2017: Lists

As promised, bullet lists of my 2017 listening.

10 Korean albums

1. Epik High – We’ve Done Something Wonderful
2. IU – Palette
3. Zitten – Uni-verse
4. Red Velvet – The Red Summer
5. Glen Check – The Glen Check Experience
6. Dear Cloud – My Dear, My Lover
7. Oh Hee Jung – Short Film
8. Jonghyun – The Collection ‘Story Op.2’
9. No Reply – Beautiful
10. Fromm – REVE

10 Japanese albums

1. Luck Life – Life is Beautiful
2. la la larks – Culture Vulture
3. toconoma – Newtown
4. Evening cinema – A True Romance
5. Jyocho – Aoi Ie de Bokura Kurasu
6. Yogee New Waves – New Waves
7. Shinrizumu – Have Fun
8. Awesome City Club – Awesome City Tracks 4
9. Yoshizawa Kayoko – Yaneura Ju
10. She Is Summer – Water

15 Jpop tracks

1. Kamisama, Boku wa Kizuiteshimatta – CQCQ
2. Doughnuts Hole – Otona no Okite
3. Beverly – I Need Your Love
4. Half time Old – Outfocus
5. ShuukaRen – Love Your LIFE
6. Perfume – If you wanna
7. MAGIC OF LiFE – Senkō Hanabi
8. Nishino Kana – Girls
9. REOL – Endless Line
10. Ryokuoshakai – Mata ne
11. E-Girls – Kitakaze to Taiyō
12. Ling Tosite Sigure – DIE meets HARD
13. Che’Nelle – Destiny
14. Mili – Ikutoshitsuki
15. Silent Siren – Love Balloon

10 Anisong albums

1/ Yonezu Kenshi – BOOTLEG
2/ Annabel – Nylon Town
3/ binaria – Tsuzuri
4/ Sana –Hush a by little girl
5/ Aoi Shota – Zero
6/ Yorushika – Natsukusa ga Jama wo Suru
7/ Nishizawa Shiena – Break Your Fate
8/ Yasuno Kiyono – Namida.
9/ Sphere – ISM
10/ Tamura Yukari – Princess Limited

10 Anime Soundtracks

1. Hashimoto Yukari – 3gatsu no Lion
2. Hayashi Yūki – Ballroom e Yokoso
3. Kajiura Yuki – Princess Principal
4. Iga Takurō – Tsuki ga Kirei
5. Suehiro Kenichirō – Shōjo Shūmatsu Ryokō
6. Kevin Penkin – Made in Abyss
7. Ushio Kensuke – Devilman Crybaby
8. Evan Call – Jikan no Shihaisha
9. Ōshima Michiru – Haikara-san ga Tooru Pt.1
10. Yokoyama Masaru – Kabukibu!

20 Anisong themes

1. DAOKO x Yonezu Kenshi – Uchiage Hanabi (Fireworks theme song)
2. DAOKO x Okumura Yasuyuki – Step-Up Love (Kekkai Sensen & Beyond ED)
3. Yonezu Kenshi – Peace Sign (Boku no Hero Academia S2 OP)
4. Hayami Saori – Yume no Hate made (Haikara-san ga Tooru theme song)
5. ONE III NOTES – Shadow and Truth (ACCA13 OP)
6. GRANRODEO – move on! Ibara Michi (Saiyuki Reload Blast OP)
7. ORESAMA – Trip Trip Trip (Mahoujin Guruguru OP1)
8. ZAQ – Last Proof (Trinity Seven movie theme)
9. WEAVER – Dakara Boku wa Boku o Tebanasu (Sagrada Reset OP2)
10. Nakajima Megumi – Saturday Night Question (Net-jū no Susume OP)
11. angela – Zenryoku Summer! (Aho Girl OP)
12. SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:Tielle & Gemie – gravityWall (Re:Creators OP1)
13. Kanda Sayaka – Ubiquitous dB (Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale IN)
14. Flower – Taiyō no Elegy (Shōkoku no Altair ED1)
15. YURiKA – Kyōmen no Namida (Hōseki no Kuni OP)
16. Luna Haruna – KIRAMEKI Lifeline (Urahara ED)
17. Isobe Karin, Yoshino Yuna, Lynn – behind (Just Because! ED)
18. Yasuno Kiyono – Chiisana Hitotsubu (Isekai Shokudō ED)
19. Aimer – Hana no Uta (Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel: Presage Flower ED)
20. Luck Life – Refrain (Saiyuki Reload Blast ED)

10 Other Ani(artist) songs, charasongs, mixed-media, games, c/w tracks etc

01. Saito Soma – Yoake wa Mada
02. Kokia – Nostalgia [Yūkyū no Tierblade Fragments of Memory OP]
03. Kokia – Kimi ga Iru kara Tsuyoku nareru yo [Yūkyū no Tierblade Fragments of Memory ED]
04. Masuda Toshiki – iNiTiaTiVe [Dear Vocalist]
05. Taichi Yō – Under the Moonlight [Princess Principal charasong]
06. Kalafina – Tonbo [Hyakka Ryōran c/w]
07. Tomatsu Haruka – Anata no Shiawase ni Watashi ga nareru nara [Uchōten Traveler c/w]
08. Inoue Marina – Far Away [Shingeki no Kyojin charasong – Armin Arlert]
09. fhána – Que Sera Sera ~Pontochō ver~ [Moon River c/w]
10. Uchida Maaya – c.o.s.m.o.s

The English stuff gets its own post, up next.

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Selections of 2016: Soundtracks

Thoughts of the year: Do you end up rating soundtracks higher because you’ve watched the show or played the game? Can you truly enjoy the nuances behind the score not having known the source material beforehand?

Dorama

1. Asa ga Kuru by Ichikawa Jun
No anime-related works for Ichikawa in 2016 but he did compose this very fine soundtrack for Fuji TV drama series Asa ga Kuru (a show that nobody watched).

2. Seirei no Moribito by Sato Naoki
Kawai Kenji’s soundtrack for the Seirei anime adaptation in 2007 was quite close to perfect, Sato matches him with an epic score for the TV version.

3. Dame na Watashi ni Koishite kudasai by Dewa Yoshiaki & Habuka Yuri
Dewa has been doing quite a bit of anime work in recent years (Flying Witch, Nagi no Asu kara etc) but it’s this pop/rock-oriented soundtrack for the Fukada Kyoko-Fujioka Dean-headlining adaptation of a josei manga that really stands out.

4. Shokubutsu Zukan by Haketa Takefumi
Haketa, a long-standing favourite of mine and he often gets tapped for uplifting, heart-warming type shows and movies, which is exactly what Shokubutsu Zukan is.

Game

1. Ikenie to Yuki no Setsuna [I am Setsuna] by Miyoshi Tomoki
The soundtrack from the Tokyo RPG Factory game published by Square Enix is almost entirely piano-based, with just a bit of percussion and that one chiptune track. Oh, and one vocal track featuring the wonderful kotringo. It all sounds boring on paper but Miyoshi makes the piano do exciting things.

2. Caligula by Various
A mixed instrumental-vocal soundtrack for the PS Vita RPG, featuring music by Tsukasa Masuko and songs from an army of popular Producers (40mp, Chocho P, Mikito P, Polyphonic Branch etc). Vocals are provided mainly by the seiyuu Ueda Reina. The BGMs ain’t so hot, the songs most definitely are awesome.

3. Sekaiju no Meikyuu V Nagaki Shinwa no Hate [Etrian Odyssey] by Koshiro Yuzo
A 3-disc beast from the guy who’s made some of my favouritest game OSTs ever (Streets of Rage, Shenmue, Revenge of Shinobi). This is straightforward, epic battle and beautiful fantasy world kind of music, though not as adventurous as he has been in the past.

Anime

1. Koe no Katachi by Ushio Kensuke
Read here. Soundtrack of the year. Of the decade even.

2. Battery by Senju Akira
You know what you’ll get from Senju – heart-rending, strings, violins, emotions. Which is more than a boring anime like Battery deserved….

3. Amanchu! by GONTITI
While not quite their best work, Gontiti provide enough variety to keep the listener interested. Also helps if you’ve seen the show and heard how the music fits in with the mood of the Amanchu world setting.

4. Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni by kotringo.
First track is an orchestral rendition of the melody from O Come All Ye Faithful in an anime movie? Okay, you got my attention. It’s something different from kotringo., someone who I obviously have a lot of love for. And it really is quite good.

5. Regalia The Three Sacred Stars by Takahashi Ryo
Takahashi is a newcomer to the anime soundtrack composition scene (his only previous credit was the Galko anime) and his work here is stellar, which is more than I can say of the anime’s production process.

6. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju by Shibuya Kazue
Follows up her good work on the Rakugo OVA with more jazz-centric, classical pieces.

7. Yuri!! on ICE by Umebayashi Taro & Matsushiba Taku
Such a diverse selection of music – both vocal and instrumental, both classical and contemporary, that helped bring the characters’ skating programmes to life. Some of the Engrish is a bit iffy (hi Phichit’s music) but the music is otherwise faultless. Umebayashi’s Yuri on ICE track in particular, is my vote for best anime instrumental track of 2016 – it evokes so many emotions and tells [Katsuki] Yuri’s entire life story within its 3 minutes and 40 seconds.

8. Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge by Mizutani Hiromi
Classical pieces with a European flavour – tango, pavane, waltz. A strangely good fit for a series about a boy who is too lazy to be alive.

9. orange by Tsutsumi Hiroaki
Tsutsumi’s had a great year, with Kuromukuro also another standout work of his. He’s a guitarist by trade so his soundtracks are packed with acoustic guitars, (electric) banjos and mandolins, which is a nice change from the usual strings and blings.

10. Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro by Fujiwara Daisuke
Like the cool kids would say, this soundtrack for this anime is ‘dope’. Or ‘lit’. Rainy Lenny is the chill track of 2016. I need this disc on vinyl man. Seriously speaking though, when was the last time I heard/liked a purely club/dance-oriented anime soundtrack? Maybe we’d have to go all the way back to Boogiepop Phantom from 2000(!).

Others: Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari by Hashimoto Yukari, Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions by (K)NoW_NAME, Norn9 + Nonette by Kevin Penkin, Kuromukuro by Tsutsumi Hiroaki, ClassicaLoid by Hotei Tomoyasu, tofubeats etc

Ps: of the 17 on the lists, I have watched/played 7 of them.

Refer:
Selections of 2016: Intro
Selections of 2016: 20 Favourite Anime Theme Songs
Selections of 2016: Anisong Albums

Selections of 2015: Anime Soundtracks

Felt a little spoilt for choice this year and had a bit of trouble whittling things down a bit. I wouldn’t say that any of the 10 was outstandingly head and shoulders above the rest but they were each good in their own way. As usual, I can’t fathom the love for Sawano Hiroyuki ;;;

1.Ryo Kunihiko – Akatsuki no Yona (sample)
Obviously he’s one of my favourite composers of all-time so I’ll gratefully take whatever he offers up. Not quite 12 Kingdoms’ God-tier level, but pretty close.

2.Hec to Pascal – Hana to Alice Satsujin Jiken (sample)
A partial reworking of director Iwai Shunji’s soundtrack for the live-action film Hana to Alice that this movie was based on.

3.Kameoka Natsumi – Kantai Collection (sample)
I was expecting a recycled game OST but instead we get a whole new, lovely orchestral score from one of my new favourite composers.

4.Kato Tatsuya – Shokugeki no Soma (sample)
I wasn’t ever a fan of Kato’s earlier works but Soma has gotten my attention. It’s typical OTT shonen fare and I thought it went well with the series.

5.Iwashiro Taro – Arslan Senki (sample)
Let not the gloom and doom bother you, for it is a soundtrack of much grandeur.

6.Shibue Kana – Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (sample)
The anime is set in the 60s-70s and features music across a wide spectrum – shamisen-centric pieces used as background music for rakugo, taiko music, blues, jazz and a couple of lighter pop tunes. Shibue Kana is a newcomer, aged just 24 and a jazz pianist who’s starting to compose her own music. Looking forward to more of her works!

7.Shiina Go – God Eater (sample)
Carrying on his good work from the games.

8.kotringo – Kofuku Graffiti (sample)
I hope we see more of this trend in the future – indie/pop musicians composing anime soundtracks. Clammbon’s mito is another one who did that in 2015, working on Kokosake.

9.Oshima Michiru – Rokka no Yuusha / Akagami no Shirayukihime (sample)
Neither show has an OST release proper as yet but just too good to not list.

10.Rasmus Faber – Gakusen Toshi no Asterisk (sample)
What did the show do in its past life to deserve such a soundtrack?

Other notables:
S.E.N.S Project – Ore Monogatari!!, Matsuda Akito – Hibike! Euphonium, Monaca team (Okabe Keiichi, Takada Ryuichi, Ishihama Kakeru) – Garo, Hijiri Anze – Hybrid Child

Refer:
Selections of 2015: Intro
Selections of 2015: SM Edition
Selections of 2015: 20 Favourite Anime Theme Songs
Selections of 2015: Anisong Albums

10 Favourite Anime Composers

Voted on this a few weeks ago, posting my list here for posterity’s sake.

1.Kajiura Yuki
Still the meister for me.

2.Ichikawa Jun (市川 淳)
Yeah it’s one year++ since Ichikawa’s work on Mitsuwano caught my ear and I’ve been busy digging into his archives since then. Hinata no Aoshigure’s soundtrack is a particular favourite, as is the OST for dorama Fuyu no Sakura.

3.Nanase Hikaru / Itou Masumi
The RDG soundtrack & Natsuiro Kiseki’s image album was great.

4.Sasago Shigeharu (Choro Club, ko-ko-ya)
I didn’t think I’d ever be putting Sasago on such a list but I guess he’s done enough anime-related work at this point to warrant a spot. Choro Club has always been a favourite of mine with or without the ARIA association, and Sasago’s involvement with ko-ko-ya (Croisee, Ristorante Paradiso) seals the deal further.

5.Oshima Michiru
As consistent as ever in output and quality.

6.Ryo Kunihiko/Yang Bang-Ean
He’s certainly not prolific, seemingly preferring to spend time producing commercial jingles and directing music for the Sochi Olympics and Pyeongchang handover ceremony. But he has recently done soundtracks for Akatsuki no Yona and the movie Again -28nenme no Koshien-.

7.Kato Tatsuya
Kato’s one of the younger guns and he’s been doing quite a lot of work of late, some of which has been very good. Like Shokugeki no Soma.

8.Matsuda Akito (Nijine)
Name change but he’s still the same. Euphonium guy.

9.Anze Hijiri
Anime or not? Arranger or composer? He did do BL show Hybrid Child (great stuff) this year but mostly operates in video games.

10.Kameoka Natsumi
Randomly discovered Kameoka through the soundtrack for VN Ken no Kimi and was delighted to hear her stellar work continue on the Kancolle anime. She’s an orchestrator so her works are obviously heavy on the strings – check out her official site for more examples.

On the cusp: Hamaguchi Shiro, Yamashita Kosuke, Hashimoto Yukari

The last time the poll was held in 2010, my top 10 was:

1.Kajiura Yuki
2.Nanase Hikaru
3.Oshima Michiru
4.Muramatsu Ken
5.Mitsumune Shinkichi
6.Ryo Kunihiko
7.Nijine
8.Fujita Junpei
9.Okubo Kaoru
10.Anze Hijiri

Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda. OST

The soundtrack for newly released animated movie Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda. (made by the Anohana team) features the music of Mito from Clammbon. and Yokoyama Masaru. What I find more interesting is the vocal tracks rather than the instrumentals – the song above has Mito bringing in frequent collaborator Kotringo, and it’s delightful despite the Engrish. There’s also a cover of Over the Rainbow by Kiyoura Natsumi, who just returned from a 3 year hiatus this January.

Most of Disc 2 features songs from the in-show musical and well…the voice actors are just about competent enough not to sound terribly off-key, but still way, way short of outstanding. I’d love to have heard the original demos that Kiyoura made, to be honest. I actually yelped hearing Minase Inori shriek into my earphones on わたしの声 (cover of Greensleeves). Guess there’s a huge difference between ‘being able to sing’ and ‘having a voice that sounds nice for singing’..this is sadly, not on TARI TARI level.

Hamaguchi Shiro & various – TARI TARI Music Album

Wow, when’s the last time I reviewed an anime soundtrack? About a year ago, I’d reckon. And even with this one, I’m going to write more about the second disc that covers the vocal tracks than Hamaguchi’s instrumentals. Okay, so the music isn’t that bad but these days everything either sounds like Kajiura or like Dragon Quest BGMs to me so it has to be something truly special for me to want to think of pretty words to describe the strings and flutes…and the first disc doesn’t quite inspire me that way.

Disc 2 then. With TARI TARI being an anime about a bunch of kids singing it would be a bit of a disaster if the choral songs turned out to be awful but as anyone who’s watched the show would know, that isn’t the case. I might blame nostalgia for colouring my warm feelings for the choir’s rendition of Reflectier but that won’t explain away how much I love Kokoro no Senritsu, which quite conceivably could have been used by NHK as one of their national choir competition repertoire songs (think Ikimonogakari’s Yell or Angela Aki’s Tegami). Unfortunately, despite all the buildup in the anime Wakana’s ‘self-written’ radiant melody isn’t quite as moving as her mom’s works…in fact, I even prefer Condor Queens’s Amigo Amigo (performed by JAM Project collaborator Ricardo Cruz) to her song.

I genuinely enjoyed the vocal tracks, the instrumentals less so. There hasn’t been any soundtrack that’s made me feel very excited so far this year, not even Fate Zero. I wonder if Muramatsu Ken’s upcoming Natsuyuki Rendezvous will fix that?