Weekly Anime Music Releases – February 18

With the Winter anime season really knee-deep in all that it has to offer, the number of anime music releases is resembling a missile barrage. And I’m not saying that just because Kantai Collection‘s OP theme is going to be released this week either. Be sure to look out for that as well as Akame ga Kill‘s soundtrack, featuring the work of composer Taku Iwasaki. There are other things too, but you’ll have to go through the list to find out exactly what can catch your eye:

Anime OP/ED Singles

KanColle OP Theme

Kantai Collection -KanColle-

Album Name: Miiro
Artist: AKINO from bless4
Purchase at: CDJapan
KanColle‘s release is probably one of the high-profile releases to be coming out this month given how it’s pretty much taken over the doujin scene out in Japan. So it’s to be expected that the KanColle fandom will be up in full force over this single, especially when it features the famous AKINO who sang the opening theme to Aquarion EVOL. My stock on it isn’t so high though since she seems to perform better with Yoko Kanno, but this just might wind up turning a few heads.

KanColle ED Theme
Album Name: Fubuki
Artist: Shiena Nishizawa
Purchase at: CDJapan
This week will see not just the OP theme, but also the ED theme to the Kantai Collection -KanColle- anime. Note that this will pretty much be Shiena Nishizawa’s entry into anison and she’s backed up by a composition that thunders forth with interesting sections where she’ll have some tough passages to navigate. I can say I like this a lot better than the OP theme though, so it’s at least decently worth checking out, especially since the lyrics are by micco, who has done a lot of good work for the laid-back band Marble.

Aldnoah Zero ED Theme Eir Aoi

ALDNOAH.ZERO

Album Name: GENESIS
Artist: Eir Aoi
Purchase at: CDJapan
The adventures of Inaho and Slaine are ended with “GENESIS,” the latest single by singer Eir Aoi, who has had a pretty illustrious career performing music to shows ranging from Fate/Zero to Kill la Kill. Compared to a lot of other anison artists, I’m not really too hyped about her and can’t really say I rate her too highly. With that said, she generally delivers a decent effort, where decent is mostly a sort of loudness that really lacks much nuance in her interaction with the lyrics. For those of us who care about music, we’ll just write it off as a damned shame. [Read more…]

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!

Weekly Anime Music Releases – February 11

Valentine’s Day approaches, signalling the discontentment of many singles and a deluge of anime singles. Granted, most of them aren’t too great and once again, the veterans like JAM Project and angela lead the way. So nothing for the cult of the new to dig in, which is just as well. That just means an opportunity to conserve the cash flow. So with that, here’s the list:

Anime OP/ED Singles

Durarara ED Theme

Durarara!! X2

Album Name: NEVER SAY NEVER
Artist: THREE LIGHTS DOWN KINGS
Purchase at: CDJapan
Durarara!!‘s ending theme rushes at you like a wild storm, using a distorted voice backed by some rocking tunes. This is a bit of a departure from the more mellow R&B stuff that you’ve heard from the first season’s ending themes, but if nothing else, at least this flies out in your face and leaves you some of idea of the sort of lingering thoughts the anime wants to internalize. I’m not sure that this is as good as the other themes we’ve heard out of Durarara, but if you don’t mind that reckless sort of energy and warbled vocals, I suppose you can’t go too wrong here.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso ED2

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

Album Name: Orange
Artist: Seven Oops
Purchase at: CDJapan
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, also known as Your Lie in April, has generally done well in the music department, though I’ve been hearing a bit of a blowback in that the second opening and ending themes are nowhere in the same ballpark as the first. I suppose a band that goes by Seven Oops doesn’t really inspire much confidence, but the song isn’t half bad, if just a bit on the generic side. The piano is mellow and the vocalist has a sense of clarity in her delivery. Granted, it’s not as good as the first ending theme, since the crime of being generic may just be a bit too much for people to bear, and that’s just as well since you’re not missing much by skipping over this album.

Fafner OPED Songs

Soukyuu no Fafner EXODUS

Album Name: Exist
Artist: Angela
Purchase at: CDJapan
Fair or not, whenever I look at the characters in Soukyuu no Fafner EXODUS, all I can think of is Gundam SEED, and that’s never a flattering comparison. This sort of disdain is a bit of a shame since angela isn’t that bad a singer and in EXODUS, she delivers a solid effort that includes good intonation, a few sharp cries that aren’t too grating. The ending theme is pretty poignant, with a backing violin that helps to bring out the emotions. So of the albums getting released, this one’s on a higher tier than the others because angela’s vocals are actually a step above most everyone else’s. [Read more…]

Anime Band Flow Makes In Concert at AnimeNEXT

flow Anime Band
Aside from JAM Project, FLOW is probably the only other male J-pop band that’s done so many songs for so many different anime. And for fans looking to catch them in a live concert, you’ll be able to find them hanging around Somerset, New Jersey between June 12 through the 14 at the AnimeNEXT convention held at the Garden State Exhibit Center.

FLOW, the group made up of members including vocalist Keigo Hayashi, guitarist and vocalist Koushi Asakawa, guitarist Takeshi Asakawa, drummer Hiroshi Iwasaki, and bassist Yasutarou Gotou have all been around since 2000 and they’ve done some pretty notable anime works over the years, starting with “Go!!”, the 4th opening theme for Naruto, but really struck it big with “Days” from Eureka Seven and the famous “Colors”, the opening theme for Code Geass which has their signature “Jibun wo” lyric.

Their current activities right now consist of the single “Ai Ai Ai ni Utarete Bye Bye Bye”, which was used in Samurai Flamenco, and “7 -seven-“, which saw them collaborate with Granrodeo to perform the ending theme to the The Seven Deadly Sins anime. Other than that, they’ve been touring around anime conventions around the world to promote their music and meet their fans which, judging from the songs of theirs that came up during the Animusic Tourney, shows that they have quite the large fanbase.

More information about the concert and other going-ons at AnimeNEXT can be found on the website. Those who have looked back upon anime like Eureka Seven, Code Geass, and Naruto should derive much enjoyment from their performance.

Remembering Origa, an Anime Singer

origa-stars
For many of those who’ve heard Origa sing, it was like love at first sight. There was a beautiful clarity to the way she sang, her voice always carrying this soaring, otherworldly quality that was absolutely entrancing. Alas, her voice has been silenced and she died at the young age of 44 on January 17, 2015 from lung cancer.

Given just how much of an impact she’s had within the world of anime music, we thought it was fitting that we pay Origa a tribute for all the beautiful music that she given us. The post certainly touches upon some of her most well-known material, most notably from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and its various sequels. But she’s done more than just that and you’ll find her wonderful voice present on slightly more obscure anime series like Fantastic Children and movies like Princess Arete. She’s also performed songs found in video games like Aion ~The Tower Of Eternity~ and FINAL FANTASY XIII-2, but her reputation will lie most prominently based on the works she did for anime. [Read more…]

Weekly Anime Music Releases – February 4

February comes, and with that, we’re about 6 weeks away from spring. But that doesn’t mean much in the quality of the releases since most of the OP/ED themes are pretty poor. The albums are something to think about though, what with Hiroyuki Sawano plying his trade and a very awesome collection of Higurashi no Naku koro ni vocal music. Of the anime music releases, that is, far and away, the biggest highlight and is definitely worth getting. So with that, here’s the list:

Anime OP/ED Singles

AldnoahZero OP Theme

ALDNOAH.ZERO

Album Name: &Z
Artist: Hiroyuki Sawano, mizuki, Yu “Masshoi” Yamauchi, Toshino Tanabe, Hiroshi Iimuro, Yasuo Sano, Tetsuro Toyama
Purchase at: CDJapan
Starting with his work on ALDNOAH.ZERO, Hiroyuki Sawano has been digging his toes deeper into the opening and ending theme pool. From the first run of ALDNOAH.ZERO, we got “A/Z” which featured mizuki performing the ending theme to the anime. And now, we have “&Z”, which is now the opening theme and also features mizuki on vocals. Given his compositional talents, this song is an easy step up compared to most other opening and ending themes and should be checked out, regardless of whether you’re a Sawano fan or not. Obviously, keep this on a higher priority if you enjoy his works.

Durarara x2 OP

Durarara!! X2

Album Name: HEADHUNT
Artist: Okamoto’s
Purchase at: CDJapan
The Durarara!! franchise has always had some interesting music to throw at anime fans and this incarnation of the franchise, Durarara!! X2 is no exception, pulling in the talents of the rock band, the Okamoto’s to perform the anime’s opening theme, “Headhunt”. The group had prior anime work, namely, performing the 18th ending theme for Naruto: Shippuden after forming as a band in 2010. The group’s members all adopted the name Okamoto in honor of the artist Taro Okamoto. In this latest single, “Headhunt”, don’t expect any type of rock that would deviate from convention, but it’s pleasant music all around.

Testament of Sister Devil

Shinmai Maou no Testament

Album Name: Blade of Hope
Artist: sweet ARMS
Purchase at: CDJapan
Shinmai Maou no Testament, known in English as The Testament of Sister New Devil, is as junky a title as you might expect and probably won’t inspire too many people to give this particular album a look. And that’s just as well since sweet ARMS is a seiyuu group made up of Iori Nomizu, Kaori Sadohara, Misato, and Misuzu Togashi. We’ve never been too hot about seiyuu groups who sing for shows unless their vocal talents are worth looking at. And from where we stand, there isn’t anything for us to care too much about here. [Read more…]

Weekly Anime Releases – January 28

Finally, we get to the end of January. The last week. With the Winter 2015 anime season gone fully under way, many of the opening and ending themes are starting to turn into a deluge. In this iteration, we’ve got the likes of music from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as well as long-running fare like Fairy Tail and Kuroko no Basket. But don’t underestimate the soundtrack front either, since we’re getting heavy hitters like Mushishi. Terraformars is a bit more in the air, but Shusei Murai’s done good work, so it’s at least worth checking out, even if you didn’t love the anime. With that, here’s the list:

Anime OP/ED Singles

Saekano OP Theme

Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend-

Album Name: Kimi-iro Signal
Artist: Luna Haruna
Purchase at: CDJapan
To be honest, it’s been interesting to see Luna Haruna’s career trajectory and how she went from an amateur fashion model to becoming a full-fledged anison artist with her first effort on Fate/Zero‘s ending theme. Her latest work is for Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend-‘s opening theme, but I can’t really speak much to it, mostly because the premise puts me off and Luna Haruna isn’t a huge must-see in my book. She does manage to make a splash and is continually able to find work, so that’s got to count for something.

Saekano ED Theme
Album Name: Colorful.
Artist: Miku Sawai
Purchase at: CDJapan
Hot on the heels of Luna Haruna’s OP theme for Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend- comes Miku Sawai’s ending theme for the same anime. Miku Sawai has been a relative newcomer, with most of her works coming in the form of ending themes and her debut work being “Nakimushi” for the Kimi to Boku anime. Given her status and small portfolio size, I’m not sure she’s really popped on people’s radars just yet and with her role on a relatively unhyped show this season, looks like she’ll have to wait to really get that big break she’s been looking for. [Read more…]

SCANDAL Band Concert at Anime Central

scandal_band
The Anime Central anime convention has announced that the all-girl J-pop band SCANDAL will be performing in concert. Right now, the schedule is such that SCANDAL will be performing at the Rosemont Theatre in Rosemont, Illinois on Friday May 15, right in time for the celebration.

As far as longevity goes, SCANDAL certainly has a good amount of that. A group made up of bandmates Haruna Ono on vocals, Mami Sasazaki as the lead guitarist, Tomomi Ogawa as the bassist, and Rina Suzuki on drums/keyboard, SCANDAL has been around since 2006, forming when they met at the Caless school which teaches dance and vocals. Their anime works have gotten a good amount of recognition, including the theme songs “Shōjo S” and “Harukaze” for Bleach and “Shunkan Sentimental” for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. You can also find their works on the Star Driver anime with the ending theme song “Pride”. That said, I can’t really claim to have paid much attention to their works, but from my understanding, they’ve been able to build up their fanbase.

Either way, their concert at Anime Central marks their only stop in the USA on the SCANDAL World Tour (which comes with the title of “Hello World!”). Before that, they have had a performance at the California convention AM2 and been a part of the Japan Nite US Tour which came to 7 US cities. If you’re looking to catch them in concert, just go and head on over to register for an Anime Central ticket. And that’s it! You’ll also have the opportunity to get premium seats with a better vantage point as well, but none of that information has been posted yet. If you’re looking to see them perform on other concert venues, you’ll find that they will arrive in Mexico, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Weekly Anime Releases – January 21

The third week of January has brought on more anime music, mostly opening and ending themes associated with new shows. Cross Ange continues to bring on new material and you’ve got a few more hits from anison artists like ZAQ. On the soundtrack front, we’ve got two CDs hitting the shelves soon: the classical music anime Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (which we’ve blogged to some degree) and the less-spectacular Girl Friend BETA soundtrack. Anyway, you’ll be able to find the releases below.

Anime OP/ED Singles

Cross Ange-Shinjitsu no Mokushiroku

Cross Ange

Album Name: Shinjitsu no Mokushiroku
Artist: Yoko Takahashi
Purchase at: CDJapan
Yoko Takahashi is an interesting case since she’s not a name that many people will know of, but she has a vast body of work throughout the years, including a very very heavy hitter in “Cruel Angel’s Thesis” for the Evangelion anime. So once again, she reprises her singing role on “Shinjitsu no Mokushiroku”, which is set to be the opening song to the second season of Cross Ange. With composer Toshiyuki Omori to back her up, it’s hard to think that the results will be anything but solid.

Junketsu no Maria-ZAQ

Junketsu no Maria

Album Name: Philosophy of Dear World
Artist: ZAQ
Purchase at: CDJapan
Junketsu no Maria is an interesting title in that you don’t see too many series that revolve around the Hundred Years war. Either way, this show focuses on a witch who disrupts some of the events that take place during the period and draws the attention of the Heavens. As for the single, you’re seeing yet another performance from ZAQ, who entered my radar when she did the opening theme to Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!. And incidentally, “Sparkling Daydream” was also her first single where she was the performing artist. Since then, she’s gone on to do songs for HIGH SCHOOL DxD so her latest effort might be worthwhile.

Anime Soundtracks and Albums

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso soundtrack

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

Album Name: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso ORIGINAL SONG & SOUNDTRACK
Artist: Masaru Yokoyama
Purchase at: CDJapan
Oh Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. If there’s anything to be said about this show, it’s that the classical music portion of the anime is absolutely fantastic, featuring the likes of Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and Saint-Saens. There were many moments throughout where I was enthralled with the onscreen performances and the musical selection, and if you want to learn more, head over to the Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso posts on the blog. Now, if we look at the music outside of the classical side, you’ll find the steady hand of Masaru Yokoyama at the wheel. His work for the boobalicious Queen’s Blade is solid and enjoyable, a surprise if you look into that show just a bit more.

Garnidelia Album 1

KILL la KILL & The irregular at magic high school & Gundam Reconguista in G

Album Name: Linkage Ring
Artist: GARNiDELiA
Purchase at: CDJapan
“Linkage Ring” marks the first full-length album by the artist GARNiDELiA, who, as you can see above, has performed music to such series as KILL la KILL and Gundam Reconguista in G. After looking a bit more into the work she’s done, I’d have to say that her voice doesn’t deviate too much from standard fare J-pop that really makes her stand out since her voice sounds pretty similar to other artists that do the bellowing pop sound (think Nana Mizuki). The music that they have her performing isn’t too bad though, so people looking to get all of her music in one place might get some mileage out of this album.

Girl Friend Beta OST

Girl Friend BETA

Album Name: Girl Friend BETA Original Soundtrack
Artist: Kenji Kawai
Purchase at: CDJapan
One of the more puzzling aspects of the anime soundtrack business is how Kenji Kawai is able to still get jobs. His compositions have been pretty mediocre, often hitting the atmospheric tone to work well within the situational context of the anime, but leave much to be desired when listened to on a standalone basis. The anime that Kawai is scoring for, Girl Friend BETA, is hardly a compelling offering given that its source material lies in a mobile dating sim featuring lots of girls with varied personalities. I think I’ll give this album a pass.

Weekly Anime Music Releases – January 14

We’re already two weeks into January and already, the offerings look a lot more substantial. With the Fall 2014 anime season coming to an end, we’re starting to see the Winter 2015 anime season kick into high gear. So that means more opening and ending themes from new anime. But more importantly, it means that we’re starting to see soundtrack releases come down the pipeline. The pipeline is still a bit limited, but hey, something is better than nothing. So here are the anime music releases you can expect for the week of January 14:

Anime OP/ED Singles

Eden-Nana Mizuki

Cross Ange & Dog Days”

Album Name: Eden
Artist: Nana Mizuki
Purchase at: CDJapan
If there’s a standout artist that people will have their eyes on, it’ll probably be none other than Nana Mizuki. Nana Mizuki’s been a long standby on the anime music front, having done excellent work on the White Album opening as well as her work on Nanoha. Lately, she’s also been teaming up with the J-Rock star, T.M. Revolution to perform both openings to Valvrave the Liberator, most notably with Preserved Roses and Kakumei Dualism, neither of which were especially acclaimed by our reviewers. Nevertheless, given that this is Nana Mizuki that we’re talking about, this single should sell pretty well, especially when it tacks on the Cross Ange ending theme and insert song, the Dog Days” opening theme, and even the Animelo mix TV-CM Song!

Flying Fafnir-Trustrick

Juuou Mujin no Fafnir

Album Name: FLYING FAFNIR
Artist: TRUSTRICK
Purchase at: CDJapan
You have more or less a new band who will be performing the opening theme song for Juuou Mujin no Fafnir, which is adapted from a light novel by Tsukasa where the plot revolves around a boy who is thrown into a school where there are girls who have dragon powers. In other words, typical light novel fare. Either way, there aren’t too many high expectations riding on this single, but the group might be of interest. TRUSTRICK is made up of singer Sayaka Kanda and guitarist Billy. They’ve released their debut album “Eternity” on June 25, 2014 and as a note, Sayaka Kanda is the daughter of pop singer Seiko Matsuda and actor Masaki Kanda and has also voice Anna in the Japanese dub of Frozen.

Kamisama no Kamisama - Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Kiss@

Album Name: Kamisama no Kamisama/Ototoi Oide
Artist: Hanae
Purchase at: CDJapan
No, I can’t claim to know much about the singer, who’s an unknown factor and whose other notable work has been for, surprise, surprise, the first season of Kamisama Kiss where she sang the theme song “Kamisama Hajimemashita.” And the little I know of the anime, Kamisama Kiss, is that it’s definitely a shoujo manga about a girl who is homeless, but finds a place to live at a shrine populated by Tomoe, a youkai, and Onikiri and Kotetsu, his attendants. The girl, Nanami, will become a god and grow closer to Tomoe.

Anime Soundtracks and Albums

Appleseed Alpha OST

Appleseed Alpha

Album Name: Appleseed Alpha Original Soundtrack
Artist: Various
Purchase at: CDJapan
What’s to say? The Appleseed franchise has been known for its cyberpunk mecha feel which carries over to its soundtrack quite nicely. Based on some of the previous soundtracks, you’ll hear a lot of electronica, all from a wide array of composers that it makes the listening experience varied. Either way, this will all feature music from the movie that aired last June and for those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s one of the most beautifully animated works yet, which is saying a lot when you’re talking about the Appleseed franchise.

Psycho Pass-Ling tosite sigure

Psycho Pass

Album Name: Best of Tornado
Artist: Ling tosite sigure
Purchase at: CDJapan
Ling tosite sigure’s theme songs for the Psycho Pass anime series have proven to be very popular, what with “abnormalize” really doing well with those who saw the first season and “Enigmatic Feeling” roaring in for the second season. Best of Tornado is essentially their compilation album and will include the two opening songs from Psycho Pass.

Sora no Method OST

Sora no Method

Album Name: “Sora no Method” Original Soundtrack Kiriyakochou Ongaku Sanpo
Artist: Tatsuya Kato
Purchase at: CDJapan
You know, Tatsuya Katou seems to get a lot of work these days. I’m never quite sure why. The stuff he does isn’t melodic by any stretch, and more often than not, his music serves as a background role than anything that would stand out on its own. So why anyone would listen to his music on a standalone basis is curious indeed. Anyway, he did compose the soundtrack to the Sora no Method anime which focuses on a miracle that happens in a town when a UFO appears above Kiriya Lake and a girl finds her wishes fulfilled.

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