Thinking about it, it’s been 5 years since one of my all-time favorite anime first broadcasted, and I’d like to think that I have taken Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! for granted more than I should be. As time has passed, more shows have come out of the works, ufotable has become more of a household name compared to at that time (at least, to TYPE-MOON fans if no-one else), and the industry is in a state of flux, but few shows and works since have managed to grab me like that. And I don’t think any show I’ve seen made after this has had quite as much “heart” as Manabi Straight had (the fact that I’m still having a hard time defining this intangible quality now says a fair bit). For lack of a better word, it was a sincere work. I’m hoping for ufotable to do something with it the future with the property, since it seems like they haven’t forgotten about the work either But I’m actually hear to talk about something more tangential to the show, as thinking about the show also made me remember it’s music, and that what stood out for me wasn’t even played in the show.
As part of merchandise, like other shows that feature a mostly/all-female main character cast, character singles were released for the five main characters of Manabi Straight. What made them a little special for me is that they came out before the show proper, and that they included trailers that did a nice misdirection job introducing the show as something much more apocalyptic then what actually was. To be honest, those PVs were the best part because the songs included were essentially standard cheesy J-Pop fare that I disregarded easily. Surprisingly, the songs came back on an extra CD on the first show soundtrack, “Ensemble I”. But this time around, the songs were remixed, with the vocals remaining mostly the same, but different background music accompanying them. And subjectively, they sounded good. That little wrinkle makes more difference than I would think.
The CD was also nicely cheesy in a way. The music itself, of course. The overly long song titles indicating the remix type such as “Tomodachi Kuraija Mono-tan Nice Chef no Kimagure Regeton Mix” (which actually didn’t have that distinctive Reggaeton beat to it):
And the fact that it’s hard to make Yui Horie or Ai Nonaka’s “moe” singing voices anything but, so they work with it and give a “trance” and “house” feel to some of their songs:
“Massugu Daisakusen♪ Trance Mix”
“Funwaka Orange Funwaka House Mix”
And 5 years later, wondering if in hindsight if anyone has done a Hatsune Miku treatment to the character songs of Momo, whose voice actress Saki Fujita had her voice sampled for the Vocaloid:
“Mainichi ga Merry Go Round Ultimate Mix”
There are also some songs by Aya Hirano as Mei’s voice actress, but while they’re okay, they’re not really my cup of tea.
It’s unusual for me to pay attention to character songs that aren’t in the show proper, much less continue to have them in my mind when thinking about a show five years after the fact. And listen to them more times than nice soundtrack and decent OP/ED. What all this means is that I just want to see Manabi here in the US someday, no matter how unlikely that is. 😛