Welcome back to my seasonal Anisong round up, a list of some of my favorite openings, endings, and soundtracks of the season.
Summer 2019 saw a large number of new series that made a favorable impression among the community, including here on AniTAY. Though the new season is already in motion and set to takeover with the upcoming sequelocalypse, summer had some fantastic surprises that will no doubt be heavily debated among the best shows of the year. Not surprisingly, many of these shows brought some memorable tunes that continue to burn brightly even as the season draws to close.
As always, anything that aired in the given season that is legally accessible is fair game. For this round up, I’m sticking with the traditional format of publishing the full list at once in no particular order, excluding the last two picks:
Song: Kamado Tanjiro no Uta
Artist: Go Shiina (composer), Nami Nakagawa (vocals)
Anime: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (ep 19 insert ED)
Last season, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba left a favorable first impression in a year dominated by new shonen adaptions (including this season further below!). I didn’t expect to be covering it again since the opening/ending songs stayed the same for both cours, but episode 19 swept in and burned away all expectations.
One of the season’s most talked about episodes, “Hinokami” is a climatic turning point for Demon Slayer that pits our heroes in a moment of crisis against a force they are unprepared for. Though I didn’t quite get same level of emotional impact the show was trying to reach for, episode 19 was a pure shot of adrenaline in motion that wrapped several of the show’s broader themes into one epic scene.
Best known for composing video game music (various Namco IP), Go Shinna delivers a powerful, yet beautiful melody accompanied by vocalist Nami Nakagawa (Tekken 6, Nier: Automata) to perform this episode’s ending. It’s difficult for me to put into words without going into spoilers, but if you just want to watch the fireworks, Anime Lab was kind enough to upload the fight scene.
Artist: Mrs. GREEN APPLE
Anime: Fire Force (OP)
When word that the next manga from the creator of Soul Eater was getting the anime treatment, Fire Force immediately made it onto my most anticipated shows of the season. And while that flame has quietly diminished, no doubt in part with some of the other new shows further down this list, its characters and setting on top of its excellent action packed scenes have been more than enough to keep me entertained on a weekly basis. It will interesting to see where this series lands for me in the fall as quite a few returning sequels will be joining an already packed lineup, but I look forward to see where the story goes when it returns from its two week hiatus, which should be up by the time this writing goes live.
From beginning to end, Fire Force’s first opening is a raw burst of energy. It ignites into the scene with an explosive guitar intro and matching visuals as Shinra flies overhead before transitioning into the rest of the song. Visually, it is a vibrant array of colors behind some striking nighttime visuals. Even though the flames and characters get the most animation, there is a great level of detail made in getting the architecture and world feel like a living, breathing location as opposed to just being collateral damage.
Inferno by Mrs. GREEN APPLE (Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V) is a solid rock track that goes for an unorthodox rhythm before launching into its main chorus and heavier rock beats. On first listen, it’s hard to make out without headphones, but these irregular sound effects mesh well with the intense nature of the fight scenes and flaming backgrounds. In a year that’s brought us various standout shonen titles and great anisongs, Fire Force’s main theme is a banger and stands out as one of the best in the genre.
Anime: Dr. Stone (ED)
I have a confession to make. Despite my love of the shonen genre, I don’t have a very strong affinity for many of the anisongs made for them (looking at you Naruto). Editor’s note: *rants off screen into the nearest pillow* The overall quality of shonen anisongs seems to have improved drastically in recent years as noted with my previous two entries and other anisongs I’ve highlighted in previous lists. And while I count Dr. Stone’s opening among them (check out this awesome music video), it’s the ending that stood out for me.
In contrast to Good Morning World! by BURNOUT SYNDROMES’s (Haikyu!!, Gintama) rock filled opener (no pun intended), LIFE by hip hop artist Rude-α (I couldn’t find any other works) closes out each episode on a calmer note accompanied by some real world visuals of technology and civilization before the petrification. If I had to describe this anisong in one word, “chill” would be my answer. With an uplifting, inspiring chorus and upbeat rhythm and lyrics, Dr. Stone’s first ending is a soothing track that manages to bridge the anime’s tone and setting with a modern day sound.
But what really sold me on this ending was the first time it was used as an insert song in the transition between the first arc and the Village arc. *Some very minor spoilers*: When Kohaku is formally introduced, Senku first task is to free her from a fallen tree after a run in with Tsukasa. He gives her the choice to either try his remaining explosive or wait until nightfall for a guaranteed escape route. She opts for the latter, and true to his word, he manages to build a mechanism to pull the tree up, noting his persistence and precision even in a difficult situation several hours later. It’s a quiet moment compared to some of the shows I’ve previously covered along with the current season, but it fit perfectly with the theme and optimistic tone of the series whenever a breakthrough is made that I couldn’t help but break out a smile.
Artist: Survive Said The Prophet
Anime: Vinland Saga (OP)
We are down to my last two entries in this list, and by no coincidence both of these picks came out of my top two Summer shows.
Since the start of the season, Vinland Saga has been my blood soaked weekly delight served with a side of historical fiction. Its coming of age/revenge tale quickly expands into something much bigger as it tackles heavier and more philosophical themes through the lens of the warriors who lived in that era; several of which are (let’s face it) not good people. Still, there is something to be said about a cast that manages to both bring out the worst in human nature while continuously moving forward in a cruel, unforgiving world; sometimes to their own detriment.
MUKANJYO by rock band Survive Said The Prophet (Banana Fish) slays this season with one of the heaviest tunes this season outside of Kengan Ashura. Vinland’s main theme is a roaring headbanger that continuously escalates in intensity both musically and visually before reaching its apex and ending with a brutal, bloodcurdling scream. Speaking of visuals, Wit Studio clearly has not slowed down following the success of the third season of Attack on Titan with Vinland’s environments and character expressions still being a point of attraction for their unique visual style.
I know a lot of folks were probably turned off by the screams, but for those with a more “extreme” taste in music, you’ve probably memorized the lyrics by now.
Anime: Astra: Lost in Space (OP)
Going in completely blind, Astra: Lost in Space was my hidden gem of the season. What starts off as a space camp adventure gone wrong quickly turns into a massive journey among the stars as nine children must find their way home while discovering what brought them together. Part scifi, comedy, and more than a handful of plot twists that had me on edge, Astra is the breakout shonen of the season in what will likely go down as one of my favorites of the year.
Anisong artist nonoc (Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World: Memory Snow, Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka) is a relative newcomer who made her debut last year. Star*frost, much like the show featured here is a rarity; mixing several different elements, but never quite fitting a specific template to draw comparisons.
Within the first few seconds, it builds anticipation before opening with a sweeping guitar riff that softly transitions into vocals. The song continuously fluctuates between these “soft” and “hard” sound compositions that elevate nonoc’s lyrics and highlight the duality behind the show as the main cast of Astra is introduced (in pairs no less). From the main chorus on, it draws listeners in and creates a suspenseful, yet optimistic experience with its catchy vocals and “pop rock” inspired sound before closing once more with the opening riff. nonoc delivers an incredible anisong for one of the season’s best new shows that was definitely not lost on viewers.
This concludes this edition of the anisong roundup. You may have noticed I ended this one a bit shorter than usual. It takes a lot of time and effort to expand even one of these picks (as I experienced first hand with my live experiment last season), so I opted to keep this one to five entries and no honorable mentions. With the fall season already in progress, I’d like to shift my focus on what I’m currently watching and the inevitable best of the year content in addition to the next roundup closer to the start of Winter 2020.
Getting excited yet, or are you feeling burned out? What were your favorite anisongs of the summer or standout shows in general? Let us know in the comments below and I hope to see you all next season.