There will always be a debate about what makes a great anime. Is it the story, the style of animation, or the characters? For me, it will always be the music. Nothing quite brings the emotions or sets the scene the way the choice of music does; whether it’s the background music during an emotion laden confession scene,the hype speech right before battle breaks out and you know members of the squad won’t make it back or that perfect closer that seems to sum up the entire feel of the show, music with out a doubt sets the stage. The music of anime is so important creators often recruit big name pop stars, bands, and solo artist who gladly flock to the opportunity to belt out their song and become apart of the next big thing! This feature is will focus on some of my favorite shows with the best music
1) Show:Cowboy Bebop. Music by: The Seatbelts
In my humble opinion Cowboy Bebop is the undisputed heavy weight champion of anime’s with just one opener and closer. Both “Tank” and “Real Folk Blues” are performed by the funk/jazz ensemble The Seatbelts. From the first note in the opener “Tank” it is a bass saturated explosion of horns that immediately begins to amp the listeners heart rate. It is the perfect rocket fueled opener that sets the pace for the dynamics of Cowboy Bebop. In closing ” Real Folks Blues” is the perfect bitter sweet closer to the show. After a few episodes you start to learn that crew of the Bebop have some pretty deep scars from their past. Performed by The Seatbelts featuring Mai Yamane this heavy jazz piece backed by the powerhouse vocal of Yamane is one the most well recognized sections with anime heads. You feel both the elation and anguish that Spike and the crew of the Bebop experience through flashbacks, fragmented memories and tumultuous present. For your listening pleasure here are “Tank” and” “Real Folks Blues”.
2) Show: InuYasha. Music: Various Artist
InuYasha is one of those shows with a revolving list of pop artist that have crooned closers for this series. In a total of 7 seasons a total of 14 artist provided their voices in shaping one of my favorite anime soundtracks (yes I actually own the InuYasha soundtrack, no judgement squad lol).If I were to classify this anime; it would fall under the headers slice of life, action adventure; I think the soundtrack is a great representative of the more modern portions of the show as well as the throwback adventures that take place in Feudal Japan. It’s fun, bubble gum pop which is perfect for Kagome, deep ballads that could easily be symblic of InuYasha and his journey of self acceptances, and dynamic camaraderie songs that not only focuses your attention to the developing relations of InuYasha, Kagome, Miroku, Sango, Shippo, and Kirara. With so many so to choose from here are two of the Squad’s favorites . Two of the biggest artists to lend their voices to InuYasha are Do As Infinity and. BoA. The first section of lyrics of D.A.I “Shinjitsu no Uta” (“Song of Truth”) translate to ” The crimson stained sun as illuminated everything now and past. Is what I have imagined within this twilight more than my hands can accomplish?” Such a perfect opening line to illustrate the potential thoughts Kagome has while embarking on her quest to help find the rest of the jewel shards. The lyrics of BoA’s Every Heart speaks to feelings of loneliness, isolation and discovering that you’re not alone and that there are people around you, that you can lean on. I cannot think of a song that more perfectly describes InuYasha. InuYasha has felt alone for so many years after his mother died, felt abandoned and betrayed by Kikyo and slowly beginning to regain his joy in life through Kagome and the others. Check out these two amazing end songs below.
3) Show: Samurai Champloo. Music: Various Artist
Samurai Champloo is a pioneering anime in anime’s that feature hip hop. With a story as interesting as the soundtrack it self, it focuses on three unlike companions on a quest for the Samurai who smells like sunflowers. Mugen a thief and all around bad ass, Jin a quiet master swordsman and Fuu the waitress and unlikely glue that keeps the group together as well as preventer from the inevitable battle they are itching for. Samurai Champloo features a well orchestrated soundtrack of Asian hip hop. The opening song Battlecry is text book the narrative for this story. Critically acclaimed producer and DJ Nujabes worked closely with the show’s creator Shinichiro Wantanabe to create a soundtrack that was not only tailor made for the show but perfectly compliment the actions scenes and tender moments that pepper the show. The closing song Shiki No Uta by MINMI flawlessly wraps up the show. Sentiments of the companionships coming to an end, and the resolution of the search for the Samurai who smells of sunflowers; this end song summarizes that all good things must come to an end.
4) Show: Hanasakeru Seishounen Music: J-Min
Okay so this anime may not be that well known but it is absolutely a quiet obsession of mine. The show focuses on a young heiress, Kajika, who’s father has decided she should meet the man that she is going to marry. The plot twist: he’s set up a game in which Kajika will meet 3 uniquely different men for her to meet. Accompanying Kajika is her long time friend Lee Leng Huang the young CEO of one of the biggest companys in China; has agreed to be some what of a bodyguard to her during the game in return he’s been promised by her father stronger business ties between the two companies, but does he have secret feelings for her as well? Eugene Volkan is a lady killer and a heartbreaker. Women flock to them and he enjoys them until he doesn’t and discards them. He’s often viewed and cold, uncaring and manipulative; but is there a secret being hidden in his heart? Does Eugene have the ability to love and be loyal if choosen? Carl Rosenthal is anything but a willing participant in the game. He holds a deep disdain for the Burnsworth family, Kajika included, and would love nothing more than to see them destroyed, destitute and business ties all over the world severed. Why is he considered a viable option for Kajika with her father being well aware of the deep feelings of disdfain held by him?! Rumaty Di Raginei is a royal heir to the Kingdom of Raginie. Rumaty is spoiled, conceited, self centered and just about every adjective one could think of to say some one is only about themselves; or is he? It becomes obvious that he’s very devoted to his kingdom and the success of it and that he’s willing to do anything to guarantee it, including making a controversial business deal that many in his kingdom disagree with. In the end, does Kajika make the right decision, does she find love and a true sense of happiness or is she forced in to a relationship that she doesn’t want only to benefit her father? The music for this anime was done by Korean artist J-Min. The opening Change speaks to the hopefulness of finding love and spending forever together. Its fun, poppy and optimistic and perfectly compliments the theme of this show. The closer One speaks to the relationship itself. You’ve finally found the one and all that you want is to be with them, grow with them and see them happy. Again a perfect anime to music match made in Heaven.
5) Show: Fairy Tail. Music: Various Artist
I cannot speak enough about how much I Love Fairy Tail! This show has everything, an awesome ensemble of characters, plenty of action and comedy and some pretty deep feels. More importantly it has had some pretty banging openings and closers, I mean the kind of openings and closers that you actually make ringtones of and find yourself randomly humming/singing through out your day. The Fairy Tail soundtrack Goes In! So about the show, in short, in an age where magic, wizards, and alternate universes exist, the battle for power and control of neighboring lands is very much real. Also its not uncommon to get a request from a neighboring land that’s being plagued by demon, foe, or some other type of monster, the Fairy Tail Guild is are the top guys in the land. The alpha group normally headlined by Natsu Dragneel, Lucy Heartfilia, Erza Scaarlet, Gray Fullbuster, Wendy Marvell, Happy, and Carla. They battle to restore order, and keep the peace in Magnolia. This show is all about camaraderie, heart, and the fact that you need a tight squad to make it through the hard days. The soundtrack ranges from fun upbeat poppy tracks, to J-hop and deep ballads; a perfect compliment to the highs and very emotional lows that is Fairy Tail. The opener that I’ve chosen to highlight is Towa No Kizuna by Daisy x Daisy ft Another Infinity. This song basically sums up what Fairy Tail is all about, realizing that there is an unbelievable strength and power that comes from having friends… correction, not just friends but Family. Not necessarily the family that you’re born in to but the kind of family that you gain from going through hard times, good times, arguments and bitter feelings and coming back together to realize that yeah sometimes they make your life tough but without them, your life would be so much more difficult. Realizing that you get more than just a friend, but insight, understanding, compassion and even passion to just make it through one more day, one more battle. Towa Na Kizuna is the perfect squad song. For the closer its one of my faves simply because its catchy and up beat and it fuels the shipping of the show by the fandom i.e. NaLu, JErza, GrUvia.
So this concludes The Beats Vol 1. Check back soon for volume two! Also leave your favorites in the comments We’ll be sure to check them up and maybe you’ll see your name on the mixtape with a shout out for the dope beat!