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.

 

Fruits Basket (2001): Subtle Romances and Fake Love Triangles

This piece has actually been sitting on my tumblr for a while now, but with the Fruits Basket reboot coming in March (yay!!) I thought why not post it on here?


Fruits Basket really surprised me with what it offered. I went into the show with a preconceived notion that it was going to be some average, flowery shoujo that gained its popularity out of nothing more than good timing.

Man

I was so wrong.

I mean, Fruits Basket isn’t even all that much of a romance in my eyes. There are romantic overtones, sure, but the show focused a lot more on the friendship that Tohru made with Kyo and Yuki than her possible romantic dynamic with them. To me, Fruits Basket is a lot more about finding good friends, trauma, and how those friends can help you heal from or move on from those traumas.

Fruits Basket is a lot of things.

A lot of things that make it so much more than any ole romance or shoujo.

The heart of the show is in the dynamic between Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki.

Fruits basket did a good job of getting me to like both, Kyo and Yuki, equally. I remember thinking around the tenth episode mark how I would be happy with Tohru ending up with either of them. As more episodes went on, however, the more I realized that Fruits Basket wasn’t about which guy she would pick and end up with. It wasn’t about her romantic feelings for them. It was about how all three of them shared similar struggles and how they could help each other through them and I wasn’t expecting that before getting into Fruits Basket at all. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but this is really crazy to me because I really thought Fruits Basket was going to be a regular romance shoujo with a love triangle. In the end, who was supposed to end up with who romantically wasn’t even important. What was important is that Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki needed each other. All three of them. I think in a way they were made for each other. The three of them were platonic soulmates if you will.

This is something that really frustrates me because I put off Fruits Basket for the longest time because I thought this was a going to just be a romance with a shitty love triangle. But the “love triangle” isn’t really even a love triangle, because Tohru never “picked” between the two, and I don’t think there would have been a point for her to pick between them. All I really wanted was for Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki to be happy. And I don’t think this could’ve been achieved without all three of them being together.  At least not in the anime (I haven’t read the manga, but I’m working on it. I am also aware that most people say the manga is way better than anime. Again, I’m working on it).

However, as I said, I ended up liking Yuki and Kyo equally. I would’ve been happy to see Tohru end up with either of them until I finished the show and actually realized it would’ve been a bad idea for her to pick sides (and wouldn’t have made much sense considering her character). When I was still looking at the three of them as a love triangle (this would be somewhere around the halfway mark), something that I really admired about it was how instead of the girl (Tohru) causing the two guys (Kyo and Yuki) to dislike each other, it’s actually the other way around. Kyo and Yuki have always disliked each other but it’s Tohru who builds a sort of bridge between the two. She’s the reason they get closer rather than the reason they’re relationship worsens.

So even when I look at Fruits Basket as a romance, and the relationship between Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki as a love triangle, it’s still really well done. Except for the fact that there’s no romantic endgame, that’s kind of a no-no in romances.

The three of them needing each other makes a lot of sense too. The dynamics of these three is amazing.

All three of them struggle with feeling alone, not belonging and you see the different ways they cope with those feelings. They have the same insecurities, just for different reasons.

I just…really love these three. Their characters work well off each other. They’re all already likable on their own, but together they have this charm that’s kind of hard to describe.

I think this might explain why it took me a while to watch Fruits Basket as well.

Outside of me avoiding it because I didn’t think it would be anything special, there were two times I tried watching Fruits Basket before in which I only made it halfway through the first episode. I was close to doing it again the third time I picked up Fruits Basket, but I kept watching and when Kyo showed up the way his energy contrasted with all the other character’s immediately gained my interest and then Tohru ends up falling on them and poof, Kyo and Yuki turn into animals and the first episode ends and by that point I’m actually invested and want to get to the next episode as soon as possible. Then I continued to watch and fell in love with our three main characters as well as being surprised with just how sad this show could get. The whole thing makes me feel silly now.

So if there’s one thing I’m trying to say in this it’s that Yuki, Tohru, and Kyo are a pretty good unit. (And also that Fruits Basket is more than seems)

However, this brings me to probably the one real problem I had with the show. There was too much time spent on side characters. It’s a fault of its time in all honesty. A lot of early 2000’s anime fell into that episodic trap of focusing on different side characters every episode. In Fruits Basket’s defense, the same side characters went back and forth through the episodes and they all had the same insecurities of not belonging as Kyo, Tohru, and Yuki and a lot of the times they would help reveal something new about the main three characters. While the only side characters I ended up genuinely liking were Tohru’s best friends, they all suffered from the same things Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo.

Everyone in Fruits Basket was an outcast. In one way or another.

And I think that might be why I and so many others love this series. We all know what it’s like to feel like you don’t belong somewhere, or that you don’t fit in, or that there’s no way you could be accepted for who you really are.

Some of us are like Tohru, who avoid bothering/annoying those around them at the price of their own wellbeing.

Some are like Kyo and lash out at everyone around them as an attempt to voice their frustration and emotions while avoiding being too vulnerable.

Some of us are like Yuki and constantly monitor our emotions to keep ourselves from feeling too strongly, just trying come off as a pleasant person while keeping in the fear that they might never make intimate friends.

I think everyone can relate to all three of these to some degree.

So yeah.

I cracked the code to why Fruits Basket is so beloved. And I’m a little annoyed about it. I’m annoyed it wasn’t marketed for the emotional and moving series that it was.

In the whole eight years that I’ve been watching anime, I’ve always thought Fruits Basket was widely liked because it’s a cute romance! And the boys are cute! Or drama! (because I thought the love triangle was going to be a big thing).

Now, this isn’t to say being a romance show or having romance in a show is a bad thing. I mean, what is this blog if that’s the case. There are even shows I can think of that would’ve been better off as romances than the genre they were. I’m not trying to say that Fruits Basket can’t be all these amazing things and a romance as well, either. Or that it can’t become a romance, or that there will never be a time in the story where Tohru could become romantically involved with one of the boys in a way that would make sense (I’m assuming there is an endgame in the manga). This post has to do a lot more with how I personally didn’t see it as a romance after finishing it when I had spent such a long time assuming this would be an average romance. I don’t want this to sound like I’m bashing romances. And the whole issue of calling something “just a romance” is a whole other issue that I don’t think I could cover in this blog post.

I just find Fruits Basket’s marketing strange. It’s not (just) a flowery shoujo. There isn’t that much flowery about the show. It deals with trauma from family and friends, and insecurities around being an outcast, and the extent to which Tohru tried not to burden others would actually scare me sometimes. Sure, it’s light-hearted at times, but I always felt this lingering feeling of sadness even during those scenes.

I could go on about all the other things I liked about Fruits Basket, but this is getting long. So, I’ll just leave by saying that I love Fruits Basket and if you haven’t watched it, I would seriously recommend it

Is this something that anyone else questions? I haven’t really looked at other reviews or other opinions people have on this show. There isn’t exactly a lively fanbase to fall on either. I can’t be the only one to come to this consensus, right?

I would love to hear what other people think of Fruits Basket. I’ve heard that the manga is a lot more depressing (as they usually are). To what degree would you consider Fruits Basket a romance? Do you think Tohru not ending up with Kyo or Yuki at the end was a pro or a con? Honestly, I’m really interested in people’s thoughts on this show.

My Top Ten Romances of 2017

Hey uh sorry I took so long to write this list up. I was busy marathoning Avatar: The Last Airbender. This list includes shows that I, myself, watched in 2017. A lot of them did not air or come out in 2017. My goal for 2018 is to watch enough shows airing in 2018 to make a proper list.

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10. Love, etc.

This was pretty good. It was really interesting and investing. I love the structure of narration, which was unique and really worked for the story. But the ending….the ending was a bit of a, uh, shock to me and it really just didn’t fit and ruined most of the enjoyment I had reading the majority of the book.

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9. Annie on My Mind

Annie on My Mind is a lesbian young adult novel and it’s really just the sweetest thing. For the girls’ age, their innocence feels a bit over the top. They feel more like fourteen-year-old lesbians rather than seventeen-year-old lesbians. I’ll cut it some slack for being written in the 80’s I guess.

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8. Recovery of an MMO Junkie

It’s a cute romantic comedy starring a neet. I also just love the story- it’s like a gamer version of You’ve Got Mail. Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees the comparison to You’ve Got Mail. This show got me giddy multiple times: especially with that opening.

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7. Butterfly Soup

The only reason Butterfly Soup is lower on this list is that of it’s stronger focus on friendship than romance. I think there was still enough romance for Butterfly Soup to make this list, however. A very sweet and comedic visual novel revolving around a group of four girls who join a baseball club. It’s relatable and uplifting, and it almost made me cry tears of happiness.

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6. Snow White with the Red Hair

I talked about Shirayuki before so I won’t go on too much. It’s everything you could ask for in a fantasy romance in both storytelling and looks. However, there were times I found it hard to stay engaged.

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5. The Time Traveler’s Wife

This is the second romance involving time travel on this list, go figure. The Time Traveler’s Wife has to be one of the bluntest romance novels I’ve ever read. It doesn’t have pretty diction or a cute way to walk around sex scenes. And yet it’s more heartfelt than a lot of other romances. While the book generally doesn’t shy away from getting dark, it gets especially depressing halfway through.

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4. Pushing Daisies

I’m sure this is a name you haven’t heard in while for those of you who have already watched it. Well, today is your lucky day, I’m bringing it back full circle. Pushing Daisies is another romance that isn’t afraid to cover dark topics such as abandonment issues and carrying emotional baggage from childhood. However, the show manages to have an overall positive and light-hearted atmosphere.

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3. You’re the Worst

It’s a romantic comedy with dark humor, so it’s no surprise that I fell in love with it. I probably would’ve put it as number one if it weren’t for its underwhelming third season. Nonetheless, the two main characters are still a couple I find myself rooting to make it time again and again. I hope to write about this show later.

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2. Hello, My Twenties!/ Age of Youth

I almost cried many times. I remember the first episode being really depressing. It’s an interesting Korean drama about a group of five women in in their early twenties (hence the title). You see all these girls make different decisions and live different lifestyles in close proximities and how they contrast. It’s really cute and fun when it wants to be, but also fairly sad when it has to be. And dude, that track…I looked it up; it’s called Butterfly. That track made me feel things.

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  1. Your Name

Look. I know what you’re thinking: Your Name as first place?? How basic can you be? I actually didn’t love this one as much as everyone else seemed to and I didn’t really understand all the hype. Or at least this is how I felt right after watching it. After a few weeks though, I’ve developed a lot more love for it for some reason. Your Name was beautifully animated, had a good soundtrack, and the story surprised me a few times. Despite all this, I was still a bit hesitant to put Your Name as first simply because I liked 1 through 3 almost equally (minus You’re the Worst’s third season).

I’ll probably look at this list next week and want switch things around again but it’s already January the twelfth so I’ll settle for this.

Snow White with the Red Hair is a role model for all romances

I-I-I don’t know where to start with this one. Shirayuki is just a really solid, well-done romance. I’m actually having a really hard time writing about this show despite the notes I wrote on it sitting right in front of me.

Okay okay

Snow White With the Red Hair is like the perfect fairy tale:

  • You have a royal prince who falls in love with a commoner
  • You have a dreamy, medieval setting to set the atmosphere
  • There’s a ton of aweeeeeee moments
  • Shirayuki’s outfits are always precious

But at the same time, it’s so much more than just any ole sweet, lovey-dovey fantasy romance. The relationship between Zen and Shirayuki is so well written, way better written than it had to be for its demographic. They don’t instantly fall head-over-heels for each other right when they meet like in a usual fantasy esc romance. Sure, there’s an immediate fondness that they have for each other, but it wasn’t love. It starts with admiration and a bit of fondness, then to a strong friendship, then to them acknowledging the presence of romantic feelings, then to them taking action on those romantic feelings. You visibly see their relationship grow and intensify. I mean, you can really see the progression of their relationship. I don’t normally see relationships grow so gradually in shows. It feels so natural and realistic. It’s really quite admirable.

Another merit of the show would be how it manages to be so adorable and also handle romance so maturely. Zen and Shirayuki are mature people (other than how easily flustered they get but I’m blaming that on cultural differences). When Zen first kissed Shirayuki, she got really embarrassed and avoided him the next day. However Zen eventually got ahold of her and they talked about their relationship and where their feelings for the other person lied. For the most part, they know what they want. They know where they want their relationship to be in the future. There was even the classic “I think you bring out the best in me” line. They’re both independent and have their own set of ambitions, however, they help each other to persevere and improve more than they could on their own. Zen and Shirayuki are a good role model for a healthy relationship.

And really, along with all of what I just said, it’s soooooooooo sweet. A lot of it probably has to do with the execution but the number of times I was widely grimacing (because I grimace when I see cute things) or thinking aweeeeee was  a  l o t.

 

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