|Album Title:||Angel Beats! Original Soundtrack|
|Anime Title:||Angel Beats!|
|Artist:||Jun Maeda, ANANT-GARDE EYES, Lia, Aoi Tada, karuta|
|Release Date:||June 28, 2010|
|Purchase at:||CDJapan, Play-Asia|
|1. My Soul, Your Beats!||Lia, Jun Maeda||4:35|
|2. Theme of SSS||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:52|
|3. School Days||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:21|
|4. Girl’s Hop||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:12|
|5. Art of War||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:35|
|6. Today is OK||ANANT-GARDE EYES||3:52|
|7. Memory||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:33|
|8. My Most Precious Treasure||Jun Maeda||2:47|
|9. Tactics||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:32|
|10. Enemy Country||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:12|
|11. Operation Start||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:19|
|12. Decisive Battle||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:39|
|13. Attack!!||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:49|
|14. Critical Point||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:12|
|15. Study Time||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:38|
|16. Niku Udon||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:04|
|17. Invention||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:08|
|18. Toy of Spring||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:46|
|19. Deochi||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:34|
|20. Light Drop||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:00|
|21. Worthy Rival||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:06|
|22. Burial||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:48|
|23. Play Ball||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:47|
|24. Walkure||ANANT-GARDE EYES||0:30|
|25. Let’s Operation||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:00|
|26. Evening Breeze||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:36|
|27. Moment of Rest||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:12|
|1. Initial Impulse||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:14|
|2. My Heart||Jun Maeda||2:49|
|3. Soul Friends||Jun Maeda||2:56|
|4. Kanade||Jun Maeda||3:03|
|5. My Most Precious Treasure -orgel-||Jun Maeda||2:21|
|6. Memory -orgel-||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:33|
|7. Unjust Life||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:45|
|8. Nocturne in the Afternoon||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:39|
|9. Anxiety||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:49|
|10. Abyss||ANANT-GARDE EYES||3:16|
|11. Alter ego||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:50|
|12. Siren||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:54|
|13. Transforms to the Shadow||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:25|
|14. Otonashi||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:40|
|15. Angel’s Flight||ANANT-GARDE EYES||1:16|
|16. Firing Preparation||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:14|
|17. Desperation||ANANT-GARDE EYES||2:33|
|18. Breakthrough||ANANT-GARDE EYES||3:08|
|19. Ichiban no Takaramono (Original Version)||karuta, Jun Maeda||5:59|
|20. Brave Song||Aoi Tada, Jun Maeda||5:37|
Review: If the lead composer for ANANT-GARDE Eyes isn’t Jun Maeda, you wouldn’t know it from listening to Angel Beats!’s soundtrack. Their music blends in almost seamlessly with Maeda’s compositions, and the only points of departure are the synth-heavy tracks that feel out of place from Maeda’s usual melodramatic fare but are nevertheless crucial to depicting the anime’s background.
The straightforward story is that Angel Beats! is set in a purgatory where a handful of people try to combat an entity who they believe is responsible for their unhappiness when they were alive. A more novel suggestion is that Angel Beats! is a video game. I prefer this explanation more for the purposes of looking at the soundtrack because its music reminds me of the music you hear in video games, specifically the type heard in JRPGs.
The three facets of JRPG music that I outlined earlier – battle themes, location music, and character themes – are all scattered across Angel Beats! soundtrack and should be easy to pick out. RPG battle music manifests itself in “Decisive Battle.” The dissonant chords opening the track create the sort of backing you’d hear in Masashi Hamauzu battle themes for Sigma Harmonics and SaGa Frontier II, and those mostly stay in the background, creating a chaotic layer while an ephemeral woodwind weaves in and out when the synth isn’t at the reins. In listening to this, and other battle themes like “Attack!!,” the combat music doesn’t reach the level of Hamauzu’s transcendent themes since they rely too much on the synth, and heavy-sounding synth at that, but they do pack the requisite amount of chaos and energy to stand out well enough.
Locales aren’t nearly as prominent as the battle themes, but both the slice of life parts and the more ominous dungeon-like themes are represented. You get the initial feel for the former in “School Days” which sparkles in its simplicity, but I take more to “Girl’s Hop’s” laid-back chiptune-y goodness. Both pieces have a carefree aura to them, and their repetitive tones make it seem like time stands absolutely still. But hey, such is life in purgatory. “Enemy Country” hits on the typical RPG dungeon themes, with its thick, tension-filled atmosphere that segues into an emphatic rhythm as the dangers ramp up. Like the battle themes, there’s a lot of heavy synth leading the way and it can be overbearing for those not fond of synth, but it works to immerse you in an underground zone filled with traps and adversaries.
Several tracks later, “Niku Udon” bears mentioning. Though it’s not what people would think of as RPG music, it’s chaotic chiptunes does sound like video game music, with a melody that’s reminiscent of old games blaring out their music in unison in arcades of decades past.
Last, but not least, Angel Beats! offers some character themes, though it’s limited in that it focuses on the characters Kanade and Otonashi. Of the two, Kanade’s theme sounds the most like an RPG’s character theme, with a chiptune segment around the middle of the track to drive that comparison closer. The rest of the track is solid, featuring Jun Maeda’s bent towards piano melodies that glimmer down like sunlit beams, sharing its warmth upon those who receive its light. It’s soft, it’s soothing, but it’s determined when it needs to be, making “Kanade” a perfect reflection of the titular character’s personality.
I won’t be talking specifically about Otonashi’s theme though since that’s just an arrangement of “Theme of SSS” with the cello taking over the main melody. Rather, it’s “Theme of SSS” that deserves the focus. The desperation the piece emanates jibes with the SSS’s seemingly hopeless goal of fighting the entity in charge of purgatory. Through the tragic piano melody that opens the track, you can sense not only the depths of the pain and suffering surrounding the SSS members’ backgrounds, but also the resolve to which they will go to fight the perceived source of injustice. Its stark depiction of tragedy comes off poignantly, and it works in hitting all the right emotional spots.
Theme of SSS
And what’s a Maeda soundtrack without some utterly beautiful piano pieces that really tug upon those heartstrings? Both “Ichiban no Takaramono” and its instrumental version, “My Most Precious Treasure,” progress brilliantly. The pieces start with a gentle piano that comes slowly, carrying with it an air of finality. As they progress, you can sense the load of regrets and heartaches that the character has gone through, but all of that’s coming to a close as death approaches. The feelings of acceptance dominate the melody, and even though the time of passing is near, I’d like to think that it ends on an optimistic note to reflect that the person has firmed up their resolve and is prepared to move on from this life. I do prefer “My Most Precious Treasure” because it succeeds in conveying those tones without the need for words to get in the way. In short, it brings out the emotion in what I consider to be its purest form.
Ichiban no Takaramono (Original Version)
My Most Precious Treasure
And before I close out, I’ll just give the piano version of “My Soul, Your Beats” my full approval. The vocal version did feel a bit too messy when I listened to the background instrumentals, and Lia’s voice was what kept the song alive. The piano version, titled “My Heart,” does not suffer from that problem. Like “My Most Precious Treasure,” the heartfelt emotions feel much stronger, instilling within us the love the characters feel, along with the sense of hope of being able to flee this endless cycle of the purgatory while leading others towards a better end.
For all the failures of Angel Beats!’s narrative, its soundtrack manages to shine wonderfully. The heavier synth tracks make a good backdrop for the action and the locales, but those play second fiddle to the stunningly heartfelt tracks that, once again, demonstrate the extent of Jun Maeda’s composing abilities. I’ve yet to hear a bad Maeda track so far, and here, he demonstrates once more that he’s the best composer on Key’s staff.
Rating: Very Good
Notes: Eternal offers his own thoughts as well and his makes for some very good reading.