Well, the ‘post more of my own writing’ plan hasn’t been going so well. I think the problem is that the topics I had in mind are too high in scale to start with. Gonna go a little smaller and simpler now.
Trying to express my perspectives on art in words is always a struggle for me. I’ve only actually tried it once on this blog (in the form of my review for school food punishment’s amp-reflection, which I’m not especially fond of (the review)), but I did write a series of articles on music for my anime club when I was at school, and that got good feedback at the time (most notably from the lone music major in the club). I like to do what I can to bring attention to works and creators when I feel they deserve more, and if reviews are helpful, I should probably practice. It’s been a few years since I’ve done this, but I still hope you’ll find it worth your time.
So, to that end, trailers! There’s one particular class of trailers that I tend to enjoy – those with no dialogue, setting assorted imagery against a single musical track. I feel this format is a remarkably powerful one. With the right execution, the use of one well-produced, uninterrupted piece of music can allow the trailer to express the overall feeling and message that the work is meant to evoke – a perfect encapsulation of emotion, showcasing not just what happens in the story or who the characters are, but the very foundation of its existence.
Here, I’ve listed five that are especially memorable for me. As always, no number of words can equal the experience of actually watching; I have little commentary on the imagery, and commentary on the music will be abstract.
C³ -Cube x Cursed x Curious-
Release: Autumn 2011
Music: 「C³-シーキューブ-前奏曲」 (C³ -C Cube- Zensoukyoku, “Prelude of C³”), by 市川淳 (Ichikawa Jun)
While the imagery is so-so for me, I really like the music here. In particular, the rhythm of the middle third of the video is great buildup, and the horn section of the final third delivers, realizing the full height of the tower of strength.
Release: Spring 2010
Music: 「theme of SSS」, by ANANT-GARDE EYES
I’m sure that everyone assumed that the music was by Jun Maeda when this first came out, but then the sountrack was released and it turned out to be a lesser-known associate of his. It’s interesting to note the flavor that Jun Maeda’s compositions take on when paired with ANANT-GARDE EYES’s production. There’s this ethereal, unworldly quality to it, yet there’s still full control over motion, from the resolute march of “doll”, to the brisk flight through “My Soul, Your Beats!”, to the swelling and crashing of the waves in “human”.
To me, “theme of SSS” is a song of desperation, of elegance, of battle, of creation. Sadly, I don’t think it was used particularly well within the actual series, but it works fantastically for the PV. The moment of the baseball pitch, how it flows right into the ripple on the text frame, is a real eye-opener.
Release: Autumn 2009
Music: unknown, presumed composition by ryo (supercell)
Haha, false advertising… Hopefully some of this will actually make it into Cencoroll 2. (´・ω・｀)
Release: Autumn 2008
Music: 「はじまり」 (Hajimari, “Beginning”), by 神前暁 (Kousaki Satoru)
Six years later, this trailer is still on my mind. The layered repetition of the music, the quick cuts of the video… If I were to sum up the feeling I get from the whole trailer in one word, it would be “life”. Playful, quick on its feet, full of energy and hope. Satoru Kousaki is, after all, arguably most famous through the Lucky Star opening theme, so that’s definitely one of his strengths.
One of the most memorable moments for me, for some reason, is about halfway through, right after Nagi flops down on the bead, when her head just bobs up and down with the :3 face.
Release: Autumn 2013
Music: unknown, composition by 遠藤幹雄 (Endou Mikio) and 虚弱。 (kyojaku.)
And the top of the list goes to a fairly recent show, Coppelion. Finding a waltz in anime-related music is often a fascinating experience. Sometimes, when the concept is grand enough, when the rhythm is agile enough, it gives way to this very expressive sort of rolling and weaving motion. In a way, it feels like… some creative process, despite the destructive imagery in the video, that has become routine, yet never loses its wonder. There’s something close to sadness, maybe closer to wistfulness, but still a smile. They begin the steps, the intricate drum hits and rolls, with finesse, knowing that this is exactly what they’re meant to be doing; attention to every part, every facet – those high xylophone (?) notes, shining steadily on through the storm of all that surrounds them, always guiding the way.
In the end, trailers are simply made to advertise larger things ahead, so they naturally aren’t perfect expressions of the works they represent. In my opinion, the C³ and Kannagi trailers do a fairly good job, but Angel Beats! really had less focus on the dramatic aspects than the trailer and general reputation would suggest, and nearly all of the Cencoroll trailer was unused. I’ve only actually watched the first episode of Coppelion (it was quite uneventful, and I just fell behind because there were other things to prioritize watching), so I can’t say too much about that.
Still, for what they are, I find trailers have a lot of power over the overarching image of a work. Objectively, Angel Beats! was not nearly as good as it could have been, but because of things like the trailer, I still like the idea of it because I wanted to like it. Sure, the first episode of Coppelion was a little boring, but the fact of the matter is that I still watched it, and I still intend to finish someday.
The charm of these trailers is that they embody what the works are supposed to be. And for that, I’m glad they’ve found a place in my memory.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for listening to my rambling. If you have any follow-up thoughts on the topic, or trailers that you personally like, feel free to share in the comments below!