Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (Kare Kano) Soundtrack 1 – Review

Album Title: Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou ACT 1.0
Anime Title: Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (Kare Kano) aka
His and Her Circumstances
Artist: Shiro Sagisu, Nobuyoshi Koshibe, Nobuo Ariga, Yosui Inoue
Catalog Number: KICA-440
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: December 23, 1998
Purchase at: CDJapan (OOP), Play-Asia (OOP)

Tracklist

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Track Title Artist Time
01. AVAN Title Shiro Sagisu 0:10
02. An Angel’s Promise (Full Version) Fukuda Mai 4:24
03. A Summary Of The Story Until Now (Shotarou’s March) Shiro Sagisu 2:34
04. Yukino Miyazawa I (Concerto) Shiro Sagisu 3:21
05. Yukino Miyazawa II (March) Shiro Sagisu 3:02
06. Everyday Peace Shiro Sagisu 2:48
07. Peace And Quiet Shiro Sagisu 2:28
08. Work Harder Together Shiro Sagisu 2:33
09. Peace Reigns In The Land Shiro Sagisu 3:13
10. We Meet Only To Part Shiro Sagisu 3:19
11. Souichiro Arima II Shiro Sagisu 4:00
12. Souichiro Arima I Shiro Sagisu 4:57
13. Into A Dream II Shiro Sagisu 2:13
14. The Miyazawa Family Shiro Sagisu 3:00
15. Putting The Cart Before The Horse Shiro Sagisu 2:15
16. Yukino Miyazawa III (Jazz Rock) Shiro Sagisu 4:04
17. Coexistence And Co-Prosperity Shiro Sagisu 1:06
18. Yukino Miyazawa IV (Kanon) Shiro Sagisu 4:22
19. Yukino Miyazawa V (Nocture) Shiro Sagisu 3:07
20. Undaunted Shiro Sagisu 3:43
21. Into A Dream III Shiro Sagisu 3:53
22. Treasure Every Meeting Shiro Sagisu 1:58
23. Into A Dream (Full Version) Enomoto Atsuko, Suzuki Chihiro 2:37
24. A Summary Of The Story Hereafter Shiro Sagisu 0:17

Review: First, do me a favour and listen to “AVAN Title” below.

AVAN Title

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Done? Good! This is always in my head before I start presenting anything. Nothing like a whimsical showtune-y piece to begin anything really.

So Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (Kare Kano) holds a special place in my heart. Created by Studio Gainax in 1998, it was a daring work that brought together the raw emotions, hopes and dreams of high school students, all packaged into twenty-six very entertaining episodes. Animation quality was spot-on (well, until the rumoured budget cuts), set-pieces were well-directed and very humorous, and the music… ah the music. Maestro Shiro Sagisu is probably better-known for his opus that is Neon Genesis Evangelion and currently for his contributions to Bleach, but I believe that it is his compositions for Kare Kano that bring out his strength in composing themes and rearranging them to create different meanings.

For a soundtrack to be successful, it must have one or two recurring themes to shape the listening experience, making it more memorable and likeable. There’s probably no better example than the prolific John Williams, who has mastered this form. Similarly, recurring themes are important in anime soundtracks because they serve as a way to aurally depict the characters, their emotions and situations. Sagisu adds touches in his renditions of Yukino Miyazawa which draw from familiar classical and jazz melodies. For example, the concerto version is a rearrangement of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, filled with blaring trumpets and energized strings that introduce Yukino and her love for praise; the marching arrangement is even more bombastic; the jazz-rock variant with its sizzling saxophone solo bears some semblance to a Lupin the Third chase scene; the “Nocturne” arrangement (with Satie-ish influences) is aptly named as a slow piano piece that showcases the doubts and anxieties that plague Yukino; and finally, the “Kanon” piece (my favourite version), begins with a sublime cello line that slowly brings in the rest of the orchestra in a quiet exploration of her psyche.

Yukino Miyazawa I (concerto)

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Yukino Miyazawa IV (kanon)

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In the anime, hero Souichirou Arima is constantly plagued by his bloodline and family, and this is depicted well in a piano and strings combo, used skillfully to dramatic effect. At its lowest moment, the tone changes and the strings become lighter, but more urgent, as if willing Arima to look for hope.

Souichirou Arima I

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But in a departure from all the heavy-handed seriousness, we have one of my favourite pieces: “The Miyazawa Family”. It’s cheeky, utterly fun, and the ‘papaya-pa’ moments just melt the heart. “Putting the cart before the horse” follows on this theme, with the same ‘papaya-pa’ lines layered over a jazz combo, complete with swinging ivories, muted trumpets, and a marimba solo. And all in just a little over two minutes!

Sagisu aficionados should also rejoice! Those who’ve listened to the Neon Genesis Evangelion soundtracks will probably spot Sagisu’s stylistic similarities between that and Kare Kano. The best example is the “Summary” theme in this album being almost identical to the “Summary” in Evangelion. The music in both soundtracks also have the same frantic pace as the loud trumpets and the percussion kits are given free reign. Strangely, Sagisu finds a good balance in this chaos and it all works.

I could go on and on about this gem of an album, but then we would be here for quite a while. So with that in mind, I’ll introduce one more interesting theme and that’s the ending one. “Into a dream” is a song for all ages; an ultimately happy, hopeful song that ends all the episodes nicely after all that intense drama. The rearrangement of this theme, “Into a dream III”, is a pretty, thought-provoking instrumental piece that appears whenever a character reaches an epiphany about life, hopes and dreams.

Into a dream

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Into a dream III

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Now, Act 1.0 is a very old soundtrack that I do not believe has been reprinted. It’s a little hard to find online and as such, the links are to the CD boxes, which are also out of print. However, it really is a worthwhile get if you can find it. The first soundtrack of the Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou series is quite a treat in structure and ideas. Even the more filler-y songs do not sound wasted here and manage to cultivate a deep sense of meaning that makes this soundtrack such a memorable one.

Rating: Papaya-pa Excellent!

maskerade

I'm an avid listener of Anime Music, with Yoko Kanno my Goddess. I'm also a huge fan of jazz and have enjoyed the currents of the indie Jrock scene these past years. I'm also an unfortunate rambler and starving writer, all of which leads me to write reviews for this fair blog. I tend to stare a lot.

3 thoughts on “Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (Kare Kano) Soundtrack 1 – Review

  • May 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm
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    l’m a big Kare Kano fan… and I love both the soundtrack CDs also. As a matter of fact, a portion of “Yume no Naka e” (II, the piano version) is the main ringtone on my iPhone.

    Reply
    • May 14, 2012 at 6:21 am
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      Yume no Nake E is one of my fav anime songs. It’s just… so good :) Very enduring and you certainly don’t hear something like that nowadays. Same for a soundtrack of this nature methinks! Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  • May 14, 2012 at 9:53 am
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    Just like Amy, I actually prefer the piano version of Yume no Naka eh. It’s quite playful and cheerful. It reminds me on how things between Yukino and Arima’s relationship always somehow end in a happy note despite the challenges that their relationship face.

    I also like the 10th track “We meet only to part”. It’s often the one played during the dream-like sequences and it sounds quite alluring. It matches the dramatic use of the manga panels.

    Reply

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