Tegami Bachi Original Sound Track Nocturne ~a destiny~ – Review

Album Title: Tegami Bachi Original Sound Track Nocturne ~a destiny~
Anime Title: Tegami Bachi (Letter Bee)
Artist: Ryo Kunihiko
Catalog Number: LACA-15027
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: April 21, 2010
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia


Tracklist

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Track Title Artist Time
1. Canon of AMBER GROUND Ryo Kunihiko 1:29
2. LETTER BEE Ryo Kunihiko 2:53
3. Tsuioku no Aria ~ Recollections Ryo Kunihiko 2:48
4. Niche & Steak Ryo Kunihiko 3:41
5. Connor Culh Ryo Kunihiko 1:18
6. Pico-Pico Ryo Kunihiko 1:05
7. White Desert of Jose Ryo Kunihiko 2:15
8. Lag & Niche Ryo Kunihiko 2:58
9. Seirei Kohaku Ryo Kunihiko 2:52
10. Prayer Hill Ryo Kunihiko 1:21
11. Tears of Sylvette Ryo Kunihiko 3:27
12. Tsuioku no Aria ~ Recollections (Harpsicord version) Ryo Kunihiko 2:46
13. Lightning Ryo Kunihiko 2:16
14. Heavy-Metal Enemy (Shuugeki Gaichuu) Ryo Kunihiko 2:24
15. Town of Kyrie ~ Dead End Ryo Kunihiko 2:08
16. MA-KA Ryo Kunihiko 1:16
17. YODAKA Ryo Kunihiko 1:10
18. Boushitsu ~ Goos & Noir Ryo Kunihiko 2:35
19. Attack Ryo Kunihiko 1:10
20. Shoot Down! Ryo Kunihiko 2:01
21. Nocturne ~ a Destiny Ryo Kunihiko 1:55
22. Canon of AMBER GROUND Full version Ryo Kunihiko 3:47
23. LETTER BEE ~ Strings Harpsicord version Ryo Kunihiko 2:52

Review: More often than not, listening to a soundtrack without having contextual knowledge requires firing up one’s imagination to figure out exactly what moods or settings the show’s composer is trying to capture through the music. Ryo Kunihiko is probably one of the better composers at this task since he has proven time and time again of being able to seamlessly blend his compositions to fit the scenes. In Victorian Romance Emma, his tracks depict the quiet, romantic atmosphere of the plot as well as the show’s English setting really well. It’s no surprise then, that, fresh from his work on the Aion MMORPG soundtrack, Kunihiko has little difficulty in bringing out the sense of adventure that Tegami Bachi (Letter Bee) evokes through the anime.

Before I go on, do note that I have neither seen nor read Letter Bee. Anything written here is purely speculation on my part combined with some heavy inference based on the track titles. If my descriptions reveal ignorance, well, you will know why.

Anyhow, I bring up Kunihiko’s work on Aion because the first thought I had was how much Tegami Bachi’s score reminded me of an RPG soundtrack. Its grand main theme, titled “LETTER BEE,” encapsulates the scope of the anime through a strong, attention-grabbing introduction featuring an orchestral melody that depicts a growing sense of excitement and adventure. Though there are moments where it moves into a more somber section to highlight the importance of the titular carriers’ task and the hardships they face on their journeys, it never loses sight of the awe-inspiring sights and sounds the carriers experience as they go about their work. The exhilaration carried throughout the piece is not unlike an RPG’s main theme, which gets the listener pumped about experiencing and interacting with the game’s world as the story soon unfolds.

LETTER BEE

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The similarities don’t end there either. You hear music reminiscent of battle themes in “Heavy-Metal Enemy (Shuugeki Gaichuu)” and “Shoot Down!” The former builds its menacing tone through screaming electronica and synth tones which support the bass guitar’s rhythm well enough though the track could certainly be improved if the tension were cranked up a few notches. “Shoot Down!” is the better of the two. Its introduction moves at a frenzied pace, conveying the imminent danger, before bringing the strings to the fore to play a series of grim chords that could be taken out from an action flick. Or, if you need a video game comparison, think Metal Gear Solid. To be sure, it’s not quite as developed as Harry Gregson-Williams’s score for the MGS series, but its dissonance works well enough to heighten the intensity of the action sequences.

Shoot Down!

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And what about the character/town themes? That’s one area in which this soundtrack really excels. Although Niche and Steak’s eponymous theme is a mix of melancholy and shyness that grows more playful and open as the piece progresses and Connor Culh’s unwieldy melody is a perfect semblance of the character’s rotund, clumsy manner, it’s the theme depicting the duo of Lag and Niche that really does it for me. The animated melody has the feel of an Irish dance that issues forth exuberance and eagerness by the truckload. It’s energy imbues the soundtrack with life and just listening to the lively music makes you want to join them on their travels and share in the wondrous sights and sounds that they come across.

Niche & Steak

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Lag & Niche

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One good example of such a place would be the “White Desert of Jose” which I presume to be an actual location in the series. In listening to it, you’d hardly be able to picture it as a dry, uninhabitable desert because of how the electric guitar and the piano combine really well to breathe life into the area. It’s almost as though the desert flowers were blooming right before your eyes, leaving you completely awestruck by the vibrant colors that meet your gaze. And of course, it goes without saying that the the underground world of AmberGround, with its mysteries and wonders, is depicted beautifully through a slow chant that makes you feel as though you’re walking upon hallowed ground, especially when the female chorus augments the mood through their ethereal voices.

White Desert of Jose

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Canon of AMBER GROUND (Full version)

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Through it all, the emotional fare like “Nocturne ~ a Destiny” will come in to fulfill the needs of the show’s more introspective moments, but make no mistake about it, Letter Bee’s soundtrack’s forte is in its ability to convey the excitement the characters must feel with each and every assignment. The path the characters tread may be dangerous at times, but it’s a rewarding trek the whole way through, and Kunihiko’s latest score certainly reflects that well.

Nocturne ~ a Destiny

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Rating: Very Good

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.

28 thoughts on “Tegami Bachi Original Sound Track Nocturne ~a destiny~ – Review

  • May 30, 2010 at 2:54 pm
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    Lag and Niche is definitely my favorite track off the OST. I thought it one of the better that I’ve listened to this year. This OST has a nice variety of different tracks.

    If I may I’ll give you a little background on the show. Letter Bee takes place in AmberGround, it is sort of like their country or world I guess. AmberGround is a world of perpetual night lit only by an artificial sun. The Letter Bee are a government program that must deliver letters and packages…they can be kind like the main character or unscrupulous. The towns they visit don’t always look upon their presence favorably. During their travels Letter Bees encounter Gaichu which are giant mechanical bug monsters that basically eat peoples hearts. The Letter Bee are armed with Shindanjuu (basically guns) that allow them to convert a fragment of themselves into a bullet and fire. It depends on the Letter Bee what fragment they use and what powers their shindanjuu manifest. The main character Lag’s shindanjuu fires a portion of his heart and allows him to see the “memories” of whatever he fires it at. If he fires it at a letter he can see who wrote the letter and why etc. It’s his magic plot gun. While it definitely has an RPG feel it is actually generally more introspective than anything. It’s generally classified as shonen faire but it’s really low key and atmospheric.

    So your interpretation was pretty close but actually it’s more the various people he meets in his travels rather than the sights and the sounds. Letter Bee actually stayed rather away from the main story but it’s getting a second season in October. It’s not amazing but I recommend it if you are looking for a show with a low-key atmosphere. I would usually use it to wind down at the end of the day. Also it ends the first season on a huge cliffhanger.

    Reply
  • May 30, 2010 at 8:44 pm
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    I agree with Taka and most of the points in his post. I bought this soundtrack soon after watching the series even though it was a bit annoying having it delayed a month. Its nice to see a review about this here to get it some exposure. Perhaps its the RPG feel you mention that I enjoy about this so much. I added my full scans from this to VGMDB for those who are interested.

    Reply
  • May 31, 2010 at 8:03 am
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    unrelated to post but does anyone know the source of the picture used in the header banner?

    Reply
  • May 31, 2010 at 10:46 am
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    @Taka
    I’d probably put the main theme as my favorite, but Lag & Niche would probably come up second. The variety also struck me as I listened to this album and that the diversity certainly kept this album engaging.

    As for the anime itself, when I heard it was a shounen work, I pretty much wrote it off. Ghostlightning in his posts didn’t seem too keen on it either, so even though it hits more on the introspective bent than the Big 3 shounen shows, I’m unlikely to pick it up aside from the soundtrack for the second season.

    @Sirusjr
    It’s what I do! Seriously, when I poked around and saw that it’d be composed by Ryo Kunihiko, that was the trigger and given my past enjoyment of his compositions, that this would be an album definitely worth checking out.

    So though I know not many people watched this series, I do hope they give the soundtrack a chance.

    @aiM
    Artist’s name is Bekkankou.

    Reply
  • May 31, 2010 at 6:53 pm
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    For me variety is usually my number one criteria for choosing good music/album. I just get too bored easily if I actually pay attention to most of the music out there. The next would probably be the emotion conveyed and how it is conveyed. That can be difficult for non-vocal work though.

    Reply
  • June 1, 2010 at 6:52 am
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    Sorry but is there anything more specific? like the characters name or the anime/manga it is from?

    Thanks in advance

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  • June 1, 2010 at 1:10 pm
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    I always appreciate it when a composer melds together electronic instruments with non electronic instruments to create pieces which actually sound good. Is there a term for that? Hybrid? Well then, I guess I enjoy hybrid music that’s been well thought out and not just tackily thrown together.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2010 at 12:08 am
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    @Taka
    For me, it’s not variety so much as it needs to be good. I’ve been bored to death by constant barrages of uninteresting jazz in stuff like Baccano! and, by the same token, could sit riveted by an album packed with piano music as long as the music within it is good. For non-vocal work, I think that’s the reason why I tend to stick to classical more often than not because the composers who’ve survived beyond their eras are the ones capable of getting their music to resonate with people, whether it’s melodically or ability to convey those emotions.

    @aiM
    Nope, it’s an original character, not from any anime or manga.

    @Yu
    That’s the best term I can think of. Maybe fusion works too though I guess that’s more in describing a stylistic bent. And yes, Kunihiko certainly can blend those instruments together pretty well, which is why I’ve found his works to be pretty engaging overall.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2010 at 10:41 pm
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    White Desert of Jose is a lovely track, as is Nocturne. I have little context for this score, but the songs are powerful enough to fire up my imagination.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2010 at 9:28 pm
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    @Yi
    That’s the power of good music! You don’t need the context if the composer does a good job of delivering them to you.

    Reply
  • June 6, 2010 at 12:12 am
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    I’m late and I sort of responded in twitter but I wanted to emphasize that to me “the music has to be good” is sort of a “duh” statement. The thing that makes it good for me is variety first and foremost. I don’t want to listen to any tracks that play the same thing over and over again…unless I have emotional attachment to them. *cough* anything from the Clannad OST *cough*

    Reply
  • June 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm
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    @Taka
    Yeah, I can see Clannad being a good example where I did let my fanboy tendencies get the better of me. In that instance, it was the context that played a weighty hand in my rating for that. Even if some of the stuff in there was kind of same-y.

    Reply
  • June 8, 2010 at 6:43 pm
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    I think my favorite track on the OST is “Seirei Kohaku”. I really like how it starts with the electric guitar being plunked like an acoustic, and then the piano comes in to support the melody, but then it completely changes gears and becomes more a Celtic piece with the violin coming in at about a minute into the track and takes over the melody, with the plunking electric guitar playing backup instead of providing the melody. And then, at the end, all of the layers slowly fade out, like the track’s whispering goodbye to you. It’s atmospheric but powerful enough to stand out on its own.

    Incidentally, the composer also did the impressive music for The Twelve Kingdoms, which is one of the best fantasy anime you could ever see (though the story’s unfinished). Though TTK went for more of an Eastern/Oriental sound than the borderline-Celtic sound we hear in Letter Bee.

    Reply
  • June 8, 2010 at 8:06 pm
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    @macattack
    “Seirei Kohaku’s” start brings out that mystical aura really well before plunging into RPG-like adventuring music since you can almost imagine the characters moving around in some cave-like system. I’ve always thought the violins have more of a Baroque feel since the string work has a very… err… Vivaldi-esque feel to them. Maybe it’s the twinkling sound that lends it that Celtic feel?

    And yeah, I love Kunihiko’s main theme for 12 Kingdoms. That intro sets up for an epic adventure all right!

    Reply
  • June 9, 2010 at 4:02 pm
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    Haha, I have a lot of trouble telling Baroque from Celtic. Kinda shows I have only a slight idea of what I’m talking about, the only music classes I’ve taken are “music appreciation” types. ^^;

    But let me be amateuristic a little longer . . .

    I think in a lot of ways Ryo Kunihiko is the Akira Senju of the “fusion” composers in anime, as compared to Taku Iwasaki whose closest relation I can think of on the orchestral end is Michiru Oshima.

    Iwasaki tends to take the “direct” approach much like Oshima. His music’s emotion is right on the surface. Even if the characters don’t reveal their innermost emotions, Iwasaki’s music will bring out the inner despair or joy quite well. Of course, this also means that Iwasaki can sound too bombastic like Oshima can also be.

    Kunihiko is a bit different. Like Senju, Kunihiko seems quite choosy about the anime projects he undertakes. And, like Senju, Kunihiko practices restraint. The emotion is there, but you need to dig deeper to hear it, and often you are left to your own interpretation. Kunihiko and Senju aren’t going to tell you how sad or happy or angry a piece is, you need to figure that part out for yourself.

    Unlike Iwasaki or Oshima, where their music is relied on to partially take over a scene and guide the mood, Kunihiko’s score is more of a soft compliment, subtly enhancing the scene but never takes the lead. Akira Senju’s approach to scoring is much the same way, as Red Garden and FMA: Brotherhood show (though Battle Scherzo is quite bombastic too XD).

    Of course, too much restraint can wreck the score. A good example of this is the 2006 anime KIBA (which neither Kunihiko or Senju scored but it still makes my point). There is a lot of restraint in KIBA’s score, it shoots for the same approach where the music is supposed to be subtly enhancing the scenes. However, either amateuristic mixing or composing derails this, you instead get the feel of a vaguely morbid dirge of a score that never quite develops into what it could be.

    I think my point is that I think a more restrained style requires more skill than the direct approach, because if you get too restrained your score is boring. However, Iwasaki and Oshima’s scores are better for independent or casual listening because they do more to attract your attention, while Kunihiko and Senju are better to study or write to because their scores aren’t going to startle you out of your concentration.

    Reply
  • June 10, 2010 at 1:28 am
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    @macattack
    Well, you’d be in good company. My music education pretty much came from just taking one semester of music appreciation in college, so it’s not like my background is all that much better :p

    I do like the comparisons you’ve made regarding both pairs of composers and that I agree that Kunihiko and Senju play towards subtler tones whereas Iwasaki and Ooshima are far more apparent with their compositions. So when you look for full-blown epic stuff in the vein of say… “Libera Me From Hell,” that song doesn’t even try to keep it subtle. The same can be said for Oshima’s compositions for Sora no Woto which, as you said, don’t require too much imagination to figure out what’s going on.

    I also see where you’re coming from with Senju’s and Kunihiko’s restraint + how it hangs more in the background rather than dominate the scene, and I’ll add that when you listen to their works outside the anime that they’ve composed and you’re familiar with the anime itself, the compositions really become powerful. I know that when certain tracks pop up when I listen to Red Garden, I’m just hit by an overwhelming wave of despair and that I can really feel the pain that the characters feel. That’s the mark of very good soundtrack music :) And on that note, I do need to listen to FMA:B’s 2nd OST. The 1st didn’t really appeal to me much, but I have heard that the second is much better.

    Finally, while I do agree that Kunihiko does good studying music, I’d have to disagree with Senju. His music is far too melancholy and I end up feeling sad if I listen to one of his albums straight through. Which means my mood drops and I can’t seem to remember whatever it is I’m reading or studying. Doesn’t change the fact that Senju’s good because it takes some skill to make the music affect me to that degree. But when I study, I’ll use Kunihiko’s upbeatness 😛

    Reply
  • June 10, 2010 at 2:12 pm
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    I saw around half of Tegami Bachi quite a while back, so I was surprised upon hearing these tracks. They do sound like they come from an RPG, and it makes even more sense that he previously worked on Aion’s OST. I played Aion for a bit before it was released here, and these tracks would fit right into the game.

    Reply
  • June 10, 2010 at 11:15 pm
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    @Reltair
    Yup! Do wish there were some Origa vocals like he used in Aion though. Man, that song of hers gives me the chills because of how beautiful it is….

    Reply
  • June 19, 2010 at 8:14 am
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    I’ve only browsed through this soundtrack, and it really surpassed my expectations. I’ve got to sit down one day to listen to it properly. At this stage, the track which caught my attention was ‘Seirei Kohaku’, though I’ll attribute it to my cello fetish… (Either that or it was just the lucky one that was playing when I decided to listen carefully for a moment)

    Reply
  • June 19, 2010 at 2:14 pm
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    @Jen
    I think Taka’s nailed it on the diversity factor and there’s plenty here to keep you engaged without it sounding like a monotonous wreck that some composers tend to be. Rock, violins, cellos, Celtic airs, etc, there’s plenty of tracks to dig!

    Reply
  • August 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm
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    hello! Does anyone know what the song with the flute is called? Its that nice sound that comes when Lag shoots someone with his gun, when u can see their memories. Im hooked at that song, its so beautiful, but I cant find it anywhere. been looking for ages. It is also played in episode 22 @ 9:20! When the doctor send gauche to the herb expert saying himself cant do anything to help the blind scientist! I NEED HELP, THANKS!!:p

    Reply
  • August 29, 2010 at 12:01 am
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    @andr
    Might it be Tsuioku no Aria ~ Recollections? Just a guess since the word recollections is in there and that might be what you’re looking for. I haven’t seen the show though and probably won’t be able to help you much.

    Reply
  • August 29, 2010 at 7:00 am
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    thanks for trying zzeroparticle, but its not that’s not it:p

    Reply
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  • May 17, 2013 at 12:29 am
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    Minna, I was wondering if any of you know this song, it’s played in episode 9 of Reverse, from 10:45 to 13:12. Please help! T^T

    Reply
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