We get a nice “YEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!” here compared to the bracket namesake’s trademark “NOOOOOOOOOO!” as we come to the last bracket of the first round, with the second set of polls close to finishing, the first set already completed. Sixteen more songs to randomly and shoddily pontificate about, in what’s been an intriguing, and sometimes confusing, tournament so far. Many takeaways to come later.BPR1P1
Rise (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig OP)
After the majesty that was “Inner Universe”, with the main participants involved in Origa and Yoko Kanno, they wisely try not to top the grandeur that was that opening, and provide another, more atmospheric, electronic song that sounds more like a rallying cry than a song noting one’s struggle to understand themselves. It’s a little subtle and a little repetitive, but it’s interesting, and that’s what counted.
Moonlight Densetsu (Sailor Moon OP 1)
This is pretty nostalgic as well for me, though I remember the version sung in English rather than this original version. And it’s a 90s tune that tries to throw a Latin-theme into a pop track that sort of plays up a sense of foreboding. For nostalgia’s purposes, this is memorable, but ultimately not a great song here.
Which Did I Want to Win: Rise
Which Did I Think Would Win: Rise
Why? Song quality. I think Sailor Moon has GitS:SAC 2nd Gig beat for familiarity, but “Moonlight Dentetsu” is not strong to take out “Rise”, which I expect will continue to do so throughout the next couple of rounds.
Paradise Lost (Ga-Rei Zero OP)
This is a pulsing powerhouse of a song that utilizes Chihara Minori’s voice to full effect, as her strong voice fits the driving beat well. I enjoy the main melody here with the urgent strings leading things along, to the tinge of “traditional” melody helped by piano in the initial stanza, building to a climax in the chorus. Or it could be that I also remember the show associated with the OP as something powerful.
My Soul, Your Beats – Gdemo version (Angel Beats! OP)
A version of the opening song from the in-show band, Girls Dead Monster, which is a rock band with some good songs. This rock rendition however loses the emotion that was present in the mostly piano driven original. It comes off sounding a little too “edgy”, even though it’s not actually they’re not a hard rocking band. It’s not the best use of the bands’ talents when they’ve done nice stuff like this:
Which Did I Want to Win: Paradise Lost
Which Did I Think Would Win: Paradise Lost
Why? Song quality. We already had the better original version of “My Soul, Your Beats” present in the tournament, and if the rendition didn’t come off to strong, familiarity of the show might have been enough. But “Paradise Lost” is a strong song in its own right.
Undine (ARIA the Animation OP)
Sometimes, you don’t have to try too hard. I think that was the issue with the other Yui Makino openings for the other ARIA seasons, as this first one is the best one that compliments her soft voice. The song builds up to a satisfying, string-driven climax in the chorus that’s brought there by an italian-laced steady beat. And the melody tapers off into something entirely different but entertaining when Yui finishes singing, in a good way.
King Gainer Over! (Overman King Gainer OP)
Everybody do the monkey!
Yoshiki Fukuyama is probably my favorite member of JAM Project, as he brings a more rock tinged hot blood to the group, and it shows well with his solo pieces, including this one, which combines a musical style choir, and a backing orchestra to merge with his rock. And it’s pretty entertaining as it all comes together. I only wish it had more support. Or at least more people watching the fun opening animation associated with it as well.
Which Did I Want to Win: King Gainer Over!
Which Did I Think Would Win: Undine
Why? Simplicity. I think “King Gainer Over!” does a lot, but does it well, but some aspects of the song (like that choir) might be a little bit overwrought for some. Plus, the general population voting in this tourney seems to be plenty more familiar with a franchise like ARIA compared to one of one of Tomino’s lesser known works.
Kami-sama no Iu Toori (The Tatami Galaxy ED)
This is a very electronic pop song that almost comes off as atonal, but has a strong almost 80s-style theme to it. Etsuko Yakushimaru’s voice pops up again here, and sounds robotic here to meet the main background music, and that’s where a large part of the song’s… odd theme comes from. While it’s a good song, it also strikes me as a type of song that only hipsters (hipster anime fans?) could really dig.
Raspberry Heaven (Azumanga Daioh ED)
A calliope sets off a fanciful and silly tone from the duo of Oranges & Lemons that ends up having a nice Latin-tinged influence on song. It’s a memorable song from a memorable show, but the composition of the song might be a little too off for people.
Which Did I Want to Win: Raspberry Heaven
Which Did I Think Would Win: Raspberry Heaven
Why? Familiarity. But I was wrong here as I thought
enough people wouldn’t think they were cool… there weren’t that many hipsters voting here… more people would know and be comfortable with Azumanga Daioh than The Tatami Galaxy, but obviously I was dead wrong here.
Roundabout (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure ED)
It’s Yes! That is, the band here with a pretty nice progressive rock song with a pretty solid acoustic guitar solo and later pretty awesome interplay with the guitar and synthesizer throughout the song, and the band’s penchant for interesting (and long) meandering melodies come here as well. And that harpsichord (?) at the end? Man.
Toki Tsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku (Steins; Gate ED 1)
Compared to “Roundabout”, while this does have an unusual approach and melody compared to other anime songs, it still sounds a little generic as it tries to do a lot with its rock theme. But it’s from Steins; Gate, which might give it that push.
Which Do I Want to Win: Roundabout
Which Do I Think Will Win: Toki Tsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku
Why? Familiarity. But “Roundabout”, despite being 40 years old still has more in it that this or most other songs in this tournament.
〜花〜 A Last Flower (Aku no Hana ED)
…Yeah. The spread up and slowed down modified duet vocals definitely make this song what it is. But the randomness of the vocals can be very offputting, as there not any sort of ground you can set your feet on until about halfway through the song, but then the pulsing beat comes in, and the vocals are flying off again until the song become a sort of march of malevolence. If you haven’t watched the show (as I haven’t), this is hard to get into. But I’m pretty sure this was a pretty notable show when it recently came out, and that will make this song have plenty go for it… sad to say. It’s definitely a pretty unique track, but I can’t. I just can’t.
A World Without Logos (Hellsing OP)
A very jazzy rock tune (with scatting, even) that has a nice melody that tries to add in a horror-like atmosphere midway through. Another one of those nostalgia-tinged songs that’s pleasing to the ears.
Which Do I Want to Win: A World Without Logos
Which Do I Think Will Win: 〜花〜 A Last Flower
Why? Recency bias. I do think that “〜花〜 A Last Flower” is an interesting song, but it comes off as doing way too much to sound complex/different to me, and it’s a song that takes a while getting used to. But it is also a song that by virtue of it’s associated show, has a lot of memories for people.
Little Busters! (Little Busters! OP)
This is much more upbeat compared to the typical Key/Jun Maeda related work at least in tone of music. I like the syncopation and driving beat of the chorus, though the main melody sounds a little too much by “My Soul, Your Beats!” for my liking. I think this song is older though.
Light of Memory (Space Battleship Yamato 2199 ED 4)
KOKIA again here, with a tune that starts off like other songs she’s sung before (almost ethereal pop), then the chorus hits, the tempo gets more upbeat, and KOKIA lets her vocal range come off in stellar fashion as the song becomes a march and the march becomes hopeful. Pleasantly surprised here.
Which Do I Want to Win: Light of Memory
Which Do I Think Will Win: Little Busters!
Why? Familiarity. Personally think that “Light of Memory” is a better song, but know that Little Busters! is a more well-known property.
Lilium (Elfen Lied OP)
This last battle is a tough one for me, as I like both songs here. In this case, this is very much a very classical-themed piece driven by strings and Kumiko Noma’s operatic Latin. It also helps that the imagery in the opening animation is driven by classical works of art. The only downside to this track (others might say it’s a strength) is it’s brevity. The opening version is pretty much the “only” version. But people have tried to add their own pinache to it, such as this fan-made extended version:
Not a bad deal.
Ash Like Snow (Gundam 00 OP 2)
Again, Tomoko Kawase and her PVs.
A “desperate” rock song from the brilliant green here in terms of tone. Really like the sense of urgency coming throughout the song, and when the chorus hits with all the instrumentation behind it, the song works well for me.
Which Do I Want to Win: Lilium
Which Do I Think Will Win: Lilium
Why? Song style. Both a pretty good songs, but I think “Lilium” wins out by virtue of its genre, and how it can convey emotion far more powerfully when subtle compared to the blast in the face that can be noticed in “Ash Like Snow”. Again, that isn’t a bad thing, but it’s an important thing for me.
And that is it for the first round!
I’ll post my initial thoughts on this first round soon after this post, as there’s been some things that I have found interesting so far here. It will be good to see things become more streamlined as the next rounds occur. Till next time, vote for what you like.