Well… we made it. By “making it”, meaning me jumping off the ship to avoid sounding like a old man telling young people to get off my musical lawn. I’ve been… displeased to say the least with how the bracket has gone (not taken into consideration my torched bracket in the omochallenge, but that has been spilled milk for a while now). Partly because it makes me feel like I don’t know what music is nowadays. When you have people saying things like “instrumentals/English songs shouldn’t be involved in this competition”, it makes me shake my head. I guess my definition of “anime music” is a lot looser than most people; if someone said this was an “Anison” contest, than maybe I’d understand.
So I’ve been refraining to comment on the past couple of rounds because of this feeling, but since we’re running into the final four, I feel like I need to at least provide a sense of closure to myself (or at least not feeling like I just quit on this project). In going from 256 songs to 4, there’s been a lot of ruminating on what songs mean for people. I still don’t feel like I’ve got that yet, but I’ll try somewhat.
Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari (Bakemonogatari ED)
How We Got Here: As the number one seed, the song barely had much competition as it steamrolled through the likes of “ROCK OVER JAPAN” (a solid 80s-rock song cover from Mawaru Penguindrum), “stable staple” (a more generic pop song that’s Hitagi Senjougahara’s theme song in the original Bakemonogatari), and “Nippon Egao Hyakkei” (the ending of Joshiraku, which has a surprisingly entertaining run through the tournament before getting snuffed out). As choices narrowed down, the battles became more interesting, but this competitor had no problems with “Platinum Disco” (Tsukihi Araragi’s theme in Nisemonogatari, which surprisingly had more in the tank than it’s better Bakemonogatari opening compatriot, “Renai Circulation”. Not that I’m bitter.), “Rise” (the sturdy, pulsing Russian opening of GitS:SAC II) and “My Soul, Your Beats” (a totally “Jun Maeda”-type song as the opening to Angel Beats).
Why Will It Win The Whole Thing: It’s a little more out of the ordinary than a typical anime song by virtue of it falling into the pop jazz piano style of ryo in supercell, and it flows well. It had name recognition for its ties to Bakemonogatari as well as it’s entertainingly original ending sequence(s). The song also fits Nagi Yanagi’s voice well.
Why It Won’t?: For me, I get distracted by the heavy flourishes and syncopation that is also a trademark of supercell work. The chorus is emotional, but not powerfully so, and the song is mellow in tone enough that its easy to lose interest in the song with frequent listening.
Magia (Puella Magi Madoka Magica ED)
How We Got Here: This song burned through a couple of Zetsubou-sensei openings, taking down both “Hito Toshite Jiku ga Burete” and “Kuusou Rumba”, while knocking out “Waltz” (a solid rock ending for Honey and Clover) in between. After the first three rounds, it beat the hard rock of the Pillows in the FLCL ED “Ride on Shooting Star”, then the atmospheric techno styling of the AIR opening “Tori no Uta”, and the pulsing opening of Stein;s Gate, “Hacking to the Gate”.
Why It Will Win: It’s fierce. The vocal power trio of Kalafina moves through the song backed by some grinding rock supplied by Yuki Kajiura. Being connected to Madoka and it’s popularity surely helps with things as well, especially given the dark, foreboding apprehension in the ending animation associated to it. When the chorus hits, it’s a little like controlled chaos. It likely the most original style of all of the songs in this final foursome.
Why It Won’t?: Kalafina and Kajiura can have fun with melodies that aren’t pleasing to the ears, and while it helps highlight “Magia”, they can be off-putting to some (especially the opening vocals). People might not be fans of the hard rock of the song as well. And it can get repetitive at times. And it can get repetitive at times. It’s also a track where I feel like you have to be an active listener to fully experience the song.
Which Do I Want to Win: Magia
Which Do I Think Will Win: Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari
Why? It’s pleasing to the ears, simple and easier to get into compared to its competition. In this case, both the Monogatari series and the Madoka franchise are still in the public eye, so the recency/popularity bias is likely more minimized than in most battles. For me, the Bakemonogatari ED is innocuous, and it winning this matchup and this tournament seems too “easy”. I am not really a fan of this song in general, but it’s not bad to listen to. I just wish other songs made it this far, really.
Lion (Macross Frontier OP 3)
How We Got Here: This matchup seems more surprising considering who had to be beaten for “Lion” to get here. Initially, the going was as expected, as “Rain” (Kotonoha no Niwa ending), and “Juuni Genmukyouku” (the entertaining instrumental opening for 12 Kingdoms, no matter how others sliced it) were easy pickings. What got interesting was the ranked upsets for the rest of the tournament, as it took out a “sentimental” favorite in the Aoi Hana ending “Secret Base ~Kimi ga Kureta Mono~ (10 years after ver.), a “creepy sentimental” favorite in the namesake opening of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, a solid favorite in “Tabi no Tochuu” (Spice and Wolf opening), and the time-honored jazz favorite that is the behemoth of the Cowboy Bebop opening, “Tank!” I was very surprised at the last two battles, since while I think “Lion” is a solid song, I did not think people would it like it quite this much.
Why It Will Win: It’s Yoko Kanno with a solid pop duet between Megumi Nakajima and May’n. The chorus is catchy and strong without sounding pitchy, and the background music complements both vocals well. Because this is Kanno, the music remains interesting throughout the song, and there’s a nice “controlled desperation” (which I noted earlier in this tournament) which I think grabs your interest and makes it hard to let go of. Of the songs that are left, this would probably be the only song I would have no real qualms of being the champion.
Why It Won’t?: Its competition. Besides that, the song still might sound too generic or “typical” for some. And the vocals might be overwrought for some.
Wareta Ringo (Shin Sekai Yori ED)
How We Got Here: It’s the overall sixth seed of the tournament for a reason, though I’m personally still trying to figure out why that is. Either way, to get here it knocked out a poor song in “Daydream Syndrome” (the underwhelming Yumekui Merry OP), an interesting acoustic rendition of the Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0 ending “Beautiful World”, and then went on a Yoko Kanno killing spree as it beat the a 90s-Kanno style song in “Voices” from Macross Plus, then the 00s rendition in the powerful GitS:SAC opener “Inner Universe”. Topping it off, it takes out a solid song in the Bokurano opening, “Uninstall”, and Key-style song that’s nice to listen to in “Toki wo Kizamu Uta”.
Why It Will Win: Because people will it so. At least, this has been the reason why it’s been able to take out songs that I feel overall are better in quality for me. What this song has is an interesting musical “start-and-stop” hook that leads to a pretty solid work throughout with some nice Latin-influence mixed in and dramatic tension lies within. And with the recency of From the New World, the tie-in to that show doesn’t work.
Why It Won’t?: It teases me as something that could have been “greater”. Because after that initial hook, for me, the interest sort of dies away while listening to the song. It becomes repetitive, and it becomes more like a regular old pop song with nothing special to it. And at this point in the game, I want songs to be strong entries. It reminds me of the opening from Noein, “Idea”
where it starts off very interestingly for me (in this case being an atmospheric feel at the start), then quickly becomes pedestrian even as it rehashes that initial hook. While the song still ends up being okay and a solid pop song, there’s an anticipation and potential in the initial portion of the song that never actually follows through, and you’re left with a feeling of what might have been.That’s the same sort of situation that I have with “Wareta Ringo”, and I don’t enjoy the full song here as much as “Idea”. It probably is rude, but it’s hard for me not to assume that the song’s recency has a lot to do with why it is doing so well.
Which Do I Want to Win: Lion
Which Do I Think Will Win: Wareta Ringo
Why? Based on how thoroughly “Wareta Ringo” has been dominating its competition, it would not surprise me to continue that trend against “Lion”, as was as win the tournament. The songs it’s beaten have varied in quality, but far more often than not, they’ve tended to be songs that I like listening to more than “Wareta Ringo”. It’s not a bad song for me, but it’s not a great song for me, but that means it’s the case for others. I’d like to know why the song work well for others than it does for me. Seriously. What does the song mean to people who like it to make them want to vote for the song time and time again? At this point in time, I can’t get it, so I hope someone gives me a little bit of information on that.
The matches might be over for now, but if they’re not, remember to keep voting for who you like.