"100 Miles ~ Niji o Oikakete" by Santara (Oh! Edo Rocket ED1)
All right, let me make sure I understand this correctly: This is an anime written by Shou Aikawa & directed by Seiji Mizushima (the duo who helmed the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime), and it's based on a play written by the man who did the story for Gurren Lagann, Re: Cutie Honey, & the upcoming Kill la Kill... Why isn't this show more well known, again? It can't surely be the OP done by PUFFY (Ami Yumi), which is so absolutely infectious & catchy that even I absolutely love it. Regardless, I've only seen a few episodes of 2007's Oh! Edo Rocket, which finally came over by way of FUNimation in 2010, but I really did like what little I saw of it & the ED that each episode ended with was simply amazing. It sounds like some sort of gender bent, Japanese version of Beck (the singer, not the manga & anime) mixed with The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", and Santara's voice is absolutely unforgettable in her performance. The ED footage certainly doesn't disappoint either by coming off like some sort of weird "trip" that only an alien like the "Blue Girl" can seemingly think of as "normal". I'm definitely going to get my hands on the complete collection one day & get to this show in full, because I'm interested once again in checking it out, especially with the pedigree it has behind it.
"Blaze Away" by TRAX (Eyeshield 21 ED2)
I'll admit that I can be a slow watcher of anime on a regular basis; it really takes an amazing show for me to marathon any of it. Thought I didn't review it, during the first month of this blog's existence I had marathoned the first three boxsets of Sentai Filmwork's DVD release of Eyeshield 21 in about a week, because I found the anime to be that excellent. When the fourth set came out I watched that just about as fast as I did the other sets, and then Sentai never released another set of the show... Why doesn't anyone like sports anime, again? Anyway, one thing about Eyeshield's anime that was constantly great were its OPs & EDs, but one in particular really grabbed me, and that was the second ED. There are sometimes songs that come by that just fit a title so absolutely perfect in every single aspect, and "Blaze Away" does this with the focus on american football. Shockingly enough, I have come to find out that this anime is apparently vehemently hated by fans of the original manga, which I find really weird. Apparently there's a good bit of "filler" in the early portions, and it doesn't adapt the final story arc, but I guess having only read the first volume of the manga I couldn't really compare properly. Still, though the entire anime is available on CrunchyRoll with English subtitles, I would love to see Sentai go back to those boxsets, but that's looking as likely as Sentai finishing up the 2005 version of Glass Mask... Which I also own the first boxset of. Hey, at the very least I actually supported these releases!
"Niji ~Rokudenashi BLUES~" by Masatoshi Ono (Rokudenashi BLUES ED)
This is a case of a singer having done a song for anime way back in his early days as a singer and then not doing any anime (on his own, at least) until nearly 20 years later. Now one can easily hear Masatoshi Ono's music by simply watching the still-running anime reboot of Hunter X Hunter, which features his song "Departure" as the OP, but Ono originally was involved with anime back in 1992 when he did the ED for the first anime movie based on Rokudenashi BLUES, a movie I reviewed only a couple of months ago & found very enjoyable, if only overshadowed by a much better second movie. Anyway, one listen to Ono's recent music shows that he has a powerful mastery of his voice & knows how to make strong anthems, and it's really cool to see that he was also doing just that 20 years ago, even in his formative years as a professional singer. In the movie you only hear a small portion of it, and about a third of it is hard to hear because the main characters are having a comical conversation during the ending sequence, but the song Ono did for this movie really delivers as an anthem for Rokudenashi BLUES, and the full version is only even better.
"Kokoro wa Gyspy" by Casey Rankin (Super Dimensional Century Orguss ED)
Yeah, an American-born singer was a big hit over in Japan, where he sang in really good Japanese! Casey Rankin was an honest-to-god big deal in Japan, and even fans of Sonic the Hedgehog know his influence by way of the original Japanese OP & ED to Sonic CD, which, due to his passing, became too expensive to get the rights to & had to be changed to instrumentals for the HD remake. Why was Rankin so big in Japan? Well, I'm sure the songs he did for 1983-1984's Orguss certainly helped. "Hyoryuu ~Sky Hurricane~", the OP, is certainly a really cool song to listen to, but I'm honestly going to have to give the advantage to the ED, which really gives off an excellent folk song style, the likes of which you wouldn't really match with the Japanese language. That helps make the song all the more memorable & original, and you almost want to gather a bunch of people around a fire & sing this song as a group because that's what this song kind of reminds you of. Honestly, I'd love to see someone try that: Gather a group of people around a fire, clap in unison, play the proper instruments, & sing this song to its absolute potential. I'm sure Casey Rankin would have loved to see that happen.
"Katare! Namida!" by SEX MACHINEGUNS (Kochikame ED16 & Kochikame the Movie 2 ED)
This here is a rare case of me being a fan of the song without ever having seen the ED footage that went with it. I first heard this song when it was used as the ending theme for the second Kochikame movie when I planned on reviewing it, and I was really shocked to hear a downright hard rock song used for something Kochikame-related. Like in the previous movie, the song was also being used as an ED for the TV series, but I have never been able to find the footage that went with it. Being the second-to-last ED finding it has kind of become a bit of a mission for me, because while I love the bombast & energy it has I still wonder how it fit the anime; I could easily see this work as an ED for Gintama, but Kochikame? Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia Japan, this ED is not on the rental DVDs that were made for this show; in its place is the tenth ED, "Oide yo Kameari" by Kankichi Ryotsu and The Kochikame Chorus. I think my mission to find that ED footage just became all the more harder, but at least it's an awesome song in general and it's kept intact for the DVD release of the second movie.
"STARTING FROM HERE" by globe (Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier ED2)
Very often OPs & EDs are skipped over when an anime is brought over to American television, if one is used at all. In the case of the Cartoon Network airing of the 2001-2002 anime reboot of Shotaro Ishinomori's biggest legacy the OP was replaced with a short instrumental & only the first ED, "Genesis of Next", was used. While that first ED is very nostalgic for people like me, who saw the show on TV before it got shafted into a late-night "death slot", the second ED, also performed by globe, is simply the better song. Whereas "Genesis of Next" was odd & weird, yet fitting with the whole focus on technology the show has, "STARTING FROM HERE" is beautiful, hopeful for the future, and simply gives off a much more epic feel & emotional range from globe's lead singer. Admittedly, while the third & final ED for the show, "I do" by Fayray, is also a very good song (& in full English, too!), I still think that the second ED epitomizes what Cyborg 009 is about the most; I would have honestly loved to have seen this song been used for the Cartoon Network airing instead.
Unfortunately, globe might be the very reason why this show has never seen any sort of official re-release ever since its aborted DVD release nearly a decade ago; Sony's Crackle service was inundated with fans asking for the show to be added to its streaming list, and they admitted that they looked into it, but licensing rights apparently are killing its chances. From what I've heard, the show was partially used to promote globe as the new international music hit, and that very pomp & promotion might be what's keeping the show unavailable here in North America.
"Kissing til i die" by Jun Manaka (Souten no Ken ED2)
[Isn't it weird how a video can be on YouTube, yet Blogger/Blogspot's YouTube link function is unable to find it when you search for it? Anyway, here's the actual footage if you want to see it.]
The Souten no Ken anime is something I watched a while ago, essentially as episodes were being slowly fansubbed, and what I remember most about it was the excellent story (that's better than Fist of the North Star's, in my opinion), memorable characters, cool music by Marco D'Ambrosio, and fitting voice work... What I seemed to forget, until people constantly drilled it into me on Twitter, was the sub-par (even downright BAD) animation that the show used, even in the expanded DVD version; the show had been in development hell for years, so Studio A.P.P.P. likely just wanted to finally be done with it. You know what, though? As much as some of the more "hardcore" Hokuto fans want to shove it down my throat that the Souten no Ken anime is absolute crap I still stand behind it from an overall perspective, even with it's flawed animation. Sure, it could have definitely been better, way better, but I don't think it was an absolute failure; at the very least, Yasuhiro Imagawa being the series composer & scriptwriter made sure the story was gripping. Wait, where was I, again? Oh yeah, EDs.
Souten episodes always started off strong with an excellent OP, "Bara ga Saku, Bara ga Chiru" by Rina Auchi, & the first ED, "Kokoro no Rhythm Tobichiru Butterfly" by doa (there's that band again), was a great slow song to ease viewers down. The second ED, though, was the opposite of the first by being an adrenaline-filled rock journey performed by the excellent Jun Manaka. It fits the hard life that Kenshiro & his Chinese triad friends live in their battle against a rival gang & the various martial artists that Kenshiro has to battle against. The footage that goes with it mixes in well, too, establishing the main group as a true "family" that shouldn't be messed with; to some the animation seen in this ED is likely better than what's used in the entire show. Maybe one day I'll give this anime a re-watch & see if I still like it, even after being reminded of the more notoriously bad animation choices, but for now I still stand behind the show enough to want to see this get licensed one day... Hey, even in Japan the show was eventually released across two 13-episode boxsets (an absolute rarity for more recent anime in Japan), so the license can't be too expensive, even with it belonging to Geneon Universal Entertainment, right?
"Endless History (The Morning Grow)" by Feena (Shoko Minami) (Ys II: Castle in the Heavens ED)
If I'm going to end this, then it's going to be a really damn good one, and it's a song that's not only an excellent anime ED but also an iconic song for the video game series it comes from. Nihon Falcom's Ys series is one that continually is able to live & go on, and from the very first game came a strong song used at the end. It was so good that a variant was used as the ED for the OVA adaptation of the first Ys game, a rare case of the anime version surpassing the original game, a vocal version was made of it, and a variant of that was used as the final ED for the OVA based on Ys II, which was good but not great (these two OVAs are also on the long list of potential reviews for the blog). It's simply an amazing song that manages to give a true sense of the adventure that Adol Christin's first ever journey takes him on, from the trek up Darm Tower to the exploration of the lost world of Ys, and it puts a true sense of finality when the story ends & the song plays in all its glory. The fact that it's been remixed numerous times & featured in just about every single entry in the franchise just shows the staying power it has. It would feel wrong to have put this song anywhere but at the end of the list, not because it's "the best" or anything like that, but rather because it just fits best here.
Now, see what happens when you skip past the EDs in anime? You miss out on a bunch of awesome songs that you might have really liked! I mean, yeah, you don't have to watch the ED every single time, but I think anime EDs are nowhere near as remembered as the OPs, even when they are just as good, if not better. So next time you watch an anime, really pay attention to that song that's paying during the end credits... You might be surprised. Up next are the tunes that play during special moments in the anime itself: The Insert Songs!