Random Curiosity

Unsung Heroes: Introduction & BGM Composers – Part 1

Chiaki

 

No, I’m not Omni or Patrik or Jaalin. I am Kyouya, the newest member of the Random Curiosity editorial staff. Since the latest power rankings, I have been invited to contribute here with my thoughts and opinions. I will be helping Jaalin with the monthly Power Rankings as well. I hope this writing of mine can expand some new perspectives to you.

Now that the introduction is out of the way, I’ll get to the point. This is a new segment which I would like to call ‘Unsung Heroes.’ This column will basically give the spotlight to people, anime, or anything that may have been overlooked for its achievements. In other words, the people who work behind the shadows will get the credit here.

This segment will open by focusing on one of the most overlooked workers in the anime industry: BGM composers.

That’s right, BGM composers.

I did not say artists, vocals, or anything relating to an opening, ending and insert songs (also includes character songs). The keyword here is BGM, which stands for Background Music. Oh sure, I bet the first things you think of when it comes to music composers are names like Kanno Yoko and Kajiura Yuki. However, would anyone have truly known the potential of their work if the anime (they were staffed in) itself was average at best in terms of both story and animation?

(Note: Yes, I am aware they have done other works but we’re focusing on just anime here).

BGM gets overlooked by fans so much that it is almost shameful. Why? It’s because we focus so much on either the story, the cast or the animation of the anime while BGM takes a backseat in a beat-up pinto. Is it because we are spoiled? No. Animation and story take up such a big bite of the need for success that BGM is left with a sliver of a piece. People believe that unless the anime is great, the BGM is the same as well. That, people, is what we call an urban myth. Fans should take the time to appreciate the music with proper judgment, which involves their preference. The story or the animation of the anime should have minimal effect on your judgment of whether you are into upbeat action music that pumps your adrenaline or a slow peaceful nostalgic music that helps reflect back on your life. The reason why I said minimal is because at times, when we hear the music, we are reminded as to where it came from. Although this may be true, it should not limit you to re-creating your own meanings of the BGM itself. After all, you see countless AMVs using songs that have absolutely no link to each other.

There are great composers out there. Some are all-stars while others are rising to be recognized, became one-hit wonders, or just blend themselves quietly in the shadow. I will be sharing my thoughts on who belongs to where as we will go through over 20 composers.

A basketball analogy will be used to rank these composers. Each category will be listed with the top 5 in no particular order.

 

All-Stars Top ranking; have worked on at least 4 animes
Starting Lineup 2nd ranking; will eventually become an all-star in the near future.
Bench Players 3rd ranking; can go either way whether they have accepted their position or will strive to become better.
One-Hit wonders Last ranking; have only worked on 1 anime and it was their only one.

 
 
 

The All-Stars

 
 
 

yoshimori
Iwasaki Taku (GetBackers, Black Cat, Kekkaishi, R.O.D OVA, R.O.D TV, Rurouni Kenshin OVA, Yakitate!! Japan)

The jack of all trades. That’s the phrase to describe Iwasaki Taku. Where else will you find a man who is capable of creating a sorrowful sound that can epitomize your feelings? Is there any other composer who can take on variety of different genres and still maintain its high standards? He continues to astound me with his impressive score to this present day. However, I do have a bone to pick with this composer in his Kekkaishi OST. There is one track that has some god-awful rap yet very catchy beat. Why add the pathetic English rapping when the beat itself is perfect?

Hei
Kanno Yoko (Cowboy Bebop, Darker than Black, Wolf’s Rain, Macross Plus, Escaflowne, Ghost in the Shell: SAC & SSS)

Jazz is the word that pops into my head when I hear the name Kanno Yoko. By mixing trumpets, saxophones, flutes, piano and guitars fluently, she is able to create an upbeat tempo that can get you energized and a relaxing tune that can help people feel at ease. Is she the greatest as fans claim? Maybe, but there are people who will beg to differ.

Linali
Wada Kaoru (D.gray-man, Inuyasha, To Heart, Samurai 7)

To dating simulating gamers, Wada Kaoru is a deity with his music on To Heart. His specialty is to focus on strong emotions. He creates music that involves love, courage and even fear. I am surprised that he has not done much when I looked at his body of work. Maybe Inuyasha took an extensive amount of time for him since he composed both the movies and TV series.

Saber
Kawai Kenji (Gunparade March, Ranma 1/2, Seirei no Moribito, Fate Stay Night, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni )

An old school composer who still has it after being in this industry for more than a decade. By concentrating on pleasant memorable jingles (Ranma 1/2), he gradually grew to exploring onto other melodies that can help strengthen the series he worked in. I believe he reached his goal with his latest work, Seirei no Moribito. It is definitely one of his finest works to date.

Misha
Itou Masumi a.k.a. Nanase Hikaru (Pita-ten, Zettai Shounen, Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica, Scrapped Princess, Chrno Crusade)

Peace seems to be her forte as Nanase recently conducted her latest work, Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica. She provides depth into her music that makes you think and realize things you may have forgotten. For example, she created a gentle harmony that reminds you the warmth of a mother’s love. I definitely got that feeling from her Pita-ten soundtrack, which I think is one of the greatest anime soundtracks ever made. Her piece in Zettai Shounen is not to be underestimated either due to its mysterious yet compelling music that urges you to seek more.

 

As for myself, I have numerous amounts of BGM in my iPod shuffle and MD player. I like to add variety in order to prevent hearing the same vocals over and over until I want to rip my ears off. Pictures have many words. The same goes with BGM as Family Guy’s Peter Griffin said it best, ‘I wish I had my own theme song’.

That’s it for my very first post. Feel free to comment on whether you agree or disagree. I will mostly get disagreements from people since they will be screaming ‘Why is Kajiura Yuki not in that category?’ That will be explained in future postings. She is one of the top 20. The question is…under which category?? :P

Next time, the Starting Lineup. :)

 

Update (6/26/2007): Judging from the comments made, I want to make some clarification. First, the animes listed next to the composer DOES NOT necessary mean I am talking about those. Unless I mention it in my explanation, then you are welcome to argue against it. I have just listed them to show what other works those composers have done. Secondly, I am writing this column in the perspective of an average fan who lives outside of Japan. I know there are otakus out there who knows all of this kind of stuff, which is fine. However, just keep in mind as to what kind of audience this article is aimed at. Lastly, I do respond to comments so feel free to check back in the comments section and reply if you want to do so.

Update (6/28/2007): After conducting more research for my next post, I realized that I restricted myself too much with the whole ‘Excluding composers in joint collaboration’. If I excluded them, I would be literally excluding almost everybody. Therefore, I am abolishing that rule in order to expand my choices and help you readers enjoy reading future postings as well. I will repeat this message in my next post, which can be up as early as this upcoming Friday.

June 26, 2007 at 12:20 am
95 comments »
  • June 26, 2007 at 1:02 amOskar Anly EX

    So cool

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:04 amZephyr

    hmm, then may i be the first…
    why isn’t Kajiura Yuki not up there? =(

    but it’s an interesting idea for including BGM composers on a ranking list

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:11 amSyouke

    Heyy, finally someone posts something like this ^^. I’ve been waiting for a while XD. Well, I agreed what u have say. I just like BGM, 2/4 in my ipod theres only BGM musics, some people say that I have no taste haha. I love those All-Stars, anyway I’m hoping to see ur next post =D. Nice to meet you Kyouya.

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:14 amrandom passerby

    This post gets a thumbs up from me.

    The soundtrack behind an anime is actually something that helps make a series memorable, for me at least. I’ll admit I’m no expert at this at all, but BGMs in general definitely need more attention when credit is due.

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:28 amMentar

    Welcome to Random Curiosity ;)

    Generally I really like your idea for your rankings, but you already start with a big big problem: Based on your criteria which composers belong to which category, there’s no reason whatsoever to push for example Kajiura Yuki or KOTOKO out of the top group. There might be proper criteria you could select to try to achieve your intention to keep them out, but the ones you’re listing are not among them.

    So, I smell another highly biased rating coming up…

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:29 ampakxenon

    Wow what an awesome new section/new post. RC really got more interesting when Omni decided to let in people on his website.

    BGM eh? The only ones on my computer currently are from Mai-Otome (yes…. KY…. ahaha), Nodame Cantibile, the games that I have, Kanon OST, Touhou (yes…. damn you /a/!!!), and Eternal Fighter Zero (awesome game, yes). I really prefer normal 3-minute songs with vocals by bands, but BGM can be relaxing sometimes.

    Special mention to the Mai theme from the Kanon OST. I tear up every time on the bridge.

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:30 amYamanote

    yup yup. BGMs work with the scene, lines, and voices to move people. Tokikake’s climax scene worked so well with the BGM I shed tears every time i see…
    oh god i’m such a retard i’ll shut up now

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:32 amdarkangel

    i didnt know there were staffs in random curiosity XD

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:38 amMeow Machine

    It’s all about the Gundam Wing soundtracks!

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:39 amZephyrF

    BGM composers are very, very famous. Also, they are very, very rich. If you’ve noticed, your “all-stars” have been in a LOT of big series.

    If you want unsung heroes, you ought to be looking on

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:41 amkdp

    Personally, I like the BGM from Blood+, Mai-Otome, Manabi Straight, and Mai-Hime. I’d rank Mai-Hime higher, but I’ve been listening too it way too long at this point. :-)

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:55 amLiss

    Now that you point it out, I sort of notice the Jazz theme in Darker Than Black. That was interesting, thank you! And although my favorite composer would still have to be Kajiura Yuki, I’d have to say that the composer for Chrno Crusade did a very good job too.

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:58 amKyouya

    Hmmm..

    Looks like I have few comments to answer.

    Mentar – I understand what you are trying to say. Although, maybe you should read my column a bit more carefully. Take a look at this sentence in my column.

    ‘I did not say artists, vocals, or anything relating to an opening, ending and insert songs (also includes character songs).’

    In other words, no lyrics whatsoever. As for Kajiura Yuki, I’ll explain that in future postings.

    Yamanote – lol…relax. Believe me, everyone sheds a tear here and there on a emotional scene.

    ZephyrF – What you said is very true. However, I’m writing this in perspective of fans who live outside of Japan. Let’s face it. Not everyone is into BGM in North America or possibly in Europe and Australia.

    I will continue to answer more comments…so type away :P

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:59 amCat

    Hhhm…I think Toshikiko Sahashi should be included in the ‘All Stars’.

    Full Metal Panic OVA + Series 1 + Series 2 + Series 3, Gundam Seed + Destiny (face it, you may think the anime sucks but Toshihiko Sahashi and the London Symphonic Orchestra = win), Gunslinger Girls (huge favourite of mine)and Akazukin Cha Cha (the really reeally old one) all had fantastic OSTs.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:00 amHypernova

    Kajiura Yuki is great although he does have a lot of repeats. One of his track from Negima sounds identical to “Mai” series main theme and Madlax.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:00 amkoyuki

    This is pretty good. Anime BGM rarely get any attention or mention which is a pity because it’s the music that what makes the series. Personally, I love works by Iwasaki Taku, Kaijura Yuki and Wada Kaoru. Wada-san did a fantastic job on the D.Gray-Man background music.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:01 amCat

    Ooops, typo.
    Its Toshihiko*.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:02 amHypernova

    oops he’s a she.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:05 amKyouya

    Cat

    It was a really hard decision. You have absolutely no idea. Rest assure, Toshikiko Sahashi is in fact in the top 20. The question is…under which category? You have to wait til next time :)

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:09 amCat

    Oh I will, great job on the first post on a great topic. BGM is a very big thing to me :)

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:11 amicarus*

    I like the idea of giving attention on the obscure part(relatively to op/ed) of the Anime. As you mentioned, the real contributors are often stay behind the shadows. Thanks for your kind eyes (I mean ears..lol) to catch their efforts and share the appreciation with everyone.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:12 amShippoyasha

    I actually don’t think Yoko Kanno did a good job with Darker than Black. It had a few good tracks, but most of it pretty forgettable compared to the stuff she did earlier.

    Also, Hitohira had a very nice, melodic and soothing BGM that enhanced everything about the show since it is a pretty normal slice of life anime.

    And of course, I don’t thin I need to mention Heroic Age’s epic OST either.

    That said, I have no idea who composed Hitohira and Heroic Age’s BGM. But I’ll be sure to get into them the more I get to know them.

    Also, Yuki Kajiura did a bang-up job for El Cazador De La Bruja, as usual.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:15 amShippoyasha

    PS- I also wonder if a ranking system is really necessary. I mean, I didn’t really like the ‘top spring/summer anime’ powerlist either.

    Especially with music composition, it’s such a subjective thing, I wonder if oneupmanship for it all is really needed other than some more specific highlights of the works themselves.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:32 amKyouya

    Shippoyasha

    I just want to point out that the animes I listed next to the composer’s name doesn’t necessary reflect on which work I’m talking about. It could be…but it’s your call.

    As for Hitohira, there is two restrictions that is stopping me from putting the composer in the top 20.

    1) OST II is not released yet (it will this week)
    2) There is very little information regarding the creator, Corniche. I am trying very hard to find more information. So please bare with me on that.

    Once again, I will state why Kajiura Yuki is not in that category in future postings.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:40 amSaviour

    Hate on GS/GSD all you want, but the soundtrack for them were the best.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:48 amandi

    does Shinkichi Mitsumune count in this category?

    nice choices on iwasaki and wada btw.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:57 amMaimeDaifuku

    First off, welcome to RC. It’s great that you are introducing BGM composers as many people out there are so focused on the quality and storyline of anime’s that composers look unnoticed. I agree with you on every single composer listed above, but I cannot overlook the fact that Iwasaki Taku was placed over Joe Hisaishi, master BGM composer of all Ghibli Films. Most people would only see Ghibli Films for there beauty and hidden meanings in animation and storyline, yet Joe Hisaishi brings out all the emotions that make Ghibli Films complete. From joy, to anger, and to despair, Joe Hisaishi should be named the Jack of all trades. I know many would disagree, but his music is monumental.

  • June 26, 2007 at 3:17 amyankumi

    Wow, cool post. It’s great that credit is being given to less “mainstream” composers. totally agree with you on Kawaii Kenji, think i firt heard his work on Vampire Princess Miyu and definitely Wada Kaoru for Inuyasha and Samurai7, awesome awesome pieces of work..

    one of my favorites is Kunihiko Ryou.. probably a one-time wonder.. he did the music for 12 Kingdoms and is currently working on Saiunkoku Monogatari.. focus more on traditional Japanese/Chinese sounds/instruments.

    Anyway, looking forward to future posts!

  • June 26, 2007 at 3:22 amTenkaichi

    I love the fact that despite knowing that I’m not the only one around who has BGM music on their iPod, the act of someone else actually admitting it makes me feel better. :)

  • June 26, 2007 at 4:00 amBrian

    yup, Kawai Kenji and Kanno Yoko are among the most exceptional composers for anime BGMs. If you guys watch seirei no moribito, you will understand perfectly why Kawai Kenji is good and also Kanno Yoko who I believe did her best for GITS: SAC and Cowboy Bebop. Both anime titles mentioned are really good animes. Watch worthy. For me, these people are not unsung heroes. in fact i respect them for their great job. I even downloaded a few of their albums (anime OSTs that is). hey how about yoshihisa hirano? she did Ouran High School Host Club and Death Note. her music is quite good to me.

  • June 26, 2007 at 4:03 amKyouya

    Yankumi

    lol…nice quotation there. ZephyrF pointed out the same thing.

    I am writing this column in a perspective of fans who live outside of Japan. In majority, fans who watch anime does not really focus on BGM especially in North America. The same may be applied to Australia and Europe. BGM is not as popular as vocals and it never will. That’s the sad truth. Hence, why I call BGM composers as the unsung heroes.

  • June 26, 2007 at 4:06 amKyouya

    Brian,

    Read the post above regarding the unsung heroes part. As for Hirano Yoshihisa, you might want to tune into my future postings :P

  • June 26, 2007 at 4:21 amAsuka

    Toshiyuki Omori who composes the OST for Shingetsutan Tsukihime is actually not bad in my opinion. I love the 2 OST for Tuskihime that he has composed. Wonder whether he is on the list that you have?

  • June 26, 2007 at 4:28 amKyouya

    Asuka,

    Unfortunately, no. I am, however, a fan of Toshiyuki Omori but through his composition of vocals, which includes AMG TV, Shakugan no Shana, and Nadesico. For BGM, not so much.

  • June 26, 2007 at 4:44 amDarknessTear

    Koh Otani

  • June 26, 2007 at 4:59 amkurigiri

    one man: ZUN

  • June 26, 2007 at 5:08 ammutio

    Interesting article!
    I personaly listen a lot to anime soundtracks and know of the big influence a good soundtrack/ BGMs can have.
    For Kawai Kenji I’d also like to add that he composed the OST for Ghost in the Shell 1+2.

  • June 26, 2007 at 5:35 amFish

    I think a BGM composer becomes a brilliant BGM composer when people who watch the shows don’t realise the music. If the music is right and fits the mood perfectly – then it just goes with the flow and you don’t (at least conciously) notice the music accompanying the scene.

  • June 26, 2007 at 5:47 amTyper

    BGM? I know Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou wouldn’t have been anything special without the awesome BGM. I’m a multimedia student so i know how essential music is to the visual. With the 2 combined and properly sync you can really make something moving and ub3r.

  • June 26, 2007 at 7:11 amAnonymooo

    Acidic and informative–it’s nice to see you writing features here, Kyouya, although you were much more LAX than I used to see in your posts. I look forward to a sarcasm-laden rant sometime in the future, if something so deserves it. XD

    It’s great to get more information on BGM composers, since the only name I actually knew was Kanno Yoko, but now I’ll take better care to pay attention to music in other series, like Black Cat after I gouged my eyes out–Iwasaki Taku’s music, especially the Rurouni Kenshin OAV, really has a lot of heart and soul to it.

  • June 26, 2007 at 7:35 amShiro

    This is a nice post, though mentioning Yoko Kanno and not her Turn A Gundam work — this i can not forgive. :3

    Same goes for Wada Kaoru. You mentioned his emotional theme, and i believe that best comes out in his score for Tekkaman Blade.

  • June 26, 2007 at 8:15 amKaly

    really cool for a first post ^^ . Does Joe Hisaishi count in BMG composer?

  • June 26, 2007 at 9:15 amCluttered Mind

    I am very happy to see Kawai Kenji on this list. Fate/Stay Night had one of the best soundtracks I’d ever listened to. The fight between Archer and Berserker stands out particularly. I hope to see more of this feature!

  • June 26, 2007 at 9:36 amkrazy

    I too wondered where Kajiura Yuki was before I read the very last part of the post. ^^”

    For me, BGM is EVERYTHING in anime. I know how important the soundtrack is in enhancing the shows; it’s just that the effects or so subtle you don’t really notice at times.

    3/4 of the songs in my mp3 player are from anime OSTs. And that’s quite a lot. XD

    Kajiura Yuki is my favourite composer definitely, for the Tsubasa Chronicles’ OST. I just completely fell in love with the music. My favourite OSTs include Blood+ (Mark Mancina) and Fate/Stay Night (Kawai Kenji)as well.

  • June 26, 2007 at 10:22 amBluestreak2

    I actually really like this post, good job.
    I’ve personally ranted to my friends about how they never listen to the BGMs during anime….. or anything else really. And it’s always baffled me how people just ignore it.

    Though I will admit, the most I generally ever learn about an anime series is the studio that makes it. I’m horrible with names, and have never been able to remember the names of even my favorite directors for longer then 3 hours. So trying to learn the names of composures is probably not going to happen. BUT! that doesn’t mean I don’t know their music.

  • June 26, 2007 at 10:38 amKaito

    What the hell?
    Kajiura Yuki isn’t there?

  • June 26, 2007 at 10:44 amAlex

    Wow.. Very informative, Thanks for posting this kinda made a new meaning to BGM’s for me :) hope to see more of your blogs.. Good Job!

  • June 26, 2007 at 12:21 pmDan

    Actually, BGM music isn’t really underrated. There was a Kanno Yoko concert in Korea last week and it was sold out. All three stories of seats.

  • June 26, 2007 at 12:54 pmBlue

    I wonder if the reason for Kajiura not being there will be the same old crap we’ve been listening to the last century. “Kajiura is a great composer who has only one style, for this sole reason, I can’t put her into the top 5, because she’s like so repetitive.”

    Uh, yeah. And maybe a mention to MADLAX OST and some Goth-Electronic stuff. That’s the usual. OF COURSE, Kanno Yoko composed lots of crap of different genres, so she deserves to be there. Not to mention she’s like ORIGINAL. Did any Kanno song ever sound like another one? Noooo. My hearing is playing tricks on me with DtB OST. Cowboy Bebop didn’t exist.

    Either way, I like Kanno, but it’s something I’ve been seeing lately and I don’t agree one bit with most of the arguments above to tag Kajiura as the “unnoriginal one”, or “same old style”, or “LOLGOTHMADLAXOST”.

    Other than that, most overlooked guys in an anime show is kinda pushy, don’t you think? People actually watch shows for composers. The list is alright, though Kawai Kenji is kinda hit or miss. Higurashi OST was damn horrible. And the Fate/Stay Night had arranged tracks from the game, which, unfortunately, were all on the list of best songs from it.

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:16 pmking

    dont know if anyone has ever seen it but 3×3 eyes was also done by wada kaoru and the songs were so freaking sad sometimes

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:30 pmKyouya

    Blue,

    I have my own reasons why Kajiura Yuki is not in that list. You’ll be pleasantly surprised as to what it is.

    ‘People actually watch shows for composers’

    I can’t agree with that. If you go up to an average anime fan and asked them why they watch anime, they will not say it’s for the composers. Keep in mind that I am writing this in perspective of average anime fans who lives outside of Japan (not otakus, since I know they are into it).

    As I have stated again in previous comments posted, the animes next to the composer does NOT necessary mean I am talking about those works. Unless I mention it in my explanation, then you can make that argument. I am just listing it to show what works they have done.

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:43 pmroxfan

    “It is true that Kanno Yoko worked with other composers in Cowboy Bebop and Wolf’s Rain”.
    Wow really? Like who? No, really, please tell me.

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:53 pmBlue

    I’ll remember to check next time to see your reasons. Kinda got me interested.

    As for the “People actually watch shows for composers”, it’s true. I’m not Japanese, though I don’t know what you mean by “average anime fan”. If it’s the guys who only watch Narutow and DBZ on TV, well, do they even know what anime is? Can we really say they’re “anime” fans? Now, for me, it’s people like us, who actually care about what’s being presented. Most of the people know a couple of names from they’re favourite animation company and composers, but they don’t care shit about who records dialogue/sfx, the guys who are animating (person-wise, not company) and so on?

    Calling them one of the most overlooked is kinda pushy, and I’ll still stick with it.

  • June 26, 2007 at 1:55 pmarashi-chan

    Well, I classify myself as a person who was forced to watch Tsubasa Chronicle and El Cazador because of Kajiura-sama. LOL She is my ear-candy goddess, so I am really looking forward to actually learning why she’s not in your top of the top composers. ;)

    By the way, how often are you gonna be posting these posts? I enjoyed this one very much. ^^

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:15 pmKyouya

    Blue

    lol…I understand. You should see how some people are coming after me for not putting Kajiura Yuki in that section. I am like public enemy #1…lol. I’ll get more into the ‘average fan’ explanation in my next posting.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:22 pmZephyrF

    ” In majority, fans who watch anime does not really focus on BGM , especially in North America.”

    So, the ‘average anime fan’ is one who watches Naruto, Bleach, and Dragon Ball Z, in your opinion?

    There’s a distinct difference between shows with good music score and those with shitty ones. Usually, shounen shows will have good OP/EDs and spend significantly less for their BGM scores. For slightly more serious shows [and more or less every movie in existance], big name composers are usually chosen for their ability to create a certain effect for the piece. Unfortunately, for the average narutard in America, who only watches Cartoon Network for that single show, sure, I guess they’ll name the OPs, since that’s the first, and probably only thing that they hear before you get the “list” of crappy VAing. I bet they won’t even know who the ED is by, since US anime on TV cuts it short to add more advertisement time.

    Also, if you haven’t noticed, one of the criteria of most anime reviews [more or less anything on anidb] is the sound. It’s safe to say anyone who has written one has at least taken note of the BGM producer, and those who have reviewed many series might pick up a list of their favorites.

    But then again, in a way, you’re right. Most people who fit in the range you described, who have watched only the mainstream series don’t know enough composers to discern a difference between garbage and genius anyway.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:27 pmOjamajo_LimePie

    I hope you’ll be including Takanori Arisawa in this list. His stuff is great, especially the soundtrack for Sailormoon.

  • June 26, 2007 at 2:50 pmKyouya

    ZephyrF

    lol…no need for swearing. In retrospect, you’re pretty much right on. I am not an anime reviewer, so I can’t say what is being reviewed. I will explain more on what an ‘average anime fan’ is on my next posting. It actually goes deeper than that. It’s amazing what you can discover through observation.

    I also like to point out that I don’t care about anime reviewers because in the end, I make the call on I want to watch. I give every anime a chance with couple of episodes to make a good impression on me. As a result, I end up finding hidden gems that many fans may not acknowledge. If someone cares what I think, then I’m a bit flattered and will continue to comment on what I think by being true to myself. If someone doesn’t, then that’s fine. It’s their choice. I am not going to force them to tell what they should like. Everyone is different in every way, no matter what.

  • June 26, 2007 at 3:04 pmNeverwhere

    I absolutely adore Kunihiko Ryou’s music, his scores for Saiunkoku Mongatari and (especially) Victorian Romance Emma are breathtakingly beautiful. Most people should know him as the composer for The Twelve Kingdoms, but really, all his work is so gorgeous. Mmmmm. :)

  • June 26, 2007 at 3:05 pmareida

    Welcome to RC! It’s really nice to see and hear a different voice coming out of RC, when it used to be only about Omni’s wonderful reviews (which are still awesome to this day).

    You can say I’m one of those anime fans out there that really does not pay much attention to BGMs, but I do know how much BGMs contribute into the atmosphere and thw whole concept of “anime” itself.

    Now for your All-Star list, I was so surprised that I knew all those names! Yeah, I might be getting into some people’s nerves right now, posting this comment, but still, I was pleasantly surprised that I knew some composers even if I don’t pay attention.

    Now for my idea of a good composer that came into mind after reading this post…was the Choro Club for their relaxing music of ARIA the Animation and ARIA the Natural. They are probably an one-hit wonder anyways though, as I think ARIA was the only time they actually did BGM in an anime I heard of. However, I really do think that their music makes ARIA what it really is; being a slice of life in a futuristic world anime.

  • June 26, 2007 at 3:28 pmbenihime

    I’m already disagreeing with this top 20!!

    As others have stated, I believe Yuki Kajiura should be an allstar. Anyone who can make a bearable anime into a great one from the music alone deserves some major Kudos (noir comes to mind)

    And I’ve never really noticed this “same old style” tag which ppl have given her.

  • June 26, 2007 at 4:08 pmfalscribe

    YEAH, SOMEONE GIVE THESE GUYS CREDIT.
    My playlist is always full of it… there’s a lot of Hellsing music in there, actually. (Yeah, the old Hellsing series. I don’t care what people think of it, but I find all the music fantastic. I don’t even know who composes it. “Yasushi Ishii”? Can’t find out anything.)
    BGM is like a character for me–if it’s missing, everything is totally different; you notice immediately if you’ve ever seen a portion of a show or movie with just the dialogue and sound effects, before music is added. And I live in North America.

  • June 26, 2007 at 6:17 pmLonelyRurouni

    Welcome to Random Curiousity, I hope to read many interesting things from you.

    PS: I love the idea of BGMS. Especially since all my favorite BGM composers happen to be chosen :)

  • June 26, 2007 at 10:34 pmFuyumi

    Hmm, I think J.A. Seazer might be worth mentioning in your one-hit wonders – after all, he did ALL the music (except the opening theme, and the first closing theme) for Revolutionary Girl Utena, both series and movie… granted, this includes a lot of non-BGM tracks (duel themes), too.

    Its kind of weird to consider him a one-hit wonder, though, since he’s done a ton of music for movies and musicals in Japan.

    ^^; He’s probably my favorite composer in anime.

  • June 27, 2007 at 12:15 amSayna

    How come the Sousei no Aquarion OST isn’t on the Yoko Kanno list?! :) It is one of my all-time favorite soundtracks.
    I’m really happy BGM composers are being taken note of here. The BGM plays a huge role in the anime I enjoy.
    I hope that my other faves get credit too: Gankutsuou(Kasamatsu Kouji), Jyuohsei(Mizoguchi Hajime), Code Geass(Nakagawa Kotaro), and Innocent Venus(Ishikawa Tomohisa) among many many others. Though I’m sure they’ll appear in the next lists. ;)
    Gods, you can’t tell that this is my personal obsession eh?
    Keep up the good work Kyouya!

  • June 27, 2007 at 12:19 amomo

    Ito Masumi also sings, and is very cool. You nailed some of my favs anyways, so props.

  • June 27, 2007 at 12:41 amKyouya

    Sayna

    ‘The BGM plays a huge role in the anime I enjoy.
    I hope that my other faves get credit too: Gankutsuou(Kasamatsu Kouji), Jyuohsei(Mizoguchi Hajime), Code Geass(Nakagawa Kotaro), and Innocent Venus(Ishikawa Tomohisa) among many many others. Though I’m sure they’ll appear in the next lists’

    I suggest you keep watch on my future posts. :)

  • June 27, 2007 at 1:54 amquigonkenny

    Oh, man. Finally someone does a BGM post. As with a number of previous commenters, I’ve got an inordinate amount of anime BGM in my collection, but I was a huge fan of BGM before I ever got into anime (John Williams and James Horner FTW!), so it’s no surprise to me. I’ve got the first Bebop album and the first two Inuyasha OSTs, so I am well aware of the skills of Yoko Kanno and Kaoru Wada. Kanno’s ability to tie a memorable song to a moment in an anime (Green Bird) and Wada’s ability to set the tone of a scene are almost unparalleled. I’m also familiar with Iwasaki Taku (although I didn’t recognize the name) as his R.O.D. Theme is right up there with Tank! (Bebop) and H.T. (Trigun) as one of the greatest instrumental OPs of all time. The other two, either due to lack of attention (Kenji) or lack of exposure (Masumi), I’m not very familiar with, but next time I watch Moribito, I’ll try to tear myself away from the gorgeous animation and catch some of the music. ^_^

    As for my own suggestions, well, Toshihiko Sahashi is a given. I’m guessing Starting Lineup. Anyone who can blatantly steal the theme from the A-Team (FMP!) and get away with it is a winner in my book. His work on The Big-O was especially impressive, I thought, as while the show was quite forgettable, the music was anything but. I bought both the Big-O soundtracks, and the anime, just because of his work on the show. My only complaint is that there appears to be no choral version of Hand of God (Schwarzvald’s theme) out there, as that was probably the most memorable piece in the anime.

    Another person you just have to have on the list, who hasn’t been mentioned, is Michiru Oshima. While I’m not familiar with anything else she’s done (Wikipedia says she’s done mostly video games), her work on Fullmetal Alchemist has produced some of the greatest BGM ever put to animation, and her theme for the Elric brothers, Братья, is probably the most beautiful piece of music in recent memory, anime or no. I got all three of the FMA OSTs with the collector editions put out by FUNimation, but I can confidently say that if they hadn’t included them, I would have bought them separately. They’re simply amazing, and she’s a shoo-in for One-Hit Wonders, at least.

  • June 27, 2007 at 2:08 amKyouya

    Blue and ZephyrF

    I know I said that I was going to explain what a ‘Average anime fan’ is in my next post. I’m afraid that won’t be possible because it conflicts with my original plan. It may also take up too much space of the column itself, which can shift focus from its original purpose.

    Instead, I’ll explain it briefly here.

    When I mention the phrase, ‘Average anime fan’, it does not necessary mean fans watching mainstream anime like DBZ, Yu-gi-Oh, or Pokemon. I am referring to fans who may watch shows like Claymore, Basilisk, Mai-Hime, etc etc. The only difference is that they are not vastly invested to the hobby of anime. For example, they don’t go buy mangas and anime dvds nor do they attend conventions or listen to anime op/eds in their mp3 players. Simply put, these people are known as casual fans. They are interested in the hobby, but does not want to get sucked into it. That is who I’m aiming for in this column of mine.

    Eventually, I’ll bring up topics that intermediate and hardcore fans will enjoy. I have a great topic after the BGM composer series finishes. It’s definitely something you’ll want to look forward to. I guarantee it.

    Thank you for expressing your opinions.

  • June 27, 2007 at 2:09 amKyouya

    quigonkenny

    Keep your eyes on my column for future postings :P

  • June 27, 2007 at 2:28 amquigonkenny

    I said:
    “…no choral version of Hand of God (Schwarzvald’s theme)…

    That should be “Name of God.” orz

    Considering the significance of that title, I guess the music really was more memorable than the series.

  • June 27, 2007 at 8:36 amEclipze

    What about Ouran HSHC’s BGMs? I don’t know who composed the BGMs, but they were beautiful at least.

  • June 27, 2007 at 10:46 am41nano

    I think it’s really hard to select composer of BGM.
    My favorites ones are :
    -Michiru Oshima (Full Metal Alchemist excellent 3 OST)
    -Pearl Brothers (NHK ni Youkoso)
    -Masuda Toshio (Naruto, Mushishi)
    -Otsuka Ayako for her awesome work on Zegapain’s 2 OST

    And lot more of composer (Yuki Kajiura of course)

    BTW, nice post ^^

  • June 27, 2007 at 2:11 pmlulu

    Fujima Hitoshi’s sola ost just came out yesterday….. and its GODLY
    not sure about his other works tho. but if theres anyone who deserves a spot on your one hit wonder list, its this guy.

  • June 27, 2007 at 3:57 pmpiffleprincess

    One hit wonders: I suggest Yuzo Hayashi’s “Honey and Clover”. Everything about that anime was just about perfect. The score added to the “slice of life” feel that distinguishes the title from all the other titles of the same genre.

    Looking forward to where Yuki Kajiura is placed. Her best collaborations are the works belonging to the girls-with-guns trilogy.

  • June 27, 2007 at 4:02 pmLithium17

    NUJABES – Samurai Champloo!!!

  • June 27, 2007 at 5:25 pmnobody

    glad you pointed out taku iwasaki. one of my fav. composer, especially on the kenshin ova.

    thread misses sahashi toshihko, whose work in cyber formula gpx saga and sin was astounding. of course, gundam seed and destiny is what he’s more known for.

    toshio masuda is a veteran of anime ost composition… although i would’nt put toshio in all-star ranking. same with nanase hikaru.

    lately nakagawa koutarou’s grabbing my attention with planetes, gun x sword, and code geaass too. same for ooshima michiru, although i dont know if ooshima’s done anything outside of fma and chevalier.

    wada kaoru? i never really thought he was ALL-STAR although i do have his inuyasha ost and d.gray-man ost…

    and… where’s joe hisashi? ;_;

  • June 27, 2007 at 10:46 pmYouko

    Great entry. I’m a big fan of BGM composers myself and reading about this intrigues me so. Can’t wait for the rest!

  • June 28, 2007 at 1:01 ammango

    i’m so glad that kawai kenji is up there. i loved fate/stay night’s OST the best, it fits the anime so well

  • June 28, 2007 at 3:15 amEclipze

    Finally found out the composer for Ouran’s BGMs.

    Hirano Yoshishisa. Is she on the top 20 list? =P

  • June 28, 2007 at 6:35 amAngelicDevil

    pretty sad kajiura yuki’snot there….but nvm…for me….she’s my fav ^^

  • June 28, 2007 at 6:43 amAngelicDevil

    oh forgot to mention! im addicted by JUST the intro track of kingdom hearts 2 which was composed by kaoru wada….its soo simple…yet soothing n pleasent to listen to ^^

    oh n THANX a lot btw…ur post has made me wana look out for OSTs by these composers…i love BGMs but ive neva really researched into it n check out which are good since i rarely watch anime n all….BUT at least i’ve watched something from each of ur all star list =p
    at least i do get the idea on what kind of style of BGMs they all do

    looking forward to ur next post!!

  • June 28, 2007 at 7:47 amA.C.E.

    “I will mostly get disagreements from people since they will be screaming ‘Why is Kajiura Yuki not in that category?’ That will be explained in future postings”
    I look forward to your explanation as I am also among those who believe kajiura yuki deserves to be in the all-stars list. Right now I’m open to whatever your reason is. But I strongly believe that kajiura yuki is one of the best anime soundtrack composers ever.

  • June 28, 2007 at 11:14 amHimeya

    @Kyouya

    I won’t comment much about Kajiura Yuki missing from the list, although according to some of my friends that they started watching anime (no they’re not otaku(s)) after they heard the BGM from Noir(^_^). But I am in agreement that Iwasaki Taku and Yoko Kanno are supposed to be there in the top 5, after all they’re in fave list of BGM composer.
    Furthermore I would recommend a certain other composer, such as:
    1.Dolce Triade that compose the BGM for Last Exile and,
    2.Choro Club that makes the BGM for Aria and Aria the natural

    I think both of them did a splendid job in bringing the atmosphere on the anime where their BGM is played. As of now I can’t be sure in which category would they matched into, because there hasn’t been any new anime that has them as the BGM composer (as far as I know).

  • June 28, 2007 at 5:33 pmnobody

    yuki kajiura’s been going down hill. she hasn’t been able to produce epic tracks that was seen in .hack//sign since noir – i think her merit comes from being able to compose tracks that accompany feelings of melancholy, which she hasn’t been able to do since she’s been taking on shows with somewhat of childish theme like mai hime/otome.

  • June 29, 2007 at 12:45 amHimeya

    @Nobody

    I would say She’s been “going down the hill” even after Noir, because nothing (in my opinion) beats those tracks that She made for Noir.

  • June 29, 2007 at 1:44 amnobody

    o btw, why are people naming one hit composers that composed for like only one anime show (dolce tride, nujabe)? they’re not really full-fledged anime ost composers then, are they?

    if not, mark mancina for blood+?

  • June 29, 2007 at 11:02 amHimeya

    I think so, but that doesn’t mean that they lack of skill, perhaps they lack only chances though(^_^).

  • June 29, 2007 at 11:37 amAnca

    I’m also one of the people waiting for an exlanation on why Kajiura Yuki is not on the list. Unlike all the others, she managed to turn some lame-ass/idiotic anime into something enjoyable (Tsubasa Chronicles, Noir, Hack). So…

    “would anyone have truly known the potential of their work if the anime (they were staffed in) itself was average at best in terms of both story and animation?”

    Yoko Kanno: No. Kajiura Yuki: Hell yes.

    Anyway ^_^ Nanase Hikaru is my second favourite, for the performance in Angel Sanctuary and Noein. Shiroh Sagisu (Evangelion, Bleach), Megumi Wakakusa (Hikaru no Go) and Masanori Sasaji (Loveless) are also pretty memorable, imho.

  • June 30, 2007 at 9:15 amHimeya

    “I’m also one of the people waiting for an exlanation on why Kajiura Yuki is not on the list. Unlike all the others, she managed to turn some lame-ass/idiotic anime into something enjoyable (Tsubasa Chronicles, Noir, Hack). So…”

    Well, I wouldn’t say Noir would fall for the grade of “lame-saa/idiotic…” though I’d might agreed on Tsubasa Chronicle (Don’t know about hack, never watch it). The matter might be this, that most of the anime that has Kajiura Yuki as its composer are not that mainstream anime that has many spectator outside those of anime community (aka otaku(s)). Meanwhile those that has Yoko Kanno (for example) as the composer is relatively a series that has a big name already (Ghost In The Shell for example). And not to forget that Yoko Kanno composed quite a lot anime BGM far before Kajiura Yuki does. In that way we might say that Yoko Kanno has an early start before Kajiura Yuki, although I’ll prefer that Kyouya give the explanation himself, as this is just my prediction (^_^).

  • June 30, 2007 at 6:38 pmuatafak

    How about the Death note inserts? I have no idea who did that, but without that the death note would be half as good as it was…

  • July 1, 2007 at 9:46 ammai

    “would anyone have truly known the potential of their work if the anime (they were staffed in) itself was average at best in terms of both story and animation? Yoko Kanno: No. Kajiura Yuki: Hell yes”

    There are Kanno fans who became her fans in Please Save my Earth. Does the anime ring any bells? No? It’s probably her one and only “average” anime out there, the ones that followed were stellar in one way or another. Don’t you wonder why she gets all the big projects? Don’t you wonder why the directors who love choreography love to work with her?

    Don’t aim at her because she’s been chosen for some big projects.

    By the way, the Sousei no Aquarion anime sucks in all directions, regardless of their super stellar budget. It’s a disaster of an animation. But the OST, now that’s another story ;)

  • July 3, 2007 at 3:39 amsakikisa

    how come nobody mentioned Tanaka Kouhei yet? He’s really good in composing epic theme music. His famous works are One Piece, Sakura Taisen series, Gunbuster 1 & 2, Gaogaigar, Sunabozu, Gatekeepers.

  • July 22, 2007 at 1:36 amdsong

    I’ve been a fan of Hikaru Nanase’s music ever since D.C. ~ Da Capo and Gift ~ Eternal Rainbow – and hoping for more of her work in D.C. II. Her list of accomplishments are impressive… and though she has written for a number of hit shows, some of her best works are in shows that are under the radar. Check out the score for Kagihime Monogatari Eikyū Alice Rondo; if you ignore the pictures and the voices you’re in for a real treat.

  • November 17, 2008 at 9:33 amtiga88

    nice topic to blog on. in fact, to me BGM play a pivotal role on the success of an anime. and i have to admit that i have more OST collection than my anime collection (lol). i wont repeat what others says, but i found something quite interesting regarding about this topic. the impact and inspiration of anime is so great that in many cases, the televsion programme maker in china actually USE some famous or memorable BGM from famous anime ( i say use, means they dont even waste the effort to remake it, just use it straight). i first stumble across it when i was watching news about the china earthquake 2008, then i was shocked and overjoyed (mixed feeling?) to hear the <> from Inuyasha when they are broadcasting about some sad and touching news. perhaps this is a nice topic to blog on?

    below is one of the link i found, which one china otaku listed down all the programme that “steal” the use of anime BGM. interested one may have a look:
    http://www.cngba.com/archiver/tid-17602850.html