First Listen: The music of Haikyuu!!: TO THE TOP<span class="wtr-time-wrap block after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">6</span> min read</span>

I just couldn’t go on and listen to the latest Haikyuu!! opening without listening to all those that came before it. Well, I had to prepare myself for some crazy volleyball action. What I really like though about all openings so far, is that I can remember exactly how I felt the first time I listened to them…

DISCLAIMER: May contain spoilers ahead. May also contain eggs, milk, soy, nuts and the tears of your enemies.

The Opening Theme. Same but different; but the same… “PHOENIX” by BURNOUT SYNDROMES

members, outdoors, rocky environment, casual clothing
Three-piece rock band BURNOUT SYNDROMES (source)

Haikyuu!! is back and the amount of excitement is at its zenith. And considering that the fans’ bias is so immense, it will most definitely hit the top spots in a number of top 5, top 10 or top 78.4 lists for the Winter 2020 season. The profile of the opening themes has already been set in the previous seasons and is ritualistically followed ever since. “Phoenix” is one of the openings that will only increase in popularity, as it’s inseparable from the story. The sense I’m left with from this OP is that Hinata et al will probably hit a wall and this season will be a touch more emotional than the previous ones. We will be definitely left with a cliffhanger but it won’t drag for long, as Haikyuu!! To the Top Season 2 will start airing this July… The music is spot on and it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. The parts I enjoyed the most were the arpeggiated accompaniment in the beginning and the guitar harmonics in this one spot, at 00:35.

Now, the drawbacks… The fact that Haikyuu’s sound is different but always maintains this same profile can become tiring. The thing is that there has to be some form of development and some form of evolution, no? Maybe they’re milking it a bit…

Find BURNOUT SYNDROMES here:
Official Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // YouTube

OST first impressions. by Hayashi Yuuki & Tachibana Asami

Hayashi Yuuki sitting, dark clothes, white background, relaxed posture
Composer, arranger Hayashi Yuuki (source)

It’s still just the beginning and there isn’t much action yet. So, commenting on the entire soundtrack wouldn’t do it justice. But from what I have seen and from what I have heard so far, it does a damn good job in amplifying everything that’s happening on the screen, even the slightest of details. And that’s only to be expected, when considering that Tachibana Asami was part of the staff as the series composer for the previous seasons and Hayashi Yuuki is responsible for Boku no Hero Academia Season 4. We have a strong team consisting of talented individuals that maintain and develop what we think of Haikyuu.

We’re used to listening to the uplifting and motivational tracks of Haikyuu. But the tracks that make all the difference are the ones we hear but don’t really pay attention to. These tracks are normally heard during the calmer moments or during the scenes where a character does a form of explanatory commentary. A good example would be the track we hear during the scene after Hinata’s jump in episode 1, around 5 minutes in.

red-blue shirt, long dark hair, red-white-blue background
Composer, arranger Tachibana Asami (source)

Then we have the track where everyone’s looking at Kageyama in awe. Where we, the viewers, are meant to admire him for his abilities. This track is characterized by the robust arrangement that made me think of Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire main theme and a sturdy melody carried in the mid-upper register that’s meant to simulate Kageyama’s emotions.

The thing about having fleshed-out characters, closely resembling real-life people is that the soundtrack can be demanding. But on the bright side, having so many bits and pieces of information about each and every one of them, about the way they communicate, about the way they behave, you end up having a very good understanding of the setting and the scenes. And this is how the concept behind the music becomes in sync with the story.

Find Hayashi Yuuki here:
Official Page on Legendoor // Twitter // Instagram

Find Tachibana Asami here:
Official Page on Legendoor // Twitter // Instagram

The Ending Theme. An imaginative puzzle. “Kessen Spirit” by CHiCO with HoneyWorks

artwork of girl, long pink hair, blue eyes, smiling, urban background
Collaboration of singer CHiCO and creator unit HoneyWorks (source)

I mean… I’m not really sure how to approach the ending, as it reminds me of so many things… 00:35-00:40 is not just similar to Haikyuu’s third opening at 01:04-01:10 they are closely related. They both follow the same pattern in the melody with only slight differences, like the addition of a few notes or the tweaks in the phrase’s last repetition. So, there is the same idea that is developed in a different way. But that’s not all. Both ideas revolve around the same or closely related chords and harmonies.

Which might make you wonder “So what?”. The melody and the harmony are the two main elements of a song. This means that if you change the instrumentation, the texture, the arrangement or other elements of a composition apart from the melody and the harmony (let’s not forget about the lyrics, either), you will create a different interpretation of a composition, or simply a cover of a song. Now, if you change the main two elements, you can compose songs that are closely related or totally different from one another.

But enough of that. The thing is though that it doesn’t end there. I got some hints from Naruto Shippuden’s OP 16. You know… the “nani mo” part, which would be the equivalent of the “takaku” bit of this ending, around the 00:53 mark. The difference is that the “ka” from “takaku” falls on a downbeat, while the “mo” from “nani mo” falls on a downbeat. Same phrase, different starting point within the bar. That’s a quite reusable music phrase in a number of songs.

But then I know that you’d probably say “Yeah, but is it that important? You didn’t really talk about the ending… at all!” And to that, I’ll reply with this:

J-Pop has many songs that sound similar to one another. Sometimes it’s fine. Sometimes, I find it a bit distracting. And although this is one of the times where the ending does a good job representing the genre of the anime as well as its theme, I find that all the song’s influences and similarities keep me from actually enjoying it.

Find CHiCO with HoneyWorks here:
Official Website // Twitter // YouTube

Generally speaking…

I listened to the tie-ups a couple of times and I felt like there was something I was missing. And at some point, in a single moment, I found the missing link. It was Gintama. Especially the ending theme reminded me of Gintama. But, honestly, I didn’t pay much attention. But then, it came to me… Both artists did tie-ups with the gin-tama [silver-head] samurai dude. Nice.

TL;DR

  • Tie-ups that work really well together with the theme.
  • OP and ED that helps you identify the anime only by sound. You’d understand it’s Haikyuu!! without taking a peak at your screen.
  • I wouldn’t go really far saying that it’s one of the best OPs, but I’m quite positive that it’s gonna be one of the loved ones.
  • The ED, although it hit a bulls-eye, it was a bummer for me as it reminded me of other openings and endings, which I found quite distracting.

Score

8/10★

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