Introduction | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-2 | 1 | Honorable Mentions
#15 - The Big O (Tosihiko Sahashi)
Okay, so it's first theme song is ripped from Queen's Flash Gordon theme song and the second season's theme music is the dark match version of the theme from Gerry Anderson's UFO. Call those "homages", damn it. It's obvious that The Big O borrows from various sources, not the least of which being Batman: The Animated Series (which Sunrise animated some of). But let that be a testament to the variety you'll find both in the show and its soundtrack. Want sultry, sexy sax? Want suspensful movie serial music invoking shades of Bernard Hermann? What about a track that's an obvious rearrangement of "La Merseillaise"? And this hodgepodge doesn't feel anything at all like a hodgepodge, with its judicious use throughout the 26 episode run of the program (which would have been longer if Mike Lazzo didn't have a hard on for two particularly unfunny "comedians"). The show's soundtrack might not give you what the title of the show promises, but you'll be satisfied nonetheless.
14. Eureka Seven (Various, but largely Naoki Sato)
Eureka Seven is steeped in music. The crew of the Gekko are like rock musicians themselves, or the popular view of the vagabond musicians who are too hip to ever be mainstream, but will still grace covers of magazines. There are dozens of musical references in the show. So it's no surprise that the show's soundtrack has been given a lot of thought and preparation. It's got Naoki Sato's emotional orchestral pieces, which knows which heart strings to pull and when. But electronica also bumps and pumps through the bloodstream of the soul of this series, with a little rock working the nerves. The soundtrack features work from Supercar, Kagami, and Denki Groove. That's not even mentioning the opening and closing theme songs, tracks like "Sakura" by Nirgilis (which samples "Amazing Grace"), one of my favorite anime songs. Listening to this stuff, you'll want to run away from home and join a hipster White Base, too.
13. Hellsing (Yasushi Ishii)
Though the first Hellsing television series probably isn't as compelling as the Hellsing Ultimate OVA, one thing that's been missed is the Yasushi Ishii's musical compositions. The often strange, haunting sound of the music fit the creepy atmosphere of the show. I'm especially a big fan of the guitar work by composition assistant Tatsuo Tabei. There are tracks that employ piano or chorus in addition to that guitar, and a lot of it comes off as vaguely experimental, in a good way. Any track might start off one way and then transform into something almost entirely different, but it always fits the mood created by the show, and often helps set it. If I were to descibe the sound, I would say, "dark". Yeah, it's dark music. But not, "I'm cutting myself" dark, but a classical sense. I guess more of a "I'm cutting you instead of myself, and sacrificing you to a dark god" kind of way.
12. Turn A Gundam (Yoko Kanno)
Imagine Aaron Copland composed for a Gundam show. That's essentially what Yoko Kanno's score sounds like, like American classical music, with some European classical thrown in for good measure, and maybe some John Williams-ish material. Forget "Fanfare for the Common Man", Yoko Kanno is no common woman. She instantly adapts to whatever style of music she feels is appropriate for the tone of the show she's composing music for, and puts a lot of spirit into her work. Most noteworthy are the beautiful "Moon" and its reprisal in "Tsuki no Mayu", which give a sort of Enya feel. Nothing feels like pure imitation, though, and it always speaks to the mood of the show, whether a scene of drama or one of action.
Also check out Emergence.
11. Macross Plus (Yoko Kanno)
Macross Plus was Yoko Kanno's first foray into orchestral music and her first big mark on the world of anime. Several types of sounds were used in the Plus score, from rock, to country, to grand orchestral, to simple piano, to choral chanting, all to suit a particular mood in a scene or character. Working alongside Kanno in her efforts were British conductor Anthony Inglis (who led the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for this production) and oft-cohort vocalist Akino Arai ("Voices"). The story of this anime revolves a lot around music, as well feelings of regret and nostalgia, and the heavy use of dreaming violins, whistful guitars, and crying pianos created a beautiful emotional complexity to the score. Macross Plus is beloved for several reasons, but the music might be the biggest.