Reminiscing over the Decade’s Anime Music – 2007

In case people wanted to read what I’ve written about years past, they’re all filed under the “Decade List” tag.

Anyhow, I’ve been warned about 2007’s list since it’s a disgustingly huge list to pick from, and when you casually look over what the music selections are like, you’ll find a lot of solid names to highlight. 2007 saw the coming of shows such as Gurren Lagaan, Baccano!, ef, and Sketchbook. All of these shine in quality on the content front, but it’s a sure bet that people can pick out a track or two that they really enjoyed from these shows. The problem is that we’re looking at the tip of the iceberg here. As much as I’d like to knock a few shows out of this grouping, it just wouldn’t do. So strap yourself in and prepare to go through this slowly. Music is, after all, best savored rather than chugged.

With that, let’s begin with something VGM fans can appreciate:

Romeo x Juliet
I’ve already heaped enough praises on Romeo x Juliet’s soundtrack, partly because I’ve been a fan of Hitoshi Sakimoto’s music ever since I’ve played Final Fantasy Tactics. Even so, it never hurts to give this OST a few more plaudits. While his music wasn’t able to keep me from dropping the series towards the middle, it does compel me to give the soundtrack repeat listens, especially when he serves exciting, majestic music like “Touch,” which is by far and away my favorite track on that album. Add a few more tracks like “Neo Verona” and “Fate” and you’ve got the trappings for a fantastic score that finishes up as my favorite anime soundtrack from 2007.

Touch

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Sketchbook ~full color’S~
There are two aspect to Sketchbook ~full color’S~ that warrant a mention here. The first is the OP, titled “Kaze Sagashi,” with Natsumi Kiyoura’s soothing voice moving in like a light wind to lift us up and take us on a journey through time and space as we alight upon the idyllic setting of high school life where our attention falls upon members of the school’s art club, each with their own distinct, quirky personality. At this point, this is where the second part kicks in: Ken Muramatsu’s score. Muramatsu dabbles in a fusion of traditional Japanese music and light jazz and though his style hasn’t really changed much as you listen to his later works, none of those works have quite surpassed his compositions for Sketchbook. When you’ve got lazy, drift-y pieces like “Balloon Mode ~Yume Kara Samete Mo~” and “Yuumagure no Kuni,” you know you’ll be in for a treat, especially if you’re keen on relaxing fare. Unlike the next soundtrack, you don’t actually have to watch the series to appreciate it!

Balloon Mode ~Yume Kara Samete Mo~

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Yuumagure no Kuni

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Hidamari Sketch
And while we’re on the same subject as Sketchbook, do check out Tomoki Kikuya’s compositions for Hidamari Sketch since the two are somewhat similar in the way they depict high school life. Initially, I didn’t even pay attention to the background music since the series captivated me through its likable cast, whose camaraderie would guide them past the difficulties of living alone without adult supervision while only attending high school. The interactions make for a heartwarming series even if there isn’t much that happens. Because of that, do prepare yourself for a slow-paced soundtrack that, like Sketchbook, carries that light, jazzy feel. It helps to have knowledge of the context, since the music’s ability to conjure up scenes from the anime is the key to really getting the most mileage out of it.

a sunny place 1

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And before I forget, I love the OP, “Sketch Switch,” with its energy and it was what had gotten me to try the show to begin with. The ED, “Mebae Drive,” is where my introduction to marble came about, and I’ve really come to enjoy their mellow sound in their subsequent offerings, especially for the HidaSketch franchise.

Hidamari Sketch OP/ED »

Shion no Ou
And if you’re for something completely different, Kousuke Yamashita’s compositions for Shion no Ou should be fairly satisfying. The show’s mood is dark and serious; there is a murderer afoot who is paying particular attention to the eponymous shougi player and at times, you feel that it’s a race against time to expose him before it’s too late. In combining the suspense inherent in the murder mystery with the tension of the shougi matches, Yamashita’s compositions yield a darker, despairing flavor along with the dramatic music that comes in as the shougi players meticulously plan out their moves. It’s a very underrated effort all around, but I really enjoy it, especially for stuff like “Akai Kioku,” which reeks of horror and despair, and “Niten Santen,” where you can feel the intensity hit its stride as the shougi match winds its course to end it all on a note of finality.

Akai Kioku

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Niten Santen

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Oh! Edo Rocket
Whether my perceptions are absolutely warped or I have this overwhelming love for the underdog, Baccano’s jazz doesn’t get me as excited as Oh! Edo Rocket. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore “Gun’s and Roses” as much as the next person since the music sets up the show’s tone perfectly, but lately, it’s moved into overplayed fare, which really isn’t its fault. So when people bring up that song, I give it the recognition it deserves, but beyond that, I’m content to let others do the praising.

So when people say they’re looking for a jazz soundtrack, I’ll bypass the low-hanging fruit and toss up Oh! Edo Rocket as a strong recommendation. Even though I’ve no context of the show since I haven’t seen it, the sort of feeling I get from the music is that it’s a brash and bold show. That is, the characters are aiming for some lofty ambitious goal that they’ve come up with out of the blue, and damn it all, they’re going to try it, no matter what anyone else says. There will be hi-jinks to be had as they pursue this dream and the swagger that pieces like “Rocket” and “Swing” bring to the table indicate that there will be no giving up in this neck of the woods. It’s do or die, and the audacity is what I love so much.

Rocket

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Swing

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ef – a tale of memories
Rather than mention Tenmon’s score for 5 Centimeters Per Second, which is solid overall, I’ll instead talk about the ef – a tale of memories soundtrack, which still contains his characteristic style that’s packed to the brim with drama borne about through the piano, strings, and synth. The soundtrack is a treasure to pick through, especially through the tracks that depict the meetings and the moments of tension, but nothing seems to be able to eclipse the sheer beauty exhibited by “A Moon Filled Sky’s” violin. It might exhibit a lot of melancholia, but it’s hard to turn away from the yearning emotions it wears on its sleeve.

A Moon Filled Sky

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Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Did someone call for Taku Iwasaki’s rise back to prominence? After a few years of mediocre output, but a slow resurrection in Giniro no Kami no Agito and Kekkaishi (so I’ve been told for the latter), Iwasaki goes back into full form with the epic TTGL soundtrack. I’m not going to claim to know much about the show beyond the memetry that’s come forth from people who have seen it, but when I listen to the soundtrack, everything just feels BIG, and I do mean BIG. How it could it not? When you have perennial favorites like “Libera Me From Hell” and “Pierce the Heavens With Your XXX,” the former with its blend of rap and opera, and the latter, with its opening fanfare that calls in a new chapter in mankind’s destiny. Or something like that. Together, you’ve got music that fits a modern epic. Not that Gurren Lagann needs any help in that department.

Libera Me From Hell

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Pierce the Heavens With Your XXX

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Gigantic Formula
Despite never having seen this show, I’m still very much in awe of Hiroyuki Sawano’s score, which instill images of heroism as people rise to the occasion to deliver an effort that will be talked about for years to come. Though if given half a chance, I could babble on and on about the main theme, it wouldn’t be fair to neglect some of the more introspective stuff, like “Ring” which always stood out to me. The interplay between the piano, violin, and the rest of the strings really hit the feeling of nostalgia really well. All in all, I really can’t praise this score enough and even with other works like Gundam Unicorn’s soundtrack to consider, I don’t think any of his other works quite surpass this one.

MAIN THEME (ver. 0)

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Ring

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Seirei no Moribito
Remember when I said something in the post for 2006 about Kenji Kawai redeeming himself? Well, his work for Seirei no Moribito would cover that quite well. When I listen to this soundtrack, a lot of my thoughts wander back on the feudal setting and the mystical events that occur during the course of the series and for good reason: aside from maybe 4-5 tracks, that Kawai’s melodies can stand well on their own since a lot of it focuses on capturing the atmosphere rather than give us something beautiful to listen to. So if you can immerse yourself into the setting (and it’s a beautiful setting to be sure), you should be able to enjoy what he has to offer. Otherwise, just home in on stuff like the stately “Omoi Haruka,” which moves at a steady rhythm that conveys the epic scope of the anime series or, if you’re looking more for the fast-paced action, then “Karu!” does a good job of that too.

Omoi Haruka

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Karu!

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Strike Witches
Finally, we come to the humble Strike Witches to round out the list. Opinions on that show just might be mixed because of how the fanservice-y elements distract from what is a heartwarming series about friendship and camaraderie, but if there’s one thing I’ve gotten from it (despite not having seen it), it’s Seikou Nagaoka’s music, which delivers on character themes (“Perrine’s” daintiness, for one) and of course, fantastic military fanfares in “Striker no Hishou” which are absolutely grand.

Perrine

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Striker no Hishou

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10 soundtracks in all! I did warn you before though, so if you’ve made it this far, congratulations. On to page 2, if you’re not asleep yet!

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.

27 thoughts on “Reminiscing over the Decade’s Anime Music – 2007

  • June 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm
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    Yes, 2007 was a good year. In the later Nodame seasons my wife and I both just couldn’t get into the other OPs, but we did love Allegro Cantabile so much. The later ones just didn’t capture the same essence or energy that song had.

    And ditto on the Myself;Yourself opening. I think I may have sat through that whole series just because of that. One of those things I started, and needed to finish

    Gigantic Formula was one series I truly enjoyed, and partially because the music fit the piece so well. When I think back to it, the music does stand out as one of my first thoughts.

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  • June 5, 2010 at 3:24 pm
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    I’d add Tsuneyoshi Saito’s soundtrack to Dennou Coil to the list of 2007’s best. Dennou Coil is possibly the best series since Haibane Renmei, and part of the reason is the soundtrack, which fits the anime perfectly and stands well on its own.

    Oh! Edo Rocket, the second-best series of 2007, is every bit as bold and brash as you guessed, and completely off-the-wall as well. Much as I like the soundtrack, though, it leaves me a bit uneasy — at what point does homage to the swing originals become plagiarism?

    Ghost Hound was the worst disappointment of 2007, but the opening song is great. Mayumi Kojima has since become one of my favorite singers.

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  • June 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm
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    Dennou Coil definitely deserves a mention here, especially the OP. I really didn’t like the Myself; Yourself OP at all (in fact, the only thing I did like about that show was the character designs), while sometimes I feel like the only person who thinks the Kimikiss OP >>>> the Kimikiss ED. (Although the EDs are integral to Kasai’s trademark cliffhangers… I swear, he’s built his house on those). Speaking of Kasai (he was busy that yeah… and in form), if the Nodame Cantabile OP rates a mention, then so does the first ED.

    Is the Kaiji soundtrack worth a mention? It probably isn’t quite as good as the Akagi one, but a few of the tracks are memorable.

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  • June 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm
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    I don’t remember much about the Sola soundtrack either… Except the song from the very beginning of the first episode. Slow, soporific, but also haunting in retrospect.

    This is the first time I’ve really tried listening to the Kimikiss OP. It’s actually kinda catchy!

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  • June 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm
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    There are a lot of OP/ED that could also have been included like Minami-ke, Seto no Hanayome, Moyashimon as well as Dennou Coil.

    Dennou Coils OST never has grabbed me. I agree it has quality of production but only one or two of the pieces ever grabbed me.

    I find it funnier I thought of both Uninstall and Blue for the Ethereal theme. I’ve been looking for a week to nom Uninstall it’s such a good song. Maybe cover week since everyone and there mother has covered it.

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  • June 5, 2010 at 11:54 pm
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    @kimaguresan
    Agreed that “Allegro Cantabile” was just heads and shoulders above all of the subsequent Nodame OP/EDs and even though I love “Sky High,” it never has the energy that “Allegro” packs to make it a memorable experience.

    And Gigantic Formula just packs its epicness really well and I can listen to it over and over without ever feeling bored. At this point, it’s a matter of when I get to watching the show rather than if I get to it at all.

    @Don and @Sorrow-kun Re: Dennou Coil
    Dennou Coil is one of those shows that I watched 3 episodes of and promptly stopped watching for no good apparent reason. Now, Tsuneyoshi’s name is familiar to me since I loved the work he did on Fafner’s OST, so I guess summer might be a good opportunity to immerse myself into Dennou Coil’s setting.

    @Don
    Glad to hear another opinion on Oh! Edo Rocket, which backs up the two opinions I’ve heard so far in praise of that series. Given my lack of background on American jazz, which artists would you say Oh! Edo draws its inspiration from?

    Agreed with Ghost Hound for starting off so well, and then falling apart at the end. I was really irritated with that since the story was pretty good up until the point in which they just ran out of ideas completely.

    @Sorrow-kun
    I guess that position on Kimikiss depends on how big of a marble fan you are =p Also agreed with the Kasai angle. He does do a good job of building up that tension which somehow segues into the ED really well. Now that you mention it, I remember feeling that way for Honey and Clover, Nodame, and of course, Kimikiss.

    As for Kaiji, the omission is because I simply never listened to its music. Too focused on the Games o’ Death and the tension that it all entailed to pay attention to it all.

    @2DT
    Sounds like I’ll need to jog my memory on that one, though the show did irritate me enough that I’d rather not 😀 And yeah, has marble done any mediocre anime OP/EDs? I sure can’t think of any!

    @Taka
    There’s a lot that can be put in there, but that would have been overkill, though I will readily admit that Moyashimon’s chiptune goodness deserves a spot. Maybe I’ll go and do a few stealth edits….

    And maybe you should toss in Uninstall for Ethereal.. unless something else comes to mind…

    Reply
  • June 6, 2010 at 1:05 am
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    Dennou Coil -> seconded!

    Two OSTs that I feel need some recognition:

    Manabi Straight’s OST > OP/ED IMO, though not by very much. It’s one soundtrack that characterises the vibrant teenage years and its ups and downs well.

    Toward the Terra. To me it’s Takanashi’s best OST even now, and also he needs some recognition after rising to the spotlight with Jigoku Shoujo in ’06… but well there’s the Fairy Tail review here already. :)

    And I need to watch Sketchbook.

    Reply
  • June 6, 2010 at 1:49 am
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    Karu! makes me want to watch episode three of Seirei no Moribito again (which opens with this track). That is one of my favorite fight scenes of all time, and the episode on the whole is amazing.

    An interesting part of that series was how a folksong was adopted as the main theme and arranged in several different ways (including the “stately” version you provided). It was an interesting use of music.

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  • June 6, 2010 at 11:03 pm
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    @ottocycle
    I’m trying to get a grasp for how to describe Dennou Coil’s soundtrack. It really does have this modern edge to it that compares to… I don’t know… Shostakovich? Maybe some other Russian composer.

    As far as Manabi’s OST, it’s due for a relisten since I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about it. And Toward the Terra? Well, we’ve pretty much beat that discussion to bits, so it’s something I’ll get to… eventually.

    And yes, everyone needs to watch Sketchbook.

    @Joojoobees
    Isn’t it? I can remember that seen with all its fluidity and clarity. That’s got to rank as one of my favorite animated battle sequences I’ve ever seen since the choreography was mind-blowingly good. I also really do like that folk song they used. It’s a good way to impart the setting unto the viewer.

    @Don
    Well, that’s a name I’m familiar with, but I’ve not listened to his works, so that’s a good lead to work off of. I’ve always needed a good lead-in for jazz anyhow. Thanks!

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  • June 7, 2010 at 8:04 am
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    I haven’t been following you long enough to realize… Sakimoto Hitoshi fan weee~!!! Although, his works didn’t stand out for me until recently (starting with the FF12 OST), since his style has been changing and developing more and more into a Hans Zimmer feel. Epic music is epic~

    ef OSTs proved the Minori’s music team is quite solid, especially on matching the melodrama; still bit of a toss-up when compared to Key’s team with Shinji Orito though.

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  • June 7, 2010 at 8:18 pm
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    I just realized that 2007 has not been a good anime year for me. Strike Witches is the only one I’ve seen from the list. It does have a really fun track.

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  • June 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm
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    @Aorii
    Oh man, I’ve been a Sakimoto fan since I’ve first laid ears on the FFT soundtrack. While I disagree that he’s becoming a Zimmer, since his music has that distinct medieval feel to it, it has definitely evolved and I’ve always marveled at how far he’s come since his soundtrack for Ogre Battle (which is the earliest work of his that I’ve heard). Now, if you’re saying he’s scaling up the epic ladder like the way Zimmer does, I’d agree with that.

    Also, I still maintain that Maeda is the better composer between him and Orito. Togoshi is pretty solid too, and once you combine all the Key composers together, they’d make a good match against Tenmon and the others at Minori.

    @Yi
    I think you’d be missing out on quite a few gems. Dennou Coil is, by all accounts, a solid show, and I can testify to sketchbook and Hidamari Sketch being both excellent, beating K-ON handily in the entertainment department. You may want to give either of those two a shot.

    But yeah, Strike Witches is a bit underrated, but the music is really enjoyable.

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  • June 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm
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    RxJ and Heroic Age are the two soundtracks you’ve talked about that I’m most familiar with. RxJ has a beautiful main theme, sounds like it’s been recorded in a good place (you wouldn’t believe how important this is), and Sakimoto really just shows off his skills in general.

    My other favorite track on the Heroic Age soundtrack besides the main theme? http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/tEW_vJB_HHY/
    I love the sense of urgency this piece conveys.

    The strings in Kawaii’s usually sound very echoey. I’m sure he adds in the sound effect, but sometimes I’d prefer the instruments to not sound so wishy-washy and distant. I’m sure it works for mood-setting in anime, but it doesn’t work (for me) as a stand alone listen.

    I enjoyed Dennou Coil’s EP/OP singer Ayako Ikeda’s voice very much, but the actual OST didn’t make big impressions.

    Pretty good year overall.

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  • June 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm
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    Pretty good writeup, 2007 was a stellar year for anime music in general.

    I do think you missed two big ones: Code Geass and Darker than Black. CG has one of the most bombastic scores of the decade, and DtB has the Yoko Kanno thing going on along with one of the most awesome and meme-tastic openings of all time: “Howling”. You can’t bring up 2007 without bringing either show up, Code Geass’ score put Kotaro Nakagawa, FLOW, and Sunset Swish on the map (JINN and Ali Project were already on the map), and Darker than Black had an immersive, atmospheric score (though the released soundtrack wasn’t all that great, the tracks that were put on the Japanese Blu-Ray release really flesh that soundtrack out).

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  • June 8, 2010 at 7:59 pm
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    @Yu
    Yup, Naoki Sato sure knows how to compose epic-sounding music. His work on Eureka Seven and then Heroic Age are just two good examples of that. As for RxJ, it was recorded via the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, so that’s always going to make it sound great.

    And bingo for nailing the issue I have with Kawai (as if I can’t mention it enough!).

    @macattack
    Good lord, I can’t believe I forgot about Code Geass (it would have appeared in 2006’s column, except I didn’t touch on it there either. blargh!). Yeah, I’ll make sure to make amends in 2008 for Geass2 once I listen to it. Kotaro Nakagawa has been pretty awesome anyhow…

    As for DtB, I’ve heard from other people that it’s one of Kanno’s weaker offerings, but I’ve not confirmed that myself though you seem to agree with the general opinion that the soundtrack disc itself wasn’t that memorable. Not sure what people say about the tracks that came with the BR release though.

    If you can’t tell, I haven’t seen Geass or DtB =P

    Reply
  • June 9, 2010 at 5:42 am
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    I love your “over the decades” articles on anime music!! 2007 is a very unfamiliar year concerning anime for me. I haven’t heard much of most of the anime series and music that you mentioned.
    I especially enjoyed A Moon Filled Sky from ef – a tale of memories, that melancholic violin is just too tempting for me, lol.

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  • June 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm
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    @cj
    ef also packs a lot of enjoyable melodrama on top of that, and if you can get yourself used to Shaft’s visual style in depicting some of those scenes, you’ll find it to be an enjoyable ride. Also, it goes without saying that Tenmon’s/Yanagi’s score is going to make for an enjoyable listen.

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  • June 10, 2010 at 5:09 am
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    Coincidentally, I have listened to only one theme from Heroic Age as well. I can’t recall the name but it was the large-scale main theme; fantastic. Oh yes, Uninstall from Bokurano is great and it still remains in my current playlist :)

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  • June 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm
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    Oh man, “Touch” makes me want to go finish watching Romeo x Juliet…

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  • June 10, 2010 at 11:14 pm
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    @Canne
    Yup, when you’re dealing with Ishikawa (even during her See-Saw days), she’ll still turn in solid results, and Bokurano’s OP is about as solid as you get. Also, I think the main theme for Heroic Age is… “Heroic Age” :p

    @Reltair
    Do let me know what you think. I got sick of the characters about halfway through. Not even Tybalt could have saved the show for me.

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  • June 11, 2010 at 2:20 am
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    Gigantic Formula’s theme makes me smile and regret that I only watched 1 episode of the show.

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  • June 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm
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    @Kaioshin Sama
    Never too late to catch up on it and make amends (though I don’t know how good of a show it is, so)

    @Canne
    All good and perhaps I ought to listen to the entire thing =p

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  • June 18, 2010 at 9:30 pm
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    Your mention of Romeo X Juliet is much deserved. Like you I have been a fan of Sakimoto since FFT and Romeo X Juliet is by far one of his best works. It is also the only work he did that I know of where he got an orchestra for the entire soundtrack. I hope he does another anime soundtrack like it at some point.

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  • June 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm
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    @Sirusjr
    Yup! FFT was the first Sakimoto soundtrack I’ve ever purchased and Romeo x Juliet was the first anime soundtrack I’ve ever purchased. The work Eminence Symphony did on this was absolutely outstanding and I’d easily peg RxJ to be in his top 3 compositions.

    And now that you mention it, maybe I should listen to his work on Tower of Uruk or whatever that show was…

    Reply
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