In Which I Discuss Various Musics, and Arrange Them by Their Virtue

2011 has been a pretty stand up year for anime, all told (despite what the declinists would have you believe). Especially as far as soundtracks go there was quite the selection, and while I couldn’t possibly listen to everything, I did listen to some of it. A lot. These are those soundtracks.

Number Five: Break Blade

I’m probably being a bit unfair putting this one so low, because I do very much love the fuck out of this OST. However, the tracks all were a bit too short for my liking; right when I’d start liking a track it was already over. Music needs time to develop, man! Also, only releasing the soundtrack in a bundle with the Blu-ray needs to stop.

This one really gets my classical music enthusiast side going like you wouldn’t believe. “Sinfonia on the Battlefield” will get your blood pumping every time, and “At Dusk” is some of the best choral chanting around. Probably my favorite track is “The End of the Battlefield,” because I’m a sucker for slow music in a minor key (it’s also like the only track over four minutes long). If you like orchestral stuff, there’s gonna be at least one track you’ll like, just don’t count on it being very long.

Number Four: Mawaru Penguindrum

Once again I’m being a bit unfair, since this one isn’t even fully out yet, but what do I care. It’s great stuff. The music here is varied and interesting, and also pretty fully developed for being about as long as Break Blade’s tracks usually are. Although once again it’s bundled with the Blu-ray. Stop doing that! It’s harder (read: more expensive) to import.

This is where I would tell you which tracks I liked, but, um, I can neither read nor write Japanese, and just giving track numbers sounds a bit vague for my tastes. But really, it’s not like there’s very much out at the moment anyway, so it won’t take too long to give it a listen and decide for yourself.

Number Three: Yumekui Merry

I still do not know how a show as terrible as Yumekui Merry got such a terrific OST. Unlike the last two, this one got an actual standalone release, complete with track lengths over two minutes. Hooray. This one’s less symphony/keyboard oriented than the last two as well, with some synths and distorted guitars.

The creatively titled “Main Theme,” at just over six minutes, is one of the most rewarding to listen to, and is also one of the more symphonic compositions. “Critical Moment” starts with some bouncing synths before the electric guitar comes in to make it pure awesome. And then there’s “Hercules no Kyofu,” which… defies description, almost. It’s pretty much a remix of the earlier “Hercules no Uta,” but it does some scary things with it.

Number Two: Ao no Exorcist

This is a very fun soundtrack. It’s groovy syncopated rhythms at times, rock anthems at others, and then it all culminates in a haunting choral melody. I don’t quite like everything on here, but what I do like is truly excellent.

“Exorcist Concerto Fourth Movement D+T” is probably my most listened track from this release, and for good reason; that opening riff is one of the best things on here. Meanwhile, Mika Kobayashi’s “Exorcist Concerto First Movement Me & Creed” is basically a tribute to 30 Seconds to Mars’s “This is War,” which works surprisingly well. “AOE Suite Second Movement 5P+3P” is a more piano-centered track, with multiple layers of syncopation creating a very interesting effect.

Number One: Dantalian no Shoka

This is basically everything I thought Break Blade’s OST should have been. Its composition and instrumentation are all very classical (except maybe for the accordion), but all of its tracks are very well developed. And while the tracks have a tendency to all end the same way, they at least come off as finished. Best of all, though, is the use of piano and organ. Tsuji You really makes the piano shine on any number of tracks, and the organ is used admirably (if not to its full extent). The string arrangements make some very nice use of counterpoint without coming off as busy, and even though every other song features the same melody none of it sounds like filler. And, as it happens, many of the tracks sound pretty Christmas-y, so what better time to listen to this gem than now?

There is not a single track on here that I dislike. Not. A. One. Each has its own reason to shine, whether the stunning middle section of “Sunda Kuuki. Kanjouteki ni Nari Sugizu, Utau Youni,” or the sublime piano in “Yuragi Madoromi no Koufukukan. Kokyou no Yume.” If I had to pick a favorite, it might be “Sabireta Teien no Ato. Nanika ga Houkai Shite Ikuyou” or “Teki Jousho. Shuuu no Youna Piano Kansou,” in both cases for their use of the piano. But the short of it is that you should listen to the whole thing because it is all amazing. All of it

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  1. Posted December 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    No love for Tiger & Bunny’s OST?

    I am the tiniest bit disappoint.

    • Chronolynx
      Posted December 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Did not care for the music in that one. It’s kinda like Star Driver in that the music worked fine enough in the show, but by itself it was mostly kinda meh.

  2. Posted December 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Chrono you are awesome! I loved that Yumekui Merry OST! Great music to listen to when I draw or work on posts, it is a shame the series was so dull…ah well read the manga and listen to the soundtrack. Break Blade series also a great choice! Reminds me I have to go find mine…Ao No exorcist! That is really fun stuff right there, and finally Dantalian no Shoka I loved all of that music in the series they did a great job on that one.

    The OSTs I am looking forward to are Ben-TO, Guilty Crown, Gundam AGE and Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon! And most of those are anime that are boring to most but they have nice soundtracks.

    • Chronolynx
      Posted December 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, thank you. I particularly like how most of these are from composers I haven’t heard before. Really looking forward to more from them. (Though we don’t have to wait on Suwano, what with Guilty Crown.)

    • Ressy
      Posted December 25, 2011 at 1:30 am | Permalink

      No love for the music from Persona 4 or UN-GO?
      I found them a bit eccentric, but there were still a couple pieces from each I liked.

      • Chronolynx
        Posted December 25, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Persona’s music is certainly good, but since most of that is from the game (which came out several years ago) I didn’t count it. Un-Go’s got a few good tracks, but nothing that really stands out.

  3. Darkfireblade25
    Posted December 25, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    No love for Puella Magi Madoka Magica? I absolutely love that stuff (save the ambient dark mood music) even tho they’re so short….. =.=

    • Chronolynx
      Posted December 25, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Madoka was pretty standard Kajiura fare, and I’ve already got 2 OSTs from her.

  4. Posted December 25, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been enjoying the crap out of Yumekui Merry and his music has given me a lot of other new shows to check out. Also, quite nice to see that many of the tracks are longer than the 1:30 pieces we usually get out of anime scores. While the tracks aren’t as consistent in quality as the main theme was, it’s still a strong listen.

    Also, thanks for highlighting Dantalian no Shoka. I did enjoy the pieces though it’s yet to grow on me. Hopefully, a couple more listens will give it that sort of opportunity to really ingrain itself in me.

    Currently, still enjoying Last Exile’s latest offering and really wondering how Chihayafuru will fly. Can’t wait for the latter’s album release in mid-January!

    • Chronolynx
      Posted December 25, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      Dantalian’s music is the sort that really rewards careful listening, especially where the strings are involved. Definitely looking forward to Last Exile and Chihayafuru as well.

  5. Posted December 25, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    This list was AWFUL. Just kidding.

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t know much about some of the soundtracks you listed, but this seems to be a well thought-out list. I especially did not pay attention to Yumekui, because it has become my life’s mission to avoid JC Staff shows where a spunky flat-chested girl with peculiar abilities have misadventures with a hapless male lead.

    Like others have mentioned, I’m surprised you didn’t list shows like Madoka and T&B, the latter especially because I know you sort of liked that show a little bit, kinda.

    I’ve been particularly enamored with the Penguindrum OST releases recently. Few soundtracks break the mold so boldly, I think, and I liked that you enjoyed it as well.

    Oh, and I didn’t watch Dantalian. Yes, hate me, but I just might check out the score now. Maybe.

    You were being modest when you said I was better than you at writing music. Keep up the good work!

    • Chronolynx
      Posted December 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      I am flattered that you liked it.

  6. MrTerrorist
    Posted December 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for putting Broken Blade on the list.

  7. Posted December 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t listened to Break Blade OST but others do have a nice OSTs, especially aoex. I forgot what track that was but that certain piano track that played when Shiro died :| is very nice. And of course, the Exorcist Concerto Third Movement U & Cloud .

    Have you listened to Kamimemo’s and Denpa’s? I think the two also have nice OSTs. Also, AnoHana’s bawwing Last Train Home?

    • Chronolynx
      Posted December 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t watch Denpa, and dropped Kamimemo after a few eps, so I never gave much thought to their music.

  8. Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Nice to see Kimi to Boku represented, even though it didn’t make your top 5 (love the guitars and voice in those insert songs, in particular ^ ^). It’s a shame you dropped Nichijou, as I think you would’ve enjoyed the OST to that too. And while I doubt I’ll un-drop Penguindrum, I should finish Ao no Exorcist one day, in which case I’ll keep an ear open for the tracks that you liked.

    • Chronolynx
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Nichijou did actually almost make it on the list. The music was the only 100% good thing about the show, but unfortunately it suffered from the same problem as Break Blade’s.

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