Anime Vice News

Almost Otaku: Does the Music Make the Anime?

Of course it does!

 *SNIFF * There really is no need for promise. 
 *SNIFF * There really is no need for promise. 

sotyfan: Can the soundtrack make the anime? From what you have seen and heard does the music impact your thoughts on the anime? What's your favorite anime song and what series has the best score in your opinion?

Funnily enough, I actually just wrote something about this at Comic Vine.  I think music’s crucially important but, given the lack of memorable scores at the movies these days, it seems like something that’s easy to neglect. Yes, the soundtrack makes the anime, as it makes every movie. Just compare the versions of DEATH NOTE. The show had these great, minimalist, hypnotic piano leitmotifs that added undercurrents of dread, suspense and obsession to everything. More importantly, they immediately reminded you who these characters were. The movie? You had a pretty forgettable score and then two RCHP songs which, while great on their own, seemed pretty slapdash in their inclusion. Musically and lyrically, they had nothing to do with the story.

In short… you can have a great plot, but it’s a good score that gives it pathos.

My favorite anime song? Hmmm... some of these might be embarrassing.

I’ll fess up. “No Need for Promise”, the theme to VISION OF ESCAFLOWNE, gets me all mushy inside.  


I’d say that the score for that whole show stands out as probably the best in total of anything I remember. It’s been almost ten years since I’ve watched it and the “ES-CA-FLO-NE!” choral chant and Falken's violin theme is still stuck in my head. It'll be there forever!

PRINCESS MONONOKE’s score did wonders to add a sense of timelessness and grandeur.    


If you count it, I have to add all of INTERSTELLA 5555 because Daft Punk’s DISCOVERY is so rad.  


As always, keep the questions coming. I’ll answer anything in this column. Well, within reason.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of   HYBRID BASTARDS!  &   UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here  & here.

DXmagmaon Sept. 2, 2010 at 4:44 p.m.
not really a fan of anime music. i dunno it just never interested me. it''s always something  i recognize but only two themes have i ever gone back and listened to willingly.
sora_thekey moderator on Sept. 2, 2010 at 4:49 p.m.
I love Anime Music, the score is completely important to the story, I remember watching A Certain Scientific Railgun and being touched by the theme of the girl with no powers (I forget her name!)...
Then there's bad music like the one in the the third or 4th season of Pokemon!
frsty13on Sept. 2, 2010 at 5:03 p.m.
As disappointing as the movie was overall, I always loved "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" from the Cowboy Bebop movie.  Of course, I don't think there really is such a thing as a bad track by Yoko Kanno.
Papasanon Sept. 2, 2010 at 5:16 p.m.

The 400+ anime songs in my media player say, "Yes!"  
When I listen to my favorite themes, I am taken right back to the moments in the shows where they are played, and I relive the feeling and enjoyment I experienced when I watched them. A thing has to be pretty awesome and important to be able to maintain a connection like that. 
I lose it every time I watch this scene, and I nearly lose it sometimes just hearing the song. Yes, Virginia, music really can make the anime.
sotyfan16on Sept. 2, 2010 at 5:21 p.m.

I didn't start paying much attention to the music until earlier this year. Since then I have obtained numerous songs and listen them quite often. The series that hits me the most musically is Angel Beats! and I hear that K-ON! (and K-ON!!) and some others have great music. Tom, I suggest giving a listen Angel Beats!' Girls Dead Monster. In addition, I've started watching Beck and I'm liking what I hear.

YotaruVegetaon Sept. 2, 2010 at 5:30 p.m.
@Papasan:   FLCL was definitely a good marriage of mood and music.
I think that without the music in Cowboy Bebop, the immersion in that western space famtasy is incomplete.
Superevil225on Sept. 2, 2010 at 6:26 p.m.
I like how Hetalia has little character songs. Not only are they funny, they're catchy, and it's what made lots of my friends interested in the series.
lizcaton Sept. 2, 2010 at 6:55 p.m.
Nice coincidence that the music question got asked while you're watching Cowboy Bebop, a show where music is really key. (I think that's a terrible pun...) As in, the series and all of its episodes have musical names, and the music is generally really awesome. It completely contributes to the mood of the series overall. 
Also, Joe Hisaishi's scores for all of Miyazaki's films are amazing, not just Princess Mononoke. 
AgentJon Sept. 2, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Good music, coincidently or not, is a hallmark of nearly every one of my favorite series. It really does make a big difference from where I'm concerned.
Gaseroon Sept. 2, 2010 at 7:14 p.m.
Music has never MADE the anime for me, but it certainly helps create an overarching theme to the series. Would I feel different about a series if the music was different? I dunno, I have never felt so strongly about the music while watching an anime. I'm so inbetween on this question. The music does help but its hard to say if the music is what makes the anime.
I also don't count opening and closing themes as part of the anime itself, especially popular songs. I have plenty of songs from Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece, but the opening and closing themes are usually different from the themes within the shows.
Naruto79on Sept. 2, 2010 at 8:49 p.m.

Depends on the series. Some series put such an emphasis on the music, if it's bad... it'll definitely sour you to the anime. Series like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Air Gear and Eureka Seven are all about the music. The fact that series Bleach and Naruto have tight soundtracks definitely add to the mix with them. Something I think American series can definitely learn from... 

JonathanMooreon Sept. 2, 2010 at 9:13 p.m.
I remember watching the Intro to Ah! My Goddess and absolutely loving it. There was also some music in Love Hina that really got me. More recently, Angel Beats! totally had an awesome score at some points which really got me emotionally.
hitsusatsu11on Sept. 2, 2010 at 11:48 p.m.
Esca opening is sick
Fuzen_Metsukion Sept. 3, 2010 at 3:35 a.m.
I love Tengen Toppa Music, Libera me from hell is awesome... 
Also I msotly love anything by Jam project, but Escaflowne truly haves one hell of a OST, as Cowboy Bebop does...
Gaffon Sept. 3, 2010 at 4:16 a.m.
If it's not terrible, I won't notice it or it won't detract from a series. 
It it's excellent, the tunes will haunt me until the day I die. 
If it's terrible? I don't remember. I seem to have large, gaping holes in my memory when it comes to bad anime tunes. 
Some notable examples: 
I can't listen nor watch to anything that involves ALI Project. One season of Rozenmaiden was enough for me. 
Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, His and Her Circumstances and Azumanga Daioh (of all things) are the few series of which I can remember all of the BGM.
TimothyWesselon Sept. 3, 2010 at 6:02 a.m.
I believe it REALLY helps.
Gundam Wing was the best gundam series, not only for a gritty but not old school animation style, but the characters varied alot, and the music captured us all..
Two-Mix kicks alot of A.
Helloson Sept. 3, 2010 at 7:41 a.m.

Music makes the anime? I don't know about that but opening or closing songs / music in episodes do tend to affect my opinion of said anime.  
Heck the music from Trinity Star Universe or Kingdom hearts sets the mood. :P
PenguinDuston Sept. 3, 2010 at 7:44 a.m.
I'm not sure if it makes the anime, but it can make a good anime better.  Blue Submarine No. 6 is an good short OVA series, but with it's incredible OST, it's catapults it into truly memorable, I believe.  Read or Die, FLCL, and Cowboy Bebop are others that also have really unique soundtracks worth listening to.  Good opening and closing songs can increase the impression I have of a series.  I loved just about everything about Eureka 7 including all the songs.  Music played an integral part of Sora no Woto since it's about a military bugler.    
One of the best examples I can give though is that odd little riff found in Bleach.  I really couldn't picture the series now without it and I look forward to hearing it during shows.  Honestly, it's kind of like the "dun-dun-dun-dun" theme from Jaws now.  When I hear that Bleach riff I know there's gonna be some action soon. 
wwfunderakeron Sept. 3, 2010 at 8:59 a.m.
The openings to a lot of the anime ive watched are awesome and i feel music is a big part of an anime.
obscurefanon Sept. 3, 2010 at 12:17 p.m.
Music is definitely one of the most important things in an anime. Right now I have to say that Fairy Tail has incredible music, it really captures this classic and modern sounding celtic music.

Dig Deeper into Interstella 5555

A anime musical which is the visual realization of Daft Punk's "Discovery album", about four Alien Musicians who are kidnapped from their galaxy by the Earl of Darkwood who plans on using their talent for his scheme to rule the universe.

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