It's time to admit it: everyone has a song that is their absolute jam, the one that gets them on their feet or drumming a rhythm on the nearest flat surface. For some, that jam comes from anime, which isn't surprising given the number of amazing songs that have been used as themes and inserts over the years. Sometimes, though, it's fun to watch a show that features music front and center. While straight-up idol series such as Love Live! and Idolish7 are a great watch for the music lover, anime has also explored how music can be incorporated into a story in a variety of creative ways. Here are five anime for the music lover with a bit of an unexpected twist.
Revue Starlight - Music, Sword Fights and a Talking Giraffe
Revue Starlight is a multimedia project that includes movies, a smartphone game, a musical that premiered in September 2017 and the anime that aired in 2018. It's got all the drama and ridiculous action of a true musical, with sword fights, costumes and a talking giraffe. The plot doesn't help to bring order to the madness.
At Seisho Music Academy, all looks normal as the graduating class rehearses for the annual production of Starlight. What outsiders don't know is that, in order to reach the top and star in the production, the students wage stage battles to claw their way up. What's worse is that other schools have decided to participate, creating a frenzy of actors all fighting for that chance to be a star. Whether using a longsword, a mace or actually singing, these prima donnas do not fail to entertain.
Revue Starlight is available to stream on Prime Video and HIDIVE.
Macross - Mechas and Idols vs. Aliens
Macross is an older mecha anime that initially began in 1982 with Super Dimension Fortress Macross. The series has spawned numerous movies, video games, manga and four anime series over its nearly 40-year run. The plot of the entire franchise is mainly a mecha battle against alien forces. However, music can be utilized to give Earth an advantage, so idols such as the iconic star Lynn Minmay stand by to lend their power during battle.
Macross Delta, which aired in 2016, is the franchise's latest story and reflects how time has changed Macross, with a new logo, a new location and a new idol group. However, the quality of performance has not changed at all. The beautiful music contrasted with the mecha battles makes for a fun adrenaline rush for anyone looking for music with a little punch.
Super Dimension Fortress Macross is available to stream on Prime Video.
Princess Tutu - Ballet, Dark Fairytales and Classical Music
For a change in pace from the space battles of Macross, Princess Tutu is the story of a small German town where a long-dead author still holds sway, hoping to create a tragedy for his own amusement. He grants a pendant to a duck, Ahiru, who becomes a young girl attending a ballet academy. Her pendant also grants her the power to become Princess Tutu, who uses ballet to connect to and protect the residents of the town as a terrible fairytale starts coming into play around her.
Each episode of Princess Tutu features not only the music of famous ballet but the signature moves as well, allowing viewers to watch an animated performance of some of the most famous pieces of art in existence. While some of these ballet are more obscure, there are plenty of favorites such as "Waltz of the Flowers" from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.
Princess Tutu is available to stream on Prime Video and HIDIVE.
Symphogear - Warriors Defending the Earth Through Music
Symphogear is similar to Macross for its usage of song in battle, but while the latter has large battle stations or spaceships, the former is much more focused on the individual fighter. In the five anime series Symphogear has created since the first production in 2012, the story has followed idols who fight against the alien race of Noise, using armor known as Symphogear.
Kanade Amou and Tsubasa Kazanari were two celebrated warriors, but under a sudden attack, Kanade chose to self-destruct to destroy the enemy and protect those relying on her. When she sang her Swan Song, a piece of her Symphogear got lodged in the chest of Hibiki Tachibana, who is then forced to take up Kanade's place and defend the Earth through song.
Symphogear is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
Sound! Euphonium - A Realistic Look at Song Creation
Sound!Euphonium gets into the nitty gritty details of how music is actually made through the tribulations of a high school marching band. Though there's drama between the students that helps keep the audience invested, the actual technical knowledge of how a band operates -- and how each section of instruments is expected to contribute -- is very true to life. Anyone who was ever in a school band or orchestra will likely relate to the atmosphere of sectionals and the pain of trying to match the other instruments when it comes to tone and speed.
The slight dissonance in the song is just subtle enough to let the audience know when something is going wrong in the same manner that it's wonderfully obvious when they've just played a triumph. Sound!Euphonium, available to stream on Crunchyroll, teaches as it goes and makes the music that much more special to hear, having seen what a hassle it can be to actually produce.
These anime about music might not be conventional, but sometimes that's the fun of it. Rather than listening to a perfectly performed song, audiences can watch a cacophony of trumpet players attempting a piece for the first time, or see magical girls battle aliens with the power of singing. All these shows demonstrate how music can be creatively woven into a story to be used in new and unique ways. And who knows? Perhaps a new favorite song will come out of the experience.