Soundtracks that stand alone

Great music and great anime usually go hand in hand, but the sign of a great song is that anyone can enjoy it, irregardless of their love (or lack there of) for anime. I remember thoroughly enjoying the music used in Honey & Clover, but on its own it is a disappointing, minimal experience I often compare with the dull instrumentation of easy listening elevator tunes. Within the context of falling in love with the Honey & Clover anime, I imagined this soundtrack would mean so much more to me.
From back to front, there are few anime soundtracks that truly transcend the chains of being locked to their respective TV series. Without stating the obvious example of Mistress Yoko Kanno, I genuinely feel Toshio Masuda’s ethereal Mushishi score is a consistently lush and driving musical master class. I can play these songs at home, in the office at work and even to my damn family- everyone (relative to their undeniably bad taste) will love it.
Of course, as is their nature, soundtracks aren’t designed to be stand alone albums anyway but it’s certainly a bonus to know that in sixth months, hell…, six years down the line, I can still enjoy listening to some of this music without having to revisit the TV series first.

11 replies on “Soundtracks that stand alone”

I’ve recently been listening to the Heat Guy J soundtrack which stands alone very well away from the series.

To me: anything Kajiura composes, most of Kanno’s works, as well as stuff from Kenji Kawai, Hikaru Nanase, Taku Iwasaki and Hajime Mizoguchi. I can go through most of their CDs enjoying each track, without feeling a need to skip something.
I’m certainly looking forward to hearing more from JigokuShoujo/Ayakashi composer.

I’m listening to the Simoun soundtrack right now, and it’s amazing. Even if you don’t like the series, it’s worth a listen.
I’ve also become a big fan of "Fire Bomber"’s "albums" from Macross 7….

I very much enjoyed the OST’s for Fantastic Children and Black Cat.
I’m more of an OP/ED theme kind of gal, emphasis on the ED. Occassionally, if I’m in the mood, I’d listen to OSTs.

For me it will always be The Fooley Cooley soundtrack by the pillows.
That one rocks!!!

I always enjoy listening to Toshihiko Sahashi’s soundtracks; his music is just so evocative. On several occasions I’ve played some for people who couldn’t care less about anime and they enjoy it too.

I love Toshio Masuda’s works, along with (of course) Yoko Kanno, Yuki Kajiura, Joe Hisaishi, and Hikaru Nanase.

The Cowboy Bebop soundtracks can be enjoyed out of context (so to speak) – my colleagues at work love them and they know nothing about Bebop (nor are they interested). Then there’s Gankutsuou which is again an anime soundtrack that has been rather popular with people who could care less about anime.
I think the set of OSTs that can stand on their own the most are the soundtracks of Gungrave (an excellent series, by the way, despite the zombies). I’d been listening to them before watching the series, and it’s been very popular with people who have an open mind when it comes to music, and/or appreciate jazz with an occasional experimental or mediterranean flair. They’re composed by Imahori Tsuneo who is my favorite anime composer (although he only did the music of Trigun and Gungrave… I wish he did more anime music, his old band is too experimental even for me.)

Mmmm…seconding the "anything Kajiura composes", her works are simply amazing. Also seconding the FLCL soundtracks, I love the pillows, they did a great job with the soundtrack. Finally, the Beck OST isn’t bad, it isn’t top of the list but is great to listen to once-in-a-while.

Some great soundtracks mentioned here.
FLCL- Probably the best purely rock soundtrack used in anime, the songs are integrated so well. My favourites include “Hybrid Rainbow” and “Last Dinosaur”. It was great to see The Pillows make a cameo appearance in BECK.
By a strange twist of fate, I haven’t actually seen any anime in which the music is composed by Yuki Kajiura. Noir seems like her most favoured work though, and my brother has the thinpack so I’ll get around to that sooner or later.
I’m disappointed I forget to mention the Fantastic Children OST in the post- Voyage is a wonderful song (the instrumental version is my favourite).
Hajime Mizoguchi is another great artist. I absolutely loved his work in Texhnolyze; it virtually made the anime for me, the music just suited the series futuristic industrial style so well.
My favourite Yoko Kanno-scored anime soundtrack is either Macross Plus or Escaflowne; for the sheer varied and heartfelt sense though, I’d probably end up siding with Macross Plus.

Another vote for FLCL from me! Many a boring journey to work has been brightened by the fuzz-guitar riffs of the Pillows. On the other hand some stuff has rekindled appreciation of classical pieces: namely the orchestral parts of the Evangelion soundtracks.
The Haibane Renmei soundtrack is another selection that is a real treasure when listened to on its own. I’d never considered myself a fan of that style but it still manages to create its own little world without the visual story that goes with it. I hope that Kou Otane is called up to work on more anime projects in the future.

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