One episode ends on a blood-curdling Freak-Out of horror, desperation, fury or Go Mad from the Revelation... and promptly cuts, as every episode does, into a cover version of "Fly Me To The Moon." The effect is both disastrous and cathartic, like thermal shock caused by sudden extreme temperature differences, but intentionally so: The ending music was always rather out of place, and becomes ever more ironic as the show turns darker.
The ending theme is sung by a different voice actress in different episodes. In one episode when Kaworu gets killed, the instrumental arrangement is the same as all the others, but there's nobody singing. The silence is deafening.
In episode 24 when Shinji is lamenting the fact that he's lost all his friends through some way or another he turns to find someone sitting on a rock humming Ode to Joy. Ode to Joy is used again during Shinji's battle with Kaworu, which ends with the latter's death, and during the Fourth Impact scene in the third Rebuild of Evangelion film. The creators clearly love using it in scenes where something really messed up or sad is happening.
The ending to the episode where Toji loses a leg and nearly dies? How about a nice, happy rendition of "Fly Me To The Moon"?
Moreover, this particular rendition eschews the lush arrangement of the previous versions in favour of a jauntier, jazzy cover. An acoustic guitar takes the place of the singer, making it sound... happy, insofar as a song could be.
The scene where Asuka gets Mind Raped by an Angel with the Hallelujah chorus playing in the background.
In End of Evangelion, Asuka goes down fighting the Mass-Produced Evangelions in a feat of pyrrhic badassery to none other than Air by Bach.
It is, to some extent, a sound alike of "Hey Jude", which is not exactly known for being a depressing song.
The first verse:
I know, I know I've let you down I've been a fool to myself I thought that I could live for no one else And now Through all the hurt and pain It's time for me to respect The ones who love me more than anything So with sadness in my heart I feel the best thing I could do Is end it all and leave forever What's done is done, I feel so bad What once was happy, now is sad I'll never love again My world is ending
Imagine that set to a Suspiciously Similar Song version of "Hey Jude". Seriously, it's almost impossible to describe in typed form, so here you go. Now imagine that...but why imagine it when you can see it? Worse, it's unclear as to whether the entire human race is being killed off in a ritualistic mass suicide and screaming in terror or the ecstasy of being released from their separate forms and finally merging back into one complete being. Or maybe even both.
An instrumental version of the song appears in Shinji's Good Ending in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3, where he and Asuka rescue Rei and prevent instrumentality. So now, you have a song about suicide and the end of the world playing in an upbeat ending where Everyone Lives.
Another, less obvious example is the use of Pachelbel's "Canon in D" for the (absolutely beautiful) credits sequence of Evangelion: Death. So you've just gone over the important events of the series one last time, you've had a few more hints dropped your way, and more importantly, you know that the next thing you'll be watching is the big finale. Even if you're not yet aware of just how much horror you're in for, you know that, as far as the plot is concerned, Shinji and co. have already passed the point of no return. The overriding feeling as you watch a beautiful sunset over a ruined landscape while listening to this exquisite piece of music can only be described as deep, penetrating foreboding. You know the end is nigh.
The (in)famous DVD menu for End of Evangelion adds another example of this trope, this time using "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (which is actually used in the film for * gasp* generally NON-ironic effect).
Really, this series is utterly in love with this trope. From the examples listed above, to the heavy use of jazz, soft rock, baroque classical and J-pop in the soundtrack, at least half the music in the series stands in direct contrast to the dark and twisted machinations of the plot. Just listen to Shiro Sagisu's Thanatos, either the original or the vocal version used in EoE. Nice, jazzy song, right? Well, "Thanatos" = "DEATH". There. That summarizes the mood of the soundtrack.
There's also this AMV set to "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles. The surprising thing is that it works.
In Rebuild 2.0, as the Dummy Plug controlled Eva 01 mutilates and disembowels the Angel possessed Eva 03, piloted by Asuka in this version, a delightfully cheery song starts playing. It made this scene even more of a Tear Jerker.
Then again, the song's title (Today Is the Time To Say Goodbye) is pretty explicit on exactly what is going to happen. Same goes for the lyrics - "Sayonara".
And earlier in the film, Mari Makinami rides into battle with Eva-05 while singing part of "The 356-Step March" by Kiyoko Suizenji - singing a jaunty little tune about finding happiness while piloting a giant robot and preparing to fight an eldritch monster. Then again, this is quite in-character for Mari.
Another example is Shinji's first fight: The Angel beats his Eva to a scary music, but that's to be expected. But then Eva starts to fight back! Time for a happy winning music (like in Digimon when a new mode is activated)...except what we get is "The Beast", which is ten times more terrifying than the music before. The meaning of the scene also changes from a regular "good wins" to "Oh, Crap!, what is happening?", making the dissonance hard to notice.
Overall, a large part of Evangelion's soundtrack is often described as something that shouldn't fit, but somehow it does.
And in an excellent example of Follow the Leader, RahXephon's final four episodes contain this trope as well. Two examples: Kunugi's Heroic Sacrifice in episode 23 which destroys Nirai-Kanai and Ayato's Freak-Out in episode 25 which fires a huge sonic blast and destroys much of Japan. Both has scenes of destruction overlaid by serene music, achieving an effect much like End of Evangelion.
Hanasaku Iroha uses a Catholic-esque choir and pipe organ during a Shinto festival in Episode 25. Unlike many other examples listed here, it's not mindscrewy and probably quite unintentional, since the music fits the uplifting, spiritual atmosphere of the festival, but some viewers find the difference in religious and cultural motifs really jarring.
Mobile Suit Victory Gundam does this quite well, both the openings and ending are quite happy and upbeat but the show itself is very dark and bloody.
As Stella dies in Shinn's arms in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, the typical happy, semi-romantic country music end theme starts up (it's called "I Wanna Go To A Place..."), growing more upbeat as Shinn begins sobbing, and cutting to the credits just as Shinn lets loose a rather convincing scream of pure, inarticulate rage and grief. The credits are shown over a pleasant, pastoral scene apparently depicting an Elseworld where everyone in the cast is alive and together with loved ones...
Also the climactic arc of the series was prefaced by the mind-boggling new opening song: The Earth, Wind & Fire-inspired "Wings of Words."
Any time Shinn attacks in Super Robot Wars K. His BGM is Zips, a light, energetic mecha opening that plays away while he goes all angsty-berserker on whatever poor sap you've sicced him on.
In multiple SD Gundam G Generation games (such as WARS and WORLD), when Shinn battles, his theme music is Zips. When he's in SEED-Mode (Max MP or higher), his theme music changes. This is the case for multiple characters, in fact. For Shinn, his Super-Critical BGM is "Anna ni Issho Datta no ni", a calm, beautiful love-song, which is juxtapositioned against Shinn's very angry screaming. It almost sounds agonizing. For SEED-Kira, the SEED-Mode BGM is the same as the Preview theme from SEED, while Kira talks about how he wants the war to end.
During episode 7, the soothing "Fields of Hope" is played against footage of horrifying destruction, as Junius Seven's fragments crash to Earth, annihilating cities around the world. In an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, this actually proves to be one of the most powerful scenes in the series. It was purposefully done, Lacus Clyne singing it, a popular diva on the show, sings it to calm down the kids in her bombshelter.
In Phase 41 of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, while Lacus and Patrick Zala were engaged in a propaganda war on the PLANTs, Siegel, Lacus's father, was assassinated by Zala's soldiers, with Lacus's image song, "Mizu no Akashi", playing in the background.
Soldiers of Sorrow, which is heard during the second movie, is an upbeat piece. Too upbeat for the lyrics that go with it.
Yes My Sweet (in the third movie) is another battle scene number, this one has a sound that is eerily reminiscent of a Beatles song.
The Remastered DVDs of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing manages to pull this off with the menus for discs 6, 7 and 8. The animation leading up to the menu itself features various episode clips of characters getting shot at, from Heero to Lady Une, whilst the rather upbeat ending theme, "It's Just Love", plays in the background!
Speaking of Gundam Wing, in episode 41, "Rhythm Emotion", the show's second opening theme, is playing during the Gundam Team and White Fang's assault on Barge, ending with Zechs singlehandedly destroying the space station with Epyon. It also happened at the end of episode 36, after Relena surrendered to Romefeller and dissolved the Sanc Kingdom, and during Heero's ZERO System-induced rampage as he destroys several mobile dolls with Epyon.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has children's choir playing during the final battle between Gundam Exia and 0 Gundam.
Most if not the soundtrack itself for Turn A Gundam in a meta-sense, thanks in part to Yoko Kanno's work. With its peculiar blend of techno, pastoral, tribal and period-piece tunes, not to mention some orchestral pieces and a Disney-esque Award-Bait Song, it's at best a departure from many Gundam shows. Yet it really does a pretty good job in setting the tone of the series.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: Mikazuki's fight against Carta in episode 23 is set to the usual heroic music that accompanies his fights, as he systematically tears her mecha to pieces around her instead of going for his usual quick kill, leaving her injured, helpless, and delirious in her cockpit even as he continues to attack, which comes off as less than heroic.
Heaven's Lost Property uses this heavily, always Played for Laughs, by playing extremely serious music over scenes that are completely impossible to take seriously in the first place to make them even more ridiculous. For example, the scene commonly referred to as "Tomoki vs Panties", which essentially consists of Tomoki attempting to save Sohara from panties that explode when he (and only he) looks at them (nope, it doesn't make sense in context either) accompanied by a techno-remix of "The Final Coundown".
The jarringly up-beat and low-fi, diegetic pop music in the second chapter of 5 Centimeters per Second seems to be an affront to the Scenery Porn and the lovely soundtrack. One song piped in to the convenience store crows "daijobu da yo (It's all right)" while Kanae suffers her unrequited love in silence. In another case Kanae on her bike is passed by her sister blasting similarly upbeat and indelicate tunes. This seems to be a mordant joke about the interference of the modern world with even the potential solace of Scenery Porn in the midst of disappointment. The sonic environment is being destroyed.
The third chapter, on the other hand, shows the protagonist browsing magazine racks with "One More Time, One More Chance" playing in the convenience store. Later the song moves from diegetic sound to the extradiegetic soundtrack: the effect is, at least meant to be, cathartic.
One of the original Bubblegum CrisisOVA episodes closes out at a graveyard, with a wide shot of many gravestones and mourners... then immediately kicks in the upbeat '80s anime pop music. Not quite putting The "Fun" in "Funeral", but...
BGC is a repeat offender. In fact, whenever you hear some upbeat song, something dramatic is gonna happen. Just look at the scene where Priss' friend was killed and she's gearing up for some serious ass-kicking... Despite the Knight Sabers' explicit ban on personal revenge. Other Sabers show up just in time to make it a team mission.
On the other hand, Kizudarake no Wild, the song in question, has the almost supernaturally fitting lyrics, neatly averting Lyrical Dissonance. It's just that BGC in general has a preppy 80's glam rock as its main soundrack.
Bokurano's second closing theme has a fairly upbeat sound with depressing lyrics, while the animation that goes with it depicts most of the dead or soon to be dead kids smiling, holding hands amongst the stars.
The upbeat opening themes for Aku no Hana sound incredibly out of place, given the seriousness of the subject matter and the show's subdued tone. This was almost certainly intentional.
In Divergence Eve, the series is extremely creepy and dramatic, and sometimes the episodes end with horrible, horrible scenes... yet the end credits are an incredibly peppy J-Pop tune to pictures of the main character in incredibly Fanservicey outfits and revealing poses. It's akin to replacing the ending credits of Schindler's List with The Powerpuff Girls.
The Soul Society arc episodes of Bleach features the main characters being stabbed, cut up and bloodied. Then the credits are fun scenes with the song "happypeople" which first shows up after Ichigo collapses at the end of his fight with Kenpachi.
Even more jarring example from earlier in the same arc: One episode ends with Momo, Captain Aizen's lieutenant, seeing Aizen's impaled corpse stuck to a building, and the last line in the episode is her screaming his name at the top of her lungs. Cut to the closing credits, set to a peppy, upbeat tune ("Houki Boshi"). Each of the credit reels for that song featured a different division, often one that featured somewhat noticeably in that episode, and this episode was the dead guy and the screaming person's turn.
The 13th ending theme is the happy-sounding "Tane wo Maku Hibi", a song whose video shows Ichigo's family happily frolicking. Except that ending starts off the Hueco Mundo arc, which is one of the most violent.
It keeps on rolling with ending 14, "Kansha.", where the singer is singing about how thankful she is for her friends, and whose video is happy. Still the same arc.
At the end of Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis, Rock blows up the Ziggurat as Kenichi struggles to save the power-dizzy Tima. Ray Charles's "I Can't Stop Lovin' You" plays instead of sound effects. This editor wept. Her father did, too. This clip is from the Spanish dub, but it'll give you the picture.
The original Japanese version of the film (with English Dub) can be found here for those curious. It also bears mentioning that, while the mood of the song is an excellent example of the trope, the song may also be somewhat applicable under Lyrical Dissonance, as Ray Charles is cheerfully describing that he has decided to refuse to move on, and will instead live in an escapist fantasy in lieu of reality: interesting, considering that both of the antagonists in the movie are motivated primarily by a refusal to let go of people they love, but don't/can't love them back. Which only makes the final effect of the trope more pronounced.
In another Tezuka example, the 1980s Astro Boy anime had a few moments like this. The scene where Atlas first appears after his upgrade and massacres a squad of policemen is set to a rather upbeat, almost triumphant piece of classical music, probably to symbolize Atlas' view of himself as a hero, defending robotkind from the evils of humanity.
Variation: the non-canonical and deliberately poorly animated Omake of the .hack series, .hack//GIFT, plays the anime's dramatic and haunting music during scenes of slap-stick comedy.
Done on purpose and to very great effect in the second season finale of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex when, after everything seems lost, the Tachikoma hijack the satellite that holds their AIs and crash it into a nuclear missile that is about to hit a major populated area. True to their nature they are unable to feel fear and are excited to experience the mystery of death, so they go down happily singing a children's song that sums up that life is great. The show is well known for having an awesome soundtrack, but in this one scene, it's just very simple singing of children's voices without any music.
As Mai-HiME has an overly optimistic and light-hearted opening, as well as the practice of ending nearly every episode either with a Cliffhanger or at least on the most dramatic note, it just begs for Soundtrack Dissonance. Add the show's fondness for The Teaser, and you know the drill. A character is shown to have been quite unambiguously stomped into the dirt and rolled over with a road-roller; there are multiple battles between former friends going all over the place, and there has just been an explosion somewhere. Cut to the opening credits, with its shots of the blue sky with seagulls, characters glomping each other and smiling, and most unbearably, the upbeat "Shining Days". Aaah!
When Kafuka Fuura of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei offers her ridiculously positive point of view on a decidedly dismal situation, the negative imagery is accompanied by her serene theme or other cheerful music. For example, her memories of her mother's demonic possession are paired with an upbeat accordion waltz.
The first ED song is a swinging jazz/blues number with lyrics about two lovers committing group suicide.
And then in the second season, the time when Itoshiki-sensei tries to hang himself (again, surprise surprise...) while Happy Birthday to You! plays in the background.
The soundtrack is pretty dissonant as a whole. The beautifully orchestrated, dramatic, tearful pieces of the soundtrack contrast heavily with the comedic, completely non-serious tone of the series itself.
Elfen Lied also has a rather upbeat ending theme and a tendency to end episodes on a Cliffhanger, or at least by showing us something unpleasant, and cue upbeat j-pop song. The naked, fetal-positioned Lucy/Nyu doesn't make it any less disconcerting at all.
While the openings and endings in Death Note fit the mood of the series, a clear example of Soundtrack Dissonance appears in one episode, where Misa walks through Tokyo singing gently about God watching over everyone with continuous shots of people dying from her writing their names down.
Episode 4 of Highschool of the Dead has the beautiful and uplifting "O Spirit" play during a montage of the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse.
Downer Endings sometimes get a separate Ending Theme just to avoid this, but when they don't... Well, if knowing about the upcoming sequel series didn't spoil the effect of Futari wa Pretty Cure's Downer Ending for you, the sudden cut to "LET'S GO! GET YOU! L! O! V! E! LOVE! LOVE! GET YOU!" probably did.
In Fresh Pretty Cure!, during episode 20 after winning the second battle against Eas's Nakisakebe, the girls faint from the exhertion of the battle and dance training finally taking a toll on them. The episode ends with them being taken to the hospital. Cue the fluffy, upbeat ending theme "You Make me Happy".
In fact, every single Pretty CureEnding Theme ever, not counting the movie ones, is light-hearted, cheerful and happy-go-lucky, thus ruining the mood whenever a season reaches its climax or an episode ends on a depressing tone. The fact that nowadays all the endings are Dancing Themes does not help matters.
Not counting the movie ones? Then, you haven't seen Pretty Cure All Stars DX 3, where the movie's ending theme, "Arigatou ga Ippai", begins playing while showing the powerless Pretty Cure crying because of everything they lost (until the post-credits).
The light, happy bubblegum J-pop tune "Ai no Tenshi" underscores the gruesome carnage in Perfect Blue.
Code Geass averts this for most of the run, with ED songs from Ali Project.
In the Second battle of Tokyo, in Episode 18 of Season 2, they used strangely peaceful piano music. It is also used in Episode 23 when Lelouch explodes a volcano, and when he faces Nunnally in the final chapter.
It seems to fall into it at the season finale, where they play the peppy, upbeat original opening theme as an ending, but the director has said that the song is meant to be encouraging for the protagonist. Additionally, after the credits is a scene where the Mysterious Waif gives a hopeful soliloquy as an insert song that matches her mood plays in the background.
Season 2's final opening theme ("World End") might seem like this - it's an upbeat song about finding hope when everything seems hopeless and how it's always darkest before the dawn, to use a cliche. The lyrics start out somber and powerless, but then get hopeful just before the one English line, "Everything is bright". The last line in the TV size is "The light that is born at the end of the world becomes one with us now, in the wind." It foreshadows the hope and peace that come in the end.
The director seems to be aware of this much, implying in the single's booklet that he intentionally wanted to make the characters smile in the opening, at least, even if they were facing a troubled, sad fate.
In the Grand Finale for R2, when Lelouch dies, possibly some of the happiest, prettiest music in the series plays as his little sister begs for him to open his eyes, then cries over his dead body. It does then fade into the happy, peaceful Where Are They Now epilogue, which it fits, though.
K has some peaceful, if video-game-y music for a lot of it's beautifully animated fight scenes.
It also uses the Ode to Joy type - the killer hums that tune before committing the murder, in the video that's shown plenty of times throughout the first season. It could be seen as symbolic, considering the origins of the guy he's about to go body-snatch...
In the finale of season 2, the track "Return of Kings" plays while Shiro enacts his plan to destroy the Slates. Like several of the Code Geass examples, this hilights how what looks like a sad moment is actually quite hopeful.
Mai-Otome follows the above examples, yet at the same time subverts it. The series' major Wham Episode ends with Erstin dead, Nina deranged, Arika angry, and an explosion appearing over Garderobe. The Ending Theme plays its "Mellow Version". That is to say the beginning of the song is slower and more melancholy...then goes right into the usual pop music and continues with Arika running across a field of stars.
In Cowboy Bebop, the seamless blending of Jazz and sci-fi action-drama elements was the entire premise of the anime.
Special mention to the serene vocal ballad (ELM) played during the speedboat/spaceship chase at the end of Ganymede Elegy.
Then there is the Ave Maria recording snug by opera singer Jerzy Knetig in "Ballad of Fallen Angels". Faye Valentine attends a live performance, being invited by a mysterious gentleman. Turns out the gentleman is Vicious and to add insult to injury, the guy who actually bought the tickets is in their same opera box, rigor mortis setting in.
In Welcome to the N.H.K., the main character goes on a wild, disturbing hallucinatory fantasy with his neighbor blasting a sickeningly cute anime theme song in the background. Eventually the vocals alone accompany his visions, with an effect similar to an Ironic Nursery Rhyme.
Neither of The '90sSailor Moon's opening songs go well with the seasons' final episodes, which are always dark. Especially disturbing in episodes that have a recap of some dramatic event before the opening sequence. Eyecatchers also provide a similar effect, particularly in Sailor Stars.
In fact, many Magical Girl anime series with typical love-themed soundtracks suffer from this when it comes to the multi-episode final fights. Tokyo Mew Mew, with its two extremely cheerful theme songs, is a good example. Prétear, while cutting the opening theme in the final two episodes, keeps the ending — in episode 12, it comes up right after Sasame sacrifices himself to save Takako, and though it is slower than the opening, it still doesn't fit the mood.
Sailor Moon really suffers from this during the final battle against Metallia/Beryl at the end of its first season. Sailor Moon is in the Arctic, all alone, ready to face her. Her friends have all been killed. Mamoru's died right in front of her. All she has is the Moon Stick. Metallia blasts her, and she emerges from a pillar of ice as Princess Serenity, and shit gets real as they clash. It looks hopeless until Serenity begs her fallen friends for aid, remembering each of them. All of this is set to the twinkly "Moonlight Densetsu" in the original and VIZ dub. In fact, quite a few fans have mentioned that they feel this is one scene the DiC dub actually did well on, replacing that song with the more energetic and intense "Carry On".
Black Lagoon puts "The World of Midnight", a beautifully sung ballade, right on top of the fade-out of a scene where a very creepy young boy has just bled to death on the ground after having had his hand shot off as punishment for angering the most powerful and ruthless woman in the whole city. The song is reused during the ending credits just after his sister is shot in the head on-screen, killing her in an an almost as gruesome a manner, for exactly the same reason: pissing off the woman they should've NOT upset.. The fact doesn't get better by the fact that, considering just how badly they had been messed up by what they had lived through, this was probably the best thing that could happen to them.
And then they use it again for Balalaika's s backstory! Meaning, for the episode that explains how the person who arranged for the creepy children's aforementioned messy deaths became the person she is in the series.
The English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX suffers from this with its opening theme. The happy rock song about school and card games may have worked in the first season, but in the third season when characters are trapped in another world and are 'being sent to the stars' almost every episode, the opening jars so much.
There is also the Fourth Season duel between Yami and Weevil (Haga in the Japanese version) where heroic music starts playing as Yami wins. One problem. Yami is using his monster to beat the everlasting shit out of Weevil again and again even after Weevil's life points have hit zero in revenge for an horrifyingly cruel prank that involved Weevil pretending to have Yugi's soul card, then ripping it in front of Yami's eyes; seeing as how Yami was directly responsible for losing Yugi's soul, in the first place, Weevil's 'prank' quite understandably drives the guilt-wracked Yami absolutely berserk with rage.
Similar to the GX example above, most of the Japanese ending themes for Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V are extremely upbeat and positive, usually featuring the protagonists have fun or relaxing with each other. The actual show is notoriously angsty and dark, even by this franchise's standards. Often, every few episodes will end with something tragic (like a character dying, someone revealing their tragic past, Yuya confronting the realities of war or losing a friend) will immediately be followed with a peppy theme tune about teamwork, never giving up, and having fun.
Narutaru has one of the more unsettling instances of this trope in the opening. The song is an upbeat tune, played to a variety of images that looked drawn by little kids. It seems cute enough. Then watch the first few episodes. The cute opening suddenly becomes a major point of Mood Whiplash...
You think comparing the OP to the first few episodes is bad? Try comparing it to the last few, which place such events as Hiroko's kidnapping into frightening context. Or even worse, compare the OP to later volumes of the original manga...
That only goes for the tune and images, though. The lyrics to the song seem to be about someone waiting for a person who will never come — how that relates to the series' story is up to the audience, but it's a far cry from cheery.
The cutesy OP actually drops some hints about how dark the series actually is, though admittedly you have to look up close. At one point an adorable-looking chibi Hiroko is grabbed by a bunch of equally cutesy chibi girls and dragged off screen, and it's implied she gets beaten up by them. These girls? The bullies that totally break her and lead her to massively snap at the end of the series.
Nearly every song in every Macross series has to do with love somehow, and are often used as backdrops and/or weapons in combat:
In Super Dimension Fortress Macross's movie adaptation, Macross: Do You Remember Love?, the entire final battle is set to the titular song, a soft and melodic love ballad supposedly taken from the ruins of a Protoculture outpost discovered by the Macross. It is one of the most iconic scenes in anime history, contrasting the message of the song with images of space warfare, swarms of beams and missiles flying everywhere, and, more particularly, Hikaru's final assault into Boddol Zer's inner sanctum. On the one hand, all of this drives home how the allied forces are fighting for the survival of "culture" —that is, the unique feelings and emotions that can create such a song in the first place— but then the audience is treated to a man being beheaded messily and graphically by falling debris, and the dissonance sets in.
Some of the scramble/launch batttle themes sound like excerpts from a fusion jazz jam session.
Macross Frontier also uses the titular song from DYRL? in slow ballad form — for an inverted purpose. Later in the battle after Ranka is freed, the song comes up again in quick form as one of the many mixed with "Lion".
The 12th opening of One Piece sounds more like something one would hear from a bubbly high school romance/comedy than an epic adventure show. Even more jarring is the fact that the arc it's played for is about Luffy infiltrating a prison to save his brother from execution. This is the beginning of an arc that brutally subverts the long-standing principle that nobody will be killed off outside of flashbacks.
"Ave Maria" is played during the Tear Jerker scene where Chopper's father-figure Hiruluk commits suicide-by-self-explosion.
In one of the last episodes of Black Cat, Saya's song is played over scenes of Creed being abused as a child.
Also the first ending theme.
Sgt. Frog subverts this with most of its opening and ending songs. While they may sound like martial anthems and typical shounen pop, the lyrics are usually about failing at household chores and being lazy. The sheer upbeat attitude shoots it right into Mundane Made Awesome.
An even weirder variation of this occurs at the start of episode 37; when Kogoro's sister is attempting to hand out fliers, the background music is "Jingle Bells", for no reason whatsoever. (No, it isn't a Christmas Episode.)
Averted in Fullmetal Alchemist. Most of the songs attached to the ending credits are really cheery. When Maes Hughes dies, his funeral and the appropriate dirge are played instead.
Played straight after Nina's death. The ending music is the same, the images however changed to show the dead character being cute and adorable.
The new animation, however, manages to make the upbeat music seem rather poignant.
There is Bratja though. This beautiful quiet music, whose lyrics are partly sung by a choral of children, is almost always played during a scene of massive destruction. But the lyrics (in Russian) are completely in harmony with the events of the anime.
Better; the lyrics are about the anime. A rare occurance for the media.
Also played straight with Martel's death and the reveal that Bradley is Pride. After that nerve-wracking ending, we then cut to the end credits with images of Winry acting cute.
A non-humorous example is when Ed confirms that their failed human transmutation was in fact not of their mother. Al then breaks down in relief, as he'd always blamed himself for what happened and felt they'd brought back their mom only to have her die again in agony, which in turn relieves him of this burden. The scene itself is very emotional and poignant, but the music playing sounds particular dark and ominous which clashes with it.
Detective Conan likes to occasionally end episodes with people sobbing with regret for their actions... and then launches right into the lighthearted rock ending song.
Arguably, the second Strawberry Panic! ED. Just as the series is taking a turn for the dramatic the original ED is replaced by a very happy go lucky song filled with Les Yay overtones in which the singers are two dimensional paper dolls in several colourful settings. At one point the contrast is nothing short of appalling, after Nagisa breaks down crying in a very emotional moment the episode comes to an end with her sobbing and then Extreme Sugariness follows.
Simoun has a light-hearted accordion piece that likes to play every single time that the titular lesbian-powered airplanes draw a particularly effective Ri Maajon in the sky. This normally wouldn't be so bad except that, since they're at war, the prayers are usually "BLOW THE STUFF UP NOW." Also, they played it when one of the main characters (a teenager girl) is busy cutting the cold dead fingers of an enemy pilot loose from her simoun, which he had died trying to hijack. He even apologized to them beforehand, and was shown to have a sympathetic background. The main character got blood in her eye and yelled at her even younger partner to hide while she was cutting the dude's fingers off.
The Starship Troopers OVA mixes peppy, cheesy 80's music with two separate bar brawls, amongst other things.
The opening song of Xam'd: Lost Memories involves a heavy rock song descriptively titled "Shut up and Explode" accompanying many explosions, while implying that the series is all about fighting monsters with the power of xam'd. The series itself is pretty melancholy, and focuses much more on setting and characters than combat.
In Darker Than Black, the "Now I've lost it I know I can kill" intro generally fits the show, despite the intentional irony in the lyrics.. But after sitting through an episode of the usual DtB action, the calm, relaxing, romantic closing song that plays as the credits scroll over a picture of Yin sitting in a field of flowers make it seem more like a minefield.
Scrapped Princess keeps the same upbeat sound for the commercial break bumpers as the series itself becomes more and more serious/dramatic. For that matter, its opening theme is a cheery little song about hope. It plays over a montage of the main characters fleeing their home as it is burned by the army trying to kill Pacifica.
In its original version, the first Digimon movie set a fight scene between kaiju to the tune of Bolero, a ballet piece.
The same piece plays throughout nearly the entirety of episode 35 - aka the one where Vamdemon (Myotismon) unleashes his isolating fog and begins having his minions openly attack and round up ordinary, terrified people.
Hey Digimon, if you watched the second part of the first season of Digimon, I don't need to go on. For those who haven't, this song plays at the ending, where it fit as a 'what good times we had', and when a hero's digimon get the upper hand, where it come off as jarring as it lack the bite for a fight song.
The opening theme of Mahoromatic has your sweet music and female vocalist typical of a seinen series. The dissonance comes when it intersperses scenes of chibi Mahoro doing maid stuff and cast shots of her happy friends, with scenes of her dodging missiles and blasting stuff with herbig fraggin' pistol.
The anime has this in its ending credits for the tenth movie. The Japanese ending, rather than the typical J-pop used in the series, is a love ballad in the style of "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic, over a cheery ending montage. This is extremely odd, especially given that Everybody Lives, and thus the only couple the song applies to are of different species, if the internet is to be believed.
Immediately before that, the music that plays when Darkrai turns out to be alive is strangely ominous for what's clearly supposed to be a happy scene.
The English dub of the first movie has the Blessed Union of Souls' "Brother My Brother" (a light, undramatic song) play while the regular and clone Pokémon are fighting each other to the death.
Despite the film's dark and troubling themes and near-constant violence during the third act, its soundtrack is made up almost exclusively of late-'90s bubblegum pop, whereas industrial rock or nu-metal, which were readily available at the time, would arguably have fit much better. (To be fair, though, most of the songs were present only in the credits, after the story had lightened up, and too much distortion and angst might have scared younger viewers.)
The lyrics of 'Brother My Brother' do work quite well with the scene however, all ties in nicely with the film's messages, and the idea that the pokemon and their clones (which could, in a way, be compared to twins) fighting with each other is tragic. Particularly so with Pikachu refusing to attack their clone, the words of the song feel like they could well line up with Pikachu's perspective on the scene.
The dub adds an energetic song. Dawn appears on-screen in a pretty dress, releasing her Piplup and Buneary. All as we hear "-AS YOU FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL! NOTHING CAN STOP YOU! DIAMOND AND PEARL!"
This also happens in the eleventh dub opening. The main villains, Team Rocket, look forward and smile to the camera, then all of their Pokémon jump over them smiling and filled with joy, all while the the lyrics "Forever friends! You and I!" are sung.
The Gen IV saga did this a few times, playing absurdly epic and dramatic music as the backdrop for chasing Pachirisu around for several minutes, or Team Rocket's evolution machine sputtering out repeatedly.
The Gen VI is even worse on this subject. Dramatic but serious moments have happy upbeat music, the musical background just keeps going on and on without fitting the mood, and next to never do these unfitting music tracks are cut when something drastic occurs. The dubbing company has gone on to say they can't really afford to use the Japanese tracks, despite how they are able to use the Japanese Team Rocket theme.
Toward the Terra features this with its first ending, a hopeful ballad with a gentle piano introduction based on Pachelbel's Canon. This part is played over traumatic final scenes several times. Special points go to episode nine, which plays it over an alternate end credits sequence just to rub it in further.
The French intro for Dragon Ball Z tries to sound incredibly upbeat and sweet, as their dub attempted to recut the series into a lighthearted young children's cartoon, which didn't keep the editors from inserting shots of battered, bleeding people into the song. Adding to the dissonance is that, while many, many questionable shots were indeed cut, the French edit still remained a very violent and intense series.
In the "Stinkbomb" segment of Otomo Katsuhiro's Memories, peppy jazz music accompanies the darkly humorous tale of a young man who unwittingly becomes a living bioweapon as the Japanese SDF ineptly tries to stop him.
In Toradora!, what song is playing after Taiga cries as she realizes she loves Ryuji, who she just sent to be with her friend, said friend seeing this and deciding she couldn't have him either and then rejecting Ryuji while Ami is left unable to express herself, leaving all four miserable and alone on Christmas? A happy Christmas song about togetherness and not being lonely.
Brigadoon: Marin and Melan has a very upbeat, cheery outro, but a fair number of the episodes end on heart-wrenching cliffhangers. This can be rather disorienting, especially towards the end of the series when many of the characters have either been brainwashed, killed off, or brutally beaten. The final episode, thankfully, has a different and very appropriate ending theme.
In any given episode, there's about a 50/50 chance that Guyver's relaxing end theme will be playing moments after a bloody dismemberment.
The ending theme of Trigun is slow and methodical, and fits the shown scene of Vash walking what appears to be the desert ruins of a town... but then it falls into this when the rest of the images are all innocuous things like Vash eating lunch. Interestingly, the version that aired on [adult swim] avoided this by editing it so that only the appropriate initial image is shown in a continuous loop.
There were also scenes near the series' end that depicted numerous dead bodies overlayed with a pleasant-sounding slide guitar riff
The opening song to Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro Chan fits this to a T. A little girl singing gleefully with images of her torturing a young boy various ways playing throughout.
All of the HellsingOVAs have different ending themes. After OVA 4, right after the viewer is treated to the... ahem, pleasant sight of Alucard devouring Rip Van Winkle alive, we are treated to this ending theme. To be fair, that ending theme was actually, Dad Englandied, which was that infamous Nazi propaganda song back in WWII.
The incredibly dull song playing during Integra's exciting car chase scene. Despite it being a tense, thrilling scene, the music in the background sounds more like something you'd hear during an ordinary conference meeting scene.
If you wanna talk about Hellsing, let us gleefully recall the Anime series: Its groovy, English opening that no one can understand, and its English ending...played by Mr. Big. This is a show about vampires, twisted relationships, gore, and a Combat Sadomasochist who likes girls; I highly doubt a romantic, upbeat ending them about how much you 'shine on me' is appropriate.
In Sword of the Stranger, the scenes where things seem the most hopeless are the ones accompanied by the most triumphant music, which has the interesting effect of preluding whatever badass thing the hero is about to pull to make things right again.
The duel songs are especially offensive about this. Upbeat music about death and deceptive things. The crown could probably be held by Mikage's I Am an Imaginary Living Body and Touga's Allegory Allegorier Allegoriest.
It dumps the overly cheery J-pop number "M/elody" into the end of each of its episodes. While about 50% end on cliffhangers, and it's a Disaster Series, causing a major case of this in several places.
The opening theme for 8.0 ("Kimi no Uta") gives the feeling of a shounen adventure series more so than a serious and dramatic survival story.
In CLANNAD, think of any episode that ends even somewhat dramatically or sad. Cue the Tastes Like Diabetes Dango Daikazoku. "Dango, Dango, Dango, Dango..."
Even worse in After Story, where some unbelievably sad moments cut directly to a really bouncy and upbeat song with footage of a young girl skipping happily.
Oh, The Naruto Pain arc. Bam!Konoha is now a smoking crater. Cut to cheery happy super fun song and Hinata riding a bicycle (the song is even called "Jitensha")! Oh hey, look, Hinata just gave her life trying to rescue Naruto and Naruto's just gone Kyuubi. Cue Hinata on a Bicycle AGAIN!
Speculation is that that is exactly why this ending was chosen, as the day this ending was first aired for this particular season, anyone who's read the manga saw this coming a mile away. The fact that the Omake of the episode immediately before this is about the ending shows this as being even more intentional.
Fushigi Yuugi episode 2 ends with the emperor making a dramatic announcement to the court; not a downer like some of the above examples, but certainly a solemn moment. Cue the ending music, with such perfect timing that it sounds like the court are throwing a celebratory disco.
This trailer for the movie Redline. Because when I hear a quiet love song, I think of fast-cut scenes of racing where veins bulge out of the drivers' eyes.
Soul Eater has the Asura resurrection arc episodes conclude with the happy, cute second ending theme 'Style' about wanting to be a child again. Unfortunately the children in this context are getting the crap kicked out of them by a pissed-off Eldritch Abomination. Although it does allow for the adorable Maka and Crona version in ep22.
Averted in Negima! The Episode where Asuna dies has its ending credits play in-episode to avoid the use of the cheery ending theme. And they also changed the OP of the next episode to show her funeral and cremation with a sad tune playing, thus avoiding Mood Whiplash.
Monster has this in one scene where the series' Big Bad, Johan Liebert, goes to the house of a "friend" who he got to start killing for him (maybe through manipulation). The "friend" asks who Johan wants him to kill next and Johan points at himself insisting that he, "woke up from the dream." It's later made clear that this is part of his plan to commit the perfect suicide and then, while incredibly peaceful music is playing, he casually shoots the other guy in the face, mixed with his own trademark Dissonant Serenity.
The dissonance goes further than that - the song is actually Johan's leitmotif whenever he does or says something revealing about himself or his past. It also ties in somewhat with Schuwald's description of Johan as a man "at perfect peace with himself."
Used heavily in Samurai Champloo. A good example of this is one scene towards the end of an episode where Mugen, having just escaped from an ambush, meets the masterminds on the beach. One challenges him and is cut down, and the survivor falls to her knees in utter terror for her life. Mugen slowly walks towards her as an intense drum-loop plays... and just keeps walking.
Before that, as Mugen is drowning, we get this depressingly beautiful "Obokuri Eeumi (Obtain Our Bearings)" by Ikue Asazaki, about a woman who is building a house in the search for land while being barely dressed... and yet she feels like she is stalked. Here's the translation of the lyrics shown below:
In search of new lands, I build a new house. I thatch the house with reed stalks Gathered neatly in bundles.
At the stone wall Let us celebrate the golden house That was built By a hundred carpenters.
The eighth month is fast approaching And yet I have nothing to wear. I want to dress up, so brother, Will you lend me just one sleeve? I wish to dress my children and loved ones In the one kimono that I own. As for me, I will wear vines That I plucked deep in the mountains.
The light of the full moon shines down, Illuminating the world with its divine light. When my lover sneaks in to visit me, I wish that the clouds would hide that light just a little.
The music played over the end credits of Ringing Bell is a happy tune played over a cheerful pasture of sheep.
Prétear has this effect when the happy upbeat ending theme is playing after a really dark episode. Thankfully, near the end of the show they drop the opening theme altogether though the ending theme is still there. It's really apparent when watched on DVD which jumps right to the next episode: 'here have an uplifting happy song, and oh yeah, people are dead.'
Deadman Wonderland is a very violent anime about people in prison who compete in deadly games in order to survive, plus the people with blood powers who are forced to slaughter each other for the amusement for the rich. The ending is a happy sounding J-Pop song showing all the characters having good times. At the end of every episode. Usually after watching something really gory happens. Yeah!
Used in a couple different ways in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Firstly there's the cheery opening theme, which is also an example of Lyrical Dissonance. They continue to use it even as the show gets darker and darker, and then it's used at the end of episode ten, and the placement leads the viewer to realize that the song is about Homura, which makes it a massiveTear Jerker Although this does get subverted, when it plays at the end of episode twelve, where it takes on a much less tragic context.
The other notable example takes place during Kyoko's fight with Sayaka's witch form, while soothing violin music plays.
Quite a few of the instrumental pieces in the soundtrack of Seitokai Yakuindomo have a mellow, nostalgic tone that would not be out of place in a dramatic or bittersweet school story, which contrasts wildly with the non-serious and perverted tone of the show.
While it does slow to an electric guitar dirge, the music for the flash back sequence in the eleventh episode of Serial Experiments Lain starts by as an upbeat jazz number. Note that we see most of the show's suicides during the jazzy part.
Psycho-Pass uses the usual Ode to Joy, divided in three different episodes, no less, while crazies talk to each other about horrible crimes described in painstaking detail.
In Episode 20, the gentle ED song "All Alone With You" by Super Cell plays while Makishima walks into an agriculture lab poised to take out much of Japan's food supply with a supervirus. And he uses a murdered scientists eyeballs and fingers to pass the biometric scans, to boot.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet was written by the same guy as Psycho-Pass and Puella Magi Madoka Magica above (though in this case, he's just the script supervisor). At the end of Episode 6, the beautiful, calming Ending Song by Cho Chou comes just after our hair-triggered former Child Soldier is starting to settle into peaceful civilian life...when it turns out that his lifelong enemies, which he thought were back in deep space, are in fact living on Earth. In subsequent episodes the Ocean World barge fleet that took him on splits up over disagreements on how to deal with them and over treasure guarded by the enemies on the ocean floor, and then comes the Awful Truth at the end of Episode 9, and the dissonance of the ED is downright heartbreaking. It also doesn't help how the video shows our cheery leading lady windsurfing with an effervescent smile, while she spends much of the previous three episodes in tears.
One Grave of the Fireflies trailer plays melancholy Italian opera music over a scene of American planes firebombing a Japanese village.
Rose of Versailles provides an example in the various dubs. Where the original opening and the soundtrack are appropriate to an anime telling the tragic story of Marie Antoinette, dub versions tend to have cheerful and happy songs, with the French one being one of the perkiestnote Sort of Justified with Fridge Logic: the anime switches the focus on Oscar, who is an officer who ultimately sided with the Revolution and gave her life to help the Storming of the Bastille. To a Frenchman who didn't watch the actual series or didn't read the original manga, this actually sounds happy (and the opening is actually centered on that).
Eureka Seven has the final opening, which, while awesome as hell, seems quite weird with its Opera "Amazing Grace" intro... And that's during the most epic and mind-screwy part of the series.
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya: The Tear Jerker ending where Kaguya goes back to the Moon, having forgotten her entire stay on the Earth, is set to very happy festival music. Two-fold Justified Trope as, first of all, the music is played in-universe and, secondly, the inhabitants of the Moon, who are the ones playing the music, do not know anything about sorrow or suffering; they are pretty much incapable of realizing that a Soundtrack Dissonance is even possible.
Saki, as well as Achiga-hen and Zenkoku-hen, take steps to avert this trope. There's usually at least two ending themes per season, one more upbeat song (two for the original series) that features Super-Deformed cast members playing around and cheerful lyrics that make references to mahjong, and a more serious song that features the characters shown normally. The latter ones are played on episodes that end on a relatively serious note.
Lucky Star has this Mexican-style guitar-and-trumpet song that plays at two different points during the anime. First, is during dinner at the beach (episode 6). Okay, so they were at least at a beach, but the second time, even more randomly, is when the girls are checking their class rosters in episode 15. It makes sense that both moments are upbeat, but it's not like anyone ever does visit Mexico (or anywhere else outside Japan, for that matter).
A lot of hardcore themed Hentai have upbeat, happy JPop music, especially the ones that are about high school girls. After the horrific episode, which usually results in the female cast being completely broken, the out of place ending credits music comes in.
Fairy Tail: Every episode ends with the credits music starting up a bit before the the ending credits actually start rolling. Considering that episodes tend to end on cliffhangers, this results in some...interesting scenes (read: really dark) running to cheerful music.
And with the third ending we have scenes like an incensed Natsu ready to fight Gajeel running to a maddeningly calm piano piece.
Most of the second opening is sickeningly sweet and is just general shots of guild members doing things that looks cool... until you get near the end where it shows the aftermath of Gajeel's attack, then Gajeel himself standing in front of shadow outlines of Element 4, and then Gajeel fighting Natsu, and the music is still sickeningly sweet.
Enforced by Junko Enoshima in the 7th episode of Danganronpa 3 Side:Despair. She hands Mukuro a sheet music to "Tsubasa wo Kudasai" (Yes, the same song that was used in Evangelion above) and makes her sing it. She does so signaling the start of the killing game in which members of the student council try to kill each other Battle Royale-style.
Be Forever Yamato ends with a vocal piece that sounds a lot like something that John Lennon might have written during The '70s. The saccharine lyrics about "being good to each other" and the kumbaya style choir ending problably helps the resemblance. This is, by the way, the same Space Battleship Yamato where, in most stories, a lot of people usually end up dead on both sides.
Hunter × Hunter 2011 has this in the Chimera Ant arc. The opening is an upbeat song, and the ending is a calm song, played before and after the most horrific and brutal arc thus far.