Welcome back to another edition of my seasonal Anime Playlist – your short guide into some of the best anime openings, endings, and original soundtracks along with some brief anime impressions! If you’re looking at the title and wondering what the hell am I going on about, read on!
You see, I’ve been cleaning house in the past few months while trying to get back into the swing of things. As I mentioned last time, I want to shift my writing focus away from these playlists as I work on more critical think-pieces in between, hence the more abbreviated takes I started this year. What form these future writing projects will take is up in the air as I’ll be returning to a full work schedule sometime in the next month or so, though it will likely not be business as usual given the current circumstances. But in case you’ve been wondering what hole I’ve been hiding under given the lack of activity, well… I’ve had a lot going on.
I tested positive for Coronavirus.
Now, don’t everyone freak out at once! It’s been at least two weeks since I started showing symptoms. After getting past the worsts flu-like symptoms over the course of 3 – 4 days, I’m actually a lot better now. Fortunately, it seems to be of the mildest strain as my worst symptoms (chills, muscle aches, severe cough) have died down. As of now, I’m still dealing with a mild cough and a complete lack of being able to taste anything properly (and some appetite loss), but other than that, I should be cleared in the not too distant future.
This may not be the best place for this conversation, but let this be a friendly reminder to everyone: Wear a fucking mask. If you’re sick, stay the fuck home. And if you aren’t sick, keep your distance, disinfect, and try limit your exposure to people as much as fucking possible. On the first few nights, you get a real sense of how fragile the human body is as I hurt all over and my temperature changed wildly. My case isn’t anything special, but even with the mildest symptoms, it’s not hard to see why so many people have been hospitalized.
Trust me, you do not want this.
Well, you get the idea. Now that I got that out of my system, here’s my curated Spring 2020 Anime Playlist. As always, anything that aired this season through legal means, regardless of original air date, is eligible:
Editor’s note: Even though I partly wrote this piece with that joke in mind, I’m saving my thoughts on Tower of God for a future article because I wouldn’t be able to encapsulate it in a brief paragraph here. Stay tuned.
Song: Daddy! Daddy! Do!
Artist: Masayuki Suzuki, Airi Suzuki
Anime: Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Other than a brief after credits mention many seasons ago, it’s hard to believe this is the first time I’ve officially listed Masayuki Suzuki on these posts. Despite Kaguya-sama: Love is War’s almost universally beloved status here on AniTAY, I jumped into it much later after its first season completed following a very convincing review by our fellow contributors. Originally dismissing it as another fad or overhyped romantic comedy, I came away with a surprisingly delightful and well-crafted anime that just so happened to excel in a genre I don’t dabble in very often. Perhaps it was the almost minimal amount of downtime between episodes or the episodic progression of our two main lovebirds, but I was thoroughly impressed with the layers of depth in both its narrative and growing cast of (dys)functional student council members.
Returning from season 1, Masayuki Suzuki once again delivers a high energy smooth jam that somehow manages to improve on its predecessor. While some might prefer the more “dramatic” stylings of the first opening, I came to enjoy Daddy! Daddy! Do! from both a musical and a narrative perspective. Between the harmonized vocals of the main chorus, the snappy lyrics and upbeat rhythm, and the general undertone/shift subtly hinting that things will be “heating up” this season, this opening is the clear victor in today’s battle results.
Song: Chiisana Hibi
Back when I did the entry for Kakushigoto for our AniTAY seasonal recommendations, I called it the season’s best kept secret. Long after the credits rolled, Kakushigoto left a notable impression on me with its heartwarming story about a father/manga artist and oblivious daughter who was unaware of her dad’s true occupation. I made comparisons to the recent Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! and Somali and the Forest Spirit which covered similar beats and subject material, although meeting somewhere in the middle in terms of their core themes. And yet, I found myself drawn to the more simplistic and down to earth style of storytelling presented in Kakushigoto. Whereas most shows this season swiped left, letting their visuals and extraordinary settings do the talking, Kakushigoto is a rare breed of anime that prefers to dabble in the mundane and tell an interesting story through its humor and humble setting.
Likewise, J-rock band flumpool (Ajin: Demi-Human, Ahiru no Sora) settles for a refreshing, soft rock tune that gives it a sense of nostalgia of more joyful, peaceful days with the reality that all things come to an end. Chiisana Hibi encapsulates the mellower and simple tones of Kakushigoto with its uplifting lyrics and dynamic instrumentation in between its main chorus. I also loved the beautiful colorization of the opening visuals and the main vocalist’s transitions from soft spoken to emotional as the song repeats the main lyrics.
Anime: Wave, Listen to Me!
It’s strange to think we got three shows this season that tackled more “mundane” or real world scenarios like Kakushigoto and Sing “Yesterday” for Me, but Wave, Listen to Me! just might be the boldest, strangest take this season, dealing with one jilted ex’s night of drinking sudden turn to a career in radio entertainment. Minare Koda is secretly all of us in 2020 as the brash, merciless, yet relatable caricature given flesh whose flaws only highlight the cold, dark reality that is most us: we are utterly fucked. But even if you do consider yourself one of the “normal” ones (Editor’s note: *laughs derisively*), Wave is a fantastic, must watch show of the season, and not just for Riho Sugiyama’s incredible performance as Minare or another perspective on the dying art that is radio broadcasting. If you’ve simply grown tired of the same old, same old anime, have been dying for a complete change of scenery, or simply need acknowledgement that the medium is far from dead, give this one a shot.
Best known for their contributions in Naruto Shippuden and Haikyuu, tacica’s aranami is a euphoric blast of rock that perfectly fits the tone of the more grounded world of Wave before building up to its explosive main verse. I love the subtle audio cues and touches along with the transition as Minare’s “voice” amplifies in the latter half of the opening. The official music video even includes a cameo of Riho Sugiyama’s Minare introducing the song, in a radio booth no less!
Song: Welcome to Chaos
The best way for me to describe this show in one sentence: it’s about a lizard man who eats Gyoza and sticks people’s heads in his mouth to find the person who changed his appearance. Dorohedoro is all kinds of messed up and quite possibly the best show this season now that Netflix finally dropped this one unto an unsuspecting public. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say down the road as the year winds down, but if you’ve been holding out for some reason, stop reading this now and start watching. I’ll wait.
One of my favorite featured artists on this column, (K)NoW_NAME has been generally known for the classical, symphonic, and rocking orchestration in shows like Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash and Fairy Gone. So when word hit that they were tapped to compose the music in Dorohedoro, I was immediately intrigued and perplexed at what kind of sound they would create to represent the grim, if not downright ugly (in a good way), setting that is The Hole. Just like its namesake, Welcome to Chaos is very much a chaotic ooze of knife slicing fury complete with a chilling sound straight out of a metal nightmare. It feels like a complete reinvention on their impressive portfolio of anime soundtracks while standing out as one of their best performances to date.
Song: Synthetic Sympathy
Artist: Who-ya Extended
Anime: Psycho-Pass 3: First Inspector
Completely slipped my mind that this movie released this season, but I got around to finishing it recently. Don’t have a lot more to add that I haven’t already said the last time I covered Psycho-Pass 3 for both my Fall 2019 anisong list and my 2019 Anime of the Year picks since it’s a direct continuation of that series, so I strongly suggest brushing up before tackling it. The movie is a little bit Die Hard as it’s mostly set in a locked down building, but it mostly serves as a definitive conclusion to the last season and a vehicle to where the franchise might be headed, for better or worse. In that sense, it’s a less of a standalone film and more of a lengthy series of episodes which, depending on your perspective, somewhat hurts the final product as it tries to tie up loose ends. That said, if you enjoyed the previous season, it stands to reason you’ll enjoy First Inspector as it is the “True Ending” for the third entry.
Also returning from season 3, Who-ya Extended performs the main film’s theme with the aptly titled Synthetic Sympathy. A recent newcomer, Who-ya Extended’s new single swings with an even brighter intensity for their direct follow up. Between the sick beats and synesthesia inducing visuals, Synthetic Sympathy is a symphony of electronic bliss. I can only hope that this group is tapped again for more Psycho-Pass projects in the near future.
Song: Kago no Naka ni Tori (There’s a bird in a cage)
Anime: Sing “Yesterday” for Me
With some exceptions, I don’t regularly feature anisongs for shows I’m not currently watching as I don’t come across them for the most part until I start plugging away at YouTube during my research for these posts. Despite being on my watchlist, I still haven’t gotten around to Sing “Yesterday” for Me, but that may change next season depending on the state of things when the next wave of anime hits.
If I do ever get around to it, I do have this incredible ending to look forward to! I couldn’t find any other anime contributions under the band yourness, but Kago no Naka ni Tori is a beautifully composed melody that triggers a variety of emotions even without knowing the subject material. As I don’t feel qualified to speak on a show I have yet to start, I’ve been looking through reactions online and found one particular interpretation that probably sums this up best:
Being able to move on with your life after being so settled with the life you have in the present can be the hardest step to take. You lie to yourself, accepting the reality you have chosen, only to realize if you actually made that step that you could possibly be something so much more. But sometimes that step in life you thought was the right one stabs you in the back making it seem all worthless in the end. – CHICOTIME2015
Song: Kaze ni Fukarete (Blown by the Wind)
Artist: Haruka Fukuhara
Anime: Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Song: Mikakunin Hikousen
Artist: Takayoshi Tanimoto
Anime: Digimon Adventure 2020
- Daddy! Daddy! Do! – Masayuki Suzuki, Airi Suzuki (Kaguya-sama: Love is War)
- Chiisana Hibi – flumpool (Kakushigoto)
- aranami – tacica (Wave, Listen to Me!)
- Welcome to Chaos – (K)NoW_NAME (Dorohedoro) [Best OP]
- Synthetic Sympathy – Who-ya Extended (Psycho-Pass 3: First Inspector)
- Kago no Naka ni Tori (There’s a bird in a cage) – yourness (Sing “Yesterday” for Me) [Best ED]
- Bonus: Kaze ni Fukarete (Blown by the Wind) – Haruka Fukuhara (Kaguya-sama: Love is War)
- Bonus: Mikakunin Hikousen – Takayoshi Tanimoto (Digimon Adventure 2020)
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