Natsume Yuujinchou Original Soundtrack – Review

Album Title: Natsume Yuujinchou Original Soundtrack
Anime Title: Natsume Yuujinchou
Artist: Makoto Yoshimori; Hiroshi Kamiya; Shuuhei Kita
Catalog Number: SVWC-7580
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: Sept. 26, 2008

Track Title Artist Time
1. Kimi ga Yobu Namae ~Natsume Yuujinchou no Theme~ Makoto Yoshimori 3:43
2. Kusa Odoru Kaze no Hibiki Makoto Yoshimori 2:05
3. Meguru Natsu no Tayori Makoto Yoshimori 4:05
4. Nyankorasetsu Makoto Yoshimori 3:35
5. Yuruyaka na Aze Michi de Makoto Yoshimori 4:35
6. Natsu Mado Hirakettanashi Makoto Yoshimori 3:40
7. Oushi Za no Kaijin Makoto Yoshimori 3:29
8. Yamiyo ni Hisomu Monoari Makoto Yoshimori 2:20
9. Hyakkiyagyou ~ Youkai Dai Koushin Makoto Yoshimori 3:25
10. Saoburu Kami no Kourin Makoto Yoshimori 3:10
11. Honoka na Kioku Makoto Yoshimori 2:48
12. Ame Yoru no Tsuki no Youni Makoto Yoshimori 3:49
13. Hyaku Kaminari no Kagura Makoto Yoshimori 3:51
14. Kimi ni Fureta Hikari Makoto Yoshimori 7:01
15. Atatakai Basho Hiroshi Kamiya 5:22
16. Issei no Koe TV Size Shuuhei Kita 1:31

Review: Natsume Yuujinchou’s soundtrack is an interesting one. On the one hand, you have your share of instrumental pieces that are light and pleasant to listen to because they enhance the subtle mood of the series, but on the other hand, there are quite a few tracks that are just so strange that it borders on the bizarre. That’s not to say that the strange tracks are bad; it’s just that they appeal to those who can appreciate the attempts at experimenting with music, regardless of how weird the results are. While this album mostly retains a sense of the conventional, there is enough of the unconventional to grab at your attention and last you awhile depending on how tolerant you are of the quirky tracks.

It’s tempting then to focus entirely on the stranger fare this album provides, but a broader perspective of this album shows that the album is best described as “lazy.” Not “lazy” in the sense that the music is insipid and uninspired, but of the sort in which the music evokes images of a slow, sluggish, summer day. The method in which they achieve this does tend towards the repetitive side, but not overly so because sprinkled within the tracks are some tempo changes and melodic shifts that are unexpected and will catch you by surprise without feeling out of place. It’s this sense of the unexpected that makes this album worthwhile and if nothing else, will succeed at holding your attention.

“Kimi ga Yobu Namae ~Natsume Yuujinchou no Theme~” exemplifies this feeling rather well as it opens up with a glissando followed by an accordion melody that creates the lazy atmosphere. While it does serve up quite a few measures of its repetitive theme, the piece’s tempo speeds up around 1:20, bringing with it a piano melody that’s packed with emotion and elegance. The sheer beauty of this segment just cannot be emphasized enough because it succeeds at being soul-stirring while maintaining a sense of subtlety that meshes with the show’s atmosphere rather well.

The next few tracks also maintain the mellow mood. “Nyankorasetsu” is where this album’s quirks start becoming noticeable. It appropriately describes Nyanko-sensei through the bassoon melody that plods along lazily. This piece is where the background noises are first employed, but it works well here because it creates the effect as though you’re surrounded by spirits. The same can be said for the background noise in “Yuruyaka na Aze Michi de” which, in conjunction with that piano part in the middle, helps bring this piece to life as it immerses you in its world.

“Natsu Mado Hirakettanashi” is where the oddities play a major role. This track, to put it simply, imitates a swarm of mosquitoes, which can drive you absolutely wild. There’s no music to speak of here, thereby making it one of the few pieces that literally drones (and buzzes) on for its entire duration. While there are some who appreciate this piece’s atmospheric feel, I’m willing to bet that most people are going to skip this track. Ditto for “Oushi Za no Kaijin” which is slightly more conventional until some of the moaning and growling sounds set in to create a sort of tension that feels off-putting.

Even then, “Oushi Za no Kaijin” doesn’t come close to comparing to “Hyakkiyagyou ~ Youkai Dai Koushin” which is filled to the brim with outworldly noises and a discordant melody to boot. The cacophonous mood that results from this makes you feel as though you were in the midst of a massive gathering of spirits. Again, those who can appreciate tracks solely dedicated to creating an atmospheric effect will love this piece, but people who prefer actual music will give this one a pass.

The tracks that follow mark a return to conventionality as the pieces evoke all manner of feelings from dark and foreboding to introspective leading into sorrow and the album even throws in an energetic piece that has the feel of a ceremonial war dance. Some of the tracks throw in some randomness. For example, “Ame Yoru no Tsuki no Youni” employs a flute that chimes in at unpredictable intervals but nevertheless remains enjoyable.

“Atatakai Basho” essentially closes out the album if you disregard the OP. This particular song is soft and subdued, sung (appropriately enough) by Natsume’s voice actor. While it doesn’t leave quite an impact, it’s still an enjoyable listen because it’s really light and mellow; a perfect song that puts Natsume Yuujinchou’s atmosphere in proper perspective. Hiroshi Kamiya might not be the perfect singer to use since he’s not that great at sustaining the higher registers, but the tone and mood are spot-on, creating a calming and soothing effect that leaves you with a wonderful feeling.

Natsume Yuujinchou’s soundtrack evokes that lazy feeling you get during summer, but thankfully, it’s not a boring listen because there are just so many twists and turns that Makoto Yoshimori uses to keep the listener interested. While there are a few tracks that defy convention, they’re still worth giving a shot because of how well they project the series’s atmosphere. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you proceed into those tracks with an open mind, you just might enjoy them. And even if you don’t, the rest of the tracks delivers a satisfying experience, especially if you’re fond of the more subdued fare that fits the anime series perfectly.

Rating: Very Good

Music Sampler

Track 1

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Track 6

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Track 9

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Track 14

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Track 15

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zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

16 thoughts on “Natsume Yuujinchou Original Soundtrack – Review

  • October 24, 2008 at 7:15 pm
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    I have not gotten around to it, but I was expecting that it would depict in the mind and evoke feelings of a lazy summer day, and I was right. This will be another great OST.

    Reply
  • October 25, 2008 at 2:15 am
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    This is one of the better anime OSTs I’ve heard for quite a while. “Kimi ni Fureta Hikari” is the standout track, IMO, but the album is strong across the board and even highly experimental tracks like “Natsu Mado Hirakettanashi” have value (although it helps that it reminds me of a certain soundtrack by one of my favourite musicians).

    Reply
  • October 25, 2008 at 11:27 am
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    Makes me wonder which composer/musician you’re thinking of when you brought up “Natsu Mado Hirakettanashi” (somehow I have the feeling it’s either Crumb, Varese, or maybe even Ligeti except you said “soundtrack” so that wipes out the possibilities of any of those). Still, this Natsume Yuujinchou’s soundtrack took me a few listens to appreciate, so this review didn’t exactly come from the “love at first listen” standpoint.

    Speaking of reviewing, Sorrow, do you want to shotgun this album for NHRV purposes or shall I “NHRV-ize” this one as well?

    Reply
  • October 25, 2008 at 6:19 pm
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    Well, you know what my attitude towards writing soundtrack reviews is, and you’re certainly way more qualified to review soundtracks than I am.

    And I’m going to tease you about this “favourite musician”. I’ll PM you what it is some other time.

    Reply
  • October 26, 2008 at 2:13 am
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    The best thing about the soundtrack shifts to so many different styles whilst still maintaining that lazy feel. I love the use of the fast food/ whatever they are vendors that you hear in anime every now and again.

    If I had to name my favourite, it would be the main theme.

    Reply
  • November 10, 2008 at 8:22 am
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    Was that Kamiya Hiroshi singing in the last sample? I like his singing voice.

    Reply
  • November 10, 2008 at 9:27 pm
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    That’s who I have credited and his voice sounds enough like Natsume’s that I’m pretty much willing to say that it is him.

    And yeah, his singing isn’t nearly as polished, but it’s really enjoyable all the same in the way it establishes that mellow atmosphere.

    Reply
  • November 13, 2008 at 12:48 am
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    and i just HAD to hit #6 before starting to read the post. I like OSTs that I can play for standalone listening. In context with the video it fits well, but for standalone listening it’s a bit too passive for my tastes.

    Reply
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  • March 1, 2009 at 8:14 am
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    The ost had some potential, but tracks like 6 and 7 really killed it for me. I understand it might be “interesting”, but really when I am listening to an ost I am seeking rhythmic melodies, not sound effects. I also thought Atatakai Basho is one of the weaker tracks, maybe the weak vocal is intended, but I also had a feeling that the seiyuu is inexperienced and he is unable to sing professionally.

    As a whole, I would consider it to be just a half ost, it’s probably more correct to title it sound collection or something.

    Reply
  • March 1, 2009 at 11:12 pm
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    @depthcharge101
    Yeah, I can see where you’re coming from with that since it’s hard to convince people that the stuff in tracks 6 and 7 would count as music per se. Also, you’re probably correct with “Atatakai Basho” insofar as Hiroshi Kamiya’s singing is concerned, but I do enjoy it since there’s something about amateur singers that possess more panache and heartfelt emotion compared to veteran J-pop singers and their tendency towards genericness. At least, with singers like May’n in any event.

    Reply
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