In America we tend to use the word “cool” in place of “awesome” or “great” or even “fine.” The term “cool” can be bandied about more than the birdie in a game of badminton. However, in the world of anime, cool refers to a very specific type of character: aloof, admirable, and quiet but not shy. The cool person always keeps their, well, cool, no matter what the situation at hand may be. Things may be going to hell in a hand basket, but nothing will break the icy facade of someone truly cool. When I think of anime “cool,” one character springs immediately to mind: Kyoya Ootari from Ouran High School Host Club. And when I think of “cool” anime songs, that is to say, songs that fly below the radar of “badass” but pack more punch than the usual anime fare, the following are my Top Three.
3.) Lia – My Soul, Your Beats! (Angel Beats!)
I actually just began this odd and interesting anime series yesterday. Time will tell if the rest of the show lives up to its cool opening theme song. The piano draws you in with its aloof classical opening, then the backbeat slowly builds until everything is blending into one. However, it never becomes the pop explosion that you think it will. Instead it holds back, keeping an even keel and retaining its power. Not a bad start for any anime.
2.) Noto Mamiko – Ichinuke (Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae)
As soon as these sweeping opening notes start playing (which always bring to my mind any number of James Bond film themes) I feel that nothing more needs to be explained as to why this song is on this list. Noto Mamiko has a gorgeously soft and chilling voice as Hell Girl, but it especially shines when she sings. Unlike “Karinui,” the ending song for Hell Girl season one, “Ichinuke” lets go of some of the sadness and ups the cool quotient. There’s still a hint of melancholy, but that’s to be expected given that this is the closing to Hell Girl season three (otherwise known as Hell Girl: Three Vessels or Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae). If there is any kind of cold comfort to be found in this tale of psychological horror, it lies in this song.
1.) Kiuji Saori – Hitorikiri no Sora (Kaze no Stigma)
I was thoroughly drawn in to Kaze no Stigma from episode one, but when I heard this closing theme, that sealed the deal. I love the throwback to 80s electronica mixed in with current beats that could be found on any dance floor today. And yet, this song never becomes a sweaty rave or a cheesy ode to a bygone decade. It stays firmly within the world of sound that it created, though it keeps perpetuating a feeling of movement (which is excellent, considering that the anime series that spawned it is all about wind magic). I knew without a doubt that I had to have this song in my music library or else I would wear out my DVD by replaying the closing credits over and over and over again. This song has a curious effect on me in that I’m never sure if I want to dance or sit down and quietly contemplate my circumstances, but one thing is clear: it is the very essence of musical cool.
That’s it for this week’s chilly installment (and none too soon, considering how hot it’s been lately in my neck of the woods!). Tune in next time for more breaths of fresh audible anime air!