AOE immerses audience in favorite anime worlds

From slice of life to shonen, alum and student instrumentalists share the sounds of Japanese animation with students at Comet Con

Rory Moore | Mercury Staff

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Anime Orchestra Ensemble immersed listeners in the nostalgic sounds of their favorite anime with a live performance on March 28 at 7:30 p.m.  

AOE performed as the debut act before the Cosplay Competition for Comet Con, blending rock, punk and pop in their compositions to take creative liberties with the well-loved music from popular Japanese animated films and games. The ensemble has performed at a variety of live events to bring fans of anime, games and music together.  

Bronwen Olson, a physics junior and president of AOE, remembered watching “Yu-Gi-Oh!” as a child, her introduction to anime, and found a way to merge her passions for classical music and anime through piano and harp. For Olson, “Vogel im Kafig,” a hauntingly beautiful melody from “Attack on Titan,” was her favorite piece to play at an AOE concert. Olson said anime soundtracks produce an emotionality that links plots together, such as “Vogel im Kafig,” which perfectly expresses the sense of oppression and hopelessness that the characters of “Attack on Titan” feel. 

“‘Attack on Titan’ has such a gorgeous soundtrack, and that made me think of how high of an artform that is … AOE has helped me discover a lot of soundtracks from shows I would never have watched,” Olson said.  

Jacob Milan is an ATEC sophomore and one of the junior AV leads, as well as a vocalist for AOE. Milan’s earliest memories revolve around watching the anime “Pokemon,”Fairy Tail” and “Digimon,” which inspired Milan to pursue performing music. Specifically, Milan was inspired musically by “NEO: the World Ends With You,” a soundtrack he said was unique and held a special place for him due to its mix of J-rock, screamo, heavy metal and more. 

“The music in anime itself is [more] complex than other Western things,” Milan said. “It’s very complex in the sense there is a lot of instrumentation and you can have a ton of [aspects].”  

Lauren Truong, an ATEC senior, serves as both AOE’s choir section lead and marketing lead. Truong’s interest in anime stemmed from watching lighthearted shows like “Sailor Moon” and “Pokemon” with her family, and her interest in “Fairy Tail” was a pathway to explore more anime. Truong said that watching anime has exposed her to new international bands, and that AOE’s mix of instrumentals with J-pop music has allowed her to explore avenues that combine both styles. 

“I like hearing the different harmonies and layers of different orchestra pieces,” Truong said. 

Colby Ruane, a computer engineering senior, is the brass section lead for AOE. Watching “Pokemon” in the early mornings was an important and influential memory for him. Ruane said he enjoys the democratic feel of AOE, where the members make the musical choices for pieces rather than the directors, and especially appreciates the variety of instrumentation, with songs featuring instruments from ocarinas to trombones to vocals. 

“[Graduated members] love the community so much that they still want to participate in Saturday rehearsals,” Ruane said. “I think that really makes it unique from other orchestras you see [at UTD].”  

AOE’s environment builds on one common interest — a personal bond with anime. Through their mixing of genres, members of AOE have expanded their taste for music and infused a personal touch into their covers. Actuarial science junior, audiovisual lead and piano player Aiden Rutberg said he enjoys the pieces AOE plays because of the variety of different feelings they can invoke.  

“[The music we perform] stands out because it has a different sense of feeling than film scores and classical music that feels more Western to me, something that I’m more used to. I wanted to learn about other stuff, so [AOE] was one of the ways I can learn more about other parts of the world,” Rutberg said.  


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