I have always wanted to write and share my thoughts, experience, and conclusions from my research/investigations on random things, but have always been telling myself that I have more important things to do. Finally now I am starting to write something. The first topic is music related, since that is probably most relevant to visitors to my website.

On soundtracks and composers (Anime, J-Drama, Game).

More specifically, I will talk mostly about Anime soundtracks and composers, since I am most familiar with those, but I might also mention a few Game or J-Drama soundtracks. By the way, some composers work on soundtracks for both Anime and J-Drama, so perhaps we should not really be drawing a distinction between those; whereas Game soundtracks tend to be a bit different due to the need to fit also the game mechanics - having said that, games nowadays are quite movie-like, so are their soundtracks. Anyway, that is another topic for discussion which I can write about in the future.

Before talking about soundtracks, I would like to clarify that my understanding of soundtrack excludes a lot of OP ED songs and some IN songs - those which are J-Pop tie-ups or similar to that. Some are not so clear cut. Anyway, here I will exclude most OPs and EDs when talking about soundtracks.

In general all anime/j-drama/game soundtracks are good and fitting. Some contain one or two or a few exceptional tracks that are impressive and may well be amazing pieces on their own. Only very few are truly exceptional and memorable, when the soundtrack is taken as a whole rather than individual tracks. However, it is not to say the less memorable ones are not good as BGM - soundtracks differ from other music that their main aim is to fit and blend in well with the accompanied scenes, and this means that a lot of time they can't be too outstanding, depending on the scenes and the required impact. In a sense, soundtrack composition can be somewhat restricted, and can often turn into a set of generic music that caters for certain types of scenes.

Here I will write only brief comments on soundtracks and composers, and perhaps more in the style of a recommendation list. Don't expect a detailed analysis of the music - I believe you will learn much more by having a listen to them rather than reading some technical/musical analysis (which I am neither good at nor fond of). To make this essay more organised in a way, I am going to first comment on soundtracks by those composers about whom I have a bit to write, and then followed by other soundtracks. I am going to avoid writing about the background of the composers, as they can be looked up in Wikipedia, unless it is something particularly relevant to the discussion. (By the way, my convention of writing Japanese names is surname first (like how one would pronounce the Japanese characters), except for some particular names that are officially styled/written otherwise.) The composers are listed not in a strict order, but a somewhat logical order for the purpose of my discussion (with a few of my favourites at the start). If I don't mention a composer or a soundtrack, it doesn't mean it is not as good - just that I might have forgotten, or I don't have much to say about it, or perhaps it does not impress me as much.

I must remind you that a lot of the comments here are my opinion only, so you may not agree with everything. However, I welcome discussions, either by email (privately) or facebook page-wall/thread (publicly).

Typesetting: song/track titles are in quotation marks. Anime/game/work titles are italicised. A non-standard notation I use here is the braces, for giving additional comments and listing specific exceptional tracks {like this}.

Created: 2012/3/19; updated: 2012/3/23

斉藤恒芳 (Saitou Tsuneyoshi) claims to and indeed often does follow a typical soundtrack formula - nothing special when that happens - but every so often he drops in a few amazing pieces, especially those with a piano part of a rather distinctive style, noticeably the abundant use of triplets and cross-rhythm. The piano pieces are not restricted to solo, but are often concerto that expand with more instruments in the second section, perhaps with a violin or flute taking the melody while the piano keeps a fine accompaniment of fast triplets.

An exception to his formulaic approach to anime soundtrack is that for Soukyuu no Fafner (Fafner in the Azure - Dead Aggressor). It is composed and orchestrated with a classical style, performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra as opposed to the usual lower budget studio recording. It makes a very good use of the orchestra. The whole soundtrack is very fine music with a classical style: 3 CDs including NO WHERE, NOW HERE and RIGHT OF LEFT. The more recent soundtrack for the sequel HEAVEN AND EARTH has some new tracks, but unfortunately it is not performed by and recorded as a full orchestra. The first 2 CDs, NO WHERE and NOW HERE, for the TV series, contain some rather grand tracks like "joshou -hajimari-", "Mark Sein", "Night Hell kaimon", "sentou", "soukyuu sakusen". There are also a few variations of the title theme, which are all very good. In addition, there a few piano concerto pieces such as "mirai-kako" and "SHOKO" - the former being more hopeful and the latter being sadder; but I would like to emphasise that these are some of the absolute best soundtracks in my view. There is also a relaxing piano solo piece "shoujo no omoi", and a more chaotic piano piece "sonzai to mu". I can list quite a few more amazing tracks, but really, the whole soundtrack is good music, and I quite often play through the entire CDs. The RIGHT OF LEFT soundtrack is somewhat smaller scale, but in some sense more refined, well suited for the prequel episode. Some outstanding tracks include "Prologue", "ryuugoujima", "tatakai no hate ni", "Marine Snow", and of course a few piano pieces that I transcribed. The HEAVEN AND EARTH soundtrack contains new recording of some tracks from the previous ones along with a few new tracks: "gekisen" is definitely worth noting. I hope to hear the same high quality music for the announced sequel EXODUS!

(If there is anything that is lacking in those Fafner soundtracks, it is the recording quality.)

Saitou sometimes reuses previous ideas, so segments of his previous compositions can be heard occasionally. In one case, he reused "mirai-kako" from Fafner in Dennou Coil's soundtrack (track titled "yuujou"), with a nearly identical arrangement (with some extra awkward cymbal swells and timpani); in another case, "omoi wa tooku hakanaku" in Idolmaster Xenoglossia is a transposition of "kokuhaku" in kaze no youjinbou with some instrument substitutions; and there is a same melody used in Dennou Coil and kaze no youjinbou.

Notable soundtracks include Fafner {everything! Particular tracks noted above}, xxxHOLiC manatsu no yoru no yume {the entire soundtrack is good, in particular "Ayakashi no izanai", "kagi to shoujo to hitsuzen to irai", "ruiran no roukaku", "shokkaku no hyouhon hako", "houkai suru yakata", "Yuuko wa horoyokigen"}, Xenoglossia {a number of good tracks, including "gomenasobase", "odayaka na hibi"}, Tide-line Blue {"dachou"}, and Tenchi Forever!/天地無用! in LOVE2 {"owari... soshite hajimari"}.

I also recommend his piano album Relaxing Piano, consisting of pieces by other composers, arranged and performed himself. (Despite the title, it does not consist only of piano solo pieces.)

Saitou also orchestrated some tracks in Symphonic Evangelion (エヴァンゲリオン交響楽). The most impressive one is "I.SHINJI", with his signature piano part.

Created: 2012/3/19; updated: 2014/3/13

平野義久 (Hirano Yoshihisa) - grand orchestration (and sometimes a bit chaotic in a good way), sometimes with chorus; also romantic piano pieces with a Chopin-nocturne-like style. Notable soundtracks: tatakau shisho The Book of Bantorra {many good tracks, particularly "People in Misfortune", "Destiny of Assassin","The Librarians","Hamyuts","Bantorra"}, Break Blade {"A Decision","Sinfonia on the Battlefield","The Heroes"}, Strawberry Panic {"unmei"}, Top Secret ~The Revelation~ {"Sweet Memories"}, RD sennou chousashitsu {"Looking back the Past","Minamo on the Beach"}. Note that he also orchestrated some ALI PROJECT songs.

Created: 2012/3/19; updated: 2013/4/23

千住明 (Senju Akira) - fine orchestration, sometimes with chorus; also song-like piano pieces. I seem to be saying very similar things as Hirano Yoshihisa above - the difference is that Senju's style seems to me a bit more delicate but less grand. Notable soundtracks: RED GARDEN {the entire CD is very listenable}, FullMetal Alchemist (2009) {many good tracks}. He has worked on many J-Drama soundtracks too.

Red Garden's soundtrack definitely ranks amongst the top on my list of favourite soundtracks. It is quite compact with just 1 CD, but it contains a range of different emotions. "Main Theme" and "kojin no shi" start off the CD by setting the right mood, and "akai niwa" gives a good conclusion to the CD (as well as the TV series). The CD also contain a few tracks with vocal by KOKIA. These were very emotional songs sung by the characters in various scenes in the TV series, but KOKIA's vocal made them even better.

Created: 2012/3/19; updated: 2012/3/22

佐橋俊彦 (Sahashi Toshihiko) has composed a lot of soundtracks. Many of them I am not familiar with, and some are quite standard. A well known one is the soundtrack for Gundam SEED, which is quite a large scale work consisting of 8 CDs for the two series, and some symphonic arrangements. There are several good tracks, and a nice mix of rock and classical styles. My favourite track is "Strike shutsugeki", which is rather representative of the mixed style on its own.

In my opinion, Gundam SEED's soundtrack is good but not his best work. The soundtracks for the OVA series Future GPX Cyber Formula SAGA and SIN have a similar style, but better and somewhat more compact as a whole (on the other hand, 4CDs + 2CDs are a lot for 8 + 5 episodes of OVA!). Especially memorable tracks include "tamashii~ogre~aika~ketsui~", "ketsui~hisou~", "kaze", "SAGA" (perhaps I am biased because of the impact of the animation scenes accompanied by the tracks).

I consider Simoun's soundtrack to be Sahashi's best work. The style in general is more classical and lyrical compared to the aforementioned soundtracks. The theme "youen naru kizuna no hibiki" is particularly memorable. The start of the soundtrack features the four movements of "josei kokka", which is a somewhat symphony-like piece that was used in the opening scenes of the TV series to describe the background of the story - grand and impressive. There are many good tracks, so I won't list them here. I quite often listen to the entirety of the 2CDs.

Some consider Gunslinger Girl's soundtrack to be Sahashi's best work. I also think it is exceptional, and the only reason I prefer Simoun is because of its more unique style. Gunslinger Girl is much more classical, and also contain some calmer tracks. Again the whole of the soundtrack is very listenable.

Created: 2012/3/22; updated: 2012/3/22

天野正道 (Amano Masamichi) is amazing at classical orchestration. He has only done a few soundtracks, and out of them I only really know and listen to that for Princess Nine. There are a few outstanding tracks with a classical style tracks, such as "The Counteroffensive", "The Princess' Elegent Intensity", and "The Princess Theme - Part 2" (Andante con moto from Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat Major for piano, violin, and violoncello, Op. 100 composed by Franz Schubert). Another notable soundtrack is that for Giant Robo The Animation, which is really a set of classical music composition (also containing arrangements of the aria "Una furtiva lagrima" from the opera L'elisir d'amore by Gaetano Donizetti).

Amano also orchestrated some tracks in Symphonic Evangelion (エヴァンゲリオン交響楽). The most impressive ones are "NERV" and "DECISIVE BATTLE".

By the way, I would like to make a comment that is not soundtrack related: his arrangements for TWO-MIX's album Baroque Best is what I consider the best orchestral arrangements of popular songs. Half of that album is just normal TWO-MIX style with classical instruments, but the other half is really classical and is amazing ("Last Impression", "Beat Of Destiny", "Believe My Brave Heart", and an instrumental medley) - good orchestration without compromising the power/mood of the original songs (and vice-versa). On a related note, "The Counteroffensive" and the opening theme from Princess Nine are also a demonstrative pair of classical and classical-pop arrangements of the same theme.

Created: 2012/3/25; updated: 2012/4/18

松尾早人 (Matsuo Hayato) started off with composing game soundtracks before anime soundtracks. He has written a lot of computer/synthesizer music, but he has also shown that he is very capable of writing good orchestrations. His first anime soundtrack is that for Magic Knight Rayearth. I am sure it is very memorable for everyone who has seen a bit of the series. It has a number of grand tracks, including "Main Theme (Orchestra version)", "mamono shutsugen! ~ mahou no chikara", "introduction ~ kaijin -Ceres-"; I wish they were all orchestra versions! (And hence my transcription of the final part of "mamono shutsugen! ~ mahou no chikara" for orchestra.) Other notable soundtracks: Kaitou Saint Tail {"Main Theme", "Saint Tail no Theme"}, kami nomi zo shiru sekai {a number of light piano pieces}, Les Misérables shoujo Cosette, yomigaeru sora -RESCUE WINGS-. On the point of orchestration, I would also recommend his arrangement of "God knows..." in Suzumiya Haruhi no gensou, if we could somehow ignore the poor vocal in that performance/recording (I am afraid the fine arrangement is ruined by the vocalist - they need to make a better performance/recording of that!).

Created: 2012/3/22; updated: 2012/4/10

和田薫 (Wada Kaoru) has done some great soundtracks, including RPG densetsu Hepoi {"Hepoi shouri no Theme"}, ginga sengoku gunyuuden Rai {very moving soudntrack, including the OP and ED, which are just vocal versions of some tracks; outstanding tracks include "Shimon no Theme", the OP and ED and many others}, Princess Tutu {note that a large proportion of it is just straight from classical music by various composers, but his compositions compliment well}, SAMURAI 7 {very appropriate soundtrack, especially "mikumari no Miko", "Samurai"}, Strange Dawn. All very pleasant to listen to; typically a deep classical orchestral style, sometimes with oriental and folk instruments added for more ethnic style; very good use of real instrument sounds, with sparing use of the synthesizer for some unique sounds.

Created: 2012/4/11; updated: 2013/9/15

光宗信吉 (Mitsumune Shinkichi) - has written some of the most relaxing piano-based pieces in my view, and also some very good calm/sad/bittersweet piano pieces. Examples can be found in the soundtracks for asatte no houkou. {nice and relaxing on the whole, exceptional tracks include: "magokoro", "natsumatsuri", "mujaki", "gikochinai funiki", "Komakusa no hana"}, Speed Grapher {stranger style, but also good piano pieces such as "shoujo no yuuutsu", "tsuioku", "kanashii ketsumatsu"}, and Zero no tsukaima. A number of them are quite playable on the piano. Another memorable and more upbeat soundtrack (with a bit of classical rock mix) is that for Rozen Maiden (and traumend) {a lot of memorable tracks for me, the most notable ones being "Battle of Rose", "kodoku na kokoro", "shukuteki", "Bright Red", "barasuishou", "bara otome", "Battle of Crystal"}.

Created: 2012/3/19; updated: 2012/4/3

梁邦彦 (Ryou Kunihiko) tends to include a few beautiful piano pieces in his soundtracks. Notable soundtracks include Victorian Romance Emma {"Silhouette of a Breeze", "Emma", "Menuet for EMMA", } and Tegamibachi. They are simple and delicate.

奥慶一 (Oku Keiichi) is probably most famous for his soundtrack for ashita no Nadja, which is really good music. The best tracks include "Waltz #5", "jounetsu" (the BGM for Nadja's flamenco scene!), and "karei naru hitotoki". Some people probably know him for his work on Marmalade Boy, which contains some nice and memorable piano pieces, such as "...for you".

大谷幸 (Ootani Kou) has composed a lot of soundtracks. I have only listened to a few of them. They may not sound spectacular, but some are rather memorable, including Gundam Wing (especially that for Endless Waltz {"AC196 Xmas Eve", "Heero's Dream", "Enforcement Rush", "Battlefield", "ENDLESS WALTZ"}), GUNSLINGER GIRL -IL TEATRINO- {"Main Theme"}, and Colorful (2010 anime film). The style is often mixed classical and modern music with some piano pieces.

Created: 2012/4/11; updated: 2012/4/11

大島ミチル (Oojima Michiru) has composed a lot of music and soundtracks for animes, dramas and movies. All of her work that I have come across are skillfully done. In particular, I recommend the entire soundtrack for Chevalier ~Le Chevalier D'Eon~ (especially the last few tracks), zetsuen no Tempest (especially the first few tracks), "Servante du feu" from So-Ra-No-Wo-To, "Братья (Bratja)" from hagane no renkinjutsushi, "Requiem" from hagane no renkinjutsushi Conqueror of Shamballa. Her work is always of a high standard, even if they do not stand out (because they are BGM).

Created: 2012/5/16; updated: 2013/4/24

七瀬光 (Nanase Hikaru) - 伊藤真澄 (Itou Masumi)'s pseudonym for soundtrack production. I have listened to quite a few of her soundtracks, and while they all sound great, many tracks are rather forgettable (or one might say they really are BGM and good BGM). Having said that, the entire soundtrack for Scrapped Princess is very listenable. Apart from that, there are also some exceptional tracks which sound great as standalone music, such as "Canzone of death part I" from Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ and "crimson annihilate" from shinkyoku soukai Polyphonica.

菅野よう子 (Kanno Youko) seems to be very popular, as seen in many fan blogs/discussions online. She has composed many soundtracks. However, most of them I am not familiar with, and most of them sound forgettable to me (just my opinion, I hope I don't get flamed). Having said that, there are the occasional tracks which are amazing, such as "Dance of Curse" from Escaflowne and "Yin no Piano" from DARKER THAN BLACK -kuro no keiyakusha-.

[Note that praises for Kanno's songs (e.g. "Platina", "kiseki no umi", "tune the rainbow", "ANGEL VOICE", "Diamond Crevasse") will hopefully be in another essay about songs.]

梶浦由記 (Kajiura Yuki) has gained huge popularity since her music for NOIR in 2001 and .hack//SIGN in 2002. There is undoubtedly a very specific style to her music that makes them standout and also readily recognisable. I particularly like her use of multiple vocals and accordion in some of her music, in addition to the strings parts, which everyone seem to like. I enjoy her work from the early to mid 2000s the most, of which I particularly recommend the entire MADLAX soundtrack, the entire MY-HiME soundtrack, "MATERIALISE", "seiotome no inori" and "tooki hi no komoriuta" from MY-Otome, "romance", "melody - 'salva nos' ver.", "canta per me" and "salva nos" (especially the extended version in the album FICTION and live performances) from NOIR, "b.t.", "bear", "key of the twilight" and "fake wings" from .hack//SIGN, "a song of storm and fire", "storm and fire", "I talk to the rain", "hear our prayer", from Tsubasa Chronicle, "forest" and "el cazador" from El Cazador. (Sorry this list got rather long!) As for the more recent soundtracks, I should mention "everytime you kissed me" from PandoraHearts and "Desiderium" from mahou shoujo Madoka Magica.

Forgot to mention that the entire soundtrack for kara no kyoukai is very listenable too. The complete soundtracks are bundled with the movie DVDs (2008-9), but the compiled versions in the ongakushuu album released in 2011 are good too - perhaps more compact and coherent to listen to.

[Note that praises for Kajiura's songs (e.g. those written for See-Saw, Chiba Saeko, FictionJunction YUUKA, Kalafina) will hopefully be in another essay about songs.]

Created: 2012/5/16; updated: 2012/5/18

黒石ひとみ (Kuroishi Hitomi)

窪田ミナ (Kubota Mina)

MOKA☆ - 小西香葉 (Konishi Kayo), 近藤由紀夫 (Kondou Yukio) - Elfen Lied, Saraiya Goyou

川井憲次 (Kawai Kenji)

服部克久 (Hattori Katsuhisa)

服部隆之 (Hattori Takayuki)

鷺巣詩郎 (Sagisu Shirou) is probably most well known for his work for Neon Genesis Evangelion. To be honest, I don't remember much from his music, but there are a few exceptional ones such as "Thanatos", "Both of you, Dance Like You Want to Win!", "NERV", "DECISIVE BATTLE", "Rei I", "THE BEAST II".

Sagisu's composition really shone in Symphonic Evangelion (エヴァンゲリオン交響楽) - a live concert recording with orchestral arrangements by Amano Masamichi, Saitou Tsuneyoshi, and Hattori Takayuki. See their respective entries for comments.

Created: 2012/4/11; updated: 2012/4/11

田中公平 (Tanaka Kouhei) - I just feel that I have to mention yuusha-oh GaoGaiGar and G Gundam. And of course I am referring to "Dividing Driver", "Genesic Final Fusion" and "Goldion Crusher" from the former, and "moeagare toushi ~ imawashiki shukumei wo koete" and "waga kokoro meikyoushisui ~ saredoko no te wa rekka no gotoku" from the latter.

Created: 2012/6/25; updated: 2012/9/27

岩崎琢 (Iwasaki Taku) - R.O.D , Now and Then, Here and There

羽毛田丈史 (Haketa Takefumi)

吉森信 (Yoshimori Makoto)

山下康介 (Yamashita Kousuke) - shion no ou, Xenosaga THE ANIMATION.

朝倉紀行 (Asakura Noriyuki) - well known for rurouni kenshin {Most memorable: "The Last Wolf Suite", "Warrior Suite"}.

高梨康治 (Takanashi Yasuharu) - jigoku shoujo (co-compose), shiki are some soundtracks with very good atmosphere.

佐藤直紀 (Satou Naoki) - Heroic Age, Gyrozetter.

石川智久 (Ishikawa Tomohisa) - Innocent Venus.

Created: 2012/6/25; updated: 2012/9/27

澤野弘之 (Sawano Hiroyuki) is a relatively new composer, but has composed several memorable soundtracks for anime and drama, such as Gundam UC, BOSS and iryuu. Some may also know him for his work on Guilty Crown (this soundtrack is not as good as the aforementioned ones in my opinion). He has a refreshing style that is somewhat modern but also makes good use of orchestral instruments, chorus and heavy drums for more powerful tracks. I highly recommend listening to "BaNG!!" and "80$$" from BOSS and "UNICORN" from Gundam UC.

In my view, his piano parts are often lacking and consist mainly of pop cliches such as overuse of doubling, octaves and arpeggios, along with strange sequence of notes, especially in more climatic sections. The quieter sections are generally much better. The piano solos are usually not difficult to play and are similar in style to pop song arrangements. The better ones include "PIANO UC-No.1" and "PIANO UC-No.3" from Gundam UC (but still have those stylistic problems). Perhaps because of the straightforwardness and similarity to pop song arrangements, his soundtracks rapidly gained popularity. As for orchestration with piano, "THE UNIVERS" from Gundam UC is one of the better pieces.

Sawano's track titles often consist of random English or German words and weird capitalisation, which looks really bad, and perhaps reflects his mentality when creating his music and how he want others to perceive his music.

Created: 2012/6/25; updated: 2013/4/2

天門 (Tenmon)

光田康典 (Mitsuda Yasunori)

下村陽子 (Shimomura Youko)

Created: 2012/-/--; updated: 2012/3/22

植松伸夫 (Uematsu Nobuo) is with no doubt one of the most famous video game composers, if not the most famous one, due to his work on the Final Fantasy series. His music is good, and what really shines is his expertise on the sound chips on older game consoles and his ability to make optimal use of them. However, his orchestration is somewhat lacking, when we are no longer limited by hardware. From the late 1990s onwards, his music is much expanded upon with orchestration by Hamaguchi Shirou (浜口史郎). The various concerts over the last decade have been amazing.

To name a few of my favourite pieces composed by Uematsu: the recurring "FINAL FANTASY" theme, Opera "Mario and Draco", "Tina (Terra)", "Celes", "Dancing Mad (妖星乱舞)", "Ending Theme (蘇る緑)" (from Final Fantasy VI), "The Landing", "Don't Be Afraid" (from Final Fantasy VIII), "To Zanarkand (ザナルカンドにて)" (from Final Fantasy X), "Grand Opening unmei no ito", "Guin no Theme" (from Guin Saga). I also like to listen to the entire soundtrack of Final Fantasy VIII. Although I like Final Fantasy VI's music better, it being an SFC/SNES soundtrack unfortunately limits its listenability. However, some tracks are available in orchestrated versions in various concert recording albums. I hope there will be a concert performance/recording of FFVI's Ending Theme! (or someone please make use of my transcription of it!)

I would also like to specifically mention the orchestrated album Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale, released in the mid-1990s. It was orchestrated by Sagisu Shirou (鷺巣詩郎) and Saitou Tsuneyoshi (斉藤恒芳). I have read that some fans do not like the arrangements due to them being out of character, but I strongly disagree with that view. The arrangements are refreshing, but also of very high quality. The entire album is very enjoyable, and my favourite tracks are "Opening Theme~Tina", "Relm", "Kefca", "Mystery Train". By the way, one can definitely spot Saitou's style in some tracks!

Created: 2012/3/23; updated: 2012/4/3

崎元仁 (Sakimoto Hitoshi) has also done a great deal of video game soundtracks. I actually like his orchestration of "Clash on the Big Bridge" (from Final Fantasy XII, original from Final Fantasy V by Uematsu Nobuo (植松伸夫)), even better than the original or the orchestral arrangement by Arnie Roth (in Distant Worlds Returning home). I have seen others' comments hating Sakimoto's version of the Gilgamesh theme for being out of character, but for me, his orchestration is much more delicate, and somewhat more powerful too. Most of the Final Fantasy XII soundtrack is fine music too, but perhaps on the un-eventful side and lacks excitement (a bit like the game itself, which is very good in my opinion, but can be somewhat boring at times, especially when traversing the huge maps - much remedied by the turbo button added in FFXII International). My favourite of his work is probably the soundtrack for the anime Romeo x Juliet.

浜口史郎 (Hamaguchi Shirou) has worked on a few anime soundtracks. While they are pleasant, there are not many memorable tracks for me. The most notable one is perhaps the soundtrack for FF:U ~Final Fantasy: Unlimited~, with cheerful tracks like "Ai no Theme", and engaging battle music like "magan hassha". More recently, I was immediately impressed when I heard the background music in the movie The Princess and the Pilot (toaru hikoushi he no tsuioku) (I don't say this often, but it caught my attention). Aside from his soundtrack composition, his most notable music contribution is his amazing arrangement and orchestration, in particular his orchestration for Final Fantasy VIII {most notably "Liberli Fatali", "Ending Theme", "Love Grows" (Orchestral version in the album Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec)}, Final Fantasy X {"Ending Theme", "suteki da ne (Orchestral Version)"}, and Chocobo Racing's theme song "kokoro no takarabako (Treasure Chest In The Heart)" (composed by Itou Kenji (伊藤賢治)). On the point of orchestration, one should also check out his grand arrangement of "koi no Mikuru densetsu" in Suzumiya Haruhi no gensou.

Created: 2012/3/23; updated: 2012/4/10

片倉三起也 (Katakura Mikiya) (ALI PROJECT) - some of his music is orchestrated by Hirano Yoshihisa, so I sometimes get mixed up. Nevertheless there are some very good melodies. Notable soundtracks include Maria-sama ga miteru {"pastel pure", "avec ma soeur"} and .hack//Roots {"hakua byoutou", "In The World", "friendly like in a childhood"}. I will refrain from writing about ALI PROJECT's songs here, saving the discussion for another essay. Sometimes he re-arranges his own compositions for his soundtracks and ALI PROJECT's songs.

Elements Garden - 上松範康 (Agematsu Noriyasu), 藤間仁 (Fujima Hitoshi), 藤田淳平 (Fujita Junpei), 菊田大介 (Kikuta Daisuke) - more well known for songs rather than soundtrack, but there are a few exceptional pieces from some of their game soundtracks, namely "Scarlet", "Lamune 79's". Previously, under the name feel, Noriyasu, Fujima and Hitoshi composed a number of soundtracks too. A good one is Onegai Twins. Again saving the discussion of their J-Pop songs for later (by the way, most notably songs for 水樹奈々 (Mizuki Nana) and 佐藤ひろ美 (Satou Hiromi)).

菊地創 (Kikuchi Hajime) (eufonius) composes songs mainly (anime character songs and as eufonius), but his soundtrack for true tears and theme song for narcissu SIDE 2nd are worth mentioning. His music is usually quite light. Some good tracks from true tears include "ichijin no kaze", "little love" and "Kagami, kimi wo utsuhite". Comments on eufonius' songs will be in another essay.

Created: 2012/3/19; updated: 2012/4/11

Conclusions (and other things)

My favourite soundtrack composers:

My most recommended soundtracks:

Some anime soundtracks that I also recommend:

Some game soundtracks that I also recommend:

Some J-Drama soundtracks that I also recommend:

Also refer to my list of favourite individual tracks. It aims to list a small number of favourites. There are some very good tracks of which I did not write about the composer.

[To be continued/updated. 2013/4/4]

By the way, I have used the words "piece" and "track" to refer to a piece of music (in general) and an audio track in a CD respectively, but the word "song" specifically refers to music that is sung (or of a similar type). I notice quite a few people use "song" (incorrectly) to refer to any music, and I would like to bring this to your attention.


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