I hesitated this week, dear reader, because if I’m going full-throttle down the path of instrumental anime tracks, that could be a very long and winding road. It would be an enjoyable one to travel, to be sure, but where would it end, and how could it be divided? Choosing the best instrumental anime songs would be similar to choosing the prettiest fish in the sea, or the brightest firefly on a summer night. The task is near impossible. However, I can bring you this small list of crossover songs: mostly instrumental tracks that still utilize vocals, but not in any traditional way. In many instances I find these more powerful than songs with definitive lyrics, and certainly more conducive to the imagination as well as setting a mood. The ones on today’s Top 3 are especially dark and seductive, because that happens to be my favourite mode of musical transportation. Enjoy!
3.) Takefumi Haketa – Mystical Night Class (Vampire Knight)
For some reason I tend to forget just how awesome Vampire Knight is. The anime is excellent, the manga is beyond fantastic, and even the music is engaging as well as quite fitting. This track will always take me back to last December when I was just beginning to watch anime and I was utterly entranced by Kaname Kuran and all of the night class at Cross Academy. This is the scene in which the viewer first learns that all of the students in the night class are actually vampires, and it sets the scene so perfectly that I could describe it intimately despite the fact that I haven’t had a chance to rewatch this series in several months. I’ll spare the details, but just know that it’s a quiet, somber night, and suddenly an entire room of beautiful faces is lit up by the gleam of red eyes. It’s gothic and romantic and scary all at once, and I almost shudder whenever I hear this track. In fact, listening to it now as I write, it’s all I can do to finish this entry instead of running to the next room and popping in my DVD to experience it all over again. Twilight, schmilight. This is how vampire love stories should be told, and this is the music to those tales.
2.) Takanashi Yasuharu – Jigoku Nagashi (Hell Girl)
Another week, another list with a Hell Girl track. But this anime is worth its weight in all aspects: art, story, and the incredible music. I’ll never forget watching it and knowing that I had to find this song and add it to my collection. It’s one of the most powerful tracks that I’ve ever heard, anime or no, and it conveys intensity, foreboding, and darkness in a way that’s almost indescribable. It made my heart pound in my chest the first time I ever heard it as I watched Ai Enma prepare to drag someone to hell, and it has the same effect every other time I listen to it. You’d never guess from the quiet and eerie vocals at the opening of this song how loud and awe-inspiring it becomes by the end. If you listen closely you can even hear Hell Girl laughing softly as the drums rise and fall in your ears like crashing waves, giving you a taste of the cold fury that comes when one is being ferried to hell.
1.) Taku Iwasaki – The Dark Crow Smiles (Black Butler)
I can’t say enough about how intensely good everything about Black Butler is. I would love this anime even if the music were subpar, but luckily for me, it happens to be the best anime soundtrack I’ve ever heard. There are tracks for any mood and any occasion, but this one, this one is the root of why it’s so stupendously excellent. This is the music that plays whenever Sebastian Michaelis unleashes the scope of his demonic powers or shows his horrifying true form. It’s somber and elegant and unassuming at first, but then it expands and unfurls into mystery and power and all-encompassing darkness, just like Sebastian himself. It would be easy to assume that I’m being biased since Black Butler is my number one anime and Sebastian is my number one anime crush, but I would love this music no matter what venue introduced it to me. This song is intoxicating to the degree that I feel more powerful just by listening to it, and that is the mark of a great track, in my opinion. From the ominous monk-like chanting at the opening to the cool and creeping bass notes, then the muttered phrases, and finally the impatiently building strings dotted with slashes of horn, I can’t imagine a better way to audibly introduce an audience to the majestic figure that is true demon Sebastian Michaelis.
My “Music For Otakus” series is slowly drawing to a close, so don’t miss the exciting conclusion next week! (Or is it..?)