Visual Kei&Anime – SID Part II

Welcome back to the second half of my discography dive into legendary band SID! This month, we have a few more entries to make it through for some pretty big titles as well! Plus, there are some interesting bonuses that are sure to get your attention in regards to SID and their contributions to anisong. Of course, be sure to check out part one for, a refresher or just to catch up on the band’s history. Now, let’s jump back into the music released back in Fall 2013!

Much like this section being a sequel to my own blog story; SID has quite a few of their own sequels as well. I.e. providing an opening or ending theme for sequel anime of course! The first of this would be with none other than Magi: The Kingdom of Magic, which began airing October 2013. SID would provide the first opening theme “ANNIVERSARY” which was used for episodes 1 through 13. As always, a quick note of what Magi: The Kingdom of Magic is as follows:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic follows our cast of characters after their previous victory. Our protagonists each head for their own adventures, some returning home, others off to train, and some with further investigations to be had. However, all is not peace and quiet for long as a new threat rises in the not-so distant future that might spell out war…” (Paraphrased from the MAL Entry)

Those opening notes really do suit Magi all too well in my opinion. There’s some longer guitar notes as well that when fitted with the ‘sparkle’ effect of the synthesizer really give it personality. This effect is repeated throughout the song not only rounds it out, but bookends the song nicely composition-wise. The upbeat nature with the subtle hints as to what the plot has in store lyrically are all around nice touches that help this song really cement itself in it’s premise.

However, it’s these exact same reasons that there’s a bit of friction about if SID is truly Visual Kei. The argument (at least from what little I remember) cropped up especially with this particular track’s release. For me, this song definitely wanders much more closely in composition, lyrics and delivery into JRock territory if not outright anisong. That’s not really the fault of the band, after all they never wanted to be confined to VKei so changing and trying new styles is to be expected. SID were invited to create another song for the franchise, and they did just that.

Since it’s the follow-up to “V.I.P”, it’s reasonable to do a little bit of compare and contrast. The most striking point, especially if you listen them back to back is the sense of familiarity between them. Aside from the obvious both being by the same band, and tie-in’s to the same franchise, even without that knowledge you can tell they pair well together. “Anniversary” keys into the earlier elements of “V.I.P” and taps into the winning formula that SID has for anisong. I just wish that “Anniversary” had been built to really let Mao’s vocals soar. Alas, they’re two different but well paired tracks for a reason.

The sequels did not stop there folks, as in 2014 SID would be tapped to provide a theme in another franchise getting a sequel. This time being for Black Butler: Book of Circus. SID provided the opening theme song “ENAMEL” for all ten episodes of the series. Just to refresh your memory, Black Butler: Book of Circus goes as follows:

“Following up the events of the first season, Ciel and company now are investigating the Noah’s Arc Circus troupe. Seemingly, many children are captivated by these performances to the point where they seemingly disappear. While investigating the Queen’s Watchdog and companions are balancing more then just their own act, as a strange benefactor looms over the big-top, and a discovery that will change Ciel forever is revealed”. (Paraphrased from the MAL Entry)

So whereas “Anniversary” might have had listeners doubting if SID still had that VKei power in them; “ENNAMEL” is the resounding answer – of course they do. Those opening riffs are enough to shake anyone awake from their doubts. It’s even a composition where we finally hear a bit more from Aki in terms of the bassline, with a few isolated moments of just bass. Finally!

Again, I really liked the use of synthesizer since it really did oddly enough remind of a circus in a sense? That might just be me being overly aware of what this song is meant to tie-in too, but I can’t deny that there’s something in the track that’s circus-like. This is also a song where I really appreciate Shinji having a more rough guitar solo towards the end of the track. It’s part of the formula, but this time around it’s intentionally rough to really play up the contrast. I even noted that in some parts of the song where Mao’s vocals are modified reminded me just a bit of their contemporary Gackt. And from me that’s a pretty high praise.

In comparison to the earlier “Monochrome Kiss”, the tracks have two very different treatments. Book of Circus for sure getting their heavier treatment, in terms of composition and lyrical themes. However, what ties them together is that these two songs really do best straddle the line between ani-song/Jrock and Visual Kei. Being able to bridge such a difficult gap like this is really impressive.

Of course, SID would go one step further with the Black Butler franchise. This being a tie-in to their first animated feature Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic which was in theaters in early 2017. Their song “Garasu no Hitomi” was the ending theme song. For those curious about the contents of Book of the Atlantic is as follows:

“Ciel and company are once again, off to investigate an odd set of phenomena this time on the luxury cruise liner Campania. The cruise seems to harbor the elusive Aurora Society, an alleged medical society that is suspected of experimenting on the dead. Various grim reapers appear, only seeming to confirm that the ship is home to the recently deceased, and potentially reanimated. It’s up to Ciel and the ever faithful Sebastian to uncover the Aurora Society’s secrets or share a grave with everyone aboard”. (Paraphrased from the MAL Entry)

I wrote and re-wrote this paragraph several times trying to squeeze my mind for a new take. However, I found that I was being very repetitive in terms of praise and commentary. Especially since this song comes in right after my compare and contrast of “Monochrome Kiss” and “ENAMEL”. So to keep this nice, sweet and moving; “Garasu no Hitomi” embodies the best of SID’s special blend of VKei and anisong I’ve talked about. They really nailed the idea of the post-adventure vibes of being and ending theme. Not to mention the opening section of Aki’s bassline and Mao’s vocals, that pairing is pure bless!

Lyric Contribution of Note

This is a quick sub entry, one of two for this post actually. SID, but more specifically vocalist Mao, actually wrote the lyrics for “ASH”, the second opening theme song for Fate/Apocrypha. Aki the bassist, not to be out done, did the composition. It’s not quite a SID song, as anisong superstar LiSA performed it. But it’s a fun credit that’s related to the subject at hand, so I decided to add it in. I don’t want to steal LiSA’s thunder, her version of the song is the original after all, but SID also did a cool version of the track which you can listen to here if you’re interested.

With that little sub entry out of the way, we’re back to songs SID wrote and performed themselves. There was actually a pretty big break, not counting lyric writing and composition as we jump forward into 2017. This would a new entry to SID’s tie-in collection with Altair: A Record of Battles. Their song “Rasen no Yume” would be the opening theme for episode 1 through 13. For those like me who have never heard of this series, the plot synopsis is as follows:

“Mahmut is but a simple young pasha serving his country. However, war lurks in the distance as a combative Empire threatens the peace. With his nation split between warmongers, and pacifists; Mahmut is on a mission to keep the peace, at any cost. This causes him to fall deeper into meeting new enemies, allies and realizing the politics of the ancient world”. (Paraphrased from the MAL entry)

I have to say that this particular song might just be the most dramatic of their offerings in the anisong category we’ve covered. I mean that in a good way of course. It really opens with the imagery of a antagonist sweeping a large cape open to reveal the rest of the cast and the full animation sequence really begins. I haven’t looked it up if that’s accurate, but that’s the impression I get. There’s really a strong sense of intentional dramatic flair to the piece.

I think this is largely due to just how well the composition fits together. There’s a string section, as well as Shunji’s guitar, Aki’s bass, and Yuuya’s drums all coming together but never competing with one another. I really like how well the string section is utilized, never overwhelming the band, but just enough to give it some oomph. Aki really has a knack for putting these songs together in a way that really works. He never gives himself too much gratuitous solos, usually deferring to Shunji getting a solo instead. Plus there’s Yuuya, who I haven’t made time to talk about much. The best percussion/rhythm sections are often the ones you never notice, Yuuya being a prime example here. Overall, there’s enough body to the song that really once again, fits the theme of the show and allows SID to flex their musical chops a bit.

We do another jump into 2019, with SID performing the opening theme for The Seven Deadly Sins: Wrath of the Gods. Their song “delete” would be used as the second opening theme for episodes 13 through 24. A quick look at what this season of The Seven Deadly Sins has in store is as follows:

“Meliodas and the Seven Deadly Sins are enjoying some time off after saving the Kingdom of Liones from the 10 Commandments. The Sins aren’t in for a full vacation as the 10 Commandments still pose a threat, that only they can handle after training and overcoming their pasts. During these personal trials and tribulations, the Sins begin to understand the reality about one another, the 10 commandments, and the others involved. Their battle has only just begun, but at least adventure awaits them!(Paraphrased from the MAL Entry)

Of all the openings I’ve listened to so far, I have to say SID really knew how to hit the beginning harder then usual. There’s the opening beat and band really jumping into it but coupled with a harp and piano?? I was absolutely sold on the track, as the quality of the song never lacks. What I found the most interesting is that Mao had some layered vocals in this track, which is the first time I’ve noticed him doing this in an OP. It’s a really interesting choice since it really adds just a touch something new to the track. If you make it to the 2:30 mark, you will be blessed with a crunchy sounding bass solo a-la Aki, followed by Shunij going pretty ham on a solo as well. Nice. Overall, I have no complaints.

Also as a side note, I did read a review on the anime saying that the only good thing about it was this particular opening which made me chuckle. Just as an in general thing, since I haven’t seen this series myself so I can’t judge that true or false.

Japanese Theme Song Performance

This second sub entry of firsts as I’ve never, personally come across something like this. But it was recently announced is that SID was tapped to provide a theme song for a Japanese dubbing and airing for a Chinese anime. The series being Tian Guan Ci Fu or Heaven’s Official Blessing which is an adaptation of a Chinese web novel. I wasn’t sure if I should review this track, but it once again fits the overall theme. However, I ran into the snafu that “Jiu no Kuchizuka”, the theme song, hasn’t been released yet! So, I guess an update post will be needed later on for them. However, I do think it’s pretty cool that they got to contribute on a project like this. I’m really curious as to what kind of song they’ll create to fit the atmosphere of the series.

With that, we have finally come to the finish! I hope that breaking this particular band feature into two sections made it easier to read. Be sure to let me know in the comment section below. Of course, if any of your favorite themes have finally been brought up be sure to give them a listen again! Make sure to support the band via their official Youtube and Spotify accounts. And with that I’ll see you next month with the next installment!

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