Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, you might be new to this place. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, and welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s fourth monthly topic for 2018, “Melody,” I wanted to showcase a single composer rather than a specific series or genre. He writes with the strength of a series’s characters in mind, empowering them to go beyond and rise to meet any occasion. His name is Yūki Hayashi, and he’s probably my favorite composer in the realm of modern anime.
Music is a form of healing and self-expression. For this month’s topic, we will be exploring some of our favorite musical pieces (anime/drama OSTs, movie soundtracks, music genres, etc.) and how that music has provided us enjoyment and, perhaps, how it has impacted our lives.
I love music! Even in these OWLS posts, I make it a must to at least cover any particular tracks of a given show that stood out to me most. As such, it is my greatest pleasure to finally dedicate an entire post to a man who has unknowingly helped transform my life into something I am proud of living. Thanks Lyn (and Shokamoka) for the very simple yet exciting prompt! In this post I’ll be covering the many soundtracks composed by Hayashi, but none of these highlights will contain spoilers, so enjoy! Click each song title to listen!
A Bit of Background
Perhaps [the series remains constantly engaging] because of musician Yūki Hayashi’s own experience as a rhythmic gymnast; the man already knows how to match tempo and tune with fancy footwork. Hayashi is a rising favorite of mine, as he knows how to perfectly time moments that should be epic with music that is absolutely epic . . . There’s a raw love for classical strings, piano, and a bit of drums for movement in Hayashi’s internationally-infused music, and that’s why I’ll always look forward to his perfect, inspiring scores.
— Musings from my review of Welcome to the Ballroom
Inspiration to Lift Us Off Our Feet
We were all that awkward kid once, aimlessly going about our days with no aspirations or anything to make us stand out. Tatara Fujita was the same way, until the world of dance appeared right at his doorstep. Through dance, the young boy learned what it was like to stand up straight for the first time. Slowly, he accumulated a few rivals, but everyone knows a rival is just a competitor waiting to become a friend. With slicked back hair, perfect posture, and a beautiful partner at his side, Tatara earned confidence in himself by means of hard work, dedication, and the willingness to try something new. But dance would be nothing without song, which is what we’re talking about today.
Since I’ve already gone on length with my favorite tracks from this series in my review, I’ll just re-reminisce on a few of the bests. “Lesson Fuukei – Hajimete no Step 2” shows us how much sheer willpower it takes to start dancing. “Ballroom Shakou Dance” reflects on the progress made, and the long but exciting road ahead. “Ganbaritai Kimochi” lifts our spirits into the air screaming “YEAH, this is MY moment to shine!” As Tatara starts to see his own style of dance bloom, he’s gifted with the “Tatara Waltz,” a sweet melody just for him. Lastly, “Rise & Fall” reflects on inspiring triumph and crushing defeat, a fitting end to the series. These tracks carry so much heart—as does the rest of the OST—and I still listen to them now when I need a boost back into that positive mindset!
Motivation to Push Us Forward
Now that we’re standing tall, Hayashi’s ready to keep us going strong with these back-to-back sports!! series. One of DIVE!!‘s saving graces was its soundtrack, specifically this song which, in typical Hayashi fashion, takes a minute to get going, but soon can’t be contained because of its sheer motivational outburst! Music like this encourages Tomoki Sakai and fellow MDC divers to reach a place that only they can see.
And while at this view from the summit, Haikyuu!! bounces onto the scene full of youth and energy in tracks like “Chemical Change,” “Senior Proficiency,” and practically the rest of the OST. Taking a quieter but just as inspirational approach, “Goal” and “Evolution” appeal to emotions under the surface level. Then there’s “Powerhouse Schools,” “Kageyama vs Tsukishima,” “Into the Fray,” and “Let the Games Begin!!” to pump you up for the intimidating challenges that lie ahead. But we can’t forget that life has its setbacks, which is why “Frustration” resonates so well with me. While there is one more epic violin track I can’t find, the saddest yet most beautiful song, “Adults,” reminds me that kids (like myself) grow up fast, and that life is too short to not have fun or experience friendship. This track makes me want to cry because I can’t go back to simpler times, but it also makes me smile at how far I’ve come.
Heartache to Make Us Grow
Kiznaiver may be a show about understanding what friendship means, but along the way the characters sure do feel a great deal of pain. Loneliness and the difficulties of connecting with others plague its main cast (just as how they can affect us, too), and yet, there is beauty in sorrow. “Toumei Na Omoi,” my favorite track from the series begins with a cold harp soliloquy, but gradually opens up for a tender, heartwarming chorus.
This next heartbreaker needs no introduction. Death Parade welcomes the macabre by relishing in the woes of humanity. Visually, the Quindecim is quite appealing. But beyond the fancy visage lies a broken cast and a graveyard of puppets. Heralded as one of the “Most Emotional OSTs,” please feel free to lose yourself in the beautiful darkness of “Moonlit Night” and its breathtaking piano intro.
Strength to Go Beyond
Can I just place the entire soundtrack here? Honestly, every tune in this hit-shounen series is an absolute BOP. From the splendid, upbeat cheerfulness of “Symbol of Peace” and “I am here!!,” both All Might themes, to the workout motivation provided by “HERO A (Training to be the best!),” Izuku’s story never stops inspiring both the other characters and the us, the viewers! None of that playful rap or pep-band nonsense compares to “PLUS ULTRA,” however, as this single track contains enough power to move mountains—no wait, planets—the very heavens! All Might’s charisma ascends through this incredible music, much as how his strength is passed down to Izuku.
Ambition to Fulfill Our Dreams
But none are more inspiring than that which I’ve saved for last. BEHOLD, the “Main Theme” of this most-underrated anime. The tale of a girl who musters the strength to turn a borrowed dream into her own reality, Akiho Sinomiya spends countless years chasing after her sister’s shadow. It’s a series about individuality and the passion to challenge impossible odds—even if friends, family, and society don’t agree with your ideals. Overflowing with ambition, motivation, bravery, and hope, Yūki Hayashi doesn’t dial back the heroism one bit. If anything, this is ingenuity in its rawest state. The roaring bass and cellos, the soaring violins, and the percussion section that just keeps giving—THIS is the spirit which motivates the soul!
Yūki Hayashi & The Resolve to Change
I love music. I listen to anime soundtracks often, and I pay attention to what exactly it is in the composition that moves me. As previously stated, Hayashi certainly has a way with notes. He weaves together strings, winds, brass, percussion, electric bass, and sometimes a dash of choir topped with remixing for truly epic scores. Even more interesting is that he’s almost always attached to works that feature characters struggling to grow—protagonists that grapple with finding their resolve to change themselves for the better. The road to such change is of course rife with hardship, competition, wins, losses, redemption, self-evaluation, and eventually a brief moment of pure intensity that shouts “LOOK AT ME!!!”
As people, we all desire attention, and to be our very best selves. Hayashi knows this path can also be messy, both physically and emotionally, and he clearly conveys these feelings through melodies and chords. He says, “This is what failure sounds like,” only to follow up with “And this song feels like victory, doesn’t it?”
Whether it’s a tall, tall wall looming in front of you,
the want yet inability to connect with others,
the need to prove that your dreams are obtainable,
or perhaps the desire to change . . .
Know that the view from the summit is one that exists ONLY for you—so chase after it relentlessly. Try new things, make mistakes, meet new people, but never, never give up on your reasons for wanting to improve. Because maybe, in the process of overcoming your own impossible odds, you’ll inspire someone else to be a better human, much as how Yūki Hayashi inspired me through something as simple as a melody.
Do you have a favorite anime composer that just blows you away? What about specific fave OSTs that lift your spirits after a dull day? Do you listen to as many “motivational” YouTube playlists as I do? Haha, let me know about your music tastes or this post down in the comments! This concludes my April 14th entry in the OWLS “Melody” blog tour. Mel (Mel in Anime Land) went right before me and wrote about Shinhwa, one of her favorite K-pop groups, which you can read right here! Now, prepare for Marina (Anime B & B) with the music she enjoys listening to while writing this Monday, April 16th! Thanks for reading, and until next time, this has been
– Takuto, your host