform many songs for popular anime, including “Oath Sign” for Fate/Zero and the ever-popular “Crossing Field” for Sword Art Online.

LiSA’s appearance at Anime Boston will include a concert which will take place in the Hynes auditorium on Friday evening. The concert seating is set to begin at 7:30pm with the actual concert starting at 8:00pm and ending at 9:30pm.

For those who haven’t caught her performance live, LiSA is a formidable singer, with vocals that work very well with her power pop style of singing and an ability to engage the audience by getting them involved in her music. It helps that she has plenty of energy to work with.

This won’t be her first time doing a concert in the US since she previously sang at Anime Expo. Those qualities that make her such a great performer were on full display there. If you want to get a (somewhat blurry) view of LiSA in action, check out some of this footage from her concert at Anime Expo:

Finally, those who are interested can meet LiSA on Saturday at the Constitution Ballroom around 12:30. She’ll be signing autographs later on at the Autograph 1 area at 2pm.

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