Random Curiosity

Unsung Heroes: Q & A and BGM Composers – Part 2

Oh! Edo Rocket

I look at the comments posted in my debut column and it amazed me how much effect Kajiura Yuki has on people. The demand for Kajiura’s work to be placed in the top ranking has been petitioned to the point that maybe I should re-review my choices. Maybe I made a mistake or just maybe…just maybe, I might have gone over the line. I should give into the public opinion and just do what they consider is right.

Or not. :P

However, that does not mean I should do whatever I please. The readers of RC have brought up some issues that intrigued me. I feel that I am obligated to answer it. Before I list my ‘Starting Lineup’, I would like to take this moment for a little Q & A session.

 

Questions and Answers

 

Q: Is this ranking based on bias?

A: Isn’t everything we decide based on preference? Isn’t preference basically a sophisticated word for bias? Of course, it’s going to be bias. Nonetheless, you can minimize it as much as possible by offering quality reasons as to why you feel this way. The word, bias, would not exist if we all liked the same things, which is humanly impossible.

 

Q: Are you commending the composer with the pieces he/she has created that are listed next to their names?

A: Unless it is mentioned in the paragraph below, then no. Generally, I am talking about their whole body of work.

 

Q: Will we see Kajiura Yuki in “The Starting Lineup”?

A: Scroll down to the bottom for an answer.

 

Onward to the next group of composers…

(Notice: After conducting more research for this and upcoming posts, 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.)

 

The Starting Lineup

 
 
 

Lelouch
Nakagawa Kotaro (Scryed, Gun X Sword, Code Geass)

His fondness for the guitar and trumpet is portrayed beautifully. Although Nakagawa’s tracks have a western feeling, he manages to add a twist in order to call it his own. If you listen very carefully, this composer loves to focus on exploiting the feeling of cockiness, stubbornness and restlessness. It makes me wonder how far he can go with his potential.

Karada
Mitsumune Shinkichi (Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar, Asatte no Houkou, Zero no Tsukaima)

Mitsumune reminds you of a pairing between bread & butter, peanut butter & jelly, macaroni & cheese, or even iPod & MP3. How does he fit in with this? Fairy tale. He is so synchronized with that genre that it almost makes you feel that he was solely born to compose for it. People will question if he can expand his work to other themes. Only time will tell. For now, let’s just enjoy the contribution he made that can reach both kids and adults.

Lacus
Sahashi Toshihiko (Full metal Panic(s), Hunter X Hunter, Gundam SEED, Gundam SEED Destiny, Black Blood Brothers)

As a composer who shows his passion for the orchestra , Sahashi is very formal. Is that a bad thing? Not really. In the technological age (present) , people have trouble understanding the value of an orchestra especially with teens and young adults. The music of Gundam SEED(s) and Full Metal Panic(s) has caught their attention. What’s the brilliance of his work? Sahashi is a rare talent who can make something ordinary into extraordinary without having to change a thing. You can say that he’s the ‘Azuma Kazuma’ of music.

Otogi Jushi Akazukin
Masuda Toshio (Jubei-Chan 1 & 2, Ai Yori Aoshi, Mahoromatic, Otogi-Jushi Akazukin, Naruto)

Okay, before people come after me with pitchforks and torches, I want to get this out of the way. I don’t want to hear any comments about how you can dismiss him just because he worked on Naruto. I know there are lots…and I mean…LOTS of people who hate Naruto. Despite that, just deal with it and suck it up. It is not his fault that the anime failed due to crappy fillers. If you want to blame someone, blame the writers NOT the composer.

Scrolling through the tracks of his previous works, he has a typical pattern known as balance. In his musical score, Masuda likes to set the scale in emotions equally. Too much sadness can really bring you down while too much happiness can make you naïve. The only problem I have with him is that his transition to these emotions (sad to happy) is not always at its best. Although, it is nice to see someone taking on a unique challenge.

Coud
Kajiura Yuki (Noir, Madlax, El Cazador, Tsubasa, Erementar Gerad)

Surprise, Surprise. Guess who finally showed up. It’s your goddess, Kajiura Yuki. I guess you’re all wondering why I think she belongs here instead of ‘The All Stars’. Prepare yourself. :)

The phrase ‘one-style’ to describe Kajiura Yuki is absolutely positively preposterous. Those who say she has ‘one-style’ are ignorant. Have you forgotten about Kajiura’s work on Erementar Gerad? Sure, fans can argue how the anime blew but the OST was not at fault. It was magnificent. That accomplishment shredded the ‘one-style’ label anti-Kajiura fanatics have slapped on her. So if you readers were expecting that, sorry to disappoint you but I’m not deaf.

The main reason as to why I believe she belongs here is because I respect her vocal compositions more than her BGM. She has contributed to so many outstanding vocals (i.e. Shounen Onmyouji OP, Chrno Crusade ED, Gundam SEED(s) inserts). Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t she have her own solo project called FictionJunction (YUUKA, ASUKA, KAORI, KEIKO and WAKANA)? Some of my favorite songs are ‘Everlasting Song (Erementar Gerad insert)’ by FictionJunction ASUKA and ‘Akatsuki no Kuruma (Gundam SEED insert)’ by FictionJunction YUUKA. ‘Hitomi no Kakera (MADLAX OP)’ was not so shabby either. If that’s not enough, have supporters neglected her partnership with Ishikawa Chiaki to form the group known as See-Saw? This duo has contributed to big titles which includes Gundam SEED(s) and .hack//(s).

Is she a great BGM composer? Yes. Do I think it’s better than her vocal arrangements? Sadly, no. I’m not taking anything away from her. There are people that surpass her when it comes to BGM, whom are listed in ‘The All Stars’.

 

Whew, that was a load off. I hope the comments posted here will now be less frequent about Kajiura Yuki (highly doubtful, but a man can dream). That being said, people will now ask ‘Where in the world is Joe Hisaishi in your list?’ That will be answered in another day.

On the 3rd posting, the Bench Players. :)

 

(Notice: Check back often. I do respond to comments.)

June 30, 2007 at 1:12 pm
44 comments »
  • June 30, 2007 at 1:28 pmkacpy

    Well.. pity Kanno has probably more vocal pieces than Kajiura…

    PS. Your spam filter sucks.

  • June 30, 2007 at 1:32 pmGStrike-

    woah…

  • June 30, 2007 at 1:42 pmkuromitsu

    I’m disappointed to see that neither Mizoguchi Hajime nor Imahori Tsuneo made it to your list, although it’s somewhat justified in that their main profile is not anime music. Still, Mizoguchi’s work on Juuousei, Texhnolyze and Escaflowne (the movie) was absolutely wonderful, and Imahori made some of the most interesting and original music for Trigun and Gungrave. (I used to listen to the soundtracks of the latter two shows at work, and people would often come and ask me what band I’m listening to and where they could buy their CDs. It’s ironic that the music of Imahori’s former band is usually too experimental even for me…)

  • June 30, 2007 at 1:50 pmacapella

    first post here after long time readin RC….
    but since i really do love anime ost, and sometimes make me watch anime based on the composer first…. and to be truth i’m on the part of them who feel like protesting by not seeing Kajiura in ur previous list, but glad Kanno make it in

    actually i always think what makes one composer good, is having a soul on their piece, or maybe characteristic on all their works…
    some piece that’ll make us “ah! isn’t this by XX” when we heard them
    i think Kanno and Kajiura is one of many composer who hav those soul inside them *and we know on how ppl’s voice for “why no Kajiura” in ur previous post, kinda proves it*

    all and all, it’s ur RC, and ur the one writing, ur own little fav composer chart list, not ours, and won’t change ours fav composer too hehehe
    though i’m glad fot this post, at least i can learn about other composer a bit

  • June 30, 2007 at 1:51 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    O.K o.K i didnt chime in on part one “cuz honestly i dont see what the deal is” maybe i’m missing something ,hence= dude from brooklyn.. the topic is “composer’s” by my definition or at least the one in my head. a composer “creates” or “arranges” musical peice’s. now i cant read asian languages so i could not tell if these “composers” are the creators of the music played at the various openings, or if they are simply responsible for selecting the piece and timing it with the animation.. but from what i gather it seems to me that usually variouse groups ,artists, j-pop bands, are the ones that execute the music, “sometimes selected from their albums” are you telling me that these composers hire out these artists and make them play songs that they composed??? cuz if thats the case, they take anime 100x more serious than we do over here in the states. the idea of an american production studio contracting a professional artist to make a theme song for a cartoon is luducris over here… but i digress.. im just curiose as to what is meant by “composer”

  • June 30, 2007 at 2:01 pmStripey

    Glad to see Masuda Toshio and Mitsumune Shinkichi finally getting some love. Shinkichi’s Rozen Maiden 2 and Toshio’s Ai Yori Aoshi ~enishi~ are 2 of my favourite OSTs in anime. Interested to see where you’d classify Hikaru Nanase.

  • June 30, 2007 at 2:03 pm41nano

    I think the best work of Masuda Toshio is from Mushishi, maybe you should at least mention it.
    Anyway nice post :)

  • June 30, 2007 at 2:09 pmBlue

    “I look at the comments posted in my debut column and it amazed me how much effect Kajiura Yuki has on people. The demand for Kajiura’s work to be placed in the top ranking has been petitioned to the point that maybe I should re-review my choices. Maybe I made a mistake or just maybe…just maybe, I might have gone over the line. I should give into the public opinion and just do what they consider is right.”

    Thing is, you’re not doing this for “the people” . You’re doing it for you, otherwise you wouldn’t place Kajiura in the “Starting setup” just because YOU like her vocal arrangements more than BGM.

    Then again, argueing about this isn’t really important. I mean, it’s not like we “can” argue about your choices. You’re not trying to make an “unbiased” list, but one based on your tastes. So all we can do is read and agree/lawl/not agree.

    So just keep up with your job. At least it’s an “interesting” read.

    PS: Delete the other one. Long live for html tags and not allowing ‘s

  • June 30, 2007 at 2:11 pmkacpy

    indeed @ poster above. We’ve had our fun at the “overlooked” part, but now it’s like… “oh so he likes this and that, apparently, mmmkay.”

  • June 30, 2007 at 2:41 pmmutio

    I especialy remember Yuki Kajiura cause of Noir. That was the first anime I watched with my mother lol.

  • June 30, 2007 at 2:56 pmshuffee

    woohooo i LOVE Nakagawa Kotaro :D!!! the gun x sword ost is by far one of my favourite ost’s (honey & clover’s ost is my most loved), and though the code geass ost was rather hit or miss for me, it did have some lovely tracks.

  • June 30, 2007 at 2:59 pmjaalin

    of course there are going to be disagreements when it comes to ranking something that ultimately comes down to preference. mozart or beethoven? van gogh or picasso? advil or tylenol? i doubt any of us have the knowledge or expertise to be critiquing these composers on a technical level, anyway. who knows, nodame’s “moja moja part 12″ could be a better piece of music than anything chopin ever wrote.

    what’s important is that kyouya made his point and provided as much evidence as any of us could – there’s an objective interpretation of each composer’s style and substance, several well-known works, even a freakin’ screenshot. don’t agree with his ranking? then tell us what you think it should be, and give us your own reasoning!

    do keep in mind, though, most of the people who visit this site will have no idea who any of these composers are. therefore, in accordance with the majority of our readers, kyouya is indeed writing for “the people” and not just “you people” – the very nature of having a column like this should make viewers more aware of all these background elements that go into a successful anime.

    and as long as somebody learned something new from reading this, what else matters?

  • June 30, 2007 at 3:34 pmKyouya

    Blue

    I was being playful. Of course, I write it for myself :). I am just having fun teasing the readers which is why I wrote ‘Or not’ :P.

    kuromitsu

    The rankings are not done. There are more to come. I suggest you look forward to my next post. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. :P

    Stripey,

    Read my debut post. Hikaru Nanase is in ‘The All Stars’

  • June 30, 2007 at 3:54 pmFuyumi

    I mentioned in regards to the first installment that you should consider J.A. Seazer, and said he did a ton of work for Utena. I mistakenly wrote that that was the only anime he worked on, although he actually did the music (background, insert, opening, and ending) for the movie Midori (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=4601).

    I also thought I’d suggest considering Shiro Sagisu. He doesn’t seem very well-known, but he did the musical scores for Kimagure Orange Road (TV, OVA, movie), His and Her Circumstances, Nadia (TV and movie), Bleach (TV, OVA’s, and movie), and Evangelion (TV, and both movies). So, at the very least, he has done enough work to be considered – and I dare say his work in the aforementioned animes was all excellent, and quite varied.

  • June 30, 2007 at 4:18 pmbailey

    I’m really enjoying this new section–I have no knowledge of BGM composers so these posts have been very informative to me. I usually just watch an anime and may think, “this music sounds cool/nice,” but I don’t really look into who composed it or anything. From now on I think I’ll pay a lot more attention to the music so that I can form a better appreciation of it. Thanks for these interesting posts, it’s always nice to learn something new.

  • June 30, 2007 at 5:53 pmrandomdude

    Didn’t Kajiura Yuki do Mai Otome and My-HiME?, but yea i like her work too :) i have to get her ost’s from the anime’s she’s done cuz i like the bgm

  • June 30, 2007 at 7:42 pmAnonymooo

    I agree with kuromitsu in his surprise that Imahori Tsuneo isn’t on the list–his instantly-recognizable use of guitar is something that defines the series he works on. I can understand, though, as I can only think of two series off the top of my head where it really comes to the forefront.

  • June 30, 2007 at 7:59 pmInana

    WHAT? Did you forget Hans Zimmer? Blood+ wasn’t airing long ago; I don’t see yoko Kanno or Hajime mizoguchi either. Did you just exclude the animes you don’t watch or is it because older series are not included in your rankings you didn’t mentioned them? Ah and btw you said “discuss” these stuff, what’s the point if we ask you questions and you never answer them? Did you forget about your poor readers? Y_________Y

  • June 30, 2007 at 8:06 pmShiNN

    I rather think you forgot your brain somewhere, Inana. This is the second article that Kyouya did. Yoko Kanno already got mentioned in the previous one among his “All-Stars” preference.

  • June 30, 2007 at 8:22 pmmewmew

    agreement with jaalin. as long as the defense and reason is made, why complain? no single person will be willing to go through all the bgm composers that ever existed, then listen to every single one of their works, then create a non-biased way to rank them (impossible).

    @Inana-if you can do all of the above yourself, then your complaint is justified. but it isn’t. :P

    good job kyouya! that is all i have to say.

  • June 30, 2007 at 8:35 pmKyouya

    Time for another comment update.

    Anonymooo,

    Imahori is on the list. That’s all I’m going to say about that. However, I notice you and some people are doing some research about composers who aren’t currently listed. It can only mean one thing and one thing only: you, the readers, are taking notice :P

    ShiNN,

    LOL….thanks for backing me up. I think :P

    mewmew and bailey,

    This is exactly why I am writing in this blog. It’s people like yourself that inspires me to write my opinion(s) about these composers and other future topics. Thank you for reading my column.

  • June 30, 2007 at 8:36 pmDEATH

    Nakagawa Kotaro is one of my favorites. I loved the OSTs for GunXSword as well. I’m not too familiar with the others though.

  • June 30, 2007 at 9:03 pmcaptainchoc

    how can you talk about Sahashi Toshihiko without mentionning Simoun ? :(

  • June 30, 2007 at 10:30 pmA.C.E.

    Just to add, Nakagawa Kotaro also did the soundtrack for Hayate no Gotoku. Anyway, I suppose your explanation for Kajiura Yuki’s exclusion from the all stars is acceptable, after all, the lists are made out of individual tastes in music. Although Kajiura Yuki will always be in my all stars list =P. I’ll be waiting for your next article =)

  • June 30, 2007 at 11:21 pmBeanBandit

    Dolce Triade for Last Exile!!

  • June 30, 2007 at 11:26 pmnobody

    inana: hans zimmer directed, mark mancina composed for blood+.

    i agree with kuromitsu about mizoguchi hajime – his combination with cello/violin was freaking FANTASTIC in jyo ou sei.

    so far, no love for ootani kou yet, even though he’s a veteran who produced nice ost for pumpkin scissor, ayakashi ayashi, gundam wing, shakugan no shana, cyber formula double 1, and cyber formula zero.

    i think hirano yoshihisa needs a spot for host club, meine liebe, and death note. i really like the string arrangement that ryou kunihiko does for victorian romance emma and saiunkoku monogatari.

    another nomination for yasunori iwasaki (vandread and grenadier), although i wouldn’t mind it at all if it didn’t make it to the next list.

  • July 1, 2007 at 12:47 amStripey

    Oops, my bad for missing out Hikaru Nanase on your debut post. I read it but didn’t recognise her under Itou Masumi. Will certainly check out Pita Ten’s OST (and the anime for that matter). I strongly recommend her work on Da Capo too.

  • July 1, 2007 at 12:49 amquigonkenny

    “how can you talk about Sahashi Toshihiko without mentionning Simoun?”

    Or The Big-O?

    Well…okay, I can see how you might not mention that due to the whole “people not liking it” thing. Still, the music, at least, owned.

  • July 1, 2007 at 12:57 amHimeya

    Okay…, well its your preference anyway(^_^), if you put it that way, none should complain about who being put in where….though i still think that both KY (Kajiura Yuki) composition in vocal and BGM are equal…

    @BeanBandit
    I’d support that(^_^).

  • July 1, 2007 at 1:08 amShippoyasha

    Masuda Toshio is actually a great mention and even with Naruto, he did a great job. I didn’t like most things about the anime conversion of Naruto, but the soundtrack was QUITE memorable.

    Also, his work on Jubeichan 1 and 2 were amazing and very unique as well.

    Hard to diss the man really.

  • July 1, 2007 at 1:16 amKyouya

    Shippoyasha

    Exactly. That is why I added him to my list. Regardless, there are people who will try to discredit him because he worked on Naruto. I am a fan of his Jubei-chan work as well :)

  • July 1, 2007 at 2:09 amdead

    Kajiura for Mai Hime ^^.. Mezame’s still good enough for me ^^…

  • July 1, 2007 at 2:52 amnobody

    lol, whoever said toshio sucked because he composed naruto needs their brains checked. composers are rated by their composition and how it fits with the overall show, not the quality of the show itself. his work on mushishi was good by me, along with ghost hunt.

    now that i look at it, mitsumune shinkichi seems like a waste of a slot in the starter line up :b

  • July 1, 2007 at 8:21 amKaly

    are you gonna put Joe Hisaishi in all of this? ^^

  • July 1, 2007 at 9:15 amarashi-chan

    I don’t really like your explanation about Kajiura… I mean… when a big portion of her BGM music also has vocals (just check out the Tsubasa OSTs… a song of storm and fire, voices silently sing, ship of fools, siren song, moebius and many others I don’t remember all have vocals by Itou Eri.) If of course you’re ignoring all tracks with vocals of any kind even if they can technically be considered as BGM, well… I can get your explanation. Anyway, that’s your opinion and I’m fine with it. Keep these posts coming.

    By the way, are you gonna mention Nobuo Uematsu’s team? I loved their work in Advent Children.

  • July 1, 2007 at 12:08 pmKyouya

    Arashi-chan

    I’m sorry to hear that you don’t like my explanation. However, I stand by my position regardless of what anyone says (the intro paragraph is a joke so don’t take it seriously :P).

    I am not going to include FFVII: Advent Children because it is just a 3D CG movie. Besides, even if I did include him, it would be under a one-hit wonder since he only produce one ost that is technically an anime. Now, that would be a insult to him because I know damn well he is not some one-hit wonder. He is a legendary composer for the FF series. I am not going to change my rankings because one work does not automatically shoot you up to the top.

    Kaly,

    I will explain myself on that issue.

  • July 1, 2007 at 8:27 pmShinSenshi

    Just gotta throw something out there about Kajiura Yuki: You can’t just say *because* her vocal pieces are better, it overshadows her work as a composer. All that’s needed to prove that is NOIR and My-Hime. Every piece in NOIR has it’s own distinct style and flavor using different instruments to adapt to the setting and mood while uniquely Western-hybrid in its flavor. In contrast My-Hime uses more ‘techno/trance’ instrumentation and with that alone she is able to achieve such variety. She may not have the orchestral majesty of individual pieces like Yoko Kanno does. But she has so much variety and can adapt to so many different types of pieces…

  • July 1, 2007 at 9:25 pmKyouya

    ShinSenshi

    You can’t just say *because* her vocal pieces are better, it overshadows her work as a composer

    I’m not overshadowing her work. I even went as far as to defend her when there are people out there who criticize her for ‘one-style’. I think she is great. As I said before, I’m not taking anything away from her. If I had to choose which work is more superior between vocal and BGM, I have to go with vocal which is what I did. I know you may disagree but I’m not changing my decision. I’m sticking to my convictions. Please don’t try to bring up what I said in the first paragraph because that was a joke. Thank you for taking your time to comment. I appreciate hearing all types of passionate opinions.

  • July 2, 2007 at 1:15 amtritoch

    Aw. Put on Salon’68/69 and Depapepe for Honey and Clover S1 and S2 or Tomoki Hasegawa for NANA (granted, NANA had some awesome music from different people too)

  • July 2, 2007 at 7:02 amAngelicDevil

    i just wanna read the one hit wonders…since i dunno any

  • July 2, 2007 at 10:16 amarashi-chan

    Too bad you didn’t get my point.

  • July 2, 2007 at 9:11 pmfalscribe

    I have to say, no matter how crappy the Naruto anime eventually became, I think the bgm work was actually quite good. I can still remember some pieces from it. It was effective while the anime used it properly.

    About Kajiura Yuki, FictionJunction and See-Saw are what stand out to me most about her as well actually, so I see your point.

    Well, Kyouya, it was an enjoyable read, and I respect how you patiently deal with the fact that not everybody agrees with columns. But the point of a column is indeed for one person to share his or her opinions and experiences in hopes of helping out others, so I think you are doing your job fine. ^_^

  • July 11, 2007 at 1:11 amLain

    I’m so happy to see this post on BGM composers. In my case, whenever I try to strike up a conversation about composers, I usually end up talking to myself… Anyway, I’m glad to see that you’ve mentioned Iwasaki Taku on your all-stars list. I think that his work on soundtracks is amazing and I’m especially fond of his action and dramatic themes. He’s been doing some great things for Gurren Laganna as well.

    I also enjoyed seeing Nakagawa Kotarou on your Starting Players list: I absolutely love the Code Geass soundtrack and I was happy to see he also composed for Scryed, another soundtrack I enjoyed, like the Hayate no Gotoku! soundtrack. I really think he’s got a lot to give and he’s great with the guitar! I also agree with your comment on him exploring the feel of zeal and cockiness in his work – it definitely shows in Code Geass (but that’s to be expected, of course).

    And no, I’m not here to flame you on Yuki Kajiura. Her works have always been a hit and miss for me. While I really loved her work on NOIR, I was very nored with .hack//SIGN, which is supposedly her greatest work according to fans.

    Now, I’m wondering if you’ll talk about ALI PROJECT’s recent contributions to anime soundtracks…

  • July 25, 2007 at 7:49 pmredphoenix

    well,i have to disagree with you on Yuki Kajiura (Guess you weren’t expecting that,huh? :D :D :D).Oh,and yes,call me a fanboy if you like,i don’t care.
    The point is,she has made far more bgm songs than vocals.Now,i don’t think that every single bgm from her rocks,but you just have to listen to some mai-hime bgms that i think sometimes even surpass her vocal songs.(Omoi Hitohira,kokyou no kimi,…)She also had some nice bgms in tsubasa chronicles(dewdrops,hear our prayer…),and so on…
    Also,do you consider her songs like mezame,ensei,ship of fools…like bgm or like vocals? You know,those with the vocals that don’t mean anything and are used like another instrument. If you count them as bgm (which i would,as there aren’t really lyrics to them),they would outclass some of her vocal works.
    I’m looking forward to your answer,kyouya.