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- June 17, 2015 at 5:56 AM #21932
Just like how anime opening themes can pump you up for what is about to happen, ending songs tend to be used as a good cool down from some intense plot twist, to reflect on what happened, or in other instances, get you up excited for the next episode. Usually the ending songs will tend to be opposite in tone with the opening songs for the former reason, but still offers the viewer what the anime is about. Just like how everybody has their top favorite openings, let’s get into the top favorite ending songs also featuring some of Japan’s hottest artists throughout the years.
10. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya –Hare Hare Yuukai- Hirano Aya, Chihara Minori, and Goto Yuko
Air Dates: April 2006 – July 2006
Performed by the seiyuus of Haruhi, Yuki and Mikuru, this is a really catchy hit that really lightens up the mood. What undeniably makes this song appealing is the accompanying dance in the ending credits. It's actually very easy to do if you put some time into it and many hardcore fans around the world have posted videos of their own performances. Plus, it is a big hit at Japanese school festivals. It's no wonder it managed to be in the top 5 on the Oricon charts.
The melody and instrumentals are very upbeat that gives the listener positive feelings. The voices of the actresses are very cute that and bring an appropriate sense innocence and optimism reflected in the song’s lyrics. Granted it is a reflection of Haruhi’s whims, but it puts a positive spin to her quirkiness that nothing is impossible. But it makes for awkward moments of silence if this song happens to be your ring tone.
9. Fullmetal Alchemist Conqueror of Shamballa –Lost Heaven- L’arc~en~ciel
Episodes: 1 (movie)
Air Dates: July 2005
Previously contributing Ready Steady Go to the 2003 TV series and also doing the opening theme song to the movie, Link, J-rock legend L’arc~en~ciel also performs the ending theme, Lost Heaven. The song carries a much darker and depressing tone compared to Ready Steady Go, Link, and Driver’s High from GTO.
It's slower guitar melody and the chimes do an effective job of presenting that in its hook. The instruments are still very powerful and yet dark. Hide’s recognizable voice still beautifully resonates in this song and still carries a powerful tone in the chorus.
I think this song is a perfect reflection to what happens to both the heroes and villains. For the villains, they are searching for Shamballa, their utopia but they do not achieve. For Ed and Al, well, it would be a major spoiler if I got into more details about why this song is about them.
8. Initial D 2nd Stage –Kimi Ga Iru- Galla
Air Dates: October 1999 – January 2000
With a majority of Initial D’s featured songs being appropriately fast and upbeat, Kimi Ga Iru is one of the very few songs in the franchise to be rather calm. Very acoustic driven as opposed to the usual heavy beats, the song gives more of a view of both Takumi’s and Itsuki’s excellently developed and yet earth shattering ending to the relationships of the women they fall in love with in this season.
The chorus is powerfully emotional with dealing with the loneliness of trying to move on, but the closing lyric of Kimi ha ever lasting memory I feel is meant to put a smile on your face and that the memories of that special person can still carry on. The series takes place in the fall so I think the scenery used in the ending sequence is conclusively appropriate in context in that regard.
7. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders –Walk Like An Egyptian- The Bangles
Air Dates: April 2014 – June 2015
A 1980's hit as an anime ending theme song? Who would ever thought of that? For long time fans of the original manga, long before this series was ever made, a good number must have thought this would be an awesome song to use in the soundtrack to Stardust Crusaders. The main characters are on a trip to Egypt, the song was released around the time this anime takes place in which is the mid late 1980's, and it just suits all the fun and Hijinks that are going to happen.
Then when this series does happen, to the surprise and approval of fans, the song was used. Even though Araki-sensei personally wanted Roundabout by Yes in the first season, he didn't request Walk Like An Egyptian but admitted to liking it. With the verses, I feel like doing the poses of Jojo as something as a warm up for the signature dance to the chorus.
The images with the psychedelic coloring, the panning of the characters and the signature poses more emphasized in the manga covers go excellently well with the song’s tempo. The opening sequence with the hands of Star Platinum and time is an instant foreshadowing that will probably raise curiosity to viewers who have no exposure to the manga while long time readers will still appreciate it as intelligent fan service.
It was a very hard choice between this and the song by the Oingo Boingo brothers but this is the song that's truly the face of the Stardust Crusaders story arc of this long continuing series.
6. Prince of Tennis –White Line- AOZU
Air Dates: October 2001 – March 2005
Featuring the seiyuus of Ryoma, Tezuka, Fuji, and Ooishi is the 4th ending theme to Prince of Tennis. Since the song features the seiyuus from the series, it is appropriate that images of the Seigaku Tennis Club in their happiest moments be used. Their voices are softer from what viewers may be used to hearing, but they all exhibit great talent.
The song has an optimistic message about always be willing to make a start to do something. So if Shia LeBouf’s motivational video is not doing it for you, I recommend listening to this song though it may not be to the level of let's say Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson. Everybody can relate to this song. We may not know what can happen in the future, but as long as we stay true to ourselves and make the commitment, that's all that counts.
5. Virtua Fighter –Kyouhansha- Vivian Hsu
Air Dates: October 1995 – June 1996
So maybe the Virtua Fighter anime is not to the level of the Street Fighter II anime movie and the Street Fighter II V TV series. At least it's not as terrible as the Tekken anime, one of the worst anime in history. If there is one thing that made me love this anime was the ending themes sung by my favorite Taiwanese singer, Vivian Hsu. My favorite song from the Virtua Fighter anime is the second ending theme, Kyouhansha, meaning Accomplice.
As the young and innocent Pai Chan was the featured character in the first ending theme to Kuchibiru no Shinwa also sung by Vivian, the more dangerous and seductive Sarah Bryant wonderfully compliments the song as the main character to the second ending credits. Like in the original game it's based on, Sarah in the anime series is brain washed to do bad things but deep down, she is just a regular girl who needs love.
The lyrics are about presenting oneself not wanting to be loved or cared for, but yet deep down inside that is what they want but they put on a front out of fear getting hurt. The song beautifully showcases Vivian’s wonderful voice. Her songs from Virtua Fighter was what made me a fan altogether. The official music video to this song show cases her beauty and also does a great job of telling a story of a bad girl being innocent deep down inside in its own right.
If any of you reading are Jackie Chan fans, you may know Vivian as the frail girl from The Accidental Spy. For Gundam fans, she voiced Aisha in Gundam Seed and also co-sang Moment, one of the opening songs (and is one of the great things about Seed despite its bad plot,and one dimensional character design).
20 years later, Vivian is still a legend in Taiwan. Despite recently turning 40, she looks no different from the 19 year old that hit it big in Japan with these songs from Virtua Fighter and is still a terrific singer.
4. Galaxy Express 999 –The Galaxy Express 999- Godeigo
Episodes: 1 (movie)
Air Dates: August 1979
At the end of Tetsuro and Maetel’s long journey, they separate with Tetsuro remaining on Earth and Maetel returning to space. Seeing them separate after how their journey together strengthens a bond that feels lifelong, I will confess the first time I saw this movie when I was 11, it did tear me up as Tetsurou rushes to Maetel as the 999 goes to take off.
Cue the song and I felt like I could calm down a bit. The western influenced folk like guitar chords that were used in a good number of 1970's songs really bring a happier atmosphere. The vocal quality and lyrics of this song does create a tone to an ending that it's finally over, but at the same time, suggests that there is always going to be a new beginning. Overall, I feel this song greatly romanticized the notion of traveling in space whether it's by the Galaxy Express 999 train or not. The good news for people who don't understand Japanese, Godaigo made their own English version as well which you can easily look up.
It was the number 14 song of 1979 on the yearly Oricon charts and has actually been downloaded as a popular ring tone. If you want an updated version of this song with a dance, check out EXILE’s cover which I highly recommend.
3. Ashita no Joe 2 Movie –Joe Forever- Joe Nakayama
Episodes: 1 (movie)
Air Dates: July 1981
For the movie version of Ashita no Joe 2, to wonderfully end this classic with more emotion to an ending that was already powerful in the original manga with that image of Joe sitting at his stool smiling is this tear jerker by Joe Nakayama, who also voiced Carlos Rivera, one of Joe’s most important rivals.
The song is structured in 3 simple verses. The first verse is about how we will remember Joe was always a fighter first. The second verse is that Joe put all of his emotions into his fists. The last verse is truly the ending about how fought to the last breath and heart beat. I think the repeated English lyrics of Hey Joe I’ll Remember is enough to grab the audience without understanding the Japanese.
The song appropriately does feel bittersweet. Granted it's not as dramatic as The Final Bell from the Rocky movies, but Joe Forever is enough to guarantee that there ain't gonna be no rematch.
2. Rurouni Kenshin –Heart of the Sword- by TM Revolution
Air Dates: January 1996 – September 1998
With its use of traditional Japanese wind percussions accompanied by heavy chords on the keyboard, the hook alone is able to establish the identity of Rurouni Kenshin of being an a series about the old times and as a modern day product. It is fast paced and has your heart pumping the moment you hear the sounds before it gets into the opening chorus.
The song title is appropriate to the series since Kenshin’s name in English means Heart of the Sword. The lyrics present a wonderful message about living to the fullest despite one’s hesitations based on personal obstacles and failures, even if they must face it alone while staying true to their feelings. The animation sequence shows the characters going through their trials and tribulations and kicking ass.
The song is a thrilling ride non-stop intensity. You may think it calms down in the verses but I really do feel the emotions constantly throughout this song and I feel it's a great tune to motivate yourself to go and and achieve something no matter how hard it is. If you train in kendo or iaido, two forms of Japanese martial arts, this is a must listen to your work out.
This was also the song that made me a fan of TM Revolution, who would a,so contribute to the only good things about Gundam Seed and Destiny, it's soundtrack. He is always intense and emotional with a lot of his songs but all bring a different flavor.
1. X The Movie –Forever Love- by X-Japan
Episodes: 1 (movie)
Air Dates: August 1996
Though X the Movie (or X/1999 or just X) has not universal,y been accepted by all audiences, one cannot deny the greatness of its ending theme, Forever Love by X-Japan. This also,not the first time in which the X franchise has used X-Japan in its soundtrack. Back in 1993, just three years before this anime, an animated music video was made using some of X-Japan’s other hit tracks.
Despite the theatrical released anime itself being not as revolutionary as Akira, Naussica, and Dragon Ball Z, I feel its ending theme alone makes up for virtually all of the movie’s flaws and is revolutionary in its own right within the Japanese music industry. It did hit number one on the Oricon charts and managed to stay ranked for 15 weeks.
The tone of the song and the meaning of its lyrics excellently goes with how the movie ends and it brings you into the moment. During the hook, you see Kamui’s longing to go back to those happy times and questioning why things hand to end the way it did with his best friend turned mortal enemy, Fuma. After he Kamui cries Fuma’s name, it masterfully transitions into the first verse. It is a song about not wanting to be alone and always needing the ones you love to be with you and guide you.
This song is a great representation of not just the anime, but the greatness of X-Japan, the godfathers of visual kei, the Japanese version of glam metal which also paved way for other great bands such as L’arc~en~ciel and Luna Sea. Due to Yoshiki, the drummer, pianist and bandleader’s classical background, he uses a lot of ballads mixed with heavy drums and guitars. It is a wonderfully composed masterpiece.
Then in 2001, Koizumi Junichiro, then prime minister actually used this song for his campaign commercials due to being a fan of the band and helped with his popularity. Just like how this song was played at the funeral of Hide, the band’s former guitar player, I would want this played at my funeral as well.
Maybe for some people, it is easy to prioritize their top favorite ending songs in numerical order. For someone like me who truly loves anime soundtracks even if an anime may be terrible, if the soundtrack offers a really good song from a quality artist, I feel that alone is enough for some praise.
In addition to this list, I will throw in some honorable mentions. Aoi Kaze no Hope from the Trunks Special of Dragon Ball Z, Tamashii no Refuran from Evangelion Death and Rebirth, Every Heart from Inuyasha, The Real Folk Blues from Cowboy Bebop, and Purple Eyes from the old Hokuto no Ken movie.
So, what are some of your favorites from either the classics or modern times?
By Justin Moriarty
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