Thoughts and Predictions On the Animusic Tournament

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The first round of the Animusic Tournament has just begun – go vote if you haven’t already –  and already, I can feel the disappointment starting to pile up. Intellectually, I know only one song can win in the end and I am excited to see how the matches play out but it’s hard to watch favorite songs, or even just well-liked songs, not do as well as one feels they should. Before moving onto my predictions I wanted to highlight these already fallen songs.

I really don’t have room to complain – and that’s why I’m not – over the number of songs that made it into the tournament from my nomination ballot. If we look at my ballot to see how they ranked …

1. Gurren Lagann – “Libera me” from Hell = #15

2. Neon Genesis Evangelion – Cruel Angel Thesis = #8

3. FLCL – Ride on Shooting Star = #27

4. Paranoia Agent – Yume no Shima Shinen Kouen = #97

5. Moon Phase – Neko Mimi Mode = out

6. Clannad – Dango Daikazoku = #51

7. Last Exile – Cloud Age Symphony = #117

8. Only Yesterday – Love is a Flower, You are the Seed = out

9. K-On! – Tenshi ni Fureta yo! = out

10. Kaiba – Never = #108

11. Katanagatari – Bahasa Palus = out

12. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei – Ringo Mogire Beam = #105

13. Maria+holic – Hanaji = out

14. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensi – Kuusou Rumba = #60

15. Air – Tori no Uta = #20

… a full 10 of the 15 made it in and that’s really not bad. Since those 10 still have a chance in the tournament, let’s look at the 5 songs that didn’t make it.

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From Monogatari Season 2 but reminded me of Neko Mimi Mode

I knew the recency bias was going to be strong amongst the voters and, as a consequence, I didn’t hold out much hope that Neko Mimi Mode, from Moon Phase, would make the cut. And I was right. It didn’t help that Moon Phase wasn’t a particularly great anime series; outside of it’s visual presentation and it’s insanely catchy opening, there wasn’t much that wowed me back when it aired in 2004. Still, though, I find it a bit surprising that as popular as the Shaft/Shinbou combination is – placing a total of 14 songs amongst the 256, of which 2 made the top 6 – that there wouldn’t have been a little more interest in the very first series that Shinbou directed for Shaft, the one that made Madoka, Bakemonogatari, etc. possible. Oh well, Neko Mimi Mode remains my favorite Shaft/Shinbou opening, closing, insert song of all-time.

Even less surprising was the failure of Love is a Flower, You are the Seed from Only Yesterday to earn a spot. Even though Only Yesterday is my favorite Studio Ghibli work, I had a strong feeling that it was their least well-known movie due, in part, because it’s target audience runs much older than the normal Studio Ghibli film. My lone vote for this wonderful song pretty much confirms that feeling.

There are times that the diversity of opinion, even amongst a relatively homogenous group like anime fans who took the time to nominate their favorite anime songs, becomes obvious. If asked before the results were tabulated, I would say that the song from K-On! that had the best chance at earning a spot would be Tenshi ni Fureta yo!. To me, the scene where it’s sung to Azunyan is the K-On! franchise’s best, most emotionally satisfying, scene. A shoo-in, in other words; yet, even amongst the people who voted for a K-On! song, it was only the sixth most popular song of the franchise. I never would have thought that so; but, I guess that’s why competitions like this are run in the first place.

The other two songs almost made the cut – Hanaji from Maria+holic and Bahasa Palus from Katanagatari – and only needed a couple of more points from to me to get them in. Of course, I didn’t know that or else I’d’ve done so. Maria+holic was one of the shows that Shaft/Shinbou missed the mark on but that does’t take away from how much I enjoy one of my favorite voice actors, Yuu Kobayashi, singing that crazy, silly opening song. I think Bahasa Palus could have done well in the tournament itself once people listened to the track and, either discovered it’s awesomeness for the first time, or remembered it as the best piece of music from Katanagatari.

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Okay, now it’s time for me to make my predictions for the Animusic tournament. The chances are very good that the actual results will make these predictions look funny in a few months time. 🙂

The first way I parsed the contenders was by franchise. I collected all the series/franchises with at least 4 tracks making it into the tournament:

Aria – 7

Aquarion – 6

Cowboy Bebop – 6

Macross – 6

Evangelion – 5

Gundam – 5

Monogatari – 5

Angel Beats – 4

Fate/Zero – 4

Full Metal Alchemist – 4

Ghost in the Shell – 4

Mawaru Penguindrum – 4

Index/Railgun –  4

Many of these names are names I expected to see, though the presence of Aria and Aquarion at the top was a bit of an eye-opener. The ability to place multiple songs indicates a strong fan-base so I’m hoping it’s not a big stretch to say that the winner will come from one of these shows/franchises.

Interesting side note – All the anime series listed above are either science fiction or fantasy series.

I then made a table of how these top series/franchises ranked.

Top 10 Top 20 Top 50 Top 100 Top 150 Top 200 Top 256
Angel Beats 1 1 1 1
Aquarion 2 1 2 1
Aria 1 1 2 1 1 1
Cowboy Bebop 1 1 2 2
Evangelion 1 2 2
Fate/Zero 1 1 1 1
Full Metal Alchemist 1 1 1 1
Ghost in the Shell 1 1 1 1
Gundam 1 4
Macross 1 3 1 1
Mawaru Penguindrum 2 2
Monogatari 1 2 1 1
Index/Railgun 1 2 1

This does a good job teasing apart the relative strengths of the various entries. There should be a big difference in the performance of the Monogatari franchise over, say, the Gundam franchise even though both placed 5 songs. The Monogatari franchise placed one song in the top 10 (the #1), another 2 songs in the top 50, a third in the top 150, and finally one in the top 200; whereas, the Gundam series only placed one song in the top 100 and the other four in the top 200. I think this shows that some series/franchises like  Gundam have a loyal base but it’s a smaller base to draw upon then some of the other ones like for the Monogatari franchise.

Speaking of the Monogatari franchise, and it’s 3 songs in the top 50, only two other series/franchises placed multiple songs in the top 50 – Aquarion and Mawaru Penguindrum – though neither placed in the top 10 or 20 as well. I think all three of these series/franchises will perform strongly with the Monogatari doing even more so.

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At this point I realized that I’d almost run out of time to fill out a bracket here so I used what I learned above, factored in the strength of recency bias, and looked at the rank for each match-up to come up with my bracket. The full bracket can be found here but I whipped up an ugly bracket in Excel for the final 16.

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That’s not say Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari is who I want to win. I would love, love, love to see “Libera me” from Hell win it all but I don’t think it’s very likely.

What do think? Do you have a favorite song that you just know will – unjustly – get killed well before it’s time? Or do have a prediction that you want noted by a third-party so when it’s validated over the coming months you can point here as proof you know what you’re talking about? Or do you feel the need to explain why my picks are all wrong? Well, by all means tell me so :).

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6 thoughts on “Thoughts and Predictions On the Animusic Tournament”

  1. I think “Libera Me” is overrated. For some reason, that song doesn’t captivate me at all because I have heard many other songs that have a better melody and feel. Check out “Immortal” by Thomas Bergersen and “Fierce Deity” by Valentin Wiest.

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  2. With Neki Mimi Mode, I think most people just haven’t been exposed to that opening. That, or their lists were getting too full and they weren’t able to add it to whatever topped their 15.

    Also, my apologies for not having Bahasa Palus higher on my list else it’d have made it in for sure! I do think Libera Me is overrated since Bahasa Palus is much better in my book. Oh well.

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  3. @exchyuthu and zzeroparticle: Picking favorites of anime music seems even more subjective to me then picking favorites of anime. That’s probably because anime music is rarely listened to in isolation from the anime it comes from. When I listen to “Libera Me”, I’m reminded of everything that made Gurren Lagann my favorite anime and it makes me think the song is underrated :).

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