It’s time to admit it: everyone has a song that is their absolute jam, one that puts them on their feet or drums a beat on the nearest flat surface. For some, this jam comes from the anime, which is not surprising given the number of amazing songs that have been used as themes and inserts over the years. Sometimes, however, it’s fun to watch a show that puts music front and center. While idol series such as Love Live! and Idolish7 are a great watch for music lovers, the anime also explored how music can be incorporated into a story in various creative ways. Here are five anime for music lovers with an unexpected twist.
Starlight Review – Music, Sword Fighting & a Talking Giraffe
Starlight review is a multimedia project that includes movies, a smartphone game, a musical premiered in September 2017, and the anime released in 2018. It has all the drama and ridiculous action of a real musical, with fights at the sword, costumes and a talking giraffe. The plot does not help bring order to the madness.
At Seisho Music Academy, everything seems normal as the graduating class rehearses for the annual production of Stars light. What foreigners don’t know is that in order to reach the top and play the lead role in the production, students fight stage battles to fight their way through. The worst part is that other schools have decided to participate, creating a frenzy of actors who are all fighting for the chance to be a star. Whether they’re using a longsword, mace, or actually singing, these prima donnas are sure to entertain.
Starlight review is available to stream on Prime Video and HIDIVE.
Macross – Mechas and idols against aliens
Macross is an older mecha anime that started in 1982 with Macross Super Dimensional Fortress. The series spawned numerous films, video games, manga, and four animated series over its nearly 40 years. The plot of the entire franchise is primarily a mecha battle against alien forces. However, music can be used to give Earth an edge, so idols like iconic star Lynn Minmay stand ready to lend their power during battle.
Macross Delta, which aired in 2016, is the franchise’s final story and reflects the changing times Macross, with a new logo, a new location and a new idol group. However, the quality of performance has not changed at all. The beautiful music contrasting with the mecha battles creates a fun adrenaline rush for anyone looking for music with a little oomph.
Macross Super Dimensional Fortress is available to stream on Prime Video.
Princess Tutu – Ballet, Dark Fairy Tales and Classical Music
To change the pace from the space battles of Macross, Princess tutu is the story of a small German town where a long-dead author still reigns, hoping to create a tragedy for his own amusement. He bestows a pendant on a duck, Ahiru, who becomes a young girl attending a ballet academy. Her pendant also gives her the power to become Princess Tutu, who uses ballet to connect and protect the townspeople as a terrible fairy tale begins to play out around her.
Each episode of Princess tutu presents not only the music of the famous ballet, but also the signature movements, allowing viewers to watch an animated representation of some of the most famous works of art that exist. While some of these ballets are more obscure, there are many favorites such as Tchaikovsky’s “Flower Waltz” Nutcracker.
Princess tutu is available to stream on Prime Video and HIDIVE.
Symphogear – Warriors Defending Earth Through Music
Symphogear is similar to Macross for its use of song in combat, but while the latter has large battle stations or spaceships, the former is much more focused on the individual fighter. In the five animated series Symphogear created since the first production in 2012, the story has followed idols fighting against the alien race of Noise, using an armor known as the Symphogear.
Kanade Amou and Tsubasa Kazanari were two famous warriors, but in a sudden attack, Kanade chose to self-destruct to destroy the enemy and protect those who rely on her. When she sang her Swan Song, a piece of her Symphogear lodged in Hibiki Tachibana’s chest, who was then forced to take Kanade’s place and defend the Earth with song.
Symphogear is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
Ring! Euphonium – A realistic look at song-making
His ! Euphonium goes into great detail of how music is actually made through the tribulations of a high school marching band. While there is a drama between the students that helps keep the audience engaged, the actual technical knowledge of how a band works – and the expected contribution of each section of instruments – is very true to life. Anyone who’s ever been in a school band or orchestra will probably appreciate the atmosphere of the sections and the pain of trying to match the other instruments in terms of tone and speed.
The slight dissonance in the song is just subtle enough that audiences will know when something is wrong in the same way that it is wonderfully evident when it comes to playing a triumph. His ! Euphonium, available to stream on Crunchyroll, teaches as you go and makes music even more special to hear, after seeing how difficult it can be to produce.
These anime to music might not be conventional, but sometimes it’s fun. Rather than listening to a perfectly performed song, audiences can watch a cacophony of trumpeters trying out a piece for the first time, or see magical girls fighting aliens with the power to sing. All of these shows show how music can be creatively incorporated into a story to be used in new and unique ways. And who knows? Maybe a new favorite song will come out of the experience.
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