Makoto Shinkai Image Album – Promise – Review

Album Title: Makoto Shinkai Image Album – Promise
Anime Title: 5 Centimeters per Second, She and Her Cat,
Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place,
Voices of a Distant Star
Artist: Eminence Symphony Orchestra, Shiro Hamaguchi, Akifumi Tada,
Yasunori Iwasaki, Tenmon
Catalog Number: CWCD-0003
Release Type: Arrangement
Release Date: December 09, 2009
Purchase at: CDJapan, Eminence Online


Tracklist

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Track Title Artist Time
1. One more time, one more chance
from “5 centimeters per second” (Instrumental)
Toshiyuki Mori 5:06
2. Memories from days far away
from “5 centimeters per second”
Tenmon 4:07
3. Kanae’s Feelings
from “5 centimeters per second”
Tenmon 3:27
4. Main Theme
from “Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place”
Tenmon 4:17
5. Plans by the two, Hope and love
from “Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place”
Tenmon 4:21
6. Sayuri
from “Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place”
Tenmon 3:14
7. Main Theme
from “Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place” (Piano Solo)
Tenmon 3:29
8. Their differences
from “Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place”
Tenmon 2:45
9. Your voice
from “Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place”
Tenmon 4:59
10. Through the Years & Far Away
from “Voices of a distant star”
Tenmon 4:14
11. Letter from Mikako
from “Voices of a distant star”
Tenmon 3:46
12. Main Theme
from “She and her cat” (String Ensemble)
Tenmon 3:57
13. Main Theme
from “She and her cat” (Piano Solo)
Tenmon 3:47

Review: Makoto Shinkai’s works may derive much of their power by stirring the emotions that many can identify with, but the power of his works gets an additional boost from Tenmon’s score, which plays a crucial role in driving home the impact of Shinkai’s scenes. For me, tracks like “Memories from days far away” come to mind just as readily as the beautiful scene that unfolds when Takaki meets with Akari when someone mentions 5 Centimeters Per Second. It’s fitting then that a celebration of ten years of Shinkai include not only a re-viewing of his works but also a chance to listen to some of Tenmon’s impactful compositions. To that end, the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, along with arrangers Shiro Hamaguchi, Akifumi Tada, and Yasunori Iwasaki have gifted us with a solid orchestral compilation of Tenmon’s collaborations with Shinkai through Promise.

And what better way than to look at the recent past than by starting with the moving insert song “One more time, one more chance” from 5 Centimeters. The original’s power comes from the way it conveys the protagonist’s bittersweet feelings and Eminence’s ensemble faithfully captures that pain most poignantly. Its warm introduction makes way for an airy flute solo that expresses a sort of impermanance, like a precious, yet ephemeral fragment of one’s memory that is always close to disappearing, triggering the yearning and the heartaches. The latter factors in heavily, especially during the introspective cello solo, and continues up to the end until the piece fades out gently. What this track does well is express the regrets and heartaches beautifully and sets things rolling, priming us for what’s to come.

One more time, one more chance

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The procession of 5 Centimeter’s tracks continues with “Memories from days far away.” This piece grasps our attention through the melancholy piano melody that conveys the scope of the anguish that befalls the protagonist. The distress and worries, which materialize in the continual delays that plague his visit during the movie’s first segment, are captured through the halting, measured phrases. Yet, hope still shines through when the lighter tones weave in and out of the heavier fare, creating a mix of joy and sadness that “Kanae’s feelings” follows up upon. “Kanae’s feelings'” initially upbeat guitar segues into a melancholy sound that expresses the yearning feelings scattered throughout the movie, and in so doing, encapsulates the movie’s tragic sentiments perfectly.

Memories from days far away

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The next section begins with the “Main Theme” from The Place Promised in Our Early Days, and opens with a mystical aura brought about by the guitar before launching into the slow, graceful melody that uplifts one’s soul. Its airy flute solo does well in evoking images of the early dawn, and with the arrival of the rest of the orchestra, the rich timbre that follows has an upwelling effect that isn’t unlike watching a slow, radiant sunrise. The optimism and excitement it conjures is almost idealistic, especially as it culminates in a wonderful section where ideas and dreams seemingly take flight.

Main Theme from “Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place”

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Those sentiments toward the end of the “Main Theme” give birth to “Plans by the two, Hope and love” which combines two different tracks seamlessly. The first, “Plans by the two,” is driven by the oboe’s sense of optimism layered atop the string section’s purposeful rhythm that gives it the energy of a grand undertaking. The transition into “Hope and Love’s” theme seizes that energy and melts it away slowly to bring in a burgeoning gladness into my heart. When listening to the graceful air that the strings express, I just can’t help but feel that bubbling sense of joy that is reinforced many times later on in tracks such as “Sayuri” and “Your voice.”

Plans by the two, Hope and love

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Going further, we come to Voices of a Distant Star’s “Through the Years & Far Away.” True to its title, its pensive oboe melody conveys the scope of the distance that separates the lovers that are central to the OVA’s plot. Once the piano part takes over, its calmer air induces contemplation as it draws forth the myriad memories through its nostalgic expression. Though an undercurrent of hope can still be heard as the piece progresses, the wistful, somewhat melancholy air dominates much of the track, holding the listener back by stirring the forlorn feelings that Shinkai wants you to experience in this particular work. These longing feelings that linger is erased somewhat by the warm tones flowing out of “Letter from Mikako” to close out Voices’ segment on this disc. Short, sweet, and dainty, this track wins me over through its loving sentiments that work in bridging the vast distance.

Through the Years & Far Away

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Last but not least, She and Her Cat gets a chance to shine. Though there are only three minutes of music that ever got played during the course of the anime, the arrangers were able to squeeze out the blossoming tones while mixing in the anxiety that crops up in the second half of the short film. The piano version works to end it all since the melody lends itself well to a regal air that lets you empathize with the cat’s owner’s sorrows, yet instilling the hope that things will turn out well for her by the end.

Main Theme from “She and her cat” (String Ensemble)

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The arranging team of Hamaguchi, Iwasaki, and Tada has done an excellent job in capturing the spirit if Tenmon’s compositions. As I sit and listen, the images of Shinkai’s works enter my thoughts with ease, and with it, the pains, sorrows, but also the triumphs that the characters experience. The sheer emotional power of Tenmon’s tracks cannot be denied. Let’s hope that the music from Tenmon’s and Shinkai’s collaborations will continue to be as sublime as they have been over this past decade as we move deeper into the 2010s.

Rating: Very Good

About the author

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 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Valence says:

    Perhaps it’s just me, but do all of Tenmon’s songs stir up the same feeling? I’m not sure how to explain it, but I feel a sense of forlornness. A sense of longing for something, perhaps love.

    Or achieving the end of a relationship, whether a happy end or a break-up. They bring up imagery of love, and I guess that means they have achieved what they aimed to do. Good album.

  2. Yu says:

    I love Tenmon. Everything he writes has such a poignant bittersweet feeling. Considering he only uses synth orchestras and piano in his music, his achievements are even more amazing.

    These orchestral arrangements are good too. They capture the original feeling quite well, and it is a step up from the synth. :P

  3. kevo says:

    Absolutely immaculate album. Plain and simple. Each and every track Tenmon composes is an beautiful medley of emotion.

  4. zzeroparticle says:

    @Valence
    I’m not sure that’s something Tenmon is guilty so much as the type of thematic stuff that comes with working with Makoto Shinkai since Shinkai’s movies don’t branch out too far from a most basic theme. So to that end, I’d say Tenmon does well in capturing the required moods. His works on ef are different enough as to merit a listen though.

    But yeah, all that aside, this album is pretty solid. Makes for good driving music since I prefer to be somewhat contemplative when I drive. Maybe that’s too dangerous though!

    @Yu
    The faithfulness to Tenmon’s original pieces is probably one of this album’s big highlights. The mixture of melancholy and joyful moods still hang over pretty much each track and though things may not be cheery all the time, there’s enough of an optimistic undercurrent as to keep our attention through the nuanced shifts in the mood when they do occur. I enjoy looking out for those shifts at any rate.

    @kevo
    Not only that, but the orchestra does well to bring that out that mood. There needs to be more albums that capitalize on anime music in the same vein as what Eminence does here.

  5. Shadowmage says:

    To be honest, aside from “One more time, one more chance” and “Through the Years & Far Away”, I find myself losing interest in the album as I cycle through it. The orchestral arrangements doesn’t add much more to what Tenmon has already done, and most of these songs are hardly great. Then again, I would still recommend it if only to support Eminence and what they do.

    • zzeroparticle says:

      @Shadowmage
      I liken this album to a fine wine that gets better with age. I do agree with your initial impression that this album doesn’t differentiate too much from Tenmon’s compositions, and that was my thought for the first few listens. But the more I dug into the music, the more I started noticing some of the nuanced additions, like the piano counterpoint to the melody in the “Hope and Love” section which was an improvement upon Tenmon’s originals.

      Yeah, they’re not readily apparent, but the album has definitely grown on me since I first listened to it.

  6. Yi says:

    My favorite has to be “Memories from days far away” followed by “Through the Years & Far Away.” Can’t get enough of the calm, slow, and poignant piano tracks. Lovely review!

  7. zzeroparticle says:

    @Yi
    Thanks! I dunno if you’ve ever seen any of Shinkai’s works, but they’re definitely worth checking out, not in the least to listen to Tenmon’s music in context. I daresay you might find it to be a wonderful experience!

  8. Reltair says:

    Makoto Shinkai’s films are awesome, and the music is amazing! The main theme from “Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place” sure brings back memories of a great movie.

  9. Maestromind says:

    I know it’s a little late to be coming into this, but out of curiosity does anyone know where I might find the violin sheet music for these arrangements, or any violin sheets of Tenmons’ work?

    I’ve been trying (what seems like in vain) to locate any sheet music.

    I’m also slapping my self right now for not buying the CE of Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place when I had the chance too >.<

    • zzeroparticle says:

      @Maestromind
      I disagree about it ever being too late to comment :p Anyhow, you’ve been asking a question that seems to be gaining quite a bit of traction as of late. I’ve talked to my contact over at Eminence and currently, there are no plans for issuing out sheet music of those excellent arrangements, but they are looking into the possibility, and hopefully, we can see something come out of it once people show enough interest!

      And yeah, Beyond the Clouds is a beautiful movie to sit through and the way Tenmon’s music works in conjunction with it is wonderful.

  10. Maestromind says:

    @zzeroparticle

    After it being so long thank you very much for taking the time to answer me :D

    That would be really quite amazing if Eminence did that… I’d honestly pay alot more than I did for the album if I could get my hands on those sheets.

    And definitely, I’ve been a Tenmon and Shinkai fan for a long time and Tenmon’s thematic composition go perfectly with Shinkai’s stories, it’s the perfect mix between composer and filmmaker. Their mix makes me even more excited about Shinkai’s next release.

    • zzeroparticle says:

      @Maestromind
      Oh man, when I watched the trailer for Makoto Shinkai’s latest offering, I was really awed by the visuals (no surprise) and the music (again, no surprise) because it offers hope of being something a bit different from the anime he’s made in the past and it seems like forever since we’ve heard a Shinkai/Tenmon collaboration. 5 Centimeters felt so long ago too that you kind of miss hearing how Tenmon’s music breathes life and emotion into Shinkai’s stuff.

      Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of the same once this work gets released!

  11. onde eu poderia compra esse CD? quero muito ele

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