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Krv and the Wild World of Anisongs

So, before I got into this whole idol thing I was quite into anime. I still watch quite a few, but I have anime to thank for me learning Japanese in the first place and for opening my eyes to the rather madcap world of Japanese music. Of course, just like most of the rest of J-pop, anisongs run the whole breadth of the musical spectrum from the cutesy happy pop of Koharu's oft-disturbing anime themes to dark and peculiar tracks which I'll likely outline a few of in the post. I'll likely avoid any idols this post, as to be honest, Momoclo's Mouretsu just blows all other idol anisongs out of the water so there's no point.

So, to start, I'll give you the first anime song I ever heard, due to it being the theme of the first anime I ever watched. It's called Sakura Saku by Hayashibara Megumi. The OP for Love Hina, it's pretty damn crazy. The bassline was more insane than a great deal I'd ever heard at the time, and the cutesy voice plus guitars made me wonder what insane world I'd reached. I did try to tab it, but I failed spectatularly. I was young then. Relistening I'm surprised I've not listened to it a lot more. Probably confused me too much back then so I just sort of glossed over it in my head. Now, however, I'm able to truly appreciate its mild insanity and love it better for it.

After this I experimented far and wide with pretty much any anime that would have me, and gave up on most of them. However, I got hooked on a new manga, which was to seal my fate, as it were. Called Mahou Sensei Negima, helpfully penned by Love Hina's mangaka Akamatsu Ken, it drew me in with its massive cast of cute girls, a Welsh kid, and fantasy. And vampires. And robots. And time travel. And magic. And huge-assed battles. Being a Sci-Fi/Fantasy nerd I couldn't pass it up, and indeed, I ended up scanlating some of it with a certain now-deceased HQ scans group. The manga is now finished and the ending was an ill-thought out mess, but it did provide me with 355 chapters of distraction. Likewise, it received a ridiculous amount of anime adaptions, all of which broke the story in some way. The first adaption had a cool theme song which I did eventually tab. It also had a huge amount of versions which sort of melded into one. It was called Happy Material. Either way, I was pretty hooked. One of the so-called "character songs" also really enthused me. Performed by the seiyuu for the vampire, robot and ghost, it was called Maze of the Dark, and gave me my first hint of metal in Jpop. After the first anime came a weird Shaft-produced adaption, which was more a crazy Shaft-style anime than it had any links to the source material. However, it did get me hooked on Shaft (which comes in handy later in the post) and gave me 1000% Sparking, another mildly insane OP. One day I actually got mildly bored and did a death metal karaoke. Very bored, in fact.

Anyway, from there, we enter the twilight zone of the weird and wonderful.When I was in Japan in 2008 I stumbled across an anime on TV that up until that point I'd shunned as being "too commercial" (due to it being mentioned as a "masterpiece" in the same line as Naruto, One Piece and Bleach). Wanting nothing to do with those three, I avoided the fuck out of it until I heard the theme song on TV. And then I watched it and found it was actually pretty dark, evil and awesome. If you've not figured it out by now, I'm talking about Death Note. The song is Zetsubou Billy by Maximum the Hormone. Helpfully insane, much like a System of the Down on crack, I quite enjoyed it. I still enjoy some of their crazy antics nowadays.

Not long after that I found a short series of OVAs called Mnemosyne. The themesongs were by a band called Galneryus who I'd later become all too familiar with. The opening song, Alsatia was quite a kick in the balls. The ED was pretty rocking too. I got the EP and then from there a whole bunch of their albums in Japan. I impulse bought a lot.

Random insert, watch this and not want to club something to death.

Another anime I'd seen just before coming to Japan was something called Welcome to the NHK, a weird thing about a hikikomori and his delusions of a huge conspiracy headed by the NHK to spread disinformation or something. The ending theme was by my favourite fucknut ever, Ohtsuki Kenji (wrote Momoclo's Roudou Sanka lyrics, and the book Stacy, later adapted to the Momusu stage play). It was called Dancing Baby Human. It also had an insert song by his band, Kinniku Shoujo Tai, called Odoru Dame Ningen (dunno what his obsession with dancing humans is...). Needless to say, I bought a load of their CDs too. I also looked into Kenji more and saw he'd done the opening themes for another anime. For the first time, I watched an anime based solely on who sang the themesong, and was impressed by the anime. It was called Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, and animated by Shaft (mentioned earlier). What followed was the most gloriously morbid comedy I'd ever seen at the time (Monty Python's Undertaker Sketch just doesn't quite stack up). All the seasons had pretty weird opening songs (and creepy ending ones), but the final set of OVAs produced possibly the most deranged anime opening sequence ever. It's called Ringo, Mogire, Beam! Enjoy what's left of your sanity. You may have noticed the innocuous name written in the credits there, spelling the dread name NARASAKI. Crazy motherfucker pops up everywhere.

Next up is something I discovered whilst in Japan, a glorious gag manga/anime/film about a nice, happy trendy guy who likes Swedish pop music becoming the lead singer and guitarist of a death metal band. It's called Detroit Metal City. It's quite hilarious, and had the not-quite epic but still quite metal theme song Satsugai. Still, for more death metal cred the film version should have featured Nergal, not Gene Simmons.

Another anime I found around this time was something called Shigofumi, about a postwoman from hell who delivers the final regards from the dead to their loved ones. Or something. It was a while ago, I forget. Anyway, the OP was called Kotodama, by a group called Ali Project. It was pretty screwy and modally interesting, enough to make me spend even more money on some of their albums (I swear I made the Tower Records in Shibuya rather rich with my impulse buys...) and even now Erotic & Heretic warrants the occasional spin.

After this my inner clock begins to deteriorate somewhat so from now it's gonna be pretty much in whatever order I remember them.

Lucky Star's theme, Motteke! Serafuku! was gloriously mental, to say nothing of the irreverent and mild craziness of the anime itself. Certainly one of the first slice-of-life anime I watched, it most certainly wasn't the last. Of course, the OP stuck in my head for all the right reasons. Plus there were two lulzy covers to laugh at, one by Japan's largest ham, Wakamoto Norio and a glorious neoclassical metal version.

Toaru Majutsu no Index, a quite weird sci-fi anime with hints of comedy drew me in at first with its interesting trance-pop OP, called PSI-missing by Kawada Mami. The spin-off series, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun, then went a few parsecs higher with fripside's frankly amazing Only My Railgun. Unfortunately, the second series of Index and Railgun both have rather more lacking musical ventures.

Another one that stands out to me is the ending theme of Gosick, a mystery/war drama set during the interwar period (1924 to be exact) taking place in a fictional country that roughly corresponds to the territory of the historical Duchy of Savoy. It's also got one of the cutest anime characters ever in it, but yea. The ending theme, Resuscitated Hope by Komina Lisa is quite Nightwish-esque, just less shit.

This probably shouldn't count, but the ending theme to an incredibly poignant anime called Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai is quite old. In fact, it's ZONE's most popular song. But the anime was so poignant and the new version so beautiful that Secret Base~Kimi ga Kureta Mono~ deserves a place here anyway.

Just going back to Shaft because I love them too much, do take a look at the OPs for MariaHolic, which features some glorious insanity and lots of blood;  Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, one of the most gloriously mindfucking anime around; the dodgy-but-it's-alright-because-she's-an-ancient-vampire nude loli OP for Dance in the Vampire Bund; and the fishy opening for Arakawa Under The Bridge.

Before I reach the climax, I'll take a quick break to mention two anime that had incredibly good OSTs. The first is Haibane Renmei, composed by Ohtani Kou. The OP should give you some idea of what it's like, though my favourite was always Starting of the World (which I also tabbed, and metallised, and then forgot about. If anyone wants it and has GuitarPro it's here. There are a few mistakes but I did it like 5 years ago.) The other good OST is that of Magi~Labyrinth of Magic~, a new rearrangement of Arabian Nights with most of the stories woven into one overarching story with mages, huge empires and war. And a really cute ex-slave. As a result the OST consists of a huge amount of Arabic and Persian modes and instruments, plus really heavy guitars, really heavy dance, and the London Symphony Orchestra. You know, as you do. A good place to start is Enfin Apparu!! Another good one is Un vrai orage. Valse "Hot" keeps you fired up, and then Notre Empire gives you some James Bond-esque coolness before exploding rather viscerally. Despite all this epic, the ending theme was done by Nogizaka46. Rather random I thought. Still, it did get some nice tie-in pictures with one of my favourite short-haired speech-impediment girls, Ikoma Rina, as Aladdin.

So, I suppose onto the best then. Obviously, I have to mention K-On. Moeblob-ness aside, the music for it ran the gamut of insane to hilarious, but most of it was good. Go!Go!Maniac's insanely technical bass and guitar parts for a pop song (drums are pretty technical too now I listen) inspired pretty much every god-level Nico and Youtube musician in Japan to have a go, from jazz-drum-goddess Kawaguchi Senri (though to be fair, I don't think there are many K-On songs Senri hasn't covered by now) to Kouhei, the craziest singer on the internets. Gohan wa Okazu has possibly the silliest lyrics ever put to music. Tenshi ni Fureta yo has possibly some of the most touching lyrics ever, especially from a silly slice-of-life anime. Of course, there's also the teacher's metal band from her days in the "Light" music club, which had some pretty rocking songs too.

Recently I started watching a short gag-anime about a timeless mermaid and her daily annoyance of some fisherman guy. It's pretty hilarious, but the theme tune is insane on another level. I can't even begin to count all the genre fuckery that's going on, but any song that mixes death metal with ska and pop is doing something right in my book.

And finally, to my mind the greatest anisong ever. With Mouretsu, Hyadain (look at that, I nearly went a whole post without mentioning the fucker. Oops. Figured I may as well link some of his anime themes.) and Marty wanted to create a Bohemian Rhapsody for the 21st century. They failed, not least because some helpful fucker did it before them. Make your entrance, Oratorio God Only Knows. The theme to a rather weird anime called (rather obviously) The World God Only Knows, a bunch of (evil) demons escape from hell and reside inside the "gaps" inside people's hearts. The main character, an eroge otaku, gets a request from a (good) demon to help "capture" girls like you would in a game, in order to fill the gaps in their hearts to thus expel the (bad) demons. Confused yet? Either way, it made for some funny viewing, as did the random ED. The song itself is properly rhapsodical (unlike Mouretsu), flowing from section to section at whim, building to a crescendo and then diminuendoing again whilst exploring genres both old and some I can't place. There's even an obvious Queen shoutout in there. Plus, at 8 minutes it's certainly an ambitious anime song. And it's gloriously amazing. Sung by ELISA, who also sung the themesongs for the ef series animated by Shaft (them again), she does the material justice and doesn't break the English too badly. Anyway, the song is awesome, and the anime ain't bad either.

Anyway, that sums up this mostly idol-less post. Conclusion I came too after writing it... I need to rewatch all the Shaft anime. See you in a month...

2 comments:

  1. Arbitrary_greay2 May 2013 at 01:29

    Yakushimaru Etsuko did the Arakawa Under the Bridge OP. Her discography, both as band frontgirl and soloist, is pretty great. (Her latest single is MASSIVE.)

    She also wrote Otome Sensou. How small a world we live in.

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  2. That Love Hina theme brings back some memories, god damn it Krv! I actually have the Negima! manga...at least up to volume 19. When I moved away from the city I basically stopped buying them, but always wished that I picked up from where I left off. I thought all versions of the anime sucked balls though. I've read Welcome to the NHK and it was exactly my type of wacky -- think I marathoned the thing in two days. Its anime theme songs that you linked are all pretty cool I have to add. I gave up on Arakawa Under the Bridge for some reason, and who am I to get in the way of K-on!'s awesomness.

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