Pointless Debate #35: Ranking Anime Songs

Blatant post filler.
Yuyushiki is always good for top images. I couldn’t think of anything else to put here.

This edition of Pointless Debate was inspired by the Animusic Tourney being conducted by the members of the Anime Instrumentality blog. Nominations recently opened up on the tournament blog with fans able to submit a list of up to 15 songs for consideration. These will ultimately determine which ones make it and the tournament seeds if you get the gist of it. I did make my 15 selections which you will get at the end of the post, but the story I want to tell is how I ended up there.So the first step in this process was to draw up a shortlist. I was thinking maybe 20-25 would be what I would end up with. So the criteria I had to take into account were two-fold; is it an opening/closing/insert song used in an anime and if so did it contain vocals? Then there was my own criteria of my wanting it to be a song that engaged me on some emotional level. Then there was a one song per series rule that I put in place after one notable exception.

To start off this list, I was in a joking mood. Noting that 9 of the 14 tracks on Daft Punk’s Discovery album would be eligible under the criteria having been the source music of the Leiji Matsumoto directed film Interstella5555, I decided to start with songs that actually were not in Japanese.

So being a fan of Radiohead (moreso around the turn of the century), I had remembered “Paranoid Android” being Ergo Proxy‘s ending theme so that was on there. Then I could come up with were Wondermints’ insert song in Crest of the Stars Franz Ferdinand being used in the Paradise Kiss opening, the Serial Experiments Lain opening by Boa and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex‘s first ending by Scott Matthew among other songs. Then I tacked on Vifam‘s opening for laughs. On that last one, it’s well worth seeing the live version. I was already approaching the maximum number of entries I could possibly get onto a ballot, but I wasn’t really paying attention.

I then moved back to the realm of songs that I could remember liking. This is where I struck a bit of form, or rather I just didn’t care about how many I could select. So I ended up with this, this, this, this, this, and  this. I was already well over now, but I couldn’t help but feeling that I had left some out. So I had to glance through the back catalog of songs I had in my collection to come up with some more songs that I had foolishly forgotten about in making up this list. So my list was complete, except for a Macross 7 song that I forgot to put in until after I sent my vote in. I would have chosen this.

For those keeping count, you may think that I had 30 songs above to choose from. Actually, I didn’t put any of those on my ballot. Forty-five songs was the total I came up with. 45. So in reverse order, here’s what I did send in:

15. “Catch You Catch Me” – Gumi (Card Captor Sakura 1st opening) This sticks in my head almost every time I hear it. It’s just bubblegum pop that fits the innocent tone of the series and opening animation. This was a more innocent time for me personally as I didn’t have a clue about CLAMP and was innocent to their doujin origins.
14. “TRY UNITE!” – Nakajima Megumi (Rinne no Lagrange opening) I had really stopped watching opening and ending animations to series at this point. So I think I forgot to skip it when I watched the first episode. I was astounded to discover a legitimately good dance track for an opening. Where was this for years?
13. “Cutie Honey” – Maekawa Yoko (Cutie Honey opening) I opted for the original 1973 version of this for the nomination. The Re: Cutie Honey version by Kumi Koda is also popular but I think it has too much added for a cover. Personally, my favorite cover version is by Go!Go!7188.
12. “Falling Down” – Oasis (Eden of the East opening) A song that fits the series as well as any on this list sparked some odd remarks from a con panel I attended 3 years ago. Negotiations to license the series and this opening by a certain company had their head of marketing referring to the band as “certain musicians from Manchester.” They got the rights to use this opening in the western release only for the first episode.
11. “Tenshi no Yubikiri” – Fukuda Mai (Karekano opening) This is another song that fits the series it is used in. Mainly because the opening animation fits Gainax’s production of this much loved or hated series. It’s a classic example of a song that sticks in one’s head. That opening line in English combined with the melody make it memorable. For some, it may be the only highlight of each episode.
10. “Rap wa Kan no Tamashii Da! Muri wo Toushite wo Kettobasu!” – Tarantula (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann insert song) Raw! Raw! Fight the Power! Combined with Iwasaki Taku’s orchestral backing this track is powerful. It almost makes you want to do the impossible and/or see the invisible.
9. “Girls on Film” – Duran Duran (Speed Grapher opening) I couldn’t possibly leave out Duran Duran when they are eligible in this. The opening animation even feels like something out of the 80s when the song was made. Also, I hope this doesn’t destroy any credibility I have in my musical taste.
8. “Motteke! Sailor Fuku” – Hirano Aya, Katou Emiri, Fukuhara Kaori & Endou Aya (Lucky Star opening) The lyrics to this song are completely nonsensical. It’s all over the place as far as direction including a like of sailor style school uniforms to worries about gaining weight. In other words, it captures the direction of the series perfectly in about 70 seconds. It has pomp and spectacle that seems somewhat lost nowadays.
7. “God Knows” – Hirano Aya (The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi insert song) From the voice actress I jokingly refer to as CDVA (Certain Disgraced Voice Actress), this is about as well as an insert concert scene can be animated and performed. It’s a rare combination of a song and a voice that fit together perfectly. Just watch it.
6. “Komm Süsser Tod” – Arianne (End of Evangelion insert song) It’s a upbeat song about ending one’s life. In the movie that’s played over surreal scenes of an apocalyptic event filled with people accepting the end of their individuality. It makes everything about the end of this film much more memorable. It’s the perfect track to be listening to for the end of the world. Let’s hope that never comes to pass shall we?
5. “One More Time” – Daft Punk (Interstella5555 scene 1) With a new album out, this seems to be the perfect time to mention the French dance musicians’ greatest hit to date. The visual version of this song is a concert on an alien world where all are having fun, but it’s so good the band is kidnapped by humans hoping to make some money. For those listening to Random Access Memories“One More Time” will seem immature by comparison, but the modifications of the vocals is a case of using the tools of one’s trade to experiment without fear.
4. “Yakusoku wa Iranai” – Sakamoto Maaya (Escaflowne opening) Sakamoto Maaya’s voice with music by Kanno Yoko resulted in this grandiose opening theme to a series that had a character design problem. It hasn’t aged well at all. That’s the fortunate thing about music. This will always sound grand with piano and guitar riffs. Visually, those noses look worse and worse by the day, and maybe this ushered in the reactionary “no nose” era.
3. “Groovin’ Magic” – Round Table featuring Nino (Diebuster opening) If you’re going to make a sequel to Gunbuster and try to make it stand on it’s own, what better place to throw a curve ball than in the opening. Just compare it to the original opening. Both are love songs of their times, but the newer effort is just more fun. I’ll take the light fun synthpop over the late 80s pop ballad almost all of the time
2. “Twilight” – Electric Light Orchestra (Daicon IV Opening Animation) The two opening animations created for the DAICON science fiction conventions in the early 80s are AMVs on another scale. That would be picking the song and then creating the animation from scratch. ELO’s song became an unofficial anthem of otakudom and tribute of the song and animation was made in the Densha Otoko opening. As for the song itself, it’s not considered one of ELO’s best singles. It didn’t make the first edition of The Essential Electric Light Orchestra after all. It’s a
1. “Voices” – Arai Akino (Macross Plus opening episode 1/ending episode 4) To be honest, I don’t know if I actually write this post or have this blog without the idea of this song being dedicated to future pioneers. The song itself is wonderfully melancholic song that also fits the three characters involved in this story that sent me down the rabbit hole

4 thoughts on “Pointless Debate #35: Ranking Anime Songs”

  1. Any anime music tournament without Catch You Catch Me or any Round Table music would be rather lacking. Would have been quite something to see Take Me Home Country Roads on that list since it was used in Whisper of the Heart too.

    1. I really need to watch more of these anime with English songs in them. Gunslinger Girl earlier and now that. I feel so ignorant when entering the land of those who love music.

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