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Friday, 24 July 2015

Editorial: The Top 5 Anime Endings.

Editorial: The Top 5 Anime Endings.

Anime endings are usually reserved for the songs that aren't great - compared to the bombast of the openings, endings are usually quieter affairs, spaces to advertise songs that without those one and a half minutes of regular promotion would probably fade out of people's memories pretty quickly. That's how it's always been, and how it's always liable to be.

There are some songs which stand out over the others, though, that can sometimes even exceed the (relatively louder, relatively more pizazz-ful) opening songs they are placed in such close proximity to, and it's only right that we use today, the day I would've been reviewing the Psycho-Pass film if it had been subbed yet, to honour those.

Well. To honour some of those, at least. Let's face it, there are ones that might have made it onto this list had I not so cruelly forgotten about them in the intervening years since I last heard them. But without further ado, let's start with:

5. Namae no nai Kaibutsu, by EGOIST - Psycho-Pass.

Namae no nai Kaibutsu, a slightly offbeat techno-punk-y song that acts as the ending theme of Psycho-Pass, is definitely the better song out of the opening and ending of that show, as the opening did unfortunately sound like an angry cat eating a harpsichord, and that's terrible.

This song builds quite slowly, which is the main reason it's so low on this list, because while the crooning at the beginning is delightful, I'm really listening to it for the moment it kicks into high gear and starts having dramatic still shots of the main cast. I love that kind of stuff. 

4. Uso, by Sid - Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Uso, the first ending of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, an anime I actually never watched beyond the first couple of episodes of, is very much your typical ending song fare - a relaxed, winding down affair that doesn't really hit you with much force at all.

What earns it a spot on this list is that, in keeping with FMA's themes of regret and the loss of innocence, it's a song that's heavy with nostalgia - a more cheerful nostalgia than the series, to be sure, but you can tell even without understanding the lyrics (which include lines like 'Do you remember the scarlet evening sky? We made a promise while the wind embraced us,' and 'We'll hold onto this promise, and we'll walk our own ways,' - the song is essentially about growing older and further apart) that this is a somewhat bittersweet song.

The images that accompany it, of the main characters rendered like children's drawings, only really serve to exacerbate that feeling of sadness and nostalgia.

3. aLIEz, by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:mizuki - Aldnoah.Zero.

aLIEz makes absolutely no sense if you try to listen to the lyrics. In fact, they become progressively more ridiculous and bizarre the more you listen to, being made variously of Japanese, English, extremely grammatically incorrect German, at least two different Chinese languages, and sometimes just plain gibberish. 

This might not immediately occur when you first listen to it, because the first time you will listen to it is as the dramatic backing music to the devastation of New Orleans, with the chorus (pop star Mizuki wailing 'I SEE FIRE / I HATE WAR / EYES SAY VORE' nobody is entirely clear on what, precisely, she's singing) cutting in just as an explosion of cataclysmic proportions vaporises a crowd of people.

But it's a joy to listen to, a big climactic blow-out of a song that captures the chaos and grand scale of the war in Aldnoah.Zero through music alone. It's the song that made me sit up and pay attention during an otherwise very lackluster first episode, and it comes in about a dozen different versions, so you have plenty of variety to keep you interested.

2. Magia, by Kalafina - Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

While Madoka Magica's opening song, Connect, is a bright and cheerful ditty about - well, actually about fairly sinister things, but it's in a language I don't speak, so I never picked up on that - Magia is brooding and ominous, a song meant to inform viewers that sinister things are afoot. 

Fittingly, in series it is most often associated with giant, mysterious super-witch Walpurgisnacht, who spends most of the show as an unseen, but ominous and implacable threat.

The song is by Kalafina - the vocal group put together by composer Yuki Kajiura, who has produced some of the best soundtracks in the industry and had prior to this had more than a fair chance to exercise her 'deeply sinister music' muscles with shows like .hack//SIGN - so it was always going to be excellent to listen to, because I'm not sure Kajiura has ever produced a bad song in her life.

(This is also the third song from a Gen Urobuchi show on this list, which given that the man is not massively involved in his show's soundtracks, is entirely a coincidence.)

1. Sugar Song and Bitter Step, by Unison Square Garden - Kekkai Sensen.

Imagine my irritation when I couldn't actually find the TV version of this song, and must instead give you the commercial preview for it. But I couldn't not put this on the list, and in the top spot as well, because it's such an earworm - an upbeat pop-jazz song with a perky, relaxed rhythm that seems to more or less be made for dancing to.

Which is exactly what the cast of the show are doing during the ending.

It's probably one of the less dramatic songs on this list - Magia and aLIEz take that particular crown - but it's striking nevertheless for how fun and relaxing it is. It's an unwinding and cheering yourself up after a long day song, and I recommend that everyone finds it, bookmarks it, and then keeps it around for precisely that purpose.

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