Music Themed Anime

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Sonik Wiz

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I am pretty sure I’m one of the few here on QQ that has an interest in J/K music & anime. But everyone here knows the urge to share a passion; who knows maybe you’ll discover a fan! So in that spirit I’d like to offer a few anime series centered on music. Rock, jazz & classical, it’s here. This is not typical musicals, such as Grease or Sound of Music, etc. It’s about the slice of life genre that has music at its core. One of the things that appeals to me about anime is that some (certainly not all) is written for adults. Not all is giant robots, Pokémon, or moe girls with big eyes small mouths. Some of it can be very creative & thought provoking. Meanwhile American ‘toons (at least theater releases) continue to be aimed at the very young, with a few nostalgic references & double entendre to keep the parents amused. Most of my suggestions have to do with high school or college age characters. That’s pretty common as it’s a stage in one’s life when dreams & aspirations seems within reach but no one has settled into the dull role of life known as the salaryman.

BECK
Not Jeff Beck or Beck Hansen, I mean BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad. Yukio Tanaka, known as "Koyuki" by his friends, is a regular 14-year-old Japanese boy starting eighth grade in junior high school. His boring life is changed when he saves an odd-looking dog, named Beck, from some kids. Beck's owner turns out to be an emerging rock musician, 16-year-old Ryusuke Minami, who soon influences Koyuki to start playing the guitar. The story focuses on the trials and tribulations of their rock band named Beck, and Koyuki's relationships with its members, in particular Ryusuke and his 14-year-old half-sister Maho.
The 24 episodes cover a 2 year period culminating in the possibility for the band to play at the equivalent of Coachella, in the anime called The Grateful Sound. There is humor; there is angst, some sexual tension & some fine music. Although the clip below is dubbed, I suggest watching this subbed as there is interplay between Engrish & Japanese dialogue that is lost if you enjoy this with dubbed audio.


Nodame Cantabile
Shinichi Chiaki, an arrogant, multilingual perfectionist, is the top student at Momogaoka College of Music and has secret ambitions to become a conductor. Born into a musical family, he is talented in piano and violin and once lived abroad in the music capitals of the world as a young boy (namely Prague), but is trapped in Japan because of his childhood phobia of airplanes and the ocean. In contrast, Megumi Noda, or "Nodame", is a piano student at Momogaoka, notorious for messiness and eccentric behavior. Despite being very talented, Nodame prefers to play by ear rather than according to the musical score; thus, she is regarded as sloppy and playful.

I think the source of conflict that propels the story is pretty obvious. In Japan being a classical musician in competition means slavishly following the notes & intent of the composer is paramount. Any attempt to put your own twist on it is forbidden. It does an amazing job of showing behind the scenes of orchestral performances. I can say this is one series I actually learned from.


Kids on the Slope
The beginning of summer, 1966; because of his father's job situation, 1st-year high school student Kaoru Nishimi moves by himself from Yokosuka to Sasebo in Kyushu to live with relatives. Until then, Kaoru was an honor roll student who tended to keep to himself, but meeting notorious "bad boy" Sentaro Kawabuchi starts to change him. Through his devil-may-care classmate, Kaoru learns how much fun it is to play jazz and finds the first person he can call a real friend.

Again the conflict of rigid perfectionist classical music training versus free form improvisational jazz. One of the special things about this series is it returns the pairing of director Shinichirō Watanabe and talented musician Yoko Kanno who teamed up on Cowboy Bebop. Some great music & I have to admit the climatic ending certainly gave me watery eyes. ‘Nuff said.


The Legend of Black Heaven
Haha yeah this is indeed the funniest I can offer. Middle-aged Oji Tanaka has a wife, a child and a mundane job as a salary man in Tokyo's modern society. But his life wasn't always so dull; 15 years ago he was known as "Gabriel", lead guitar of a short-lived heavy metal band called "Black Heaven". Oji's life takes a sudden turn when he is invited by an enigmatic woman to pick up his Gibson Flying V and once again display his legendary guitar skills.

See, the deal is, this women is not just from another planet but a far away galaxy. It’s very existence is being threatened by aggressors trying to wipe it out. They have the means for self-defense but their weapon is controlled by music, and only Oji Tanaka can get the notes right. I like to think this is the bookend to BECK:MCS.


And of course there’s more such as Your Lie in April, Detroit Metal City, K-On, & Sound! Euphonium. All of these are available domestically; disc media or Netflix, Crunchy Roll, Amazon, etc. Most all anime TV series are 2 ch stereo but they do sound good on the Surround Master! Explore, enjoy. I would love to hear any comments positive or critical of what my QQ friends think of anime about music.
 

Sonik Wiz

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I thought I would update this with the addition of a Netflix imported series called Carol and Tuesday.
Set in the future on a partially terraformed Mars, teenager Tuesday Simmons runs away from her affluent lifestyle as the daughter of a politician and makes her way to Alba City to pursue her dream of being a musician with just a suitcase and her Gibson acoustic guitar. On her first day in the city, she crosses paths with Carole Stanley, another aspiring musician who plays the piano, and the two decide to team up as a singer-songwriter duo under the name Carole & Tuesday. Also in the mix is superstar rival Angela who signs a contract with a manager that uses AI to analyze her & create music & lyrics that are perfect only for her. It's a bit like Phantom of the Paradise in that respect.

But overall as I watched this I couldn't help but see visions of Heaven and Earth from the Refuge album appear before me. Thos that like that album will surely appreciate this show. Rather than link a preview clip I thought I'd add this that really clinches the Heaven and Earth similarity from eps 19:

 
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Sonik Wiz

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More than Music Themed Anime, a Musical Anime: Daft Punk - Insterstella 5555 !


Fantastique!

I saw this movie with my anime club when it was first released on DVD. I liked it immediately & was my introduction to Daft Punk. It was something I always wanted to buy but never got around to it until I found it on Blu-Rei about a year ago. I have watched it at least a dozon times since then. It is amazing that DP takes only their 2nd album & composes it keeping in mind they always wanted it to match up with an animated movie. And keep in mind there is absolutley no common dialogue in 5555, just the song vocals & occasional sound FX.

The music is full of incredible ear worm hooks & the visual charectezation is like nothing I've seen before. The video is good but me thinks it is upscaled SD. The soundtrach is in dts HD Master & what a waste. The soundtrack could be so adventorus but it sounds like double stereo. I get much better results playing my Oppos 2ch stereo out into the SM.

Highly recommended.
 

Sonik Wiz

👂 500 MPH EARS 👂
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Not familiar with any of these albums (some of the groups, yes). So, per usual I'll have to audition them.
For those ready familiar, are these considered strong albums?
The above Interstella 5555 is a feature length animated movie that was based on an album, so yes that does have a soundtrack on its own. The album was Daft Punk's Discovery.

The others mentioned are all TV series with either 12 or 24 episodes in them. So they may or may noy have a spin off OST. All are avilable domestically to watch through streaming or purchasing a la Deep Discount. Carol and Tuesday is currently running on Netflix so that might be accesble to quite a few interested. All mentioned above are available dubbed or subbed.

Best way to sample before spending $$ is to check out the clips above & poke around on YouTube for more clips.
 
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