It’s easy for an “adult” to scoff at the idea of watching a cartoon or an anime. You’ve reached a certain point in your development as a human where simple trifles are all but a waste of time. But things have changed dramatically in the world of animation as of late. Cartoons are now aimed at grown-ass adults, with adult problems and adult concerns. You can learn so much about life from watching two seasons of Adventure Time, but that’s not the point right now.
Cartoons and anime now sport extremely talented musicians and singers to handle their soundtracks. These aren’t simple hymns or tunes to sing along to; the music that goes into animated shows nowadays can easily take you on an emotional roller-coaster. And aside from that, they sound pretty good to boot.
I’ve always had an appreciation for Adventure Time, even though I’m not really inclined to watch it that much. It’s as mature as it is colourful, if you choose to see it that way. Its music – composed by James Basichis and Tim Kiefer – touches upon a lot more than morphing dogs and sentient gas clouds. That damn Rebecca Sugar knows how to tug at a heart string.
Sometimes, it can be about love.
Other times, it can be about heartbreak.
It can even be a softer, more palatable rendition of Alzheimer’s disease.
Who knew the food chain could be this whimsical?
And then there’s this.
So yeah. Watch Adventure Time, preferably with tissues.
Rebecca Sugar has done a massive amount of work on Adventure Time’s powerful tracks. Steven Universe is her own creation – the first Cartoon Network show solely created by a woman. And seeing as the whole show is basically one young boy’s trip through life and its various lessons, the songs in the show perfectly reflect this.
Did I mention Estelle voices Garnet – one of the main characters? She can teach you a lot about the power of good relationships.
“When you live for someone, you’re prepared to die.”
It’s important to stay mindful about the things you say and do. You’ll have a lot less anxiety that way.
This one’s pretty self explanatory.
So if you, your friends, or really anybody feels like learning about life at a nice, whimsical and leisurely pace, give Steven Universe a try.
Metalocalypse (Mild Violence Warning)
Imagine a metal band so influential that they routinely destabilise the planet in so many violent ways each episode. That’s pretty much the whole theme behind Metalocalypse. Dethklok isn’t just a fictional band playing hilarious one-offs on the show; series creator Brendon Small actually voices most of the “band” and knows how to belt out something fierce. This is essentially metal music for people who don’t really like metal.
This one’s about uhh… mermaid murder. It’s pretty cool.
Never has an academic related to a song this much in recent history.
It’s literally about income tax. Has income tax ever had a song dedicated to how awful it is?
They tried to learn blues at one point. I mean, it has trains in it, so it counts.
Brendon has released three horrifically good Dethklok albums to date. So there’s far, far more to dip into than these four. Just remember to expect a lot of gore if you watch Metalocalypse.
Do you know how miserable of a task it is to pick two animes out of a million based on music? Not that miserable if you’ve seen Samurai Champloo at any point in time. The score – composed by the late Nujabes (R.I.P), Trutshie and Fat Jon – is one of the finest examples of how good hip-hop, rap, and downtempo music can mesh with traditional animation. One doesn’t need to look further than the intro if one needs a sample. Nobody has skipped it to date.
A E S T H E T I C
A lot of the music behind the show is pure ambiance. You’ve likely heard it on one of the hundreds of lo-fi/studying music channels on Youtube.
You don’t need to understand it to appreciate it either.
Not everything is chill though. The show routinely turns violent (they’re samurai), and you need music to match.
For those who appreciate deep aesthetics, obscenely chill music, and unkempt samurai styling on each other, Samurai Champloo is for you.
I want you to understand that there is no order to this list. None are inherently better or worse than the other. However, Cowboy Bebop sports what is essentially the best score in any animated show to date. Thanks to Yoko Kanno and his band ‘Seatbelts’, folks who have a thing for jazz swear by the music that went into this show. It has featured international talents, and has been mixed up to hell and back by many an avid musician the world over.
The intro song alone is enough to drag anyone into the show without much resistance.
There has never been a show with funkier jazz.
It also often takes a masterful turn for the blues.
Like, extremely bluesy.
And some of it can be hopeful if you give it a chance.
There are many, many renditions and versions of the music you can find in the show. And Yoko Kanno and co have released several albums with a lot of extra stuff. At the very least, check out the music, but if you want it to reach new heights, watch the show itself.
These are just five examples out of thousands out there that sport some choice tunes. Granted, an article such as this has a higher level of subjectivity than usual, but I feel that anyone – regardless of anything – can easily walk into any of these pieces and find the beauty in each one. Got any recommendations of your own? Make sure to let me know, I’m looking for more material.