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#1 | Back to Top11-11-2012 09:10:11 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Opening songs that fit -- or don't

Do not click the link below!  It goes to the opening song of an anime.  Instead, right-click it and open it in a new tab.  Don't tab over to it.  Don't watch the video, don't look at the song title.  If you know any Japanese, try to forget it.  If you've heard the song before and know where it's from, try to forget that too.  Just listen to the music.  Without reading on, using only the music, imagine what kind of anime this is.  Does the song suggest anything to you about the show's genre or plot?  Its characters?  Its tone?  Its themes?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiyU3EJmhxI

Now try this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TABmuUHIRzs

This is kind of a game.  But it's not in the Shaved Ice Lounge, because I mean for it to be a bit of a serious game.  We're accustomed to beautiful music at the beginning of anime and TV shows, but I'm interested in finding out how well that music emblemizes the shows it introduces.  I'm actually going to tell you what kind of shows the above pieces are from, but first I actually do want you to listen to them and make your own guesses.  Whether you're right or wrong, I hope you'll share those guesses in the comments -- and post an opening song or two of your own!

The first song is the opening to the OAV Read or Die.  Read or Die is a takeoff on the spy genre, in the James Bond vein, and features protagonists employed by the secret service arm of the British Library to investigate and fight a race of supermen who are wreaking havoc across the world.  There are plot twists, betrayal, and superpowers: the main character can bend paper to her will, with often ridiculous and hilarious consequences.  How did you do?  How much of this could you have guessed from the music?

The second song is the opening to Kino's Journey.  Kino's Journey is a spare, lonely show about an androgynous traveler of indeterminate age, nonchalant and disinvolved, traveling among the strange nations of the world.  Because of past rejection, the protagonist is badly broken, with only a motorcycle for a friend; most of the nations are even more badly broken.  The show is Gulliver's Travels if Gulliver had been a cynic terrified of becoming attached.  How did you do?  How much of this could you have guessed from the music?

Let me share how I think I would have done.  As a piece of music, I greatly prefer the second song, but I think it matches its anime much less.  The first song immediately speaks "spy thriller," drawing on the musical style of Mission: Impossible and the Bond movies, with enough spontaneity to get across the humorous-played-straight tone of the show.  The second song sounds like a show about a close-knit group of high-school seniors learning about friendship in the months before their graduation.  It reminds me of "I Hope You Dance," for instance.

What did you guess?

Last edited by satyreyes (11-11-2012 09:12:19 AM)

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#2 | Back to Top11-11-2012 12:25:36 PM

Crystalline_Dream
Sunlit Gardener (Finale)
From: Beneath a starry sky
Registered: 01-17-2011
Posts: 180

Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

For the first link, I was thinking of some kind of noir-type show that may or may not have a setting in space. Cowboy-Bebop-y, I guess. I was kind of right!

For the second, I couldn’t really pinpoint what the song was trying to do. It seemed generic. Pretty, but nothing I haven’t heard before on other shows. Lyrically, I have no idea how fitting is, as I have no knowledge of Japanese. The word “struggle” came to my mind for some reason, though.

Here are my contributions:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Iq37xdX … re=related

And

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzBZU1hKIzg

And

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4_dXmsdreM

**********************************************************************************


The first is the Fruits Basket OP, which many probably recognize. The song is simple, reserved, and lovely. It fits the sweet-yet-somber tone of Fruits Basket to a T, and its calming simplicity adds to the intimacy the show has. I adore this opening, and the whole beautiful story it introduces.

The second link is the Deadman Wonderland OP. Now, I’ve only really seen an episode or two of this show (It’s not really my cup of tea), but it seems to be very appropriate, from the driving instrumentals, to the plot-inspired English lyrics. Deadman Wonderland is about a facility where criminals are sentenced, and they must fight each other to stay alive or they will die in the most grotesque and painful ways possible. The references to blood in the song are relevant, considering that the manipulation of the blood is the main power in the show. I’ m not a fan of the show, but I love this opening.

The last link is the opening to Berserk. It certainly does nothing to betray the absolute darkness and brutality of this epic work. Maybe that was the point…? Regardless, I don't think it's representative at all of what you're getting into if you watch the show, and I've only seen a few episodes.

(satyr, are we limited to only a discussion of the songs themselves, or can their relationship to the visuals also be included?)

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#3 | Back to Top11-11-2012 01:54:22 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Registered: 04-11-2012
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Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

It seems to me that the OPs of most anime shows I know (including SKU) all fall within the constraints of "perky/sell-able JPop", with most making only but marginal fits with the animes they're supposed to represent (Escaflowne being the only exception I can think of at this moment).  It's usually the songs played within the show that TRULY fit (at least certain moments of) that show; and next to those, the EDs - which are not necessarily JPop, and could be jazz like in Eva, or classical-oriental like in Sakon - usually represent the series muchbetter than their OP counterparts.


(SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Completed as of May 12, 2018) / (PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 4 as of Oct 31, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
http://archiveofourown.org/users/gorgeousshutin/works or https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3978886/

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#4 | Back to Top11-11-2012 02:27:05 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

Crys, here are my notes on the three you posted!  I recognized the Fruits Basket theme, but I did my honest best to listen to it like I'd never heard it before.  I also did my best not to listen to the other two songs' English lyrics, because I was interested in whether the nonverbal elements of the music were doing their job.

1) Sweet, mild-mannered, probably a romance.  Suggestion of loss; possibly a tragedy or with tragic overtones.
2) Fast-paced show, possibly post-apocalyptic, almost certainly shounen or seinen.  I think probably someone is fighting monsters.  Probably focused tightly on 1-2 characters.
3) Distorted major key suggests deception.  Show is either lighthearted or pretending to be.  Probably has action elements -- rock instruments -- but it may be an unconventional buddy comedy.

So I nailed Fruits Basket and did pretty well on Deadman Wonderland, but I only got a piece of Berserk.  I would agree that it's a song not especially well-matched to the content you describe.  (I really do need to watch Berserk myself one of these days.)  I think Shutin is right that many OPs are designed to be marketable, but some shows are more successful than others at having OPs that are both marketable and evocative of the show's premise.  (It seems to me that Escaflowne's OP is extremely marketable, in addition to matching and indeed setting the mood of the show perfectly.)  And for some reason I'm interested in which shows do this successfully, and it's fun to listen to an opening song keeping this sort of thing in mind! emot-biggrin

Other reactions to the OPs that have been posted so far?

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#5 | Back to Top11-11-2012 07:02:30 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

Crystalline_Dream wrote:

(satyr, are we limited to only a discussion of the songs themselves, or can their relationship to the visuals also be included?)

Oops, I didn't answer your question, did I?  I don't mind discussion of the relationships between the songs and the visuals.  I think the music should be able to make some kind of sense on its own, but certainly OP videos integrate their video with their audio.  A song that doesn't make sense on its own might make more sense in the context of the action on screen.  So I think the video is fair game.

shutin wrote:

It's usually the songs played within the show that TRULY fit (at least certain moments of) that show . . .

Sure, but the "certain moments" thing is a pretty big catch.  Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku is an amazing mood-setter for SKU's duels, but you wouldn't use that song to set the tone for the whole show: ZUM musically says "the drama is coming to a head right now," while SKU as a whole is carefully paced.  Rinbu Revolution is much better for that.  An opening song's job is to set the stage for the whole show, which is quite a different mission from a song played within a show.

. . .and next to those, the EDs - which are not necessarily JPop, and could be jazz like in Eva, or classical-oriental like in Sakon - usually represent the series muchbetter than their OP counterparts.

To this I say, first, I think you overstate the number of J-pop OPs while understating their effectiveness.  You cite Eva, which has a J-pop OP and a jazzy ED.  Do you seriously want to make the case, though, that Fly Me to the Moon represents Eva better than Zankokuna Tenshi no Teeze does?  emot-biggrin

Second, though, I'm interested in EDs as well as OPs.  I think their job is a little different from an OP's job, the same way the conclusion of an essay is a little different from its introduction, but they should both have something to do with what's in between.  But I would love to hear your or anyone's perspectives on this!  For example, I think most of us would agree that we wouldn't switch the order of Rinbu Revolution and Truth; why is this such a bad idea?

Last edited by satyreyes (11-11-2012 07:02:51 PM)

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#6 | Back to Top11-11-2012 07:43:02 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Registered: 04-11-2012
Posts: 1327
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Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

You cite Eva, which has a J-pop OP and a jazzy ED.  Do you seriously want to make the case, though, that Fly Me to the Moon represents Eva better than Zankokuna Tenshi no Teeze does?

Oh no, look at my hurried (and awkward) wording leading to your LOL misinterpretation emot-gonk

I cite Eva only meaning to show that the EDs are not limited by J Pop (though I do think Sakon's ED is much more effective in representing the antiquated-quality of the overall show than its OP) thus are not limited to the overtly "perky" bits of a reasonably intricate show.  Yes, you're right that Eva's OP can fit Eva rather well as far as anime OPs go (especially with the words "cruel angel" in the lyrics) . . . but does Rinbu Revolution (with its light depiction of school girl friendship)  truly fit Utena, as in the whole show of Utena, with the Black Rose Arc, Akio Arc, and the Apocalypse Arc, and not just the teeny feel-good early eps of the Student Council Arc?  I think even SKU's first ED, Truth represents a bigger portion of the show better than RR (though I agree with you that Truth will not make for a good Op either due to its limited nature).   Though honestly, I don't think there is any song - or even musical score - in SKU that can truly represent the grand, edgy-yet-tender melo-pyschodrama of the show in its entirety, not the Elevator Music, not even the much praised Sunlit Garden.

So far, the show that I think as the best fit OP is Escaflowne, with Please Save My Earth nailing it with an EP that truly captures the show.  Loveless has this "within the show" song (can't remember the name) playing during Ritsuka's recollection of his older brother's death that, I think, can truly represent much of the show's atmosphere.

Edited to add:  found the name of that Loveless Song rep-ing the whole show well: Tragedies ~ Seimei

Last edited by gorgeousshutin (11-11-2012 08:02:11 PM)


(SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Completed as of May 12, 2018) / (PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 4 as of Oct 31, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
http://archiveofourown.org/users/gorgeousshutin/works or https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3978886/

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#7 | Back to Top11-11-2012 08:08:05 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

Ahh, I think you are putting more weight on the lyrics of Rinbu Revolution than I am!  As I've indicated a couple times, I'm especially interested here in the work the music does by itself, apart from words or pictures, although those are legitimate things to consider.  And taking the music by itself, I don't think Rinbu Revolution is a "light depiction of school girl friendship" at all.  That kind of song would be maybe a Taylor Swift-y number, with less textured instrumentation, more consonant chords, and probably a clear major key.  Rinbu Revolution enticingly straddles a major key and a minor key, never quite clearly establishing itself in either; not unrelatedly, it's a little hard to say whether the song sounds happy or sad, though it is certainly energetic.  This also happens to be true of SKU.  So yes, I do think that Rinbu Revolution, at least in its scoring, captures SKU pretty well, including the dark parts.  Put another way, I never felt any cognitive dissonance when Rinbu Revolution led into an episode full of drama or betrayal or hate that went way beyond a light depiction of schoolgirl friendship.  Did you?

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#8 | Back to Top11-11-2012 08:23:37 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Registered: 04-11-2012
Posts: 1327
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Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

Rinbu Revolution enticingly straddles a major key and a minor key, never quite clearly establishing itself in either; not unrelatedly, it's a little hard to say whether the song sounds happy or sad, though it is certainly energetic.

The score, on its own strikes me as being ever more perky/genki than when with lyrics.

Put another way, I never felt any cognitive dissonance when Rinbu Revolution led into an episode full of drama or betrayal or hate that went way beyond a light depiction of schoolgirl friendship.  Did you?

To be honest, I did.

I actually thought that was the reason why Ep 39 started off with the Anthy backstab recap scene and not the RR OP, just so the dark drama of said scene does not get diluted by having to immediately follow the perky music.  Then, after the RR OP footage, the scene that comes up next is the "less dramatic" beginning  of the sedated Student Council final meeting scene, which serves to gradually pull the drama levels back up via Juri's drowned forgotten self-sacrifed hero story, prior to having the gritty Utena post-stab scene show up.   I always thought this arrangement of scenes and OP is so that the OP will not create dissonance in the viewers when watching the dramatic events unfold.

Last edited by gorgeousshutin (11-11-2012 08:41:03 PM)


(SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Completed as of May 12, 2018) / (PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 4 as of Oct 31, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
http://archiveofourown.org/users/gorgeousshutin/works or https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3978886/

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#9 | Back to Top11-11-2012 09:37:19 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

Oh, yes, definitely!  The decision to skip Rinbu Revolution in episode 39 was right on target.  You can't jump-cut from that song's energy to a scene of basic hopelessness and anticlimax.  What you can do is build the episode out of that song into scenes like that by degrees, which is why no other episode has to skip the OP.  I don't think you could do this very effectively if Utena's OP were, say, "Soramimi Keeki," which actually does introduce a lighthearted show about schoolgirl friendships.  But this may be a place where we'll have to agree to disagree.

Here are a few more OPs (none of which is even a little bit J-pop).  Same exercise.  What kind of show is this?

Song Q: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsss-asr7XY

How about this?

Song R: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91UivPz5MTY

Or this?

Song S: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE-Ws3-wsTQ



* * *



Song Q is the opening of Boogiepop Phantom.  Boogiepop Phantom is a psychological horror show about the aftermath of a mysterious supernatural event, which left many high school students with the power and/or obligation to fight or escape invisible paranormal horrors.  The show's mood is generally alienating, frequently swinging between terse dialogue and sudden violence, and it's almost Lovecraftian in how it portrays the interface between normal people and otherworldly powers.  Did the song communicate any of this?

Song R is the opening of Monster.  Monster is also a deeply psychological show with elements of horror, focusing on the relationship between a genius medical doctor and the tragic but psychopathic serial killer whose life he once saved.  The doctor becomes a criminal himself in order to hunt down his onetime patient across most of eastern Europe, all the while torn about whether he will actually be able to kill him when he finds him.  The show, whose pace is slow, heavy, and deliberate, poses the question of what it means to be a monster (and, therefore, what it means to be human).  Did the song communicate any of this?

Song S is the opening of Hi no Tori (Phoenix).  Hi no Tori is an anthology of stories on the theme of immortality: the seeking of it, the getting of it, the having of it.  The stories vary a lot in content, but the mood is intimate yet sweeping, surreal, and wistful, as characters grapple with the meaning of death and the realization that immortality is unattainable or cannot solve their problems.  It's based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka, so you can bet there are a lot of small-minded and immoral people -- but everyone is human at their core.  Did the song communicate any of this?

I consider exactly one of these three songs to be very badly matched to its show, and I bet most people playing along would feel the same way. emot-smile  But there are no right or wrong answers!  What did people think?

Last edited by satyreyes (11-11-2012 09:41:30 PM)

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#10 | Back to Top11-12-2012 01:43:09 PM

the_architect
Saionji Slapper
From: Italy
Registered: 12-03-2010
Posts: 22

Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

satyreyes wrote:

Do you seriously want to make the case, though, that Fly Me to the Moon represents Eva better than Zankokuna Tenshi no Teeze does?  emot-biggrin

...that's because Zankoku na Tenshi no Teeze wasn't supposed to be Eva's OP song school-devil

Anno originally wanted to use the famous Polovtsian Dance from Borodin's opera Prince Igor as the opening for Evangelion, but (apparently) his sponsors and TV Tokyo forced him to use a J-pop song for marketing purposes. Fortunately, Gainax and their composer Shiro Sagisu were able to use it as the main soundtrack for the unforgettable last episode of Kare Kano, even if Anno had already left the direction of that show a few episodes earlier.

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#11 | Back to Top11-12-2012 01:45:21 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

Huh!  Wow, I would never have guessed.  ZTT is iconic and seems to me to fit the show perfectly.  Anime production is a strange world!  emot-smile

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#12 | Back to Top11-12-2012 02:52:52 PM

gorgeousshutin
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Registered: 04-11-2012
Posts: 1327
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Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

the_architect wrote:

...that's because Zankoku na Tenshi no Teeze wasn't supposed to be Eva's OP song school-devil

Anno originally wanted to use the famous Polovtsian Dance from Borodin's opera Prince Igor as the opening for Evangelion, but (apparently) his sponsors and TV Tokyo forced him to use a J-pop song for marketing purposes.

Oh well.  Anime is a money game after all.  TPTB will often have deals with Idol Agencies that use the anime shows to promote their own Idol's JPop CDs .

ZNTNT is an okay fit for NGE, but no way can it compare to the snug fit a well-arranged (perhaps New Age with Techno elements?) version of PD can give the show.

P.S.  I always thought that SKU Movie's MAkio (inferior to Akio in all ways), his (crappy) new voice, and said new voice singing the JPop-ish ED "I Wannbe a Fiance" is the result of money gulping TPTB as well.


(SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Completed as of May 12, 2018) / (PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 4 as of Oct 31, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
http://archiveofourown.org/users/gorgeousshutin/works or https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3978886/

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#13 | Back to Top11-12-2012 04:19:17 PM

Lurv
Pained Growlithe
Registered: 05-25-2012
Posts: 520

Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

I love Eva's OP. It always gets me in a bright mood. emot-biggrin

Which might not be that appropriate, but oh well, it could be worse. emot-gonkemot-gonkemot-gonk

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#14 | Back to Top11-12-2012 04:38:43 PM

MikoGalatea
Rose Bride
From: England, UK
Registered: 02-25-2012
Posts: 115
Website

Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

Lurv wrote:

I love Eva's OP. It always gets me in a bright mood. emot-biggrin

Which might not be that appropriate, but oh well, it could be worse. emot-gonkemot-gonkemot-gonk

... I was waiting for someone to bring up the Narutaru OP! emot-rofl Seriously, both the song and the animation there are the most inappropriate thing ever for that series... and it's also a standout example of when an opening song deliberately doesn't fit.

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#15 | Back to Top11-12-2012 05:35:21 PM

Atropos
Atropos Turretslayer
From: Hampden College
Registered: 10-22-2011
Posts: 907

Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J94Dj5_Tjdc
This one might require a bit more effort to forget than usual.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkcQv3pXnTQ
This one, significantly less.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On the first one: it's pretty typical J-Pop, and not at all representative of the show it's made for. I was disappointed; thankfully they replace it later on.

The second one: it may seem mismatched at first, but keep in mind that the series is, beyond a Dune-level space epic, a romance between the two central characters. This romance was the focus of the film, so a theme tune based more around that aspect is appropriate.

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#16 | Back to Top11-12-2012 06:19:47 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

The first song makes me think of a tamer "Eye of the Tiger."  This could be a sports anime, or some other show with a lot of physical activity that isn't fighting.  It probably doesn't have a lot of emotional breadth; the focus is on the heroine's relationship with the sport.  She probably has a single well-defined goal that motivates all the action.  Either she has something to prove or she wants to make someone proud.  Offhand, it doesn't sound like the kind of show I'd be interested in.  emot-tongue

The second song has upbeat verses, but then a decidedly sad or wistful bridge (with almost the exact same motif used in the Fruits Basket OP) and a chorus that sounds like I do when I'm trying to reframe pain.  This is probably an adventure show with a team of protagonists.  There's a romance between the leads, but getting that off the ground requires one or both of them to leave behind an unusually painful past.  The mood is determined, not in an easy optimistic way, but in a teeth-gritting way.

* * *

I had never heard the second song before.  Based on what you said and the brief Wikipedia article on the show, it looks like I got at least part of it, though I missed the setting and the mecha.  I mean it about Fruits Basket, though.  Fruits Basket: 0:35.  Five Star Stories: 0:50emot-biggrin

ETA: I forgot to mention that I love the second song.  Thank you for sharing it!  etc-love

Last edited by satyreyes (11-12-2012 06:23:18 PM)

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#17 | Back to Top11-12-2012 07:43:13 PM

gorgeousshutin
Bare Footman
Registered: 04-11-2012
Posts: 1327
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Re: Opening songs that fit -- or don't

The psychedelic OP of No. 6 seems appropriate for that yaoi-ish futuristic sci-fi.

Oh, and the Saiyuki season 1's rock/pop OP seem to fit okay (as in Eva's CAThesis level okay) for a show that turned deities in ancient Chinese literature into post-modern thug-punks.

Last edited by gorgeousshutin (11-12-2012 07:46:39 PM)


(SKU/MPD) Seinen Kakumei Utena (Completed as of May 12, 2018) / (PSOH/SKU) Revolutionary Human Leon (Updated to Part 4 as of Oct 31, 2017) / (NGE) The End of Hedgehog_s Dilemma (Updated to Part II Chapter 6 as of May 17, 2016) / (BananaFish) Medusa (Updated to Chapter 3 as of Mar 1, 2016)
http://archiveofourown.org/users/gorgeousshutin/works or https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3978886/

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