Thu 17 May 2012
Last week on Joe’s Anime Talk, a listener asked what my favorite anime soundtrack was. This got me thinking recently about my love and appreciation for anime soundtracks. I began listening to movie soundtracks when I was in high school, with my favorites including Hans Zimmer and James Horner. Naturally, I began to have an affinity for the background music in anime.
This is an article series from last year that I’ve neglected to keep up with. Rather than suddenly resume the countdown, I decided to start over and go through all ten of my top 10 favorite anime composers in the next few months. Besides making some changes to my list, I have also updated the audio and rewritten large sections. Enjoy!
Oshima Michiru is decently well known in the realm of videogame music, composing scores for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Ico. She’s done a bit of anime music, her work for Full Metal Alchemist and BECK standing out notably. To me, Sora no Woto is the soundtrack that best exemplifies Oshima’s work.
Sora no Woto is a 13 episode slice of lifer set in a fictionalized pre-modern Europe. The scenery is beautiful, but Oshima’s score really brings much of the flavor out of the show.
Apres la pluie le beau temps
Brass is a thematic element of the show (playing a central role of the plot as well), and it appears in the soundtrack in various ways, from loud and bombastic to soft and melodious. “Apres la pluie le beau temps” has that classic, reminiscent feel.
I really like the contrast in this track — the dramatic buildup leads to a gentler melody and develops as the song progresses. The song sounds rather similar to John Williams’ “Across the Stars” from Star Wars Episode II, though the theme is quite different. As underwhelming as I found Sora no Woto to be, the soundtrack really saves the anime from utter mediocrity. It served to accentuate the conflict in the series far beyond the quality of the exposition. I found myself being tricked into empathy with a particularly well placed score, and there’s no better example than with “Servante de Feu”
Servante de Feu
If you happen to have the anime lying around, take a look at episode 10, about 11:25 into the show. Without the music, I would call the scene rather clumsy. There’s a significant amount of character development, but it’s done in the form of Rio just talking to Kanata. Oshima Michiru’s soundtrack is the glue that makes the scene work. An instrument arrange of “Servante de Feu” drives the scene, which is composed of short animation or stills of Rio and Kanata walking through town juxtaposed with dialogue. The music has such an overbearing presence here that it easily frames the scene’s emotion — connecting Rio’s emotional monologue with the placid visuals. This beautifully kerned scene perfectly showcases Sora no Woto‘s beautiful soundtrack.
“Servante de Feu” harkens something that’s grand but in constant motion. Matthieu Ladouce’s vocals are stunning and and fit the arrange perfectly, hitting high notes with a mixture of grace and sorrow. Overall, there’s this great emotional aura that emanates from the track. The brave souls who sacrificed themselves for the land they so loved, the “servants of fire”, if you will. It adds a great amount of scope to Sora no Woto, an anime that really is more than meets the eye.