BECK, the self-searching story of 14-year-old Yukio, a rock band and their dog, has been released in its complete form in the UK for the very first time. A fact that’s rather puzzling, given its worship of British monsters of rock and punk from The Beatles to the Pistols. While watching the show, the classic sounds and breezy riffs of its opening and ending themes got us thinking about the times our home grown rock ’n’ rollers have popped up, to great surprise and impact, in certain stand-out anime. A chosen few have pulled this move in a way that makes us celebrate our rock roots, as well as giving us new perspective on the songs and series themselves. So ready your air guitars, and read on you crazy diamonds.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – ‘Roundabout’, Yes
If you were going to guess at a first closing point for this history hopping clenched fist of noise, colour and posturing, this track wouldn’t even cross your mind. But, somehow, it works beautifully. Obsessed with western rock music, just like JoJo‘s original creator Hirohiko Araki, every ending theme tosses out a punchline or a new point of view when you’re trying to process what you’ve just seen. One of the most apt choices is the Bangles’ ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ for none other than season three’s Egypt arc, but the original ending by old England’s very own Yes is still the best of the bunch.
Serial Experiments Lain – ‘Duvet’, Bôa
This song hacks into the haunted melancholy at the heart of Serial Experiments Lain and rephrases it for a universal wavelength, though within the show itself what unsettles these feelings is impossible to pin down. The simplicity of Duvet’s sentiment and the floating themes of Lain seem made for each other, so much so that once you’ve sat quietly through a few episodes, you can’t imagine one existing without the other.
Ergo Proxy – ‘Paranoid Android’, Radiohead
Paranoia. Androids. Taking the two core elements of a series like this, and pairing them with an accompaniment that echoes each in a two-worded title, could easily have come off ridiculous. But here, the sheer brashness of it is meaningless. The cloistered shadows and wastelands under smog slide into the disturbance of Radiohead’s homage to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘s own paranoid android Marvin, hung somewhere between a sneer and a cry of pain.
Speed Grapher – ‘Girls on Film’, Duran Duran
Horror film aficionados can’t help but think of Peeping Tom when we follow this former war photographer investigating an exclusive fetish club. Just like Duran Duran’s video and lyrics for ‘Girls on Film’, sex and violence are sometimes welcomed in the same breath, sometimes not, and the primal powers of both are the spark of the surreal chase that leads Speed Grapher along. It’s just a shame FUNimation couldn’t secure the rights to use the track for its own release, as the song is a perfect fit.
Eden of the East – ‘Falling Down’, Oasis
We were so excited to hear this song in the opening that we talked all over it, only to find that licensing restrictions (once again) meant Manga UK and FUNimation could only use it for the first episode. If we’d known that, we would have shut our mouths and let it sink in. It’s a perfect gentle introduction to the conspiracy, suspicions and mystery of Eden of the East, capturing the unknowingly vulnerable states of its leads, Akira and Saki. And it’s flipping Oasis, doing an anime theme.
Ah, such good music. But are there any songs we missed? If you have a favourite British or English anisong, let us hear it. And keep on rockin’.