Top 19 OSTs
I mentioned this before, but one way in which 2012 stood out, was its huge amount of stunning soundtracks. Seriously, where I could count the number of soundtracks that really caught my attention in 2011 on one hand, here I’ve got nearly 20 shows that delivered beyond expectations in the audio department. Because of that I’m dedicating this part of this year’s summary to the soundtracks.
#19: Uta Koi
I’d love to be able to showcase a sample of each ost this season, but for some series I just can’t find them. Anyway, Uta Koi’s soundtrack was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, who is famous for composing the soundtracks for Chrono Trigger and Xenogears. His soundtrack here is quiet and stays much to the background (hence the lower place here), but he did nail the romantic undertones of this series. There is one particular violin track that seems to be this series’ main theme, that really impressed me.
#18: Mirai Nikki
Mirai Nikki has lots and lots of paranoia. What with the mother of all yandere being one of the main cast members. Such a series deserves a paranoid soundtrack, and Mirai Nikki in the end ended up delivering that. It took me a while to warm up to it, though, because it kept saving its best tracks for its second half so in the first half the soundtrack sounded a bit generic and monotone. After a while though, the combination of all sorts of distorted instruments won me over.
#17: Uchuu Kyoudai
I was debating whether or not to put Uchuu Kyoudai on its list. Sure, it has a fantastic selection of OPs and EDs, but its soundtrack isn’t really that big, and it just keeps playing the same songs over and over again. But then I realized: we’re three seasons in and I’m still not bored of those songs. They are incredibly recognizable, and whatever scene they’re used for, they make it work and they manage to draw out a ton of emotions. It’s simple, yet effective.
This is the kind of epic soundtrack you needed to make Zetman work. It contains a ton of fast-paced tracks that are great at drawing out the adrenaline with lots of violins and bombastic sounds and drums. I also love how well produced everything is. That’s not always something in a show’s advantage, but it definitely is here.
I’ve said it before: I prefer Yuki Kajiura’s older work above her newer work. These are a bit too overproduced and sound much of the same. Nevertheless, I am a big fan of the use of choirs, and these are used wonderfully here. It’s a very gloomy soundtrack in the same vein as used with Kara no Kyoukai, just heavier.
#14: Natsume Yuujin-Chou
Natsume Yuujin-Chou used the same soundtrack that it has always had this year, but that does not make it any less charming. Here it’s not so much that there is one track that stands out, but the entire OST just fits together wonderfully in creating a dreamy atmosphere. It’s something that this series has been great at from its first season, and yet again it gets the award for the most relaxing soundtrack of the year for me.
#13: Saint Seiya Omega
Heck, we’re not even in the top 10 yet and we’re already getting to the soundtracks that made a big impact on me. That’s how good this year is. At first I didn’t think much behind this soundtrack, but as I started listening, I was surprised at how many stunning tracks it had. Heck, this soundtrack is one of the big reasons why Saint Seiya Omega elevated itself from an average action show to something that just made me keep coming back, even after more than 26 episodes. As this plays, I could just feel the tension rise. This is also one of those soundtracks where it’s impossible to just pick one track that really stands out.
I really love experimental soundtracks. Because of that, I’m completely sold on the Jormungand soundtrack. This really sounds unique, and this one track, “Time to Attack” just exemplifies everything about it. The silly over the top lyrics just scream cool, even though at first I admit that I was wondering what the heck I was litening to here. The rest of the soundtrack also has some really well fitting techno-tracks.
#11: Natsuyuki Rendezvous
I love what the creators did with their sound in this series. Unlike the above mentioned soundtracks, this one is simple, but the way it uses its instruments to build up tension: they really spent time into thinking how to make it work best. I especially fell in love with this particular track using just a bass and a piano using very minimal sounds that gets played during a few heavy scenes. The tension that that managed to create was amazing.
Um… I’m sorry… I hate J-Pop! I really do. But this soundtrack just had me bouncing up and down on my chair. Heck, Shoji Kawamori. This guy knows how to make an animated musical that kicks ass with a number of great and exciting songs. In this show, the performances, they all sounded right and were clearly very very well produced to make them as bombastic as possible. Well, they succeeded for me.
#9: Eureka Seven Ao
For most OSTs, it’s the main tracks that sound the most impressive. That’s how they’re made. Eureka Seven Ao is slightly different, though. The main tracks are nice indeed, but the side tracks that you only hear once or twice were the ones that really sold me, especially in the second half. And especially the ending, that contained many actual songs as the background, and that’s where it really started coming to the foreground. This is the kind of series that just keeps spiraling out of control, and the soundtrack just went along with it perfectly.
This soundtrack still astounds me as to how ridiculously solid it is, for 25 episode it managed to keep the same addictive pacing. The creators just took one tune, and based an entire soundtrack around that that feels so huge and complete. The creators really needed something that captured the essence of working towards your dream and not giving up. Well,they succeeded.
#7: Psycho Pass
Psycho Pass has an interesting OST that uses whatever it feels like fits best for its songs. As a result we got to enjoy Beethoven’s 9th symphony a few times where it really fitted with its themes. Apart from that there is the above main track (which only got played once so far), slow tracks, fast tracks, suspenseful ones. It’s very varied overall.
#6: Nazo no Kanojo X
This one really surprised me. I thought that this would be just a normal romance show, and then BAM! Awesome soundtrack. The composer actually went for this theme park theme that feels all like a dream, just as what the romance of this series is supposed to be: weird and too good to be true. The main track in particular is just something I’ll probably listen to a lot before it really gets boring: the use of instruments and sounds really is wonderful.
#5: From the New World
From the New World is based on a novel that is DARK beyond belief. The composers actually nailed that feeling by using children’s choir on one hand, and dark music on the others with a lot of electric guitars. Like, the soundtrack of a full fledged horror series. This combination between horror on one side and innocence on the other. It works really well.
#4: Sakamichi no Apollon
Yoko Kanno is back! And how. If I had to name my favorite composer for 2012, it’d be her (*hint*). But this just is completely amazing how well this show managed to capture the feeling of jazz, alongside various of the classics. The entire show is just full of some of the most amazing pieces, and seeing the characters actually play them using rotoscoped animation makes it even better. I mean, this was by far the series that had the best combination between animation and music of the entire year and you can really see that the musicians here are playing with feeling and freedom, rather than being too constrained (which I notice about a lot of other OSTs).
#3: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Now we’ve gotten to the OSTs that completely blew me away this year. I mean, what the producers did with this series is just absolutely amazing. Not only does the soundtrack of Jojo KICK ASS beyond belief: it also gets just better and better as it goes on. The series consists out of two halves, and the creators actually made two separate OSTs for both halves, composed by two entirely different composers with entirely different feels. Both OSTs would have made it on this list, let alone a combination between these two. There are so many tracks on this soundtrack that just scream manliness, it’s unbelievable.
#2: Zetsuen no Tempest
This is a soundtrack that I still can’t believe how good it is. It is its composer’s, Michiru Oshima, best work most definitely and the complexity of some of the songs on this OST is still unbelievable. Again this is a soundtrack that just blew me away. It has classical influences, yet it’s not. It just keeps going and it also manages to use its tracks at the best possible moments. My musical knowledge is by far not good enough to really explain why this soundtrack is so fantastic and miles above the others. Just… listen to it.
#1: Aquarion Evol
For Aquarion Evol, the creators also combined two OSTs together: the ost of the first Aquarion, and some crazy guy on a piano with ridiculous skills. Really, the creators needed someone with incredible skills for one of the characters in this series, and they actually found one. I mean, this soundtrack is the only one this year that I’ve called a godly soundtrack, and for good reason: some of the tracks here are just insanely good. This show has so many orgasm references, and the soundtrack just fits in completely with it.
Top 61-46 TV-Series
Ah you know what? I’ve seen a bit fewer series this year compared to other years. I’m going to rank all of the shows for this year’s summary. In order to egilibile, I need to have finished watching it, or need to be watching it right now. So if a series is missing: that’s why. Today, I bring you numbers 61 to 45.
#61: Guilty Crown
For the worst show I managed to finish this year… I just have to go to Guilty Crown. There really is no contest here: it just went wrong on so many levels. The story revolved way too much around Shu, who could never really decide what he wanted to be. It kept forcing the most ridiculous plot twists through, and despite all that, it was incredibly boring with incredibly bland characters.
Ozuma just managed to make this list because it was so short: only six episodes long. The whole premise around underground submarines really had me intrigued for a while, but this show never really uses it. Add in some incredibly stupid characters and a background that is nothing but empty exposition, and you’ve got a show that I’m not gonna recommend…
#59: Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online is the last show that I reluctantly finished this year. As in, I’d given up hope on it but just finished it for the sake of finishing it and having a good view of what went wrong there. It started off very interesting, but it just jumped the shark in its second half by completely disrespecting its female lead and just making no sense in so many ways.
#58: Medaka Box
Medaka Box’s biggest problem was its timing, especially in its second half. Here it had set out this interesting shounen series, only to air right next to two other shounen jump adaptations that were just in the midst of breaking all boundaries in the genre. The result was that it just paled in comparison. It had some interesting ideas, but spent too much on explaining stuff and too little on actually delivering a good storyline and characters.
K was gorgeously animated and fun, but unfortunately also a tad unambitious. At first I thought that this would be a really ambitious series, but in the end the only thing that the characters ended up doing was run around trying to find the truth behind some murder that actually turned out to be pretty simple, all amidst some talk about seven kinds of kings whose significance I still don’t really understand…
#56: Tari Tari
Tari Tari aimed to be a character study, and for most part it worked out. In the end though, it was a bit too bland for its own good, and it rather looked down upon its male characters, who got much less attention than the female cast members. Add that to a rather flimsy ending that just felt lazy, and you have a series that I’m looking back to with rather neutral feelings.
Ah, Sankarea. You had great ideas, and a number of really good episodes there. There were some points that really impressed me, but most of the show just moved too slowly, or just plainly got on my nerves. Especially that damn cousin was annoying, and the resolution itself was one that I found rather flimsy.
#54: Papa no Iukoto ni Kikinasai
Here is the thing with Papa wo Iukoto ni Kikinasai: I remember that it was better than expected and had some genuine moments, but I can hardly remember anything about it now, 9 months later. It was rather… forgettable, even though it did show some interesting things about a guy having to take care of his cousins and having to find ways to cope with it. Usagi Drop it wasn’t, though.
Teekyu was just the people from Studio Mappa wanting to do something completely silly and nonsensical, so they made a show about a tennis club that tried to be as random as possible. Just something to shut my brain off to and enjoy the energy and weird camera angles.
#52: Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon
Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon in the end never really managed to convince me with its combination of really creative powers, over the top action and huge setting. In the end, none of the characters caught my attention, and they all never really went beyond their one-dimensional caricatures. Even though there was so much interesting stuff going on in the background, it made the show a bit of a pain to sit through at times. Nevertheless though, I do appreciate this show for trying to be as creative as possible.
#51: Little Busters
Little Busters is a show that still needs to redeem itself, but it’s right now harmless enough. It has some incredibly annoying characters, but it still is enjoyable enough to watch and it’s got some good characterization amongst its main cast that helps a lot. The male characters in particular are quite well done. The female characters… yeah.
#50: Thermae Romae
I originally wanted to list this series a bit lower on this ranking due to its incredibly crappy animation, but in the end I just had to acknowledge: this show was really entertaining with just its three episodes about roman bathing. It’s unique, and I love the risk that Noitamina took in order to air it. Just next time, let it get animated by an actual animation studio, rather than DLE.
#49: Ano Natsu de Matteru
This series was solid romance. Nothing more, nothing less. It never really gets really high, but it wasn’t pointless either. It’s got some good climaxes, believable acting and an interesting overall theme of making a movie, which are balanced out by a few rather annoying and pointless episodes and contrived twists.
The past winter was definitely the season that made me the most angry and pissed off. There are three series to thank for that: Guilty Crown, Persona 4 (which got so bad that I had to drop it), and Nisemonogatari. DEAR GOD, talk about wasted potential. The animation is stunning. It just oozes style. It has so many interesting ideas. So why on earth did it take so incredibly long to get somewhere? There were so many points at which this show just wasted ages on pointless fanservice. One episode okay, but this show just had to do this for every single girl in the cast or something. It took way too long to get from A to B because of that. Aargh, I really hope that the next Monogatari series are a bit better balanced so that they can really show off their creativity like with the toothbrush scene.
#47: Black Rock Shooter
You know? I think that in the end, I did like Black Rock Shooter. It had some… really weird design decisions and the whole set of characters in the black rock shooter world were just there to fight, but the action was epic and really well done, and the plot, while really weird actually did lead to a very nice conclusion in the end. Despite some over the top characters who were a bit too much like psychopaths, I enjoyed the ride. Also, the show had the guts to just be 8 episodes instead of being dragged out. More shows need to do that.
#46: Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
Perhaps not the funniest comedy of the year, but it did have moments that really made me laugh with its combination between weird role play and weird reversal of high school stereotypes. There were enough scenes at which it just wasn’t funny, but the funny scenes made up for it. Tomokaze Sugita as a voice actor especially was on fire in this show.