OP/ED Op-Eds: The Best of Summer 2018

1808221409350097

Is anime music — shudder to think — becoming mainstream? Just the other day, I was browsing through a CD store and found an EP by some symphonic metal band covering Attack on Titan songs, just like that, out in the open. Should something like that even be allowed? By the way, did you know there’s a new season of Attack on Titan going on? I sure didn’t! Anyway, we’re halfway into near the end of the season once again, which means it’s time to pick our favourite anime songs of the past few months. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see anything from that one hit anime that is all about music, though — we’re just rebellious like that. What you will get is a lot of poor excuses, a lot of blatant cheating and most of all, a lot of disappointment to justify both. Can anyone tell me where the good anime songs went?

“Out Of My Head” by CHVRCHES ft. Wednesday Campanella

Look, I don’t give a toss if the anime this song is attached to doesn’t technically exist, it’s got music and lyrics and it’s attached to one of the most visually impressive pieces of animation I’ve seen all season, so I’m gonna go ahead and call this an anime song, alright? Despite being released as a throwaway single released exclusively to the Japanese market, “Out of My Head” marks a significant evolution of CHVRCHES’ pop perfection formula, spicing up their triumphant electronics with buzzing guitars and inviting Wednesday Campanella’s Kom_i along to celebrate the occasion. The result is a legit banger that plasters the Scottish indie darlings’ dual chorus hooks onto a SHAFT-ian kaleidoscope of art styles and aesthetics, up to and including a font that seems to have been shamelessly scavenged off the corpse of Darling in the FranXX. If there’s any criticism to be had, then, it’s that Kom_i leaves her characteristic sing/rap/comedy routine vocals at the door in favour of a more emotive style that better fits CHVRCHES’ anthemic melodramatics. It makes her appearance more of a gimmick than a testament of true artistic collaboration, but perhaps that’s no more than appropriate for Wednesday Campanella, a band that’s always gladly put its signature underneath every contract that comes its way. Anyway, when’s the full anime coming out?

jel_700

“Inkya Impulse” by Hina Kino, Rika Nagase, and Konomi Kohara (Asobi Asobase)

I don’t think it’s a very good season for OP/EDs so this was a tough choice. In the end I went with “Inkya Impulse” not because it’s a good song, in fact I’m barely able to listen to it all the way through it’s so bad. But it is a good joke, and for Asobi Asobase that is the most important thing. The ending song serves as a response to the mellow and lovely opening, which is meant to mislead the audience into thinking this is a cute, sweet, slice of life show. “Inkya Impulse” reveals the true black heart lurking beneath the shows soft camera filters and pastel earth tones. It’s a joke that has been done in other anime before, but I still find it funny.

“Make my story” by Lenny Code Fiction (My Hero Academia)

Is this actually that great? Nah, not really, but it’s slim pickings this season and honestly “Make my story” deserves a little bit of defending. When the OP swapped over, seemed like everyone and their mother were complaining that the new OP sucked, or was bad, or was worse by every possible metric, or some other bullshit hyperbolic statement. Not sure what they were talking about, since this one is just as passably-fine as every other My Hero Academia OP has been, because hey, hate to break it to ya: every MHA OP has been the same level of decent.

“Mission! Health First!” by Kana Hanazawa, Tomoaki Maeno, Daisuke Ono, and Kikuko Inoue (Cells at Work!)

Most of the time, I’ll pick a song because it truly is the best OP/ED. Whether this is in it best capturing the feeling envoked by its anime, or its technical skill, or its musical prowess, I like to be able to point out something good when I see it. Then, sometimes I pick a song because it’s fun and dumb and it’s exactly what I needed in a time when the rest of the pack puts on a mediocre showing. This is certainly the niche “Mission! Health First!” occupies. I will let it be known with only a little bit of shame that it was I who started the “we love kana hanazawa” tag on our posts, and this OP is a great example of why. While she only holds the spotlight for a relatively minor portion of the song, her cute, enthusiastic style, which to be honest borders more on moe rapping than actual singing, infects the entire song. It really makes you amped to see what weird antics the two blood cells are going to get into week in and week out.

gee_700

“Mission! Health First!” by Kana Hanazawa, Tomoaki Maeno, Daisuke Ono, and Kikuko Inoue (Cells at Work!)

Sometimes a show’s intro makes it onto this list because of its style, artistry, or musical achievement. And sometimes, it gets here because it’s just so dang charming. Like the show it headlines, “Mission! Health First!” isn’t necessarily the most awe inspiring, but it does an amazing job of putting a smile on my face. That little run Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell do at the start of the intro is the most charming 4-8 frames of animation I’ve seen all season. The OP itself does a great job of featuring the whole cast and setting up its distinct premise. Having the song performed by its primary cast of VAs is also a nice touch. Also come on, the start is just so catchy!

One! Two! Three Four! We! Are! Cells at work!

One! Two! Three Four! We are Hataraku!

“Oki Tegami” by Pistol Takehara (Mr. TONEGAWA Middle Management Blues)

Picking a favourite was hard this season, which is certainly a nice, uncommon problem to have. Notable songs that just missed out for me, in no particular order, include VORACITY by MYTH & ROID (Overlord III OP), Prayer by King Gnu (Banana Fish ED), Inkya Impulse (Asobi Asobase ED) and Muscat by Yuzu (Crayon Shin-chan‘s latest ED).

Oki Tegami is the kind of song I’ve come to appreciate thanks to other Nobuyuki Fukumoto anime adaptations, with Furuido’s Nantoka Nare (Akagi OP) being a tipping point in actively seeking out older Japanese music. It has the two things I want from this kind of music – powerful vocals and an incredibly catchy chorus. The chorus in particular is one I’ve caught myself humming on more than one occasion, probably to the annoyance of those around me. It’s unfortunate that the anime itself isn’t doing much for me, but Pistol Takehara has at least given me a nudge to dig out those old BOOWY and Blue Hearts albums.
artemis

“Get Into My Heart” by Miyavi and Kavka Shishido (Tsukumogami Kashimasu)

I’ve long been a fan of Kavka Shishido – not just because there are comparatively few mainstream Japanese female rockers and drummers out there, but because her vocals are also highly distinctive and quite different from any I’ve heard before within the Japanese music industry, past or present. Although many of her singles have taken on a lighter, more pop-friendly tone of late, Shishido still has a killer attitude, and I’m not at all surprised that she would eventually collaborate with someone like Miyavi, a well-established J-rocker and guitarist in his own right. If anything, I’m only surprised that such a collaboration didn’t come about sooner. ‘Get Into My Heart’, while not my favourite song from either artist, is still fairly catchy and a fun, interesting choice for Tsukumogami Kashimasus OP. If it encourages more people to dive deeper into Shishido’s music in the process (particularly from her debut album, Kavkanize), I can only view that as a good thing.

-=-

Did your favourite make the cut? Did we overlook a massive hit? Is anime music doomed? Is Kana Hanazawa a better rapper than Drake? Does anyone even read this bit anymore? Make sure to let us know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “OP/ED Op-Eds: The Best of Summer 2018

  1. “hey, hate to break it to ya: every MHA OP has been the same level of decent.”

    That is to say, though some are a little better than others, all have been pretty generic. 🙂 🙂

    My OP of the season, hands down, is “Grand Blue”:

    Great catchy song, great visuals, etc… etc… And also because it’s *such* a massive troll, having so little to do with show itself.

  2. I’m going to stump for High Score Girl again! The ED, in particular, by Etsuko Yakushimaru, isn’t just catchy, but also does a great job of capturing the show’s aching melancholy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.