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Most of the animes I've seen repeat a limited set of soundtracks over and over. It gets annoying after a while. With soundtracks I refer to the music that is played in the anime, not the opening and ending theme. I think this is a weak spot of animes. Here are some examples:

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Death Note
  • Dragon Ball Z

Why is this?

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    it costs money to compose new music – Sam I am Dec 5 '13 at 15:35
  • I bet it serves as recognition point or something. Like how some characters have their own catchphrases, supercombos, epic animated sequences, etc, just on a lesser scale. But that's my guess. Not sure how much exactly it costs to produce 1 episode of 20 minutes duration, but I bet a bunch of sfx costs much less, and I don't think every studio is so greedy when it comes to sounds. Gotta be some other reason imo. – Hakase Dec 5 '13 at 17:29
  • I actually think this is a feature not a bug of Anime, I own the soundtrack for quite a few anime series and when listening to a piece of music from an anime rather than thinking of a particular scene it evokes an emotional response. I run to the music from Attack on Titan for example, and it motivates me because I get the adrenaline surge of imaginary titans chasing me. – Omar Kooheji Feb 4 '14 at 10:50
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This is from my understanding with music for game development. However, most are practically the same with anime as they are both mediums that use music to help engage the audience.

Each track costs so much and the price varies due to the length of a track and the number of revisions of that track. It would cost a while lot to create new tracks every time

Like with video games, music can help identify situations. As such, if one first sees some romantic scene where two characters go to kiss but don't, when one hears that same score again when the two characters are just talking, one can start to think "oh my god, they might confess to each other this time." Likewise in a fight, some anime have different tracks for fighting music based on how intense the battle will be so, when you start to hear that same music you can expect how epic a battle might be (just like with boss music in video games).

Music can set the mood to make you feel for the characters and what they are feeling, e.g.

in Fate Stay/Night anime when Rin, regardless on how much she got hurt, embraced Sakura and regretted how she wasn't much of a big sister by not doing anything to stop Sakura from being adopted out by the Matous (more of an impact for those who know what Sakura went though and that Rin was also blaming herself for Sakura's abuse)

By changing these more often you tend to lose the immersion and impact in some key scenes.

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Different tracks evoke themes, you have a sad track, a we're in deep trouble track, a "The Main character is starting to win track" it helps with emotional engagement, and builds emotion.

Much in the same way that the Final Fantasy Fanfare at the end of a battle evokes a sense of "HELL YEAH I WON" regardless of whether you beat a slime or a Boss. And the distinctive boss music from a game evokes stress that might not be there, it doesn't matter how hard the boss is, that music makes you stressed. The same applies for anime.

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@Memor-X and @Omar Kooheji tell you why this exist.

This is my two cents:

Most of the time, this is intentional, and it is not exclusive of Anime series.

This is know as Leitmotif or musical motif and it is a musical tool used in audiovisual media mostly characterized by short/repetitive/catchies melodies in certain situations in a media (which can be a movie, game or tv-serie, etc.) with the solely propose of let audience recognize, familiarize and empathize with an specific event.

There are tons of examples, like the Imperial March which is easy related to Darth Vader, or the Sound of The Shire to Frodo, Sam or the Fellowship in general, or a battle in Dragon Ball Z.

And even when is used the same theme, most of the time it'll have sublime changes in order to fit the situation.

I can't think in a anime example, but here, in the introduction song of the Disney's Movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame you can see how the theme for Quasimodo is being sung by Frollo in the middle of another song pointing the future misfortune of the baby and the omnipresence of Notre Dame. A moment after, you can see how this same melody/song is being sung again by Quasimodo inside Notre Dame in full emotion; you can easily see how this both situations share how cruel life threat Quasi or how this church bind this two characters just by one simple melody.

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