I just got done watching the anime Neo Ranga. Have to say it is indeed very intruging, from the aesthetic of Neo Ranga himself, to the pace the story unfolds at. With only 2 hours into the series so far, it's starting to throw philosophcal questions at you, and making you think. This is indeed a good thing, and one of the reasons I continue to explore and watch anime and forget about domestic TV. Although for every Neo Ranga there is a Dragonball Z, the gems are well worth plucking.
The purpose of this blog, however, is to discuss the use of music within anime. Over the years there's been a few theme songs originating from anime that I've considered top-notch, and indeed has encouraged me to watch the particular show not just because the show itself is good, but because the accompanying music is fantastic. The first anime that in my opinion had stand-out music was Record of the Lodoss War (opening theme "Sea of Miracles" can be seen here). Structurally interesting, it evokes an epic sense without being bombastic at the same time.
Another example is the short anime series Serial Experiment Lain. A bit of a reverse, it uses as its theme song a piece by the band Boa called Duvet. While this style of music is a huge departure for me (given that I am traditionally a hard-core metal fan), Boa has loads of talent, and really know how to both play their instruments, as well as compose musically interesting themes and songs. Such as it was, just by watching this anime prompted me to buy the album.
What has me excited now is the music from Neo Ranga (theme can be heard here). I think the thing I like most about it is that it is very different, in a way you do not often hear in the domestic music industry (or, at least, not that I've ever encountered). Digging up a bit of information, I found out that this style of music is based off of traditional Balinese styles of Kecak and Gong Kebyar. While reading the information on these styles, I've realized it has been incorporated into other forms of music, but the great thing about the Neo Ranga theme is that, again, it incorporates a sense of epic without at the same time being bombastic.
The fact that anime is a niche form of entertainment (even in Japan, where it is far, far larger than here in the US) allows for more interesting experimentation, not just in the themes and plots of the shows themselves, but in the music. I wish that domestically we could have a bit of this, but then that might mean anime loses its uniqueness...