It’s that time again. Welcome to the another edition of my seasonal anisong roundup. New for Spring 2019 and as part of the SixTAY Days of writing challenge, I’ll be writing this article “live” by adding one new entry over the next several days (let’s say a week, though they may not be consecutive entries).
7/16/19: Day 1 Entry and Change Log added. Testing Slideshow header.
7/18/19: Day 2 Entry added. Corrected title.
7/20/19: Day 3 Entry added. Slideshow covers added.
7/21/19: Day 4 Entry added.
7/22/19: Announcement: The next update will probably the last entry before I finalize this list. Afterwards, I plan to clean this up a bit and add some finishing touches before publishing the “complete” edition.
7/28/19: Day 5 Entry added.
For those unfamiliar how I select these, here are my general guidelines and an example of the last one I did below:
– As long as an anisong was featured during the seasonal run on any platform/service that is available for viewing, it can go on the list. This includes shows outside of their original run (i.e. Toonami, Netflix).
– More than one song from a given show is eligible. If the list is larger than expected, I may curb this or include an honorable mentions list.
– Because there are usually a large number of shows I have not watched, I limit entries to shows I’ve actually seen (with some exceptions). For that reason, the credits pick is normally reserved for a previous anisong from the season before or an extra song from the current season.
Last season, I went with a completely different setup as I wanted to highlight specific anime moments that stood out along with their associated songs to add further emphasis.
With a much larger pool of shows and anisongs this time around, there are quite a few favorites I’ll be highlighting in the coming days. Looking forward to sharing them with you!
Song: Knock on the Core
Anime: Fairy Gone
Probably best known for working on the music for Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (a personal favorite of mine), I made a joke early on in the season that I was legally obligated to watch anything with [K]NoW_NAME attached to it. Even though I’d be eating my own words all the way through the season finale (hint: it’s bad), the soundtrack remained the one salvageable component each week, notably its killer opening.
[K]NoW_NAME’s vocalists are on full display here, mixing in a range of high end notes and intense chorus beats/lyrics accompanied by some incredible guitar and orchestra pieces. With its vibrant colors and beautiful visuals by P.A. Works (albeit with some mixed CGI for the Fairies), Knock On the Core is yet another solid opening and single for the group. Now if only I could say the same about the show in general…..
Anime: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
One of my favorite new shows of the season and exciting new shonen to receive the anime treatment this year, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is a high water mark (pun intended) for the battle action genre with a matching opener to boot.
I’ve highlighted LiSA a few times already on these lists who has worked on various high profile anime, including Sword Art Online and Fate/Apocrypha, so I’ll skip the usual introduction. In contrast to SAO: Alicization’s Adamas, Gurenge is probably closer to Fate’s Ash (my personal favorite anisong from her). Here, the song kicks off with a very somber piano and dark skies before transitioning into a ripping guitar 10 seconds in and converting to color.
Aside from LiSA’s vocals, what I most love about this song though is the tempo and rhythm. Even as the pace picks up, if you listen very closely (pro tip: use headphones), you can pickup the piano humming in the background. The song builds up and slows down briefly to highlight it before whipping out some thunderous guitar work to finish the opening out. There is not much more I can add about the visuals that hasn’t been said about the show itself (it’s drop dead gorgeous), but I love that the opener managed to squeeze some a little bit of the comedic side to balance out some of the darker aesthetics (this is a dark fantasy title after all) for those curious as to what “flavor” of shonen this is.
Artist: Luck Life
Anime: Bungo Stray Dogs
Editor’s note: I couldn’t find a good version of the opening, so I’m using the actual music video.
I had to give this entry some thought. Bungo Stray Dogs has always had some killer openings, courtesy of Granrodeo (Seasons 1, 3, and Dead Apple film) and Screen mode (Season 2, insert song for season 3); all of which are utilized in some fashion. Season 2’s Reason Living in particular stands out with the song being used on two different occasions during some very climatic battles.
This time, however, it was one of the endings that stood out. Luck Life’s Lily is utilized at the end of every episode just before the closing credits, but there were two episodes where it hit me the hardest. Previously, I wrote about protagonist Atsushi’s abusive childhood and his journey to free himself from those shackles.
I won’t cover them in detail again, but in both cases, it was one of the stronger character growth moments in a series already filled with several unique personalities. By season’s end, I grew to appreciate Atsushi’s growth and the show’s complexity on abusive guardians; both of which are left with enough ambiguity without relying on tired tropes or romanticism for the abuser (i.e. a redemption arc).
Luck Life, who has contributed endings for every season, stands out in contrast to the rock based openings, trading in the darker backgrounds and heavier guitar instrumentation for brighter color tones and uplifting vocals. With various characters having faced their own internal struggles (or ongoing), it’s nice to see each of them get a bit of screen time highlighting their individual arcs and other nods to past arcs. This song and ending hit a lot of those individual and emotional ques for me that it’s hard for me to summarize my exact feelings.
Instead, I’ll raise a glass. Well done.
Song: Faith; Atashi ga Tonari ni Iru Uchi ni
Artist: MADKID; Chiai Fujikawa
Anime: The Rising of the Shield Hero
Two of the biggest factors I consider for each entry on this list is how well it fits with the anime being covered (on a narrative/visual level) and how good the overall song is (subjectively speaking). For the common viewer, it is safe to assume most people look at the latter as the deciding factor between skipping the intro/ending and sticking around to listen (among other things).
The Rising of the Shield Hero is an interesting case where the opening and ending highlight two sides of the same story while remaining independent enough that I felt the need to talk about both for this entry. Mixing various musical genres, MADKID performs both openings which focus on protagonist Naofumi and his progression from rebellious anti-hero (Rise) to someone who has found a reason for fighting beyond himself (Faith). Despite Shield Hero’s rocky start and troubling issues, Faith is a broad spectrum of colors and visuals that highlight how much Naofumi (and the show) has come since while never quite escaping those particular demons (also briefly touched in the op).
If the openings are reserved for Naofumi, then its endings are for its other main lead. Performed by Chiai Fujikawa, each ending is from Raphtalia’s point of view from her initial encounter with Naofumi (Kimi no Namae) to revisiting and closing the chapter on her own tragic childhood (Atashi ga Tonari ni Iru Uchi ni). In the case of the latter, it’s a powerful yet emotional song that highlights the duality between the leads and how both helped one another in their darkest moments.
With its strong narrative and focus on the difficulties of making connections, Sarazanmai left a lasting impression on me to the point that it might be my anime of the season. Featuring a variety of catchy tunes and several standout performances, I held off on the last episode a bit longer than expected as I was finalizing this list. In the end, I’m ending this list much in the same way the anime did with one final look at its incredible opening.
Massara, by rock band Kana-Boon (Naruto/Boruto, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans), is an upbeat and “feel good” type of rock song that manages to complement the wacky and vibrant nature of the show, while vaguely hinting at some of the dark undertones as the story progresses. You can see this transition around the 30 second mark before it transitions once more into the main chorus and guitar riffs. My affinity for classical/metal music is well noted, but I have a soft spot for these types of shows/anisongs that radiate a certain level of fun or happy vibe while still being a well crafted banger.
On that note, do yourself a favor and check it out if you haven’t already. Though it may not appeal to everyone, there are a lot of heavier themes at work that transcend its initial introduction beyond its butt humor.
Made it! Look for the final, FINAL, edition of this list once I’ve had a chance to clean this up in the coming days, add some closing content, etc. Stay tuned….