Despite being pseudo-musical (mediocre violinist for ten years), I didn’t really start listening to music just for the sake of just listening it until sometime in high school. And even then, it was just a few select songs from some of my favorite anime. In fact, it wasn’t until I got to college that I got introduced to the idea of the “playlist” and the idea of organizing your favorites in a looping list was revolutionary for me.
Evaluating music, much like literature, is often a subjective experience. I suppose it’s not too difficult for people who don’t get an emotional reaction from music to evaluate it objectively, but I fall in with the “music plays with the heartstrings of my soul” camp. There are just some songs that you hear that you can’t help but just like. It’s similar to liking a dog with an eccentrically squashed face. Objectively, you know it’s not particularly attractive by standard conventions but you see something in that kyaa-inducing dopey expression.
My impromptu system of evaluating music involves the highly scientific method of absolute frequency.
Which is really just another way of picking the top ten most played anime songs on my iTunes.
What sort of information can I glean from this? Well, the top ten songs obviously tend to be songs that I like. I use the shuffle option frequently in iTunes to get a variety of anime songs, but certain songs that come up that I really dig end up getting replayed or added to another playlist, further increasing the chances of them getting played again.
Why the Anime Opening?
I do think while anime should hardly be judged by their openings, having an awesome opening certainly doesn’t hurt one’s chances. In fact, especially for casual watchers, the anime opening is crucial as it’s one’s first impression of a show. Weak-sauce openings give a bad impression. A lackluster opening can make one expect a lackluster show. Whether or not this is true is a whole other story but since the opening’s going to be something played at every episode, it’s important to get it right for optimal anime watching experience.
Without further ado, here is Anime Monographia’s Top Ten Most Played Anime Openings (according to jstorming’s iTunes).
Honorable Mention: Guren no Yumiya (紅蓮の弓矢, “Crimson Bow and Arrow”), by Linked Horizon (2013)
One consequence of using mentioned highly scientific method of statistical analysis is that the method makes it hard for more recent songs to make the list. After all, older songs have the advantage of time, while newer songs get shuttled towards the bottom. Guren no Yumiya, of course, as the first opening of Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) spawned a deluge of covers, remakes, spoofs, and commercials that I bet took the creators by surprise. Though I was familiar with Revo‘s works prior to this with Sound Horizon, “Guren no Yumiya” is his most memorable sounding work. Right off the bat from hearing the throaty chorus shouting “Seid ihr das Essen?/Nein, wir sind der Jäger!” and I knew I would be breaking in that replay button. Repeatedly.
10) Doubt & Trust ～ダウト＆トラスト～ , by Access (2007)
An older song, Doubt & Trust is the third opening of D.Gray-man, a shonen anime that I was obsessed with in my earlier days of anime watching. For the longest time, I firmly believed it to be my favorite opening of all time. An old time favorite that’s been consistently on my top 20 most played for over 6 years, Doubt & Trust is also a fun song to karaoke to. If you haven’t seen the original PV, check it out! Daisuke Asakura does some insane keyboarding there.
9) Fiesta (エール), by +Plus (2011)
Fairy Tail was a standard shonen with standard shonen openings but for some reason, this one stuck. Maybe it’s because I have a thing for Japanese boy band music (takes a deep, shameless bow). But it’s a cool, fun song with a really catchy chorus. No emotional attachment to Fairy Tail’s sixth opening but it appears frequently on shuffle a lot, which gives me the impression that iTunes’ shuffle may not be so random.
8) Scarlet Knight, by Mizuki Nana (水樹 奈々)
Mizuki Nana owns my heart and soul.
But actually, though many of her songs sound similar, Scarlet Knight drew me because its powerful chorus had an epic sound that her songs usually lack. I will be upfront and say that this is a case where I can like a song independently of its anime. I didn’t even watch Dog Days, nor do I care to try it at any point in the near future as the anime doesn’t look particularly good, but am I always up for some of Nana’s powerful vocals? Yes.
7) the World, by Nightmare (2006)
This is such an angry song. I love it.
A lot of anime opening music tends to be produced independently from anime. This is where you’ll get an opening that clashes dissonantly with the anime’s narrative theme. Sometimes this is done intentionally (a la ClariS’s “Connect” in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica) for ironic effect.)
Occasionally, you’ll have an opening where not only the song’s style matches the anime’s atmosphere but the lyrics themselves fit perfectly within the narrative’s thematic framework. “the World” is a dark song about a broken idealist who sees himself as a “broken Messiah” and how he turns to the darkness and vows to start a revolution that will bring forth a “bright and shining world.” Which pretty much sums up the plot of Death Note.
6) only my railgun, by fripSide (2009)
My first experience with this song was at a karaoke session with some friends. We were muddling through the voluminous songlists trying to decipher the hiragana and katakana characters (with all of us, we knew approximately twenty characters, which of course, wasn’t that much different from just pointing at the list, “Oh look, a song by GreeeeN! We should try that!”). An ambitious friend picked “only my railgun” and thus regaled us with screechy shouts of “ONLY MY RAILGUN!” for the next four minutes.
Good times. Nothing quite as memorable as the glory of butchering the song. “only my railgun” is fast and definitely kept fripSide on my musical radar. They’ve produce some good stuff, including their latest project, “black bullet” which kind of sounds like a crazy fusion of “Guren no Yumiya” and “only my railgun.”
Nope, didn’t finish the show (A Certain Scientific Railgun) though.
5) Hacking to the Gate, by Ito Kanako (2011)
Not a song I liked right off the bat but one that grew on me as I watched Stein;s Gate. Another song that matches the anime both musically and thematically, “Hacking to the Gate,” like Stein;s Gate, is ultimately a love story. For all of his supposedly diabolical plans and impression evasions of secret government conspiracy groups, Okabe Rintarou really just wants to save Makise Kurisu from a tragic death. Similarly, this song is about a time-traveler who “denies tomorrow” by traveling perpetually in a time loop to protect the one he/she loves.
It also just sounds really cool.
4) Get Over, by dream (2002)
Hikaru no Go is an anime that blows you away…quietly. It was something I tried out in between the frustrating times when there were long hiatuses in the airing of new English dubbed episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! I needed something to alleviate the ache of not watching animated characters play a children’s card game while striking dramatic poses. And then I stumbled across Hikaru no Go.
Never have I been so glad that I didn’t drop it. It’s seriously one of the best tournament-based anime out there (not that the bar is set very high for this kind of thing but let me tell you, Hikaru no Go sets a very high standard, indeed.) And while all of the openings are good, this song, the first opening, resonates very strongly with me because I enjoyed the show so much.
3) Flower- Saki Midareshi Hana, by GIGS (2008)
Prince of Tennis openings tend to be hit or miss for me. I either really like them or just don’t. This is one that I like and interestingly enough, the song is sung by four seiyu (voice actors) who voice main characters in the show. Again, the catchy chorus from this opening theme to the Prince of Tennis: Tournament Finals Arc reels me in, hook, line and sinker. I’m pretty sure the song isn’t about tennis but then again, in this show, anything resembling real tennis would be surprising. I mean, real tennis? Who does that?
2) Monochrome Kiss (モノクロのキス), by SID (2008)
Uh…yes, well, the lyrics to this song do much to further enhance the homoerotic shota elements already present in Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji). That aside, it’s a great stand-alone song and is welcomed whenever I’m in a pensive mood (which is frequent). Hard to pin down this song–it’s not exactly sorrowful but not really angry. Maybe somewhere between regretful and longing? I like darker songs, just because minor chords tend to be more interesting musically.
1) Preserved Roses, by Mizuki Nana x TM Revolution (2013)
So much epic. So much vibrato.
Possibly the most popular (at least sales wise) anime song from 2013, “Preserved Roses” is incredibly addicting to listen to right from the first few upbeat notes. It’s the kind of song that gets you pumped up and feel like you can do anything. Like start a revolution and create your own independent country.
Also, I am firmly convinced that like Valvrave the Liberator (Kakumeiki Valvrave), the story of this song is a love song. I mean, space vamp Haruto is clearly the preserved rose. And L-Elf is clearly the tragic lover who ultimately fails to protect the rose (Haruto) from his inevitable death. So clearly obvious, right?
“Preserved Roses” is not by any means my favorite song. As mentioned before, this high-powered statistical analysis is just one out of many possible ways I could have chosen to evaluate what music I think is good. I’m not, by any means, a credible music critic. But as an anime consumer, it’s important for one to think about all aspects of anime–not just the story, but the music itself as well. Because when you think about it, music is actually very important in anime. I mean, imagine an anime without music. That would be weird.
What’s on your anime top ten playlist?