And here I thought I’d only have one in mind this time, but upon writing this I kept recalling more composers, the anime they worked on, and by extension their awesome soundtracks. I’m even less of a music critic than I am an anime critic, so don’t expect any fair evaluations here.
Kara no Kyoukai
I’d crown this as the best choir music in all of anime. And when it gets to the action sequences the same music turns full badass in the more intense parts of the films. The tracks flow so well and compliment all the different moods the films have to offer, such as how it times with Shiki pulling off her jacket as she’s about to fight, that it feels transcendental to listen to on top of the amazing visuals being pleasantly bestowed to the viewer. Decisions to have either eerie music or complete silence to make the atmosphere in more ominous scenes so palpable was executed brilliantly.
Yes, I’d argue that moments without music are important to mention, when the music that is there is so perfectly blended into each scene. It’s about deciding what’s right for a particular moment and how best to evoke the ideas and feelings within that moment, either through music or decidedly not. Yuki Kajiura elevated these films above their big ideas, above their striking visuals, and made them into something even more otherworldly.
Aside from the ROCKING opening theme, the tracks of this show are fantastically fitting of the setting, being very evocative of its sci-fi influenced wild west environments. Very memorable and recognizable, and they hit the sweet spot of not standing out too much, but not too subtle either, and compliment the scenes really well. They keep it cool and simple, and rightly so. Tsuneo Imahori did a phenomenal job composing the scores for these. I cannot stress enough how thrilling it is to listen to this soundtrack.
Ghost in the Shell
Greatness sung and performed as a haunting theme that is rather quite stirring. It gives me chills. I think it’s very intelligent, not just the film and its ideas, but the way the score is composed and included so marvelously that each scene feels like it has the appropriate choice of music accompanying it. An absolutely astonishing score. Kenji Kawai really elevated the movie into something more with this music.
Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt
If there’s one thing I can confidently say about this show it’s that the music is superb. For a show as stylishly goofy and crude as this, it’s surprisingly awesome, and here’s much of it to love. I never would have imagined a parody like this to produce such a good musical score. Not to undercut how spectacular the rest of the soundtrack is, but Teddyloid knocked the ball out of the park with D City Rock – We are Angels [Anarchy].
Mix traditional Japanese folk music with present-day hip hop and you get Samurai Champloo’s awesome unique blend that contributes so greatly to the feel of the show you could say it’s just as important as the art and animation. Nujabes sets this apart from other anime by making the soundtrack contrast so heavily with the setting of the series, and going as far as to add rap and beatboxing to the mix should feel like a bold decision, but actually comes off as rather amusing and oddly befitting of such an unconventionally stylized anime.
It’s this juxtaposition between its fictional presentation of the past Edo era of Japan and more modern sounding music that really lends itself to having such unorthodox tracks, and adds a real humorous effect to the show. How it blends hip-hop with swordplay so well is worthy of praise alone. Fight choreography and action is one of the big attractions of Samurai Champloo, and one of the reasons they come out so magnificent is because they match the speed and flow of the music. It definitely adds to the sense of the combat being fast flowing, and gives a more stylistic feel to the swordplay, especially when Mugen is the one fighting. The background music tends to be more chill outside of action scenes though. You can consider this a special honourable mention, as I do not consider it among my top favourites, but I felt it was too unique and integral to the show it’s a part of to leave out.
It’s slick and the epitome of cool, and its OST is nothing short of that. I’m a sucker for its Jazz/Blues opening theme and any other incorporation of that style of music in the series, but far be it from me to limit myself to one genre it excels at, when it magnificently manages to hone so many others to its benefit, enhancing all the other aspects of the show to an even greater extent.
As mentioned in ghostlightning’s very first post, Cowboy Bebop is meta and the contribution of its music to the series very much adds to the narrative and is quite notable. It uses many other things outside of itself to give some things in it particular significance. There are many references to other cultural products found in the show, and the soundtrack is no exception. The songs themselves draw from what is referenced, as so many of the episodes are named after a song, and I believe this aspect is a big influence on the musical style of the show. Not only are song titles quoted, but musical phrases (from another song) as well. I recommend reading ghostlightning’s post linked above if you have further inquiry on the subject.
The way the music is implemented does a great job of capturing not just the atmosphere, but the characters and the individual episodes themselves; what they’re about. It’s a great and subtle way to give the viewer another sense of what’s going on and how to feel about it. I don’t mean the music itself is subtle, but rather what it’s trying to evoke in terms of feelings and ideas. You can feel the themes of the series in its musical themes. I don’t know how else to explain it.
The music takes on a strong presence in every episode and is easily one of the best soundtracks ever. The music does an equally fantastic job of matching the tone of any given moment, and I want to say it’s during the dramatic moments that the music really shows its strength, but honestly it’s all so masterfully crafted that I can’t make that claim, even if these moments do in fact lend a lot of weight to the proceedings. I find it difficult to pick a singular track of awesome here, because they’re all just so perfect.
The production values are very high. So much so that I believe the soundtrack stands on its own merits, separate from the show. Yoko Kanno is such a badass. My appreciation for her significantly increased for her roles in influencing this great work. I feel she takes more care than a lot of other composers to understand how the anime works and what exactly is going on during each particular scene before composing the music. This is pure speculation though, and I have no idea how true it is, but at least it shows how highly I think of her and the soundtracks she has created.
Cowboy Bebop’s OST is the kind of music that makes me feel really good about watching anime. So good in fact, that it’s one of the most spectacular things that swept me off my feet. In this way it is unbelievably awesome. Thank you Yoko Kanno, from the bottom of my heart.