So we've been doing this OP/ED A Day bit for a while – a full hundred of them now, in fact – and it's been a lot of fun. I really like the format, and it's quick and easy to produce in most cases. However, we've put a (completely sensible!) guideline on it that each track has to be related, more or less directly, to an anime or video game.
While that makes sense and I totally agree with it for the daily articles, it's also a little restricting because there's a whole bunch of really cool music that's only tangentially related at best! There's a couple main types of 'bonuses' I intend to cover here.
One of the major sources of this has been what Japan likes to call a "single" but is usually more like a double or triple, to be honest. Any time you get an opening or ending theme released, it generally comes with a couple other tracks by the same artist, but not nearly enough to be marketed as a full-sized album. (I'm not up on the economic side of this, but I really hope it's not PRICED like a full album...) Several of these extra tracks are at least as good as the title track you came for!
The second type is OSTs. Most of these soundtracks are collections of background music that played during the course of a show. Some of them are mainly orchestral, with Your Lie In April being an obvious example with a full-classical companion album, while others have a lot of 'background' vocals; these have a strong tendency toward Engrish. Trinity Seven was a major "offender" in that regard.
The third type is character/image songs. Many anime and video game series release collections of songs written specifically to be sung by the voice actors in-character. A lot of these are mediocre or even straight-up terrible, but there's a few AMAZINGLY HAMMY ones and a rare few asskickers that beat out any other music the entire rest of the series offered.
I've been percolating this idea on the backburner for quite some time, and I've finally got enough material for a good article. In fact, in compiling my notes for this, I've realized I probably have enough to cherry-pick a few of each type for this article, and leave myself enough for several more such writeups down the line. What I'm not going to do here is spend a lot of time talking about why I like each song; I've got enough of them here that I'll mostly let them speak for themselves. With that in mind, let's start the music!
Title: Kirameki Moonlight | Artist: Yasuda Rei | Series: Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei / The Irregular at Magic High
This song came with the excellent second ending, Mirror. The third track on the single, You COLOR My World, was also good but nowhere near as amazing as the other two tracks.
Title: In Every Nothing | Artist: Kalafina | Series: Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works 2014
This is from the Believe ED single. The actual ED theme was solid, but a little boring to me; this track, on the other hand, is powerful in a lot of ways.
Title: SING NA NA NA | Artist: HINOI TEAM | Series: Ichigo 100%
A much older example, this is from the single of the Ichigo 100%'s opening theme, titled IKE IKE. They're both a little bubblegum, but where IKE IKE is quick on the vocal end of things, this track has more frenetic instrumentals going on. …..I have no comment on the dancing in the video.
FOCUS ON THE BACKGROUNDS
Title: Who Is The Winner? | Artist: Hosoe Shinji | Series: No Game No Life
While never really a question ([ ] is always the winner), this song goes a long way in establishing a sense of tension while maintaining the show's musical focus on techno with its rumbling bass beats.
Title: Shiroe no Keiryaku | Artist: Yasuharu Takanashi | Series: Log Horizon
Log Horizon's music manages to sound like an actual MMO's BGM a lot of the time. This particular track tends to play when Shiroe is hatching or abandoning plans, and making quick but careful decisions.
Title: Number One | Artist: Hazel Fernandes | Series: Bleach
The standout battle theme for the early sections of Bleach, this song generally has a lot of people talking over it so you can't hear most of the lyrics. Turns out it's performed entirely in English.
Title: Maze of the Dark | Artist: Yuki Matsuoka & Akeno Watanabe | Series: Mahou Sensei Negima!
Definitely not what you'd expect given the tone of … well, every other song associated with the series, really. Most of them range from standard-serious stuff (like Kizuna) to the bubbliest of bubblegum-pop (like Happy Material, ugh). This is Evangeline and Chachamaru's image song, with an awesome and appropriate classic-rock sound to it; those two are probably the least inclined to sing anything approaching cutesy songs, personality-wise.
Title: Sword and Swoul | Artist: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu | Series: Sword Art Online
The original album spelled it this way in all-caps Engrish, no kidding. This one's about Kirito's determination to break Asuna free (with some very obvious references to the Fairy Dance arc).
Title: Expose | Artist: Touyama Nao & Tsuda Minami | Series: Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova
This one's from Shizuka and Iori, respectively the sonar operator and engineer of the I-401. It's a cute little song about searching for love and companionship, with some heavy-handed metaphors relating to being stuck in a goddamned submarine, of course. (Get it? Sonar, searching? Ugh. Still a damn good song though.)
I actually changed my mind on how I was going to structure this a couple times as I was writing it, so I ended up not using the vast majority of the tracks I had initially planned to cover and recalling a bunch of other good ones in the process. Turns out I have a lot more songs I want to cover in this same vein, so I'll be back with another one of these Soon(TM), I guess! (I may wait for OEAD#200.)