Tag Archives: Music

Feeding the Flames: Anime Music, Turn-Based RPGs, Etc.

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Well, as usual, I am behind schedule on the series I was planning on covering this month. So, in order to supplement this, it is time once again for some hot takes.

Length is Not Important in Making Good Art

I thought about this a lot after finishing Goodbye, Eri by Tatsuki Fujimoto. He completed a well-rounded story in just about 200 pages and arguably wrote not only one of the best manga of the year but potentially a contender for best manga of the decade.

If it sounds like I am calling out shounen here, well it is because I am…kind of. Obviously, this applies to all long-running series, but Shounen stories tend to disproportionately fit into the category. However, the probably here is not the length itself, but rather that the longer a series goes on, the more prone it is to losing focus of its main plot.

The most important thing when writing a story is not its length. Rather, it is making sure that each part of said story is purposeful, and engages with its other parts in a way that makes sense.

Turn-Based RPGs Aren’t Inherently Boring

As much as I consider myself a fan of more action-oriented RPGs like Final Fantasy 13 and the very small amount of the Tales series that I have been able to play, something about the turn-based style of gameplay has always held its charm for me.

While I can certainly understand why people would feel strongly about their repetitive nature, part of that come from a lot of games that either focuses heavily on grinding, have little variance in gameplay, or both. Games like 2012’s Bravely Default prove that even small variations in the traditional formula can make for engaging gameplay that requires more attention than simply mashing through menus.

Still, I am not gonna sit here and pretend like most games that stick with the turn-based formula are innovating in that way.

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The Tokyo Ghoul Anime Wasn’t That Bad

There are very few anime that I would say are wholly inferior to their source material. One of those is The Promised Neverland, which…yeah. The other, though, is Tokyo Ghoul. So much of the second season just feels scuffed as hell compared to what we got in the manga.

However, to say that its first season is on the same level feels a bit ludicrous. The adaptation of its story, even if some minor details were left out, was solid, and the animation from Studio Pierrot was above average. It was by no means perfect, but certainly not bad enough to complain endlessly about.

Hiroyuki Sawano

That is the take because my boy Sawano is on fire. On a more serious note, I do think Sawano has, at least at this point, cemented himself as one of the better music producers of anime history. It can certainly feel one-note at times, but at his best, his production is so hard-hitting that it frankly does not matter.

If I were to name some of my favorite music producers, it would likely be Sawano and Yoko Kano. I realize that these are not especially controversial picks, and this series is called Feeding the Flames, but hey, what can I say, quality is quality.

Good Anime Endings are More Memorable than Good Anime Openings

There are a lot of good anime openings, both in turns of animation but also in terms of music. However, the same cannot be said for anime endings, which often feel hand-picked to sound as boring and forgettable as possible. It does make sense, though, as first impressions are often much more important when it comes to sticking to a consistent audience. This is why, despite not thinking much about them, I could very easily name some of my favorite ending themes (more specifically, my favorite anime ending at the moment is Style Helix by Myth&Roid from Re: Zero, while my second favorite is Hibana by The Sixth Lie from Golden Kamuy).


What are some of your hot takes? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks go to Jenn for the support on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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My Top 10 Favorite Anime Openings (As of April 2022)

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In the latter months of last year, I put out a post detailing my favorite anime. For as superficial as it might be to try and pin down favorites, it was a post that I had a lot of fun working on, both organizationally and in writing it. So, I thought it would be a good idea to work on another listicle, and talk about some of my favorite anime openings. While their is some crossover between the two, my favorite openings tend not to be attached to my favorite shows, so this will probably still end up being a surprise for most.

HM: Fiction – Sumika – Wotakoi OP 1

I figured this time around it would be worth including at least one of the honorable mentions so that people know what else was in contention for my top 10. Vocalist Sumika has some damn good pipes, and man is that chorus infectious as hell. On top of that, the visuals are incredibly fun and give a really good representation of the personalities of the main characters. The main reason it is not only the list proper is that, while it is overall a really solid OP, the middle section drags a little bit more than the openings above it. Overall, though, a really solid piece.

10. Shounen Heart – Home Made Kazoku – Eureka 7

Listen, I already warned everyone this is going to be a weird list, so that means no judgment whatsoever (Jk, feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments). In all seriousness, I know this probably is not everyone’s cup of tea, however, the Japanese hip-hop group Home Made Kazoku sells the song with a passion that I kind of respect in a campy, 90’s hip-hop kind of way. Their near yelling over this saxophone accented beat is hype in a way that feels hard to explain. Visually, this is definitely the weakest of the openings on here, which is why it stays at number 10.

9. My Soul, Your Beats! – Lia – Angel Beats! OP 1

A theme that might emerge for some in my discussions of these openings is that I care way more about the music than the visuals. Of course, good visuals are nice, but when being compared to the angelic vocals of singers like Lia it feels way less important. That is not to say that the visuals of Angel Beats‘ first OP are bad. In fact, I think the through-line of Kana playing the Piano in various places across the school grounds is a great visual representation of how she manages to affect all of their lives while they figure out what is even happening to them. The visuals are definitely a lesser factor for me, but certainly not a non-factor.

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8. Chain – BACK-ON – Air Gear OP 1

Call it what you will, Nu Metal, Butt Rock, etc, the combination of rock and hip-hop elements has always been a staple in my musical diet, at least up until recently. Air Gear, meanwhile, feels like the perfect fit for the song. A show about battling on rollerblades might as well embrace the edginess. The opening definitely looks its age, with some pretty barebones movement, but it does at least have a narrative, and while the version above does not show it, the credits are pretty well integrated into said narrative.

7. Jiyuu no Tsubasa – Linked Horizon – Attack on Titan OP 2

On the other hand, maybe sometimes there can be too much narrative. Looking back at “Jiyuu no Tsubasa” while also just so happening to be in the middle of marathoning Attack on Titan (more on that later), it is pretty hilarious how many clues it just hands out. Still, what makes me like it more than its first-season counterpart, other than just being a contrarian, is the way it focuses on that mystery. The series is at its strongest while focusing on the secrets of the world they inhabit, and this opening does that the best, with no questions.

6. Katayoku no Tori – Akiko Skikata – Umineko no Nako Koro Ni

Fun fact: I have yet to watch a single second of the series proper, despite generally enjoying its predecessor Higurashi. On the other hand, why would I when this opening goes as hard as it does? After originally hearing the song in the background of Glass Reflections’ review of the series, I was instantly in love. It is one of the few openings on this list that I have known about for a long time, and musically it has stuck with me. Something about the chants in the beginning and the buildup to the chorus just feels right.

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5. Goodbye Bystander – Yuki – March Comes in Like a Lion OP 2

Of course, if we are talking about openings with a good narrative… Honestly, when everything was said and done, I expected Goodbye Bystander to be a bit closer to the bottom since I had never really remembered any of the March openings super fondly. Yet, as I went back and listened, I could not help but get swept away by the magical instrumentation accompanying Yuki’s heartfelt performance on this song. Both lyrically and visually, the song also talks about an important aspect of the show, one in which Rei is not only becoming more comfortable in his arrangement with the Kawamoto sisters but also realizing the debt he owes them.

4. Gravity Wall – Hiroyuki Sawano, Tielle and Gemi – Re:Creators OP 1

If there is one thing I resent about Amazon’s Anime Strike channel, other than being overpriced for no reason, it is keeping this show behind a paywall and thus not letting as many people see it. Re:Creators is such a phenomenal anime, and alongside it are two incredibly produced OPs, the first of which just happens to be more my speed. Add in the fact that the opening looks just as good as the rest of the anime, and it should be pretty obvious why it is this high.

3. Destiny – Neko – Phi Brain OP 3

I made a rule early on in the creation of this list that their would only be one opening per series. This is because, without that rule, Phi Brain very likely would have snagged three spots on the list. Both of its first two openings “Brain Diver” and “Now or Never” have been heavy in my rotation since I watched the series a few years back. Still, I went with with the third one because it is both visually pleasing and one of the harder hitting songs instrumentally. Neko is an expressive vocalist who commands attention not only during the chorus but throughout the song.

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2. ft. – Funkist – Fairytail OP 3

The reason I clarified my focus on music as opposed to visuals beforehand is because, well, this opening is as high as it is on the music alone. While it is definitely better than some of other openings here as far as the animation, it would definitely be lower were my focus changed. However, that does not matter much considering how incredible the music actually is. The use of flute as one of the primary drivers of melody in the song gives it this really interesting property of being continually hopeful despite some of the darker turns. Fairytail is probably one of the worst when it comes to the whole power of friendship thing.

1. Database – Man With a Mission/Takuma – Log Horizon OP 1

Was it ever really a competition? the answer is yes, it definitely was. However, Log Horizon‘s hard hitting Man With a Mission opening beats it out, partially on nostalgia but also because it takes a lot of what I like about Air Gear‘s opening and turns it up to 11. It may not be as distinct musically as some of the other openings here, but the computerized intro and solid English verse delivered by Takuma certainly give it an identity of its own. On top of that, the art and action present in the series translate really well into the animation, which just looks really cool, even if the storytelling is limited. “Database,” at least for now, is my favorite opening.


And that’s the list, Is there an opening that I missed? One you just want to recommend? Should I do anime endings next? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special shoutout to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Anime Music Quiz Highlights

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Most of the people who end up reading this will probably already be familiar with Anime Music Quiz. However, for those that are unaware of the game, a brief rundown. The game is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, where player(s) get some amount of time, usually 20 seconds, to guess a song from a given anime. It is a fun time, especially when you get to play with other people (shoutouts to the people in the Jon Spencer discord). As such, I wanted to highlight a few songs that I either discovered or rediscovered via the game.

Lullaby of Birdland – Yoko Kanno/Aoi Teshima – Kids on the Slope

Despite the fact that I probably would like it if I ever bothered to watch it, I have yet to experience Kids on the Slope outside of its soundtrack. Yet, this cover of Ella Fitzgerald’s 1947 song is probably one of my favorite of all time. Yoko Kanno’s brilliant as always production combined with the soft, luscious vocals of Aoi Teshima make for such an enjoyable listen. It may not be an all the time type of song for me, but when I am in the mood to hear it calms me down better than pretty much anything.

This is the End – Coldrain – King’s Game

While King’s Game the Animation may have been an exceptionally dull experience when I watched it back in 2017, it was not without its strong points. Mainly, this opening. The visuals are satisfactory, mainly just a run-through of the characters with some visuals which imply the show’s basic premise. However, the metalcore instrumentation and vocals of artist Coldrain is a welcome addition to any otherwise fine opening. On top of that, the all English lyrics make for a much more enjoyable listening experience for my admittedly uncultured ears.

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Kawaki wo Ameku – Minami – Domestic Girlfriend

Domestic Girlfriend’s plot honestly sounds like the writing of a really bad porno. There, I said it. Still, my hesitancy to engage with the show at all certainly will not take away my enjoyment of the series’ opening. The visuals are honestly fairly strong for a romance series, which, in my experience, tend to be uninspired. On top of that, the vocals of singer Minami are out of this world. There is roaring anger that comes out in the build-up to the chorus which probably underscores a lot of the tension that comes out in the anime proper. Even on its own, though, the song is really solid and one that I do not at all mind having on my playlist.

Contradiction – KSUKE/Tyler Carter – The God of High School

EDM is a genre that I feel does not get a whole lot of representation when it comes to anime openings/OSTs. on the one hand, it makes sense, since it is not a genre that fits every story beat. Still, it is a shame since there is honestly a lot of places it does fit, and an anime like The God of High School is one of those. The production of KSUKE is admittedly not the hardest hitting I have ever heard, but the drops are still fun, and the vocal presence of Tyler Carter makes for a complete package.


I realized while writing this that most of the songs have some form of English lyrics, which is probably why they caught my attention, lol. Plz do not flame me in the comments, I am a weeb I swear!

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Patron Jenn for the support!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Secondary Findings: Hades, All of Us Are Dead, Etc.

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As much as I love talking about all of the things I review for this blog, there is also a lot of stuff that I watch, play casually that does not get its own dedicated post. This is either because I have yet to finish it or because it does not fit in with the normal stuff I talk about. So, we are back with another edition of Secondary Findings, a series where I do just that.

Hades

This game probably will end up getting a full review on this blog at some point. However, with the little free time I have already, it has been hard to dedicate the proper hours to actually finish it. On top of that, Hades is the type of game where exploring it in depth could mean going through multiple runs, as it has become the poster child for indie rogue-likes.

It is not hard to see why, though. Between the relatively straightforward gameplay, unique build paths for different styles, and the incredible fluidity with which to make combos. That is not even getting into the super-inspired character designs which re-imagine the greek gods and goddesses in a way that gives them a lot of charm. While I cannot speak to anything beyond a few hours of gameplay, it is fairly obvious why Hades has such a strong fanbase.

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer

Though the series has yet to get its recently announced anime adaptation, its 15 minutes of Twitter fame was enough to ensnare my interest, and so I decided to give its first volume a read. To my surprise, the hype felt mostly deserved.

Even with its incredibly convoluted plot about saving the world from a wizard and a giant hammer with the help of a girl who also wants to destroy the world, this shounen comedy has thus far been a delight. Its funnier moments are indeed funny, but in the moments where the series calms down and starts to do a bit of introspection, these moments of malice slowly creep in and reveal some things that really drive a lot of interest.

It is hard to say what exactly will happen from here, but Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer is definitely a manga that I am going to pursue further. if those moments of darkness are any indication of what is to come, there will certainly be something worthwhile on the other side.

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Hyperpop

I generally try to avoid talking about music on this blog unless it is in the context of an anime or video game soundtrack since that is fairly outside my wheelhouse. Though, of course, I have made exceptions for albums and artists who have had a significant impact on my thinking, with the most recent example being From Me to You by Quadeca.

However, since this is a more casual series focused on the stuff I enjoy, it would be weird not to talk about this strange musical subgenre that has taken up a not-insignificant portion of my music diet. Anyone who has been paying attention to internet culture has probably at least heard the name 100 gecs, who are the most recent act to popularize hyperpop.

However, the subgenre goes has been developing a lot over the past couple of years, often with the artists themselves having a love-hate relationship with the label. Personally, what I love about it is the way it combines elements of EDM reminiscent of the early 2010s, as well as modern pop and hip-hop trends.

The song linked above serves as a good example of what a lot of modern hyperpop has leaned into. I have heard it described more than once as “a musical genre for people with ADHD,” and while I am not sure if I actually have ADHD, it does help scratch a certain brain itch when listening to it.

All of Us are Dead

All of Us are Dead is a Korean zombie horror series that was released on Netflix in a manner similar to the now hit series Squid Game. It focuses on a Korean high school where a new illness has broken out which rapidly transforms the students into zombies, and now they must survive while being quarantined inside the school.

This is another property I have yet to fully dive into, having only watched one episode as of writing. It does take a while to build to its crescendo, with the first episode clocking in at just above an hour in total runtime. Yet, even with that long run time, it still manages to set up a lot of unique storylines without feeling bogged down by the number of characters.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not the series can actually stick the landing, but considering the last semi-competent zombie story I consumed was roughly seasons 3-4 of The Walking Dead, I am excited to see where this goes.


What all have you been enjoying recently? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

Special thanks as always to our amazing Patreon supporter Jenn!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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More Anime Soundtracks to Put in Your Playlist

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It is Friday, which means another column to share from my time at my college’s newspaper. This time, I thought it would be fun to return to the topic of good anime soundtracks, and so here are a few more that should absolutely be on a playlist of yours if they are not already. While a certain show that I have talked about in the past is also on this list, I stand by the argument that it has a great soundtrack, so yeah. With that being said, let us begin.


Welcome back, tourists.

With increasing access to pretty much every kind of music through the internet and various music streaming services, it feels as though there is a soundtrack for pretty much every point in people’s lives. Now, instead of borrowing CDs, people are sharing playlists on Spotify and YouTube. 

I have said it before, and I am here to say it again. Anime has a number of amazing soundtracks with plenty of “banger” tracks, as the kids say, as well as slower, more reflective moments. Today, I want to share more of those worthwhile soundtracks. Content warning for some of the descriptions below.

“Wonder Egg Priority” – Music by De De Mouse

Those who follow seasonal anime might already be familiar with this new addition to the magical girl genre that recently took the community by storm. “Wonder Egg Priority” follows a group of girls who are transported to a dream world in order to rescue their friends who have died of suicide. The strange and dark nature of the show’s story and animation flows into the series’ soundtrack, courtesy of De De Mouse

The 42-year-old music producer pulled no punches on this project, taking his signature electronic music style and turning it up to 11. From the first episode to the latest, there is a sort of Kinetic energy that permeates the entire work. For the best example of this, check out episodes three and four. While it might be confusing, it will definitely also be exciting.

“Bleach” – Music by Shiro Sagisu

“Bleach” is an anime with a long and complicated history in terms of its quality. However, one element of the show that always felt underappreciated was its soundtrack. There are, of course, many openings that are worth talking about, especially its first one “Asterisk” by Orange Range. However, composer Shiro Sagisu knows how to capture the show’s unique flare. 

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The show’s long run time also came with it a much larger than usually soundtrack, and while there are, of course, the occasionally more generic-sounding songs, some, like “Ichigo’s Theme” help to carve out the show’s identity and give it that extra bit of hype that every good shounen anime needs. 

“Your Name” – Music by RADWIMPS

Maybe it is unfair to compare tv anime soundtracks with movies, but it would be an absolute tragedy to not recommend at least one movie from Makoto Shinkai, as his films are pretty much all about the experience. After all, it would not be a Shinkai film with the backing of RADWIMPS.

The J-Rock group has been around since the turn of the millennium but got international acclaim after their work on “Your Name,” and for good reason. Their unique brand of J-rock is both energetic and musically progressive, building on itself constantly until it reaches a fantastic peak. The film would have been much worse off were it not for this group, and it is definitely good car ride material.

It can be hard to find good music given just how much is available, but for those who are up for trying something new, there are plenty of anime soundtracks worth exploring. 


What other soundtracks did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

Special thanks to patron Jenn Coulter for continuing to support us this month.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Quadeca, “From Me to You,” and the Internet

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I do not often talk about music on this blog because I rarely have opinions strong enough to justify writing a whole article about them. However, this is without a doubt of of my favorite projects of the last year, which is strange because I definitely would not consider Quadeca to be one of my favorite artists. Still there is a lot to talk about when it comes to “From Me to You,” which is why I thought it was worth taking another post to explore. In particular, I want to take a bit of time to talk about the storyline of the album and some of the implications of its subject matter.

The story of course starts with the track “Sisyphus,” named after a Greek god who was cursed to push a boulder up a mountain only to have it fall over and over again. The track mainly concerns itself with Quadeca’s internal monologue, with the story of Sisyphus being used as a metaphor for his relationship with his own success and self-growth. Try as he might, the fear of getting to the top of that mountain, only to fall back down and have it start all over is a scary prospect.

While Quadeca, or at least the character that he plays in the album, is not the only one in this story. There is, of course, another, indicated in the chorus: “You’ve got a mountain of your own,” and throughout the rest of the album. So, who exactly is this “you?” Well, at first glance it might feel reasonable to answer that question with some variant of romantic partner, and to an extent, that is right. In the song “Shades of Us” he does mention that “[he] just wants love,” but also says that its “outside my reach, always inside my aim.” This would rather imply that he is currently single, so at best this might be addressing some future relationship.

Instead, the “you” here feels a lot more literal, as though he is addressing the audience directly. Quadeca appears to be telling both the story of his experience with internet fame, as well as reflecting on the creation of the album itself, both of which have come with their ups and downs.

This becomes much more apparent on the song “Smiling at the Ground,” in which he raps about a crazy fan who would rather see him break up with a potential girlfriend as opposed to being genuinely happy, as well as the music labels which resent him for staying independent. These things are so stressful that he “searches his fake name” only to be relieved when neither of them appear together with it. The following track “Can’t You See” also speaks to this idea as well, where Quadeca equates this Sisyphean journey to being “lost in the fog,” and that it is both “hard to stay, hard to stay gone,” again repeating the idea that his situation is very much damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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While it is fair to say that most artists and/or people who create things, especially on the internet, hope for some level of success, it does not necessarily mean they want all of that attention at once, or even really at all. The process of virality, in which a person can become famous overnight, is an area that feels like it has been overlooked in cultural discussion. Having thousands or even hundreds of thousands of new eyes on you, as well as a mountain of new expectations can be incredibly nerve wracking. Even now that Quadeca has an established fanbase who probably will not abandon him, the fear alone can make an album that was supposed to come out in 2020 take a whole extra year.

Another major theme of the album is the idea of balancing work and the rest of one’s life. This theme comes to a head much later in the album on the three tracks “Burnin Bridges/Long Day,” “Work!” and “People Pleaser.” Each of these tracks aims to address a different aspect of Quadeca’s relationship with his work and how it has affected his other relationships.

“Burnin Bridges/Long Day” sees him playing the part of “the villain,” but also directly states how he’s “burning all [his] fuckin bridges til there’s nothin left,” and that he “trusts no one but myself, the only one that hasn’t fuckin left.” In other words, from his perspective, Quadeca is taking people out of his life who never really cared for him anyway. While this is a pretty common sentiment across rap as a genre, it feels even more important here given how the internal monologue established in earlier songs has made it clear just how much he doubts himself.

“Work,” in contrast, sees Quadeca satirizing the unhealthy relationship with work that many have come to understand as grind culture, or the idea that one should always be focused monetary or social gains, even at the expense of interpersonal relationships. Though it may not seem like it, the exaggerated lyrics as well as the fax machine noise which slowly ingrains and distorts itself into the beat make it fairly obvious. Some of the best lines, in this regard, are when he talks about “only loving you from like 3:15 to 5 PM,” as well as having “like twenty-five Red Bulls still tryna find them wings, like a blind Rick Ross.”

It becomes even more apparent when beat comes to a halt, and Quadeca talks about how “[his] mind got carpal tunnel” and that “[he] wants it all to double, even the stress, even the mess, even the largest struggle.” In this final verse, he point out how those who have bought into this grind mentality put themselves through all of this work, in part at least, so that they can where it as a badge of honor around others. The song “People Pleaser” serves almost as a prequel, describing how Quadeca’s innate need for validation from others got him into the cycle he is in, with the ever increasing quantities of money he manages to acquire never being enough for this “you.” The line “feelin’ like its eight-bit, lookin like its IMAX” also helps to reinforce the idea that, while his life on the outside looks great, self-doubt is still very much central to his problems.

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All of this comes to a pinnacle, almost literally, on the song “Summit Pt. 1” in which the major themes get reinforced. Despite how much progress has been made, both in Quadeca as a person and on the album itself, he still does not believe he has made it particularly far, evidenced by the refrain “And I’ve been lookin’ at the summit. They say we’re halfway there, I think we’re halfway from it.” Still, it would be unfair to say that he has made no progress at all, as it he also says that “me and my boulder grew a bond,” implying that, despite still not being confident, he has managed to get something of a handle on these mental burdens.

Additionally, the question of who exactly “you” is becomes an issue again, because although earlier in the album Quadeca implied a lack of romantic relationship, the song “Its All a Game” does seem to present a major romantic interest. Still, interpreting the “you” as still talking directly to the audience makes a lot of sense. When he says “I swallowed it, thank god that it was you that shared the key” in reference to the previous interlude, Quadeca seems to be saying that if there was anyone who he was going to share his most vulnerable self too, he would rather it be an audience that has expectations of him rather than random strangers.

The journey is still not going to end, both as an artist and as a person, until he meets his. In a way, acknowledging that “we’re halfway from it” is saying that not just he, but everyone has yet to reach their full potential, and although everyone might have a mountain to climb and a bolder to climb with it, seeing what is at the top might just be worth it.


There is a lot more about this album that I can and probably will talk about, from the incredibly constructing bars and ryhme schemes, as well as the amazing production. Still, if I did try and talk about it all in one post this would probably end up being a 20 minute read, and as someone with an incredibly small attention span myself, I do not want to do that to other people. So, have you heard “From Me to You?” What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

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Quedeca’s “From Me to You” is Really, Really Good

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

I don’t often talk about music on this blog, and when I do, its usually in relation to anime or video games. A lot of this is because the music I listen to outside of anime and game soundtracks is, well…repetitive, to say the least. Most of it is Trap flavored Hip-Hop which I mostly use as a way to pass the time to and from work or on errands, when I am not listening to podcasts anyway. I say this as a way of prefacing that I do not tend to consume a lot of experimental stuff. Still, the album showed up in my recommended on Spotify, and, well, here we are.

I was always vaguely familiar with the sort of YouTube Rap-scene that developed in the mid-2010s because of how much time I spent on the site, especially in high school. However, the scene never stood out as being a group of “serious music makers,” even to dumb 15-16 year old me. Quedeca, in particular though, while certainly being above average in terms of his flows, rhyme-schemes and delivery, never felt like he was doing anything special. As Anthony Fantano put it, Quedeca has always felt like more of a chameleon.

I tried revisiting some of his 2019 project “Voice Memos” just to see if there was anything there I had potentially missed, and while there are definitely shades of introspection in some of the bars on that, it pales in comparison to his latest project “From Me to You.” The album is 18 songs and clocks in at just under an hour of total run time, and while that is certainly longer than the average Rap project, it is absolutely worth every second.

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There is…so much going on here. Quedeca’s reputation proceeded him a lot while listening to this album. For the first few tracks of the album I was confused and though maybe I had put on something else, but no. This is very much his project, and I say that pretty literally, as it appears most of the album was written, produced, and recorded by himself.

The production on “From Me to You” is probably the most surprising element of the album, especially considering what his production has sounded like in the past. Experimental is probably the most accurate way to describe it, but even that does not necessarily speak to the precision in which the sonic elements of the project are employed. It truly stands out as being unique to this album, and not something I could find by going to a Kid Cudi and especially not a Lil Uzi Vert.

Part of that is the noise and distortion that is present throughout many parts of the track list. The most obvious example of this comes from the opening song “Sisyphus,” which also serves as the thesis statement of the album, both in the production and writing. A lot of it is used to emphasize the heavier moments and to transition between different sections of particular tracks, such as “Burnin Bridges/Long Day” featuring IDK and “It’s All a Game.”

There is also just a ton of variety when it comes to the musical instruments used. “Sisyphus” not only has well made vocal harmonies backing up the song, but has piano, acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele, and drums all within a five minute time span. The violins on the intro to “Smiling at the Ground” were another element that really heightened the effectiveness of the track, and added to the overall atmosphere of the album.

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Good production can only carry an album so far, however, and as surprising as the production of the album is, the writing is where the album really shines. Much of the album is littered with imagery of mountains and the idea of climbing them. “Sisyphus,” which I mentioned before, makes this most apparent, as the title is a reference to a Greek god who, after cheating death multiple times, is condemned by Zeus to push a boulder up a mountain for eternity. The invocation here is meant to represent the loneliness and mental health problems Quedeca is dealing with. One line in particular that stands out with the track is “Even our bickerin’ getting nostalgic, all of those little things meld into mountains in my mind, uh,” which expands on the metaphor he has created by implying that his past struggles are something that he has to climb past.

This can be seen as well with some of the interludes that appear at various points in the album. “Verglas,” whose title refers to a frost typically found on mountains, has a similarly cold, yet inviting atmosphere which leads into “Maybe Another Day.” “Hallstatt” references a small Austrian town located in a mountainous region, which proceeds the track “Work!” with PlayThatBoiZay.

A straightforward reading of this album would be Quedeca reflecting on a past romantic relationship in which he acknowledges the struggles his partner had to go through, the mountains they had to climb, so to speak, but ultimately still wishing they could be together. While that is definitely a significant portion of the album, songs like “Smiling at the Ground,” “People Pleaser,” and “Summit, Pt.1” seem to confront another aspect of his struggle, which is dealing with expectations created by the parasocial relationships which exist for someone who makes YouTube videos and music.

There also appears to be a pretty explicit critique of this “grind” mentality which has come to dominate a lot of places on the internet. “Work!” and “People Pleaser” do this fairly effectively by illustrating that this mentality, while maybe netting some monetary success, is ultimately harmful by linking productivity with self-worth. These ideas come to a head on “Summit Pt.1,” where Quadeca reiterates the idea that he, along with everyone, is destined to climb up the same mountains, carrying the same boulders with us, only to fall back down. There is also a version of the glass half-empty, glass half-full idea present in the refrain, where he says “And I’ve been lookin’ at the summit
They say we’re halfway there, I think we’re halfway from it.”

Now, I do not want to make anyone think that Quadeca is somehow unique in his experimental sound. I know enough about modern music to know there are plenty of other artists who are similarly experimental in there Rap. Brockhampton immediately come to mind, and even some of the featured artists like IDK have been exploring new sounds long before this album came out. Even within the sub-genre of Emo-Rap, there have been a lot of interesting developments, with artists like the late Juice WRLD being at the forefront.

Also, the album is definitely not perfect. As pretty as they do sound, almost all of the interludes on the project overstay there welcome just a bit too long. Also, while there are some lyrical and sonic connections to the rest of the album, the track “Where’d You Go?” feels almost entirely unnecessary, and in a way kind of lowers the emotional impact that “Summit Pt. 1” has while listening through the album.

For those who did not give this album a second thought because of the name attached to it, I totally understand. However, even for those who are not particularly big fans of Rap and Hip-Hop, there is enough going on in the production and writing of “From Me to You” that it is worth at least a try.


Well, this is definitely my longest post in a while. Not really sure why, but I just felt a lot of love for this project after hearing it, so I wanted to write about it. Have you all listened to “From Me to You?” If you have, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

The Best of Us, The Worst of Us, The Lot of Us: Carole and Tuesday

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

For as much initial interest as there was in the show, it feels like “Carole and Tuesday” got tossed aside rather quickly. This is to say nothing of the quality of the show. After all, most who finished it thought pretty highly of it, if the cumulative score on MAL is anything to go off of. Rather, the subject matter of the show was something new for both Shinichiro Watanabe as well as anime fans in general.

This is not to say that Watanabe and those who enjoy his works have not experienced social commentary in the past. Pretty much all of his shows have that, especially one of his most recent works before “Carole and Tuesday”: “Terror in Resonance,” which followed the story of two would-be high school age terrorists trying to reclaim their lost lives in any way they can.

Carole and Tuesday,” though, is a much different breed. While it certainly starts out as a in much the same way as his previous work, vaguely alluding to the social ills of the present day, by the second half it turns into a straight up modern allegory about current U.S. politics, doing very little to hide it.

At the center of this Allegory are the show’s main characters, Carole and Tuesday, who serve as representatives of both the most well off and the least. Of the former, Tuesday is a young girl who wants to play music, but whose politician mom sees it as a waist of time. Realizing that she likely will not be happy in her current situation, Tuesday decided to run away from home, taking a suitcase full of clothes, her guitar, and a dream.

In the middle of downtown Alba City, Tuesday runs into Carole, an immigrant from Earth who wants to make it on Mars, but cannot seem to keep a stable income, and who is only able to stay in the city due to the generosity of a random old man renting out his storage room. The two meet on a bridge, at which point they start making music together, and then immediately run away as they get chased down by a cop.

The two of them mostly get along throughout the series, and they spend the majority of the first half in their honeymoon phase, trying to get their career of the ground and just enjoying making music. However, the second half of the series turns up the drama to 11, as it becomes less about Carole and Tuesday themselves and more about what each of their backgrounds represent.

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Tuesday’s mom, being a prominent politician, decides to run for president on a platform of limiting immigration and restoring Mar’s greatness. Sound Familiar? Not wanting Carole to think ill of her, Tuesday decides to keep this a secret. However, Tuesday is not the only one.

While Carole does reveal to Tuesday that she is an immigrant, she fails to mention that she came illegally, which causes her to worry about the prospects of Tuesday’s mom getting elected. The two eventually find out about the other’s secrets, but ultimately work things out. The show ends with a big musical number featuring most of the cast which serves as a celebration of Mar’s diversity and talent.

Something that upsets me about the ending of the show is the sort open-endedness of it, and the way it seems to imply that if people just come together and talk about things that they will eventually come to understand each other. While I do think that is true for certain people, it does not reflect the reality of U.S. politics, and comes across more as wishful thinking.

Though it certainly highlights the gullible nature of Trump through Tuesday’s mom and her criminal campaign manager, it feels like it is unwilling to make a systemic critique, and lays the blame on individuals instead. The real world problems the series highlights are not going to be solved by making music and holding charity events. Do not misunderstand, it is important to highlight these issues and the way demagogues scapegoat various groups as a way of cementing power. It just feels as though their was a missed opportunity to come to a more radical conclusion.


My own political persuasions aside, how do you feel about “Carole and Tuesday,” both the characters and the show as a whole? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

30 Day Anime Challenge Two: Day 18

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It is day 18 of the second 30 Day Anime Challenge.

#18: Favorite Character Transformation Theme Song

Ok, so I guess the prompt meant literal transformation. Hmmm… Well, if I’m being honest, very few true transformation themes have ever actually resonated with me, but speaking of resonance, I think I would have to go with “Psychedelic Souljam” from “Soul Eater.” While it can be argued about whether or not Soul Resonance is a transformation, I think it still fits broadly in that category because both Maka and Soul power up tremendously.

On top of that, the song itself is really incredible. Just like its name implies, it starts out with a very psychedelic feeling, but then slowly begins to build pase, just like how Soul Resonance actually works. Overall, the song is really fun and representative of the show it comes from.


What is your favorite transformation song? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

It’s Hard Not to Feel Like Spinel Sometimes

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Steven Universe has long been known for its positive, uplifting messages about identify, respect, and loving others, and this year Steven Universe’s creator Rebecca Sugar continued that tradition with the newest edition to the franchise, Steven Universe: the Movie.

Compared to the show, the movie is similar in style in presentation but is definitely bigger in feel. In fact, going back to its musical roots, the movie has a soundtrack that nearly rivals the rest of the show in terms of volume, with loads of wonderful individual songs such as “True Kind of Love” and “Happily Ever After.”

The film’s story takes place two years after the season five finale, in which Steven is able to convince White Diamond that the very structure of gem society, along with her view of other gems, is fundamentally wrong, and that other gems should be seen as equals, rather than lesser beings. In those two years since, Steven, along with the other crystals gems, have managed to make earth a safe-haven for gems of all kinds. However, this newfound happiness is short lived, as a blast from Rose’s past soon comes to haunt Steven, and turn his life upside down.

Enter Spinel, the character at the center of struggle in Steven Universe: The Movie. When she arrives on earth and meets the Crystal Gems, she vows her revenge on them by destroying planet earth with a strange looking device. The device actually contains a poison that Spinel injects into the earth, which will destroy all life on the planet in 48 hours. At first, no one is sure who she is or why she has come to earth in the first place. However, after Spinel reminisces over her past with Steven’s mom, Pearl quickly remembers who she is. Before Pearl can give Steven any information, Spinel hits all of them with a weapon that resets the gems and erases their memories. A quick battle between Spinel and Steven leaves Spinel hit with her own scythe-like, memory-erasing weapon.

The rest of the film follows Steven’s struggle to restore the memory of not only her friends, but also Spinel, so that he can try and convince her not to follow through with her plan of destroying the earth. At first, Spinel’s original motivation seemed inexplicable. Why would she want to badly to destroy earth and get some sort of illusory revenge on Rose? By the end of the film’s second half it all becomes clear. In what is arguably the most popular song to come out of the movie, “Drift Away,” Spinel explains to Steven how she used to be Rose’s servant/playmate. However, after finally receiving her own colony on earth from the other diamonds, she tricks Spinel into staying on gem homeworld, never going back to check on her, never considering her feelings in the slightest.

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It is at this moment that Spinel’s feelings become much more justified. She spent literal thousands of years of her life standing around, waiting for Rose to return, wondering “am I doing this right?” All of that for someone who never really cared about her in the first place. Probably one of the most telling scenes is the one immediately following “Drift Away,” in which it looks as though Steven wants to defend his mom, but then quickly realizes that there is not excusing what she did.

Despite her character design being more reminiscent of 1930’s, what her story in Steven Universe represents is a problem that is still very much a modern one. Too often the trust that people put into others is betrayed, and it leaves those who have been wronged with feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness. This type of harm can come in many forms, from simple gaslighting on one end, to rape at the other extreme.

Another type of this betrayal of trust can come in the form of revenge porn, where a significant other releases explicit content of a person without their consent, an issue that has only been further highlighted with the recent high profile story of former U.S. Representative Katie Hill.

However, this kind of betrayal of trust does not even have to be of an extreme nature. In-fact, sometimes it can be as simple as finding out that people who seemed to be trustworthy friends turned out to be nothing more than liars.

The reason Spinel’s arc felt so powerful is because at the core of her story is that betrayal of trust. She lost who she thought was her only friend, and because of that felt like there was no way she could trust anyone again. At the end of her climactic battle with Steven, instead of finishing him off, she breaks down into tears, and begins to wonder what the point of it all is.

Well, the point is this: those who are the victims, those who have gone through abusive relationships, and those whose trust has been betrayed should not be the ones feeling bad. Yet, even as I write these words, I am under no illusions about what the reality of the situation is. The Spinels of the world will go on feeling like garbage. The same as always.


Have you guys seen Steven Universe: The Movie? What do you all think? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!