Anime, Music

My Top 10 Favorite Anime Songs in 2021

In 2020, I completed my first top 10 anime songs list. Now that it’s 2022, I am taking a look back at 2021 to see how my top ten has changed.

One thing I changed since 2020 is that I now use Spotify instead of Pandora for all my musical needs. It’s just better for me–I can look up specific tracks from various anime and add them to my playlist. Below is a sneak peak of my full anime playlist on Spotify.

One of the major differences you will notice with my new top ten is that it doesn’t include any songs from Fairy Tail. That is not because I don’t like those songs any more. It is because I have been introduced to new anime since then that have broadened my tastes. A few songs like those from Angel Beats made a reappearance, but my top ten has certainly changed.

Why do I listen to anime songs? Some I listen to because they remind me of anime I enjoyed. Some I listen to because they have a great sound. And some I listen to because I have read and appreciated the lyrics or translations of the lyrics.

Below I have listed my favorite anime counting down from #10 to #1.

#10: Netsujō no Spectrum by Ikimono-gakari

I will preface this by saying that I do not actually like The Seven Deadly Sins at all so far. I do, however, enjoy the first intro song for this anime.

The song is all about love. The singer explains that the love and words of another person have changed her. It has a great sound to it, which is why I liked it even when I hadn’t known the translation.

#9: No. 7 by Jibaku Shonen Band

I love, love, love this anime. The art style is beautiful, the animation is superb, and the characters are loveable. The anime is called Toilet-bound Hanako-Kun.

I know, weird name, right? I didn’t expect to like it when I heard the name, but it was recommended by my best friend and so I couldn’t pass it up.

The song is great, except it starts with weird whispering that I can’t figure out if I like or not. Otherwise it probably would be rated higher.

#8: Gurenge by LiSA

I really enjoyed Demon Slayer Season 1, even though it is not the typical style I like to watch. I generally prefer lighthearted anime, and this anime is a bit dark. I love the bond between the two main characters, siblings Tanjiro and Nezuko.

The song is all about becoming strong for someone else. I love the way the song flows. It sounds beautiful.

#7: Sincerely by TRUE

Violet Evergarden is one of the most touching anime I’ve ever watched, and the intro song is beautiful to listen to. It is all about the power of words and that fits the anime so well. Violet has spent her whole life being trained and used as a weapon, and it is not until after the war ends and she takes a job as a ghostwriter that she learns empathy.

#6: The Red Means I Love You by Madds Buckley

This song is not from an anime, but it is inspired by one. The Red Means I Love You is based on Himiko Toga, a girl from My Hero Academia who drinks blood from people in order to change her appearance to match them. She only drinks the blood of those she is infatuated with–guys and girls alike. The song is about her obsession with blood and her feeling of being an outcast.

#5: Goya No Machiawase by Hello Sleepwalkers

This song is a bolder rock song with the theme of moving on from the past, even if it means metaphorically killing your past self.

#4: Kōkai no Uta by Sayuri

This song I mostly like because of the way it sounds, but it has decent lyrics about moving forward when you don’t have the strength. Eri is an amazing little girl from My Hero Academia and I associate this song with her because the outro that included this music was filled with glimpses of her life.

#3: Brave Song by Aoi Tada

Brave Song FULL VER. - Lyrics and Music by Angel Beats ! arranged ...

This song is the outro to the anime Angel Beats. It is about a lonely girl who is struggling to be strong in the face of adversity. It ends with the realization that she will someday be left only with memories of her friends.

The song fits the anime well, which is definitely one of the saddest anime I have ever watched. The song seems to refer to Yuri, who has a tragic backstory that explains the brooding nature of this song.

Spotify doesn’t have a good version, so here’s the Youtube one.

#2: Ichiban no Takaramono (Yui final ver.) by Girls Dead Monster

This song is so incredibly sad and happy at the same time. I can’t say much more without spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that without explaining what the song is about. The English translation of the title is “My Most Precious Treasure.” This is not on Spotify, so the Youtube link is here.

#1: Red Like Roses Part II

Okay, a quick disclaimer. Some people consider RWBY to be an anime, some do not. The people who do not consider RWBY an anime generally hold the position that all anime must be from Japan.

However, there is so much overlap in styles now, with western countries exploring traditionally Japanese styles, and Japanese companies exploring traditionally western themes. As a result, the line between what is anime and what is not has been blurred.

Furthermore, RWBY appears on the anime streaming service CrunchyRoll.

Personally, I will refer to RWBY as an American anime. If you disagree, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Red Like Roses Part II is about the tragic loss of a loved one and dealing with grief. It is a fast-paced rock song, and unlike the others in the list, this one is completely in English.

I love the imagery used in this song, such as describing blood as “red like roses.”

While glancing through the comments on Youtube, I found that many people could relate to the songs theme of loss, especially the line: “All the joy that I had known for all my life, was stripped away from me the minute that you died.”

The wonderful thing about the songs from RWBY is that they reveal more about the characters and create depth. They also are just good stand-alone songs even without the anime – the lyrics are relateable for many people even without the context of the show.

I fully recommend checking the song out because it is my absolute favorite.

Conclusion

Even if you haven’t watched anime, I would recommend you listen to these songs and see if you like them. Who knows, maybe you’ll like them.

I plan to analyze most of them at one point or another so you’ll be seeing them again.

Music

Song Analysis: Odd Future by Uverworld

Song Analysis:

Odd Future by Uverworld

(Featured in My Hero Academia)

Intro

For my song analyses, I prefer to choose songs that I enjoy, and that have elements of storytelling built into them. Occasionally, I will choose a song that is not good in order to break down what is wrong with it and why it is terrible. For this one, I chose a good song from an anime I appreciate.

Analysis

Parsing out the meaning of a song written originally almost completely in Japanese is not easy. To help, I will analyze several English versions, including one literal translation and two with more artistic license. The problem with literal translations is that they typically do not convey metaphorical meaning and the feel of the original music. I do, however, think that it is worthwhile to consider the literal translation because that is what artists who try to sing English versions of the song have to deal with. Besides, the literal is one layer of any story and of any song, and it should be studied for its own merit.

Keep in mind this analysis is based entirely on my interpretation of the lyrics, which may or may not be accurate. I do not know Japanese, and I am no expert. I am relying on translations done by others.

Literal Translation

The lyrics I am using, including the ones in direct quotations, come from this website, called Otenkiame Translations. I will be pulling lines from the lyrics, but I will not analyze the whole song.

The song starts by asking if we are ready, building anticipation. From the first section of the song, my favorite part is the phrase:

You’ll have room to enjoy the contradictions.”

What’s being advertised here is not a form of doublethink, as in George Orwell’s 1984. In that novel, characters held contradictions in their mind as a result of political indoctrination. It is not a form of mental syncretism, but rather the acceptance and acknowledgement that contradictions exist and can be appreciated.

It reminds me more of Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury by Charles Williams, in which a character has characteristics of both Christ and the Devil. The character does not seem contrived at all because of it–instead, it makes for a richer text.

There’s no worth in an unending today.”

This quote I see as saying that we have to allow the present to subside into the future. If we can’t let go of today and are afraid of the future than we won’t be able to move forward with life. A future, even an odd one, is better than being without a future and a destiny.

The square sky’s unable to fill the gaps in my heart.”

This reminds me of all the times I have heard people say that you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. The fact that even something as broad and endless as the sky is not sufficient nor is it the right thing to fill all the broken parts of a human person resonates with me. Someone’s heart cannot be filled even by what seems infinite.

we’ll have days we’ve bragged there was nothing we wanted to be.”

This part is so true! So many people will brag about not caring, about not knowing what to do. It’s like the cool thing these days is not to care about anything. Kind of like a stereotypical bad guy/bad girl attitude.

Dark pasts I’ve built up like they grow on trees.”

That is beautiful imagery. Having a past with darkness that seems only to grow is like that of one of the Byronic heroes–heroes with a past, who brood and struggle. The Batmans of real life.

I keep my ideals.”

This is like the soul of the song, the focus. Keeping one’s ideals in a world that is less than a perfect, before a future that is, well, odd–to say the least.

I will embed 30 seconds of the song in the original Japanese below, but go to Spotify or Youtube for the whole song.

The Amalee Version

The lyrics I am using, including the ones in direct quotations, come from this website, Musixmatch.com. I will be pulling lines from the lyrics, but I will not analyze the whole song.

Even if you fall take one step.

You can breathe again in one step.

It can be that easy in one step, and that’s it!”

I feel like the meaning of these lines did not come across in the literal translation. Taking life step by step is not a bad approach. There is plenty of times I just think in terms of hours–just make it one more hour, and everything will be fine. Then resetting–just one more hour, and it will feel better.

You can’t rewind these days but you can change your direction.”

Yes, you cannot change the past, but the future is not set in stone. You can change trajectory, altering your course through an odd future.

And we see we can be the heroes straight out of our dreams.”

I’m guess Amalee got this line by comparing the original lines and watching the anime to get a feel for what it is about. I have included a link to Amalee’s process for translating songs at the bottom of this page if you are interested. It changes the focus from being a distinguishable individual to being more than that–a hero.

I like this version of the lyrics as well. I think it fits the anime better while staying true to the song itself. I will embed 30 seconds of the song below, but go to Spotify or Youtube for the whole song.

The Natewantstobattle Version

The lyrics I am using, including the ones in direct quotations, come from this website, AZLyrics.com. I will be pulling lines from the lyrics, but I will not analyze the whole song.

Everything is like dust escaping me.”

This is kind of interesting imagery. The feeling of being deflated of substance.

What’s going on? I gotta guess.

I’m a bit different from the rest.

And this was all just a test for me.”

The rhythm of this song is great, but it doesn’t have many unique lines or what I would call a serious poetic style. Sure, it sounds good, but it doesn’t have the depth of the literal translation or the Amalee version.

I will embed 30 seconds of the song below, but go to Spotify or Youtube for the whole song.

Does it Fit the Anime?

Sure, I can see it. The My Hero Academia series is all about how Midoriya is supposed to become the number one hero. It’s moving from a measured past to a definite but undoubtedly very different future. Each of the members of Class 1-A are very individual, all “a bit different than the rest.” Obviously the hero portion from Amalee’s fits the anime. Most of all the concept of keeping one ideal’s in the face of a odd future fits this anime, as Midoriya strives to uphold his ideals and those of All-Might.

Conclusion

If I had to find a meaning in this song, it would be that no matter what, be who you are and embrace your odd future and whatever it brings. Don’t be shortsighted, and if you feel like your heart is broken and nothing will fill it, you are not alone. This is an anthem of individualism and the human condition, kind of like This is Me by Keala Settle.

Links

Song versions

Lyric versions

My Hero Academia Version

Amalee Article

Life

The Chaotic Chronicles (Issue #1)

Intro

Welcome to the first issue of the Chaotic Chronicles, which revolves around what’s been going on in my chaotic life. I intend to publish these weekly if possible on Wednesdays and will do my best to keep it interesting. Feedback is welcome and encouraged. Below I will list what I’ve been up to this week!

#1: Broadening my horizons

I am doing my best to be the greatest writer, blogger, and reviewer I can be. As a result, I’ve decided to broaden my horizons by publishing reviews on more platforms. I have revitalized my Goodreads account, started an IMDb account, and began posting reviews on Board Game Geek. If there are more sites I should consider sharing my work on, let me know!

#2: A Discord Server

Recently I created a discord server that is primarily for creative types, but is also a place for a lot of really cool people to hang out. Some of our topics include books, writing, art, movies, shows, anime, board games, video games, and music.

#3: I got this cute My Hero Academia energy drink

My Hero Academia energy drink

I think this was the first time I’ve ever had an actual energy drink. Everyone always told me they were bad for you, so I had been reluctant to try one. But I couldn’t resist one that was My Hero Academia themed. I am such a geek. It was raspberry-flavored. It wasn’t the best drink but it wasn’t the worst. I cleaned out the can to use as a decoration.

#4: Check out my new Funkos

Izuku Midoriya, She-Ra, and UA High Funko Pops

My newest additions include Izuku Midoriya and UA High from My Hero Academia and She-Ra. I love both shows, so it was a real pleasure to add these to my collection.

#5: What I am watching

  • Fullmetal Alchemist (the original series)
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
  • The Owl House
  • One Piece
  • Attack on Titan
  • Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina
  • Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense
  • Fairy Tail
  • The Dragon Prince
  • My Hero Academia
  • Fruits Basket
  • Wandavision
  • Violet Evergarden

#6: Current Projects

  • Co-writing a study guide for The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner with Ashley Ostrowski
  • Creating a list of writing prompts for a blog article that will publish in December
  • Working on Paralogue 4 for my novel-in-progress
  • Writing a biography essay of a local librarian
  • Teaching my little sister how to read
Anime, Shows

MHA Season 4 is the Best Season Yet

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

My Hero Academia Season 4

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Intro

This is my favorite out of the seasons of My Hero Academia. So far none of the seasons come close to it, including what I have watched so far of Season 5.

Warning: This review does not contain significant spoilers for Season 4, but it does contain spoilers for earlier seasons.

Background

My Hero Academia Season 4 was released in 2019. It was produced by the studio Bones and directed by Kenji Nagasaki. The plot is based on the graphic novels by  Kōhei Horikoshi.

You can watch My Hero Academia on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Summary

U.A. students face off against villains new and old. Later in the season, the members of U.A participate in a school festival. In the meantime, Bakugo and Todoroki attend special courses to catch up with the rest of Class 1-A.

Pros

  • Creative quirks
  • New and unique characters
  • Dangerous and effective villains
  • Well-chosen way to introduce the season
  • The Big 3 show what they are made of
  • Backstory for Kirishima and Amajiki
  • Actual consequences for choices
  • Concept of Quirk Singularity Doomsday
  • Darkest season balanced with comic relief
  • Attractive intros and outro
  • Catchy music
  • Original art style

Cons

  • Tickling machine kind of disturbing
  • The relationship between Gentle Criminal and La Brava is uncomfortable
  • Weird angles on characters focusing on breasts, legs, and skirts at different times

Observations

  • Natsu look-alike appears near end of season

Review

Introduction

The idea of starting the season off with a feature story on the members of Class 1-A was an interesting way to recap everyone’s quirks and personalities without being boring and forced.

Creative Quirks

Creative quirks such as whole-body lens fill this anime. This quirk allows camera lenses to grow from different parts of Taneo’s body. He can print the pictures from his chest when desired, or keep them in memory. For a journalist, this is the perfect quirk, being able to take pictures anywhere anytime, looking inconspicuous until finally getting a shot.

Characters

Getting Kirishima’s backstory is a great bonus for this season. Seeing how he changed over time to become the person he is now was amazing.

Amajiki is a shy character who continually compares Kirishima and Togata to the sun. This season really gives him the chance to shine, however, delving into his past and showing that he is formidable despite his reticent nature.

Fat Gum’s fat absorption quirk allows things to stick to his body and be absorbed. His quirk is more complex than it initially seems, however. He is a Pro Hero who is honorable and likeable.

Eri is a 6-year-old girl whose quirk and backstory are a well-kept secret from most of the characters until later in the season. She is compassionate and self-sacrificing, and surprisingly mature for her age yet still childish in many ways.

Nighteye holds to many of the same ideals as All Might. He values laughter and smiling, and wants to make the world a better place. He truly believes there is no future to society without “humor and energy.”

I appreciate the character design of Overhaul with his unique mask. I thought about getting one designed to look like Overhaul’s during the worst part of the pandemic when everyone was wearing masks, but mask regulations have since been relaxed in my area for those who are vaccinated.

I think of Overhaul as the most evil and cruel villain introduced in My Hero Academia so far. He’s not only physically dangerous, he is also causes psychological damage to others.

Relationships

The relationship between La Brava and Gentle Criminal gives off strong romance vibes and it’s not the most comfortable relationship. La Brava is 21 and Gentle is 32, which is a large age gap–but that’s not a big deal. The problem is the character design makes it seem like Gentle is an old man, and La Brava looks like a little girl. That makes it seem like Gentle is some sort of pedophile and that he is grooming La Brava. And since they don’t mention ages during the anime itself, viewers aren’t aware that La Brava is not a minor. Seems like a poor design choice here.

Consequences

Trust me, there are negative consequences for failure, and even for hard-won success, in this season.

Concept

The Quirk Singularity Doomsday theory has to do with each generation having stronger quirks. There is the idea that one day the older generation will not be able to stop the newest generation from doing whatever they want.

Balance

This season gets surprisingly dark for My Hero Academia, and the comic relief of the school festival is well-timed and much-needed. The last couple of episodes don’t seem to belong and probably should’ve been in the next season, but that’s not a big deal.

Music

The first intro of the season is Polaris by Blue Encounter. What I like about this intro includes the camera angles seeming natural and the movement of the piece as a whole. If you look at the part with the hands at the very beginning, you’ll notice it shows his hand when he was younger, his hand when he joined UA, and his hand with the scars.

The first outro features the song Kōkai no Uta by Sayuri. This is one of my favorite outros because it portrays backstory for an important character in Season 4 without spoiling anything significant like some outros do. The pictures of Eri are so cute and really builds sympathy for her.

The second intro features the song Starmarker by Kana-Boon. Unlike the first half of the season, the second half is lighthearted, and the intro reflects that. Interesting choices are made regarding color, and the song is upbeat.

The second intro features the song Shout Baby by Ryokuōshoku Shakai. This scrapbook-style intro shows glimpses into the character’s pasts, including those of side characters.

There is a song during the school festival that is amazing too, but going into details on that would constitute a spoiler.

Style

The animation was done by Studio Bones, which also did the style of Fullmetal Alchemist, another one of my favorite anime.

The style is different from Fullmetal Alchemist because it uses bold, bright colors and deep shadows for contrast. The pupils of characters are much smaller than in most anime.

Problematic Aspects

Sir Nighteye’s tickling machine is uncomfortably similar to torture and harassment. As a boss, it’s entirely inappropriate for him to tickle his sidekick without permission as a punishment. Bubble Girl literally begs him to stop and he refuses. There are better ways to show that Sir Nighteye values humor without making him seem like a creep.

Occasionally with this season the camera would rest on breasts, legs, and skirts without any apparent reason. It just seemed unnecessary and an odd choice.

Observations

Looks kind of like Natsu from the anime Fairy Tail, right? Whether that was intentional or not, the pink hair and scarf make this side character a lookalike to one of Fairy Tail’s strongest wizards.

Conclusion

If you liked the first few seasons of My Hero Academia, you will like this one too. If you didn’t like the first few seasons, you may like this season anyway because its darkest moments are horrifying and its lightest moments are hilarious, and there are plenty of heartfelt moments that fall in between those two extremes.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links