12 Days of Meditations #6: Sorry, I only listen to anime music

When people ask me, “what kind of music do you listen to?” I immediately shudder. It’s not a difficult question to answer, but my answer could be so off-the-wall that they’ll never talk to me again (this is a recurring irrational fear of mine). So depending on who they are, I give “safe” answers.

  1. I listen to the classics. (Then I give examples of pop/rock/jazz artists.)
  2. I listen to anything and everything! (Then they’ll follow up with “Who?”, and I die.)
  3. I listen to music from different countries (heavily implying Japan)
  4. I try to look for music that isn’t normally played on the radio. (no, I’m not a hipster)

All of these are true. My tastes are wide, and I find that I could latch myself to almost anything. But I don’t really go out of my way to look for new music. I look at my sizable music library and wonder if I really need more, then end up playing something like Steely Dan’s Aja album. Shut up, it’s brilliant!

What I don’t tell anyone is that most new music I listen to comes from anime, by way of OP/ED songs. It doesn’t sound like much, until you factor in at least half-dozen anime I watch every season. And I pick up an average of one non-current show every month, so… yeah.

So what kind of anime songs do I prefer? I love old mecha OPs the most. You know, those songs that incorporate elements of the show in the lyrics, where the titular mecha’s name is sung with gusto. Those are the best karaoke songs. Unfortunately, they don’t make such songs anymore, save for the occasional retro/throwback show.

Failing that, I’m always on the lookout for songs that do represent the show in spirit and mood, if not lyrics. I’m not really picky with an anime song’s quality, I value the context more.

Hmm, how about some (recent) examples?

  1. Preserved Roses (Valvrave OP) – its breathless, bombastic arrangement definitely scores the show’s tone
  2. Bloody Stream (JoJo OP2) – the fantastic OP animation helps, but it’s a suave and stylish song by itself
  3. Jiyuu no Tsubasa (Attack on Titan OP2) – I actually like this better than Guren no Yumiya, because it’s deliciously ironic given its timing and placement in the show
  4. DreamRiser (Girls und Panzer OP) – sums up the tone of the show quite well, with its “I love what I’m doing!” vibes
  5. Sayonara tte iu (Majestic Prince ED1) – the haunting tune is a clever juxtaposition for the show (which starts out light and comedic but becomes increasingly ramps up), adding an entire level of class to it

(I’m not really in love with Valvrave that much, but Preserved Roses is pretty great on its own!)

I like listening to anime songs because they evoke memories of the shows themselves every time I give them a spin. Sometimes I even create a MAD/AMV in my mind as I listen, piecing in my favorite scenes.

Sometimes an anime will feature non-Japanese music. It could be referenced in the show–one of the first things I did after watching Cromartie High School was get my hands on a Queen album–or be played as a BGM or even an OP/ED! You know what, I got into Yes thanks to Roundabout being the ED of the JoJo anime. And thanks to Initial D, I have an entire folder dedicated to EUROBEAT.

Then I branch out from there. I didn’t end at Yes–I got into the rest of classic progressive rock, like Rush, King Crimson, and Jethro Tull. Thanks to the character of Dio Brando, I started listening to Black Sabbath. Every now and then, I watch an anime that makes me interested in a new genre of music, like Initial D (Eurobeat), or Kids on the Slope (jazz). Most of what I listen now have been influenced by anime, directly or indirectly. Culture!

Going back to that question in the first paragraph, why don’t I answer it with “anime music”? Because I’ll have to explain it like this!

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11 Responses to 12 Days of Meditations #6: Sorry, I only listen to anime music

  1. Aleris Celt says:

    Man, this is so true! My playlist is full of anime songs as well! Hearing them really invigorates me when I think of the awesomeness of that anime. “Sometimes I even create a MAD/AMV in my mind as I listen, piecing in my favorite scenes.”– YES!!!

    The worse that could happen is when a friend asks to hear your music during some long bus ride, and she says she doesn’t mind that it’s all Japanese. And then you visibly see her disinterest afterwards and realize that she doesn’t share your taste ): Only anime people like anime songs…

    • schneider says:

      Yep. You have to be an anime fan and a music fan to really like anime music, in my opinion.

      I don’t have any video-making skills, so I just use my fantastic tool (my brain) to make them videos.

  2. sadakups says:

    Actually, in truth, I also answer #2. I listen to anything that sounds nice that it transcends across genres and I don’t stick to one as the only genre I subscribe to. That’s why people who get to hear my playlist are baffled with the diversity. Funny though that any Japanese tracks they get to listen to, they automatically assume it’s anime music even though some of them aren’t.

    Some of the Japanese artists I follow had done anime music too (like Asian Kung-Fu Generation, HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR, UVERworld and Orange Range to name a few on top of my head), and I just ended up liking their non-anime tracks after hearing their respective anime tracks.

    • schneider says:

      I do seek out Japanese artists who have performed anime songs, too. I love The Pillows (FLCL), Chatmonchy (Hataraki Man, Thermae Romae), Soutaiseiriron (Arakawa Under the Bridge, because of the vocalist), nano.RIPE (lol Hanasaku Iroha), ROUND TABLE (Diebuster, Welcome to the NHK), and Maaya Sakamoto!

      I also get that problem too orz

  3. omo says:

    I’ve gotten past the hump now that when people ask me this question I just tell them what it is.

    • Author says:

      Same here. Although I may be getting into “get off my lawn” area. I think Eir Aoi is much into yelling instead of singing (kinda like Shoko did before her). Give me KOTOKO.

  4. There’s that look that non-otaku friends give me when they see that I have gigs upon gigs of music and I reply that there’s nothing on there that they’d be familiar with. Then I give them a dose of Joe Hisaishi to knock their emotional socks off :P

  5. r042 says:

    I bought the Platina Jazz anime arrangement albums and my parents (not massive fans of anime) love the music. To the point where over Christmas dinner we ended up listening to arrangements of Yakusoku wa Irenai, Sousei no Aquarion and Tsuki no Mayu (oh and that goddamn UU NYAN song from Nyaruko)

    At the moment my iPod is completely filled with anime OSTs – Patlabor, Ghibli films, Aria, Bubblegum Crisis, Macross 7 and Turn-A among others..,

    (80s robot songs are the best though for GET HEAT)

    • schneider says:

      Damn, I didn’t know there’s a Platina Jazz version of the Nyaruko song.

      I love music like that. I used to get a lot of Touhou doujin music. It’s the best when you play them and some other person recognizes it and whoaaaaaaaa is that Evangelion?

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