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Soundtracks that are Better than the Show

That’s my instrument. What’s yours?

I’m a sucker for good music. This is especially true if the music is produced by some of the great anime composers–namely, Yoko Kanno or Yuki Kajiura–or contains surprisingly good OPs and EDs. In the best cases, I’ve discovered that at least for me good music can help redeem a show, turning a show that would otherwise be boring into something more than watchable. It doesn’t always work, as a good soundtrack can’t completely fix bad storytelling or bad art, but it often has the power to turn mediocrities into good. Here are some of my favorite example of shows that had significant flaws but whose music made it much easier to go down.

  1. Le Portrait de la Petite Cossette (music: Yuki Kajiura). This OAV is, properly speaking, a mess. The surrealisms are creative, even Anno-ish, but sometimes incoherent, and the Gothicisms a bit pretentious. Nevertheless, the Kajiura soundtrack is still one of my favorites of hers, especially the fantastic ED. The soundtrack is one of those rare ones that can be played by itself as simply good music.
  2. Escaflowne the Movie (music: Yoko Kanno/Hajime Mizoguchi). As a huge fan of the TV series, the first time I saw the movie, I was emotionally overwhelmed and thought it was one of the best things ever. It was only on the second watch that I realized that what I had been overwhelmed by was not the story, which is a very dumbed down version of the TV series, but rather the fantastically epic score by the Kanno/Mizoguchi powerhouse. It is, in my mind, better on the whole than the already outstanding TV show OST: more powerful, dynamic, intense, and containing one of the finest closing songs in all of J-pop, Maaya Sakamoto’s “Yubiwa.”
  3. Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora (OP: by Nobuko): this is more for the fantastic OP song, which captured everything that the show should have been but wasn’t. In one of my earliest reviews for this site , I cited this show as an example of a slice-of-life show gone wrong. I still listen to the OP from time to time by itself.
  4. Shuffle! (ED: “Innocence” by Hashimoto Miyuki): here’s an example of a very good ending song for a show that didn’t deserve it. A wistful, melodious song that actually makes you feel just a little sad. I am told that this fits the later parts of the show, though, so maybe it does deserve it.
  5. Shingetsutan Tsukihime (music: Toshiyuki Omori): the goth shows often have great soundtracks, regardless of quality. Tsukihime is, in my opinion, a mediocre anime, but with an immediately arresting openin and with a great, moody string-based soundtrack. Maybe I’m just a sucker for strings?

Those are all the examples I can think of off the top of my head. Can you think of any more that I left out–or challenge me on any of my choices here?

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