I’ve been following the Anime Music Tournament since the official 256-song single elimination bracket began, and I wanted to write a few words on the songs at each stage. The official site has a full bracket, all 256 songs available both for streaming and for direct download/torrent, and the poll that determines which one moves on, so be sure to check it out!
Shinsekai Yori- Wareta Ringo
This song starts off as a primer in Fruity Loops and then quickly diverges into standard anime song territory. Not really very interesting, but the introduction is especially grating for me. I feel like I could have made this song by just messing around for a half hour in FL, so apart from the vocals (which are more or less the same for every anime song) I can’t say I have much respect for this song.
Yumekui Merry-Daydream Syndrome
Another pretty boring track, although this one feels like it required more than a few minutes of messing around. The definition of mediocrity when it comes to anime songs, utterly forgettable.
Winner: Daydream Syndrome
Although it’s utterly forgettable, I could see myself listening to this while doing other work or multitasking. It also has fairly nice (if standard) guitar work, which I can appreciate. Wareta Ringo’s intro is memorable enough for me to remember that I actively dislike the song, so it loses for me.
Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 – Beautiful World
I’m a sucker for 90’s soft rock ballads. The clean arpeggiatted lead guitar and the acoustic rhythm are mainstays of the genre, and they’re well executed in this particular song. It’s structure is somewhat repetitive, but it’s still quite a solid song, and something I could see myself listening to for enjoyment outside of the context of anime.
Cross Game – Koi kogarete Mita Yume
Another western standard, this is what I’d call the “Elton John” song. It’s also stylistically a ballad, but puts a much greater emphasis on the piano and expressive vocals to derive the bulk of its musical power. It’s a nicely done song, and is a proper execution of its premise.
Winner: Beautiful World
They’re both good songs, and I’d pick either over songs like Daydream Syndrome in a heartbeat. Personally, though, I simply enjoy listening to the guitar more than listening to the piano, and the premise of Beautiful World wins out for me.
Macross Plus – Voices
A soundtrack piece through and through, Voices relies on choral vocals, synths, and ambient noise to create an aural atmosphere. It does so quite nicely, especially in the final portion of the song with the sounds of birds chirping along with the vocals. If you close your eyes while listening, it’s fairly easy to picture yourself within the environment the song is aurally describing for you, so it accomplishes its purpose with flying colors.
Fate/Zero – Memoria
I was never really a big fan of the whole Fate/x series, although Fate/Zero was certainly among the more palatable. This song is iconic in that a)the series is fairly popular and b)this is the series ED track. The main riff of the chorus is a bit of an earworm, and that enhances its overall memorability. Apart from all of the context-specific information, it’s a fairly solid rock song, standard on all counts and done decently well.
Memoria, like the anime it spawned from, is above mediocre, but nothing to really look twice at; it’s in solid “B” territory. Voices, on the other hand, has a clear premise and executes it very nicely, and that gives it the edge over Memoria.
Fate/Zero – Manten
Unlike the previous piece, I didn’t instantly recognize where this piece was from when I first listened to it; apparently it was the ending theme for episodes 18 and 19. As a song it’s a very standard soundtrack piece, written in 3/4 time and as a chamber rock power ballad evocative of both Queen and The Pirate’s of the Caribbean’s “He’s a Pirate”. Plenty of distorted guitar, fast-paced string sections, and choral vocals as is typified by such soundtrack pieces.
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED – Akatsuki no Kuruma
This piece has a very nice worldbeat feel to it. It features flamenco style guitars, bongos, and sleigh bells in addition to the standard electric guitar and string sections that are virtually mandatory for every single anime song. A minor weakness is the lack of range on the vocal melody, but that also helps to integrate the vocal melody into the instrumental portion, and helps to also bolster its overall cohesiveness. All in all, a unique song.
Winner: Akatsuki no Kuruma
Manten is a fine piece, but as with the other Fate/Zero piece it’s very standard. Manten may appeal to the tastes of a greater number of people, but Akatsuki no Kuruma’s eccentricity lends it a mystique that Manten simply does not have, and gives it the win over Manten.