Introduction | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-2 | 1 | Honorable Mentions
5. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad (Various, but mostly Beat Crusaders)
It's no surprise that a TV series about musicians has some great music. What is a surprise is just how many talents were involved in it all. Sure, the majority of the tracks are done by the Beat Crusaders, with their alternative/indie-punkish sound, like White Stripes by way of Blind Melon. But there are contributions by composer Michiru Oshima (Fullmetal Alchemist), The High-Lows, YeLLOW Generation, and even The Pillows. It's a great soundtrack to the rise of a smalltime band and the feelings of emerging youth. Favorites of mine include the opening theme, "Hit in the USA" and "Moon on the Water". Sure, a lot of it is Engrish-y, but if you prefer, the English dub offers straight English versions.
4. FLCL (Shinkichi Mitsumune, The Pillows)
What is the very first thing you think of when you think FLCL? Is it robots? Is it bizarreness? Is it, perhaps, using electric guitars as mallets? For me, it's the use of those guitars to do what they were intended to: fucking rock. The band with the unconventional name, The Pillows, is nearly ever-present, an omnipresent power in the quirky, frantic, funny story of a young boy coming to the realization that, hey, maybe I should like things take their course (and yes, that's the message of the show). I didn't think rock compositions could cover the gamut of emotions as well as the music for this show does. It's not just The Pillows, either, since there are other compositions used for simpler background music, which are all good in their own. However, it's the soulful, passionate tracks like "Hybrid Rainbow" and "Instant Music" that help to bring the spirit of springing youthfulness in the story to life. It's a damn good listen, even if you still can't figure out what "Fooly Cooly" means (nobody can).
To this day The Pillows remain my favorite J-rock band. As a three piece rock band that has been together for over 20 years, and consistently to put out great albums on a yearly basis, they must be doing something right. I was a bit familiar with The Pillows before FLCL, but FLCL is was really sparked my interest in them. The entire FLCL OST is by The Pillows, which is something I don't think I have seen before, an entire OST by a single rock band.
FLCL is one of those shows where something crazy or not so crazy happens, a song kicks in and you get goosebumps. I can't even begin to list songs that I love and why I love them, there are just so many, and really none I don't like.
I think for me what really added to the FLCL soundtrack was that a lot of the insert songs had vocals. As I have grown older I have learned to appreciate instrumental tracks, but when I was younger I just liked having something to sing and listen to. There are of course some instrumental versions of songs in the show, but not that many that I can recall.
I can't imagine FLCL would be the same without the iconic soundtrack by The Pillows. I wholeheartedly recommend checking out The Pillows older and newer albums if you got any enjoyment from the FLCL soundtrack. - Brett Chalupa
3. Giant Robo (Masamichi Amano)
How many anime OSTs were composed by an Academy Award nominee? None, you say? Well, one was. This one. Masamichi Amano, who composed the soundtrack to the movie Battle Royale is the genius behind the breathtaking score. Performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, which Yoko Kanno used for Vision of Escaflowne and Wolf's Rain. This is a score that evokes everything from adventure movie serials with its Stanley Wilson-esque use of trumpets to classical opera with its use of Donizetti's "Una furtiva lagrima" from L'elisir d'amore. The use of leitmotifs doubles the presence of some characters and themes, emphasizing their emotional connection to each other and the grandness of the scale of the story. The oft-sweeping, Wagneresque harmonies, the passionate operatics, and poignant, whistful renditions of more bombastic pieces are the heart of this score, but every bit as important are the grand action-paced grand stands. This is an essential listen.
Also check out Rush! Issei & Yohshi.
2. The Vision of Escaflowne (Yoko Kanno and Hajime Mizoguchi)
The Vision of Escaflowne is a love story, rich with emotional turmoil (and sometimes, melodrama). So who better to compose for it than a (formerly) married couple? That's right, Yoko Kanno and Hajime Mizoguchi were actually married at the time of their creation of this soundtrack! Though perhaps not from their love for each other, you can certainly feel the passion in this score, which makes heavy use of string instruments, such in pieces like "Shadow of Doubt" and "A Far Cry", as well as choral arragements with beautiful vocals, such as in "Arcadia" or "Epistle". Perhaps most famously, the piece "Dance of Curse" is used in moments of peak drama and action. Operatics and a strong instrumental sound provided by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra are the lifeblood of selling the fantasy world of Gaia to the viewer. I'm sold. I just hope I don't have to be a runner to get to Gaia. I get winded easily.