My-HiME Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 HiME – Review

Album Title: My-HiME Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 HiME
Anime Title: My-HiME
Artist: Yuki Kajiura, Hanae Tomaru, Yuko Miyamura
Catalog Number: LACA-5337
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: December 22, 2004
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia


Tracklist

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Track Title Artist Time
01. Himeboshi Hanae Tomaru, Yuki Kajiura 2:41
02. Today’s Beginning Yuki Kajiura 1:57
03. Summer, Sky, Sea Breeze Yuki Kajiura 2:43
04. Tumultuous School Life Yuki Kajiura 1:45
05. Looming Shadow Yuki Kajiura 1:34
06. Dance of Darkness Yuki Kajiura 2:45
07. Here Comes Gakutenou! Yuki Kajiura 1:49
08. An Allegory of Tenderness Yuki Kajiura 2:08
09. Mysterious Yuki Kajiura 1:17
10. I’m Hungry! Yuki Kajiura 1:14
11. See You Again Yuki Kajiura 2:17
12. The Sky In the Sunset Glow Yuki Kajiura 2:23
13. Prologue to the Darkness Yuki Kajiura 1:41
14. Summoning of Duran Yuki Kajiura 3:14
15. Kagutsuchi’s Descent Yuki Kajiura 2:48
16. It’s only the fairy tale Yuko Miyamura, Yuki Kajiura 2:23
17. Afternoon Sunshine Yuki Kajiura 1:37
18. A Small Happiness Yuki Kajiura 1:53
19. Because I’ve Fallen In Love… Yuki Kajiura 1:48
20. The Mystery Deepens Yuki Kajiura 1:46
21. Sinking Into the Bottom of the Night Yuki Kajiura 2:02
22. Pale Pink Dance Yuki Kajiura 2:10
23. Mezame Hanae Tomaru 4:31
24. Serenity of the HiME Star Yuki Kajiura 1:28

Review: If there is one question that always sits in the back of my mind whenever I approach a Kajiura soundtrack, it’s how diverse a tracklist she brings to the album. Kajiura’s consistency is a selling point to her many fans, but as I’ve remarked in Kajiura’s Profile, the stylistic uniformity of her non-choral music can make listening to her soundtracks straight through a tedious exercise. It’s no accident then that her best works exhibit a good amount of diversity within the album, combining many stylistic elements to make the listening experience an engaging one. And of Kajiura’s soundtracks, I’ve yet to find one more enjoyable than My-HiME’s.

It helps that My-HiME can be divided into two distinct entities, allowing Kajiura to bring in that much-needed variety. The anime’s school life section, where events unfold at a leisurely pace, is marked by easygoing and upbeat music. “Today’s Beginning” is an effective example as it sets the optimistic attitude that the protagonist, Mai Tokiha, carries into her new environs. Its bright, cheery piano introduction quickly makes way for a violin melody that paints a relaxing picture, one further reinforced by the flute as together, the instruments deliver the sense of wonder imparted through the magnificent school setting as well as the wonderful prospects for what this new life brings.

Today’s Beginning

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The enthusiasm doesn’t stop there either. The next track, “Summer, Sky, Sea Breeze” captures the essence of summer in an unorthodox manner by having a saxophone playing a smooth melodic line supported by the violins, electric guitar, and synth. Its arrangement exudes energy from every note, and its upbeat tones encourage all listening to seize the day and make the most of the summer fun. “Tumultuous School Life,” while also energetic, directs that energy towards a staccato presentation with the pace and discipline of a military march. It’s not until the xylophonic part comes in that hints of mischief materialize, completing the picture of the school experience that consists of not only the orderly classroom experience, but also the whimsical hijinks that occur as the students are at play. And speaking of the xylophonic sound’s more mischievous vibe, I really like how the cute ditty in “I’m Hungry!” pans out. This track fittingly depicts the aftermath of Makoto’s capriciousness as her shenanigans backfire, forcing her to flee the scene of the crime, pursued by the victims of her transgressions while her mouth is on fire.

Tumultuous School Life

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I’m Hungry!

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I could go on and on about other tracks like the serene, but enigmatic “Mysterious” and the relaxing, carefree piano melody in “A Small Happiness,” but as delightful as the school life pieces are, the inclusion of action-oriented fare keeps the soundtrack from becoming stale. The music hints at the imminent, destructive fallout in the album’s first track, “Himeboshi,” which features a lilting chorus that wouldn’t be out of place at a funeral. “Himeboshi” is draped by a curtain of sadness, and, through the vocals, foreshadows the long string of tragedies that unfold during the anime’s second half, which are filled to the brim with jaw-dropping plot twists.

The associations to the darker tale that My-HiME weaves come in early through “Looming Shadow’s” dissonant atmosphere cultivated by the strings, but become really apparent once “Prologue to the Darkness” makes its appearance. With a heavy dose of percussion resounding throughout, “Prologue’s” melody bodes ill, complete with a grimness heightened by the violin’s melancholy sound.

Prologue to the Darkness

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The anime’s darker moments also provides an opportunity for Kajiura to offer up some stylistically diverse tracks. One example of this is her use of Middle-Eastern tones to render a chaotic atmosphere through “Dance of Darkness.” She also puts in a Spanish flamenco in “Pale Pink Dance,” which not only possesses the energy associated with that lively dance form, but is also suspenseful, fitting that of a showdown between two implacable foes.

Pale Pink Dance

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No Kajiura soundtrack is complete without the epic choruses that ingrain themselves in one’s consciousness, and My-HiME is no exception. Though the “Summoning of Duran,” draws out the aura of mystery and suspense through the vocals, it’s really in “Mezame” that the chorus really thrives. The Spanish guitar from “Pale Pink Dance” leads us into the track and the singer follows shortly after with disconnected phrases that sound distant and mournful before the energy really pours in, first through the synth, then the chorus. “Mezame’s” execution of its chorus section is nigh-impeccable; the way it moves from the somber section to the lilting, anguish-filled arrangement of “Himeboshi” gives it an air of grandeur and encapsulates the epic magnitude of the conflict into a musical experience that’s absolutely unforgettable.

Mezame

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With all that “Mezame,” and indeed, this entire album, has going for it, it’s almost distressing to point out that one. Single. Track. The one that keeps this album from becoming a masterpiece, that is. I’m referring to none other than “It’s Only the Fairy Tale” which does the enjoyable instrumentation a disservice by spouting some of the most heavily-accented engrish I’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing. Yuko Miyamura’s stuffy-nosed delivery simply does not work here and this soundtrack would have been heaps better without it.

It’s Only the Fairy Tale

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It doesn’t change the fact that My-HiME is still my favorite Kajiura soundtrack to date. In taking us through the tumultuous events that transpire during the anime, Kajiura is able to weave a diverse mix of tracks that capture the carefree moods and the moments of sheer tragedy once events are set into motion. Through it all, the listening experience stays engaging and compelling, making this one a rare soundtrack for the ages and one that Kajiura fans should not skip out on.

Rating: Excellent

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.

20 thoughts on “My-HiME Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 HiME – Review

  • February 13, 2011 at 2:36 am
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    Your post makes me want to watch Mai Hime again! 😀

    Reply
  • February 13, 2011 at 2:43 am
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    Wow it’s sure been a while since I heard Mezame, and you just reminded me how epicthe choruses in YK’s soundtracks are. The ones in Mai-Hime are easily the best, followed closely by Nior. Tsubasa had some nice ones but the vocalist’s voice was a tad bit shrill.

    I didn’t even notice the lyrics of ‘It’s only a fairy tale’ was in English… Thought it was the usual Kajiuran gibberish/syllables XD

    Reply
  • February 13, 2011 at 9:54 am
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    In all fairness, It’s Only the Fairy Tale is supposed to be sung by a moe little girl.

    Reply
  • February 13, 2011 at 5:27 pm
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    Nostalgia bomb went off. I remember those tracks from when I last watched it some years ago, especially Makoto’s crazy antics (I actually only remember her breathing fire like a dragon). Nice review, refreshing to hear some familiar tunes. :)

    Reply
  • February 13, 2011 at 8:12 pm
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    I don’t actually find “It’s only the Fairy Tale” to be that bothersome, which is weird, because I’m usually very sensitive to Engrish. The way she tries and fails to add consonant sounds after vowels almost makes it sound a bit French.

    I’m definitely finding the more light-hearted side of the album refreshing compared to her usual dark compositions.

    Reply
  • February 13, 2011 at 8:13 pm
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    @hayase
    That’s one of the areas where I derive a lot of joy out of listening to anime soundtracks: reliving the series’s greatest moments and getting that tremendous urge to rewatch those key scenes once more. My-HiME does a great job of that on all fronts!

    @Jen
    Agreed with the quality of the epic chorus stuff. Between Himeboshi and its arrangement in Mezame, there are few other examples of other Kajiura choruses that measure up. That’s not to say they also aren’t good, but these and “Salva Nos” seem worlds apart from the rest.

    And yeah, I’ve been irked at “It’s Only a Fairy Tale” in that I only wish it was in Kajiura gibberish. At least, the cringe-worthiness wouldn’t have been so bad.

    @Baka-Raptor
    More evidence moe is the cancer that’s killing anime and anime music then? Yeah, I’ve heard better from the likes of the Ponyo end credits =P

    @Rhythmroo
    Watching her scamper around after biting into the hot pepper gave me plenty of amusement value back in the day and the anime’s good enough as to bring up some wonderfully nostalgic moments. Even if the ending was kinda ehhhhhh.

    @Yu
    We’ve been exposed to so much of Kajiura’s SRS BSNSS side that it’s nice to hear her take on the easygoing school life vibe. That’s part of what makes this album so refreshing since her darker atmospheric stuff can sound samey after awhile while her lighter fare isn’t heard quite as often that it actually is a nice change of pace.

    Reply
  • February 14, 2011 at 10:29 am
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    I didn’t find “It’s Only the Fairy Tale” that irksome, rather it’s amusing to listen to probably because I initially thought the vocalist was singing in alien language. This ost and Kajiura’s work for Tsubasa are my favourites from her.

    Btw, have you heard Katanagatari Original Soundtracks yet? If you haven’t, I hope you give them a listen and maybe review them too. They are worth A.I’s review for sure.

    Reply
    • February 15, 2011 at 10:12 pm
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      @Ayumikat
      Looks like one person’s annoyance is another person’s amusement. And yeah, somehow, I just picked up on the engrish straightaway, thereby ruining the experience for me entirely D:

      As for Katanagatari, I have been listening to the OST in limited amounts, mostly because I’m aiming to finish the anime first. It’s been a great ride thus far.

      @Aftershok
      Oddly, the way the vocals are delivered in that Pillows song isn’t so irksome. But I can’t ever find myself enjoying the effort that we get out of Yuko Miyamura.

      And it’s worth watching. My HiME is sorta like Madoka, except you have to sit through half the anime to get to the delicious plot twists.

      Reply
  • February 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm
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    Whenever I hear terrible Engrish in my music I just pretend they’re singing in Romanian or something. It’s a small mental change, but actually makes a big difference in the cringe-factor for me, haha. Case in point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uCAMRpMVcM

    Makes me want to pick up this show again. Might be a very different experience knowing that Kajiura scored it. I seem to prefer the lighter slice-o-life stuff to the darker pieces, though. It’s just like Kajiura to pepper in dark sounds into cheery songs like “Today’s Beginning”.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm
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    I initially started watching Mai Hime because of Kajiura. The music didn’t disappoint at all (nor did the anime). Mezame and Pale Pink Dance are some of my favorites in this soundtrack.

    Now I want to re-watch Mai Hime.

    Reply
    • February 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm
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      @Yi
      This seems like the most common reaction thus far when people have caught a sniff of these samples! Glad to see the nostalgia factor shine all the way through!

      Reply
  • February 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm
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    I’ve never been a fan of My-HiME OSTs, every time i listen to them i can’t find a particular track that impresses me or moves me in a special way (with the exception of mezame), even though i revisitied them many times since their release. I even watched the anime with the secret hope of reverting this lack of interest, but sadly it was the same story, so at the end these soundtracks (along with My-Otome ones, pretty much a déjà-vu of these ones) remain buried within my Kajiura collection. Btw, have you watched the live version of Himeboshi+Mezame by FictionJunction?, a pretty good one in my opinion.

    Reply
    • February 28, 2011 at 1:19 am
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      @Maxwell9
      I’m guessing that as far as Kajiura enjoyment goes, you’re more of a Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles kind of person? I personally enjoy that and Mai HiME’s the most from Kajiura’s discography and I’d give this one the slight edge. It’d be curious where you’d rank this one though when looking at Kajiura’s works as a whole. For that matter, what’s your least favorite Kajiura score?

      And no, I haven’t heard the live version of Himeboshi and Mezame. That’s got to be a blast!

      Reply
  • February 28, 2011 at 10:47 pm
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    @zzeroparticle: TRC score was really something, at least the first one which i consider as one of her best works. Sadly i can’t say the same about the anime since it was too much CLAMP for me XD. But don’t get me wrong, i’m more of a Petit Cossette/El Cazador/.hack//SIGN OST guy, at least when it’s about kajiura anime-related work.

    About My-HiME score ranking, i’d give it a 5 out of 10 just because of what i’ve said before, but the interesting fact is that this score is tied-up with some other works (MADLAX, Velveteen Rabbit, Erementar Gerad, Cossette, TRC and FJYUUKA) composed in a short amount of time, and a very different and distinctive ones, so it’s a very remarkable issue to consider about her composition skills.

    Let’s see…to be fair the “least favourite” title belongs to double cast and achilles to kame osts, and when it’s about anime-related works, it should be My-Otome & Shin Hokuto no Ken ones, i just don’t love them so they can rest in peace sealed and packed within my collection.

    Reply
    • March 1, 2011 at 11:33 pm
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      @Maxwell9
      The statement about TRC is something a lot of fans will agree with. Music was terrific, but the CLAMP noodly drawings or the anime’s slow pacing killed off a lot of interest. It’s definitely not one of the better OST/anime combos out there since the OST eclipses the anime by a long shot. As for Cossette, what can I say? It does the atmosphere and insanity right and I’d put it as the best of the stereotypical Kajiura sound (for the lack of a better descriptor).

      And I do like some of My-Otome’s stuff. There are a few choice tracks (2-3) that really stand out, but the rest are below par as far as Kajiura works go. I also haven’t heard any positive things said about Shin Hokuto no Ken, so I’ll take your word for it when you say it’s nothing special.

      Reply
  • April 14, 2011 at 10:00 pm
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    i was looking around for downloads for this soundtrack and when i read this all the way i froze for a minute then i was completely shocked xD this is the first time i’ve read such a thing and i think im glad to have this as my first music critic article or what ever it is :) this article thing or what ever is really cool! i never knew that people do this! it’s really nice! i am definitely going to bookmark this website 😀

    Reply
    • April 15, 2011 at 11:32 pm
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      @TraceRace
      Always glad to see new faces around here. We do pride ourselves on being one of the most analytically comprehensive anime music review sites. You won’t find too many others like it and hope you’ll stick around for our future articles!

      Reply
  • November 24, 2011 at 11:32 pm
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    I prefer Materialise and Holy Otome’s Prayer from the My-Otome soundtrack, where she uses actual opera sopranos.
    My-Hime doesn’t seem to be my favorite Kajiura soundtrack really, the tsubasa ost seems to fit that bill more likely as there are some good orchestra ensembles put together there and very orgasmic chanting by Eri whatshername. I particularly liked this song
    /watch?v=DGBGEcJDGV8
    And about the engrish thing, Yuki seems like that for some reason. Another example of this engrish is tsubasa from the tsubasa soundtrack
    /watch?v=vnFkPpVkQxc&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

    Reply
    • November 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm
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      @some random guy
      Yeah, I think the Kajiura fanbase is split between this one and Tsubasa. As for the engrish… maybe she should just stick to Kajiura-go, that made-up language of hers. It certainly makes a song sound pretty interesting.

      Reply
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