Music in anime: a defining factor


If you saw my review of Guilty Crown earlier in the week you know I think very highly of the show. You’ll also know that one of the best parts of it in my mind is it’s soundtrack. Largely speaking the soundtrack for Guilty Crown is a work an immense work of art that would be equally (if not more) impressive than it is in conjunction with the show.

With that in mind then, what do soundtracks bring to a show as one of many components. I mean, at first glance every anime TV series, film or OVA is dependent far more on character development, plot and handling of themes than it might be on as something as seemingly trivial as the music. Largely, you might be right in making that assumption, but I’m tempted to disagree so I’m going to try and make the case that the music is equally as important as any other factor in defining an anime, using some pretty great examples to do so.

I’ll start with Guilty Crown, a show that I associate most with the importance of a good soundtrack. For any show it’s important to set the tone from the very beginning- and what’s at the beginning? The titles of course, and in the case of Guilty Crown an opening sequence with Euturpe as the overlay track, the song which is probably most recognizable throughout the series.

Guilty Crown is by no means the only anime that has a defining soundtrack. There are numerous examples that I could use but the most obvious one must surely be the first opening to Attack on Titan, Guren no Yumiya. No doubt someone could quite easily argue that the show would be epic beyond belief regardless of what music was played at the beginning, but I have to say, I genuinely think there is a case for AoT’s opening to really set the show up for where it is going to go, as well as the harrowing plot line it is going to follow.

There are of course other ways in which music defines an anime. Though it doesn’t say it anywhere, in Code Geass the track Occupied Thinking is synonymous with Lelouch taking on a new task, or doing something out of the ordinary. It acts as a signal that something important has or is going to happen – a signal that couldn’t be made by anything else.

It’s not all about setting things up for things to come though. Often music is the best way to round of a very touching or emotional episode. The best example of this I can think of is the 10th episode of Angel Beats!. It is arguably the most emotional episode of the show, as Yui and Hinata agree to get married, with Yui disappearing as a result. The music (My Most Precious Treasure) is incredibly touching and really captures the feeling of the events of the episode. The song takes over fully at 2:57 and goes on until 4.47.

The final example I’m going to use is again from Guilty Crown. A lot of plot progression in the show is covered up with incredible action sequences, which are built up not necessarily by dialogue or other actions (though this often does contribute), but instead by the track Bios. Like Guren no Yumiya, it is an epic song (maybe not quite on that scale), not only signalling that an action scene is coming, but contributing to the overall mis-en-scene of the sequence itself.

So there are some of my reasons why the soundtrack is as important as any other aspect of an anime. Let me know what you think and post any other tracks that you think really contribute to the overall feeling of a show.

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