That One Track from your favorite romance anime

So, I’m a whore for soundtracks. The amount of hours I’ve spent listening to various soundtracks is in the hundreds. Something I’ve noticed in discussions about good anime soundtracks is that romances are often left out, with the exception of Clannad and Your Lie in April. So here I am, ready to take the task nobody requested.

Before I start listing animes and their soundtracks I’d  like to first say that the thing about scores in anime, movies, video games, and even tv shows is that they usually have one track that’s easy to identify (ie. a theme song, a track that plays during a progression/training scene or a track that plays during the climax, etc.). Depending on the tone and atmosphere of the series, this track could be sad, fun, a mesh of the two, or something beyond those lines. Regardless it should affect how you feel and be memorable. So in this post, I’m talking about different romance anime and what I think is that one track from them.

1. Toradora- Lost My Pieces

There are a lot of tracks from Toradora that I adore, including Yuugure No Yakusoku and Ameiro Rondo. What makes Lost My Pieces work out, however, is the fact that it plays at the climax of the series and stands for a mental shift in the main character as well as a tonal shift in the series. What else is interesting is that this is the only time the track is ever played in Toradora. It really shows how effective it was, considering the track’s popularity. When most people think of Toradora’s soundtrack they’ll think of Lost My Pieces. This is certainly that one track that will make you…feel things.

2. Clannad- Roaring Tides

This one is probably more arguable considering how many tracks in Clannad are severe tear jerkers. Personally, Roaring Tides has always been that one track in Clannad that would without a doubt fuck me up. There’s just something about that piano…and the…everything. It’s a very dramatic piece and man is it good at heightening the drama in Clannad. Of course, Nagisa and SnowFeild are very close seconds and I can’t forget to mention Town, Flow of Time, People; or Existence; or the goddamn ending Dango Daikazoku (why does this show hate us).

3. Fruits Basket (2001)- Secret

Fruits Basket has a generally wacky soundtrack that covers a variety of tones. However, if there is one track that could be associated with the darker moments in the anime, one that always played when one of the characters talked in depth about the zodiac curse, it’s Secret. This track is a little different from the ones in Toradora and Clannad though. This one’s purpose isn’t to make the viewer cry. I think the track only has that effect from a nostalgic standpoint; listening to the track on its own after the fact adds quite a bit of feeling to this one. Secret is more or less, meant to set the atmosphere. That, put together with how often the track was used, makes it one of the more memorable ones. I can’t wait to add the reboot to this list.

4. Nana- Akai Ren

Nana’s soundtrack doesn’t get talked about that often even among its fans. I’m not talking about the vocal pieces that were played by Black Stones or Trapnest, but the background osts. The reason for this probably has to do with 1) the songs sung by Black Stones and Trapnest are on a separate CD than the background tracks and 2) there are a whopping 43 tracks on the CD of background tracks. Regardless, there are a number of tracks that stuck with me even after finishing the show and the best example of this would be Akai Ren, which made me cry EVERY SINGLE TIME it played. That piano still haunts me. What also haunts is the second ending, Starless Night. That one’s a close second.

5. Anohana- Secret Base

I’ve been avoiding using the openings and endings on this list, but I’ll make an exception for Secret Base considering it plays like a track in the background for emotional scenes on several occasions. I was considering using Last Train Home instead, but that track just…doesn’t hit the same way and isn’t utilized nearly as often as Anohana’s ed. Secret Base also has the advantage of not being played in its entirety until the most climatic and emotional part in the series (as if just a few seconds of the song wasn’t already enough).

6.  Your Lie in April- My Friend A Will Be My Accompanist

We all know the soundtrack for Your Lie in April is amazing. Whether it be the classical pieces performed by characters or the rest of the soundtrack that’s left for the background, but I think My Friend A is a particular track that’s memorable and easy to listen to on its own. It plays often throughout the show and because of that, I think it’s the most identifiable piece in the series. My Friend A is beautiful. It doesn’t even need the context of the show to make it an emotional listening experience. If anything this gives context to the show.

7. My Little Monster- Tetsukazu no Kanjou

Not as much of a tear jerker as it is just an adorable track that I often come back to. Maybe it’s a more of a track that elicits happy tears? My Little Monster’s soundtrack reminds me of Toradora’s in the sense that they both have fun scores that feature mostly quirky tracks with a few emotional ones sprinkled in. For this series,  it’s emotional one is Tetsukazu no Kanjou, which the show utilizes quite well. It often plays when the audience discovers something new about a character or see an emotional shift in them.

8. Snow White with the Red Hair- Reconciliation: The Beginning of Two People

The best word to describe Shirayuki’s soundtrack would be magical; it’s a true fantasy romance score. I was hesitant to mention this soundtrack at all because at first I felt that while Reconciliation is a gorgeous piece, it’s not overwhelmingly emotional, but I’m listening to it right now and have realized that uhhh it’s very emotional and I don’t know what I was thinking. And looking back, this track in specific added a lot to scenes and did, in fact, bring up several emotions. While (maybe) not tear-jerking, the track would definitely have you gushing at how sweet and precious the main couple is.

9. Bloom Into You- Earnest Wish

You know, you hear a lot of piano in romance series. A lot of violin. A lot of flute. But  clarinet? That’s not as common.  This track really makes you wish there was more luckily, a lot of the other pieces on Bloom Into You’s soundtrack also have clarinet in them. Anyways, any moment Earnest Wish started playing…I knew shit was about to go down. There was usually some dramatic wind (oftentimes blowing Touka’s hair) when it started playing. Something new would be revealed about the character’s backstory or their insecurities. Good piece. Very good piece.

10. Kanon- Winter Fireworks

Kanon has the misfortune of forever being compared to Clannad and living in its shadow. Something I think, however, that doesn’t deserve to be compared to Clannad would be Kanon’s soundtrack. Its score is unique and successfully conveys a winter essence. Winter Fireworks is the best example, but there are so many other amazing tracks. I just [making aggressive hand gestures] really love it.

11. Your Name- Sparkle

Your Name is really good at using its score to accelerate emotional scenes and generally flow with the mood of the film. Its best example of this would be Sparkle, which plays at the climax and man does it work. The pace of the track has the perfect amount of energy to go along with a beautiful running sequence that was emotional as all hell.

So far I have only talked about tear-jerker tracks, but romances are also completely capable of having a track memorable by how warm and happy it is.

12. Toradora (again)- Startup

Startup is probably the easiest to remember/call out but I think Happy Monday is a really close second that no one talks about. Startup is used similarly to Lost My Pieces, though more often. Where Lost My Pieces plays at an emotional climax, representing a progression in the characters, Startup always plays when one of the main characters is making a stride to better themselves or their situation (hence, progressing the story). It’s a great track and does its job well.

13. Kaichou wa Maid Sama- Main Theme

Man, I could dance to this track. I remember always feeling giddy when this track started playing. You knew things were about to get exciting. It’s the perfect amount of fun and cheesy for a hilarious and sweet shoujo such as Maid Sama.

14. Princess Jellyfish- Umi to Tsuki no Yume

While it’s hard to stream the entirety of Princess Jellyfish’s soundtrack for free, there are a few tracks that are easily accessible on youtube. Umi to Tsuki no Yume is one of them and lucky for me, it’s one of my favorite tracks as well as one that seemed to stick out to others as well. It’s very befitting of the show’s flamboyant yet down to earth atmosphere.

15. His and Her Circumstances- Peace Reigns in the Land

I love every track from Kare Kano but this one especially left a mark on me. There’s plenty of lovely piano pieces that you could you point to as that one track but I personally find the tracks with trumpet solos and soft drums to be the charming point in its score. Peace Reigns in the Land normally plays sometime during the beginning of episodes and really leaves you feeling like everything is gonna be okay. As for accessibility to the soundtrack, there are a few tracks you can find on Youtube and I managed to find the entirety of the soundtrack here on Soundcloud uploaded only five days ago (so who knows how long it’ll be up).

16. Nisekoi

Nisekoi’s production value was always too good for its own good and its soundtrack is no exception. I was torn between a number of tracks from Nisekoi to mention. Should I go with the sweet and warm Lost of Words that reminds me of summer? Or the fun and goofy Meirou I can still remember playing at the end of each episode years after watching? Or what if I go with the more bleak Nikuhaku to represent that one track that stuck out in the series? Well. It’s Meirou. Hate to be anticlimactic, but Meirou captures the tone and atmosphere of the series better than any other track in the series. It’s sweet but in a ridiculous kind of way.

17. Honey and Clover- Be Careful of Being Tricked!

I absolutely adore Honey and Clover’s soundtrack. It has an interesting range of instruments that gives it a unique charm. Be Careful of Being Tricked is no exception with its use of bongos, the organ, and acoustic guitar along with humming… It’s a good time. Bon Bon Bereppa was another track I thought of using for this list. Both tracks scream “How did I get myself in this situation?”. It was really hard to pick one over the other, to be honest. It came down to the organ.

18. Lovely Complex- Orchestra Na Risa

Generally, the score of Lovely Complex is goofy and a riot to listen to on its own. Orchestra Na Risa is one of the slower pieces, and a touching one at that. Somehow it manages to feel sweet and whimsical while still fitting in with all the other ridiculous tracks and antics in the show itself.


Honorable mentions??

  • Doukyuusei (the whole thing tbh)
  • From Up on Poppy Hill- Kokurikozaka kara (theme song)
  • Air TV- Natsukage
  • Yosuga no Sora- Kioku

Now there are plenty of romance anime I have yet to watch and I hope many of them will make me think to myself “Wow, this would’ve made a great addition to that blog post I made about romance anime with good soundtracks”. There are certain anime I’m even prepared for. But for now, I’m just writing about what I already know [it’s not a lot].

Here is a playlist of the all the tracks I listed in this blog post

and here’s a playlist I made of all my favorite romance anime tracks that you can check out if you feel inclined.

 

Execution in Romance: Amelie, Your Lie in April, and Clannad

A romance with bad execution is like a popsicle made of plain water. While it’s still a popsicle, with a cold and a hard texture, what makes it fun to eat is missing. The popsicle is boring without any flavor.

Okay maybe the popsicle metaphor is a bit of an exaggeration, but execution is a seriously important thing to do well in a romance.

Think about the romances that come to mind when you think of something that sounds cliche or bad on paper, but for whatever reason, they actually turned out pretty well. The ones that come to mind for me are the movie Amelie and the anime Your Lie in April and even Clannad to an extent.

The narration in Amelie in of itself is dull. The way the narrator introduces characters is by listing things they like and dislike. On paper that reads as lazy writing, but because of the way the movie is shot and how it paces these introductions these character introductions actually come across as rather charming.

Amelie knew how to execute itself as charming to a T from the color palette, to the odd narration and characters, to the use of its soundtrack, to the facial expressions of the main character. Amelie knew how to look artsy and quirky in a way that would grab the viewer.

Speaking of color palettes, Your Lie in April is a fucking master at evoking emotion through nothing but the pure color of scenery and characters themselves. It will bw bright and vibrant one moment, monochrome the next, and near the end of the anime: simply more saturated.

When it comes to the actual the story to Your Lie in April, it has been done more than a thousand times at this point and the dialogue can be stale and unnatural, but man does this show know how to emotionally manipulate its audience. The production value is off the charts: the animation is gorgeous, the pacing is…well it depends-sometimes the pacing is steady and at other times it isn’t. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched Your Lie in April, but I think that can actually add to my argument. As more time goes by I separate different aspects of Your Lie in April. It’s easier to detach the beautiful scenery and soundtrack from the actual story. And as more time goes by the more mediocre I realize it was.  However, the way Your Lie in April presented this story made it something that people regard as a good and emotional romance. Your Lie in April could have easily been terrible if it weren’t for things like the directing, production value, and execution. I think the execution has more to do with it, I mean even the manga is well regarded.

Clannad uses similar tactics to Your Lie in April to get people drawn into the show. The pretty and dramatic soundtrack that amplifies itself whenever a character starts to cry in almost an exaggerated form is genius. I mean, really think about what happens in Clannad. Other than Tomoya and Sunohara, most of the characters aren’t specifically interesting. The plot moves at sluggish pace. It’s the way Clannad executes and presents itself that makes it so rememberable. I mean, I will never forget the scene when Nagisa and Tomoya first met. The way the cherry blossoms fell around them and the soft piano music played as Nagisa talked to herself, just for the piano to turn into a full-on orchestrated piece when Tomoya responded to her and got her out of her own head. Then the camera zooms out to capture the two together as the wind starts to blow harder than previously. See even writing how it worked, it sounds corny as hell. And plenty of people probably did find that scene corny, but when I think of really good romance scenes, this will always be one of the first ones to come to my head.

Now I’ve talked a lot about story in this post, and you know the truth is that romances don’t really need a good storyline or plot. The most important thing to get right in romance is the character interaction between the love interests. If the audience doesn’t see the love interests as having chemistry or if they’re not likable together than the romance has failed. That’s the number one thing to get down. And execution can help with making characters look more compatible than they really are. Think about the love interests in all three of the series I mentioned. Are any of them actually compatible? I don’t really think so. Amelie knows just about nothing about the guy she ends up with and Kaori and Kousei have a…weird friendship dynamic that never made me feel as if they were actually suited for each other, and in Clannad Tomoya seemed a lot more compatible with Tomoyo than Nagisa.

But even if Tomaya was more compatible with Tomoyo, who really wanted him to end up with her? Not a lot…I think. No, we knew we were supposed to want to see Tomoya with Nagisa- it’s the way the show presented their relationship. You see how bad execution would have made this an issue? (This is also where things like ships can come in but that’s an entirely different discussion that I actually plan on talking about in a different post)

Anyways I’m still trying to sort out my thoughts and ideas about execution in romance so I might come back to this topic saying something completely contradictory. This has been on my mind a lot lately though so I figured I should write about it.

If you’d like to see a post of mine from a while back where I talk about Tomoya’s character you can click here.

And just an FYI I meant nothing bad by this post, I don’t think any of the three series I mentioned are bad. I might be being a little harsh right now. This whole post was me basically giving all of them a backhanded compliment skngfjsnkgls. No, but really, I hold all of them in pretty good regards.

 Clannad is the cover gif because it’s my favorite out of these three. Literally while I was picking the gifs for Clannad I started tearing up a little bit.

 

original post here