Explore the Surprisingly Refreshing Maritime Music in Kantai Collection!

Kantai Collection OST

Album Title: Kantai Collection -KanColle- original soundtrack Kankyou
Anime Title: Kantai Collection -KanColle-
Artist: Natsumi Kameoka
Catalog Number: VTCL-60402~3
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: March 25, 2015
Purchase at: CDJapan


Tracklist

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Disc 1

Track Title Artist Time
01. Sea Natsumi Kameoka 2:08
02. Dawn Natsumi Kameoka 1:59
03. Morning Fleet Natsumi Kameoka 2:07
04. Taking Up a New Post Natsumi Kameoka 1:45
05. Afternoon Classroom Natsumi Kameoka 2:06
06. Roommate Natsumi Kameoka 1:50
07. Torpedo Soul Natsumi Kameoka 1:50
08. Loving Night Battles? Natsumi Kameoka 1:09
09. Fleet Center Natsumi Kameoka 1:11
10. Precious Friends Natsumi Kameoka 1:39
11. Senior Natsumi Kameoka 1:56
12. Poi? Natsumi Kameoka 1:30
13. Comrade Natsumi Kameoka 1:37
14. Destroyer Girl Natsumi Kameoka 1:30
15. Docking Natsumi Kameoka 3:13
16. Café Natsumi Kameoka 1:59
17. Training Natsumi Kameoka 1:36
18. Consort Ship Assistance Natsumi Kameoka 2:15
19. First Carrier Division Natsumi Kameoka 1:39
20. Determination Natsumi Kameoka 1:45
21. Combat Natsumi Kameoka 1:54
22. Anxiety Natsumi Kameoka 1:46
23. Enemy Fleet Movements Natsumi Kameoka 1:31
24. Victory on the Dawn’s Horizon! Natsumi Kameoka 1:31
25. Sortie Preparations Natsumi Kameoka 1:19
26. Sortie Natsumi Kameoka 1:36

Disc 2

Track Title Artist Time
01. Counterattack Started! Natsumi Kameoka 2:10
02. Recon Operation Natsumi Kameoka 1:36
03. Rushing Natsumi Kameoka 1:52
04. Enemy Fleet Sighted Natsumi Kameoka 2:09
05. Abyssals Natsumi Kameoka 1:46
06. Attack Squad, Ready to Launch Natsumi Kameoka 1:59
07. Attack Squad, Launch! Natsumi Kameoka 2:33
08. Enemy Forces Natsumi Kameoka 1:54
09. Bombardment Natsumi Kameoka 1:59
10. Enemy Main Fleet Natsumi Kameoka 1:50
11. Crumbling Battlefront Natsumi Kameoka 3:02
12. Sea of Maneuvering Natsumi Kameoka 1:45
13. Bottom of the Sea Natsumi Kameoka 1:31
14. Sea of Sorrow Natsumi Kameoka 2:08
15. Parting Natsumi Kameoka 2:43
16. Loss Natsumi Kameoka 2:52
17. Bonds Natsumi Kameoka 1:52
18. Repose of the Soul Natsumi Kameoka 1:57
19. Both Sides, Full Speed Natsumi Kameoka 1:28
20. Combined Fleet Sortie Natsumi Kameoka 1:42
21. Combined Fleet Glory Natsumi Kameoka 1:35
22. Support Fleet Arrival Natsumi Kameoka 2:03
23. With a Single Blow Natsumi Kameoka 1:57
24. Success Natsumi Kameoka 1:56
25. Naval Base Natsumi Kameoka 2:05
26. Torpedo Squadron’s Radiance Natsumi Kameoka 1:50

Review: Coming into the Kantai Collection anime without having played the game brought me few preconceptions other than copious amounts of ship fanservice and in-jokes. However, I was pleasantly surprised to hear vibrant orchestral melodies painting the scenes accompanying the characters. While the direction and writing of the show leaves much to be desired, it’s Natsumi Kameoka’s superb work on the Kantai Collection soundtrack that brings this maritime fantasy to life. The radiant opening track, “Sea”, speaks for itself:

Sea

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Kameoka’s involvement in anime has been relatively sparse; she’s more prolific in video games, with orchestrations and arrangements for many well-known titles including Chrono Trigger and Kingdom Hearts, and compositions for visual novels, such as Black Wolves Saga and Ken ga Kimi. With this extensive experience in tow, Kameoka deftly shapes the world of Kantai Collection with succinct yet vivid writing that is truly a treat to listen to.

What I love most about the songs in this soundtrack is how, even with relatively short pieces, Kameoka develops strong melodic lines with varying instrumentation which keeps each track interesting. Plus, as a violinist, much of the music sounds as fun to play as it is to listen to — something that can’t often be said about soundtrack or environmental music.

In looking at how the soundtrack is organized, the first disc of the soundtrack primarily contains pleasant pieces, establishing Kantai Collection‘s nautical setting, along with sparser character-centric themes to accompany the slice-of-life elements in the show. It’s in the second disc where you’ll find explosive battle music and dissonant atmospheric pieces used to depict the “unknown enemy.” Across these two discs, the soundtrack’s ability to tell the story stands as a great testament to Kameoka’s creativity (and perhaps the weakness in the lack of plot, but let’s focus on the music here).

So as we explore further into the first disc, “Morning Fleet” is a standout. The dotted rhythm of lower strings rock back and forth, evoking a seaside canvas upon which a soaring violin melody floats, later answered by similar woodwind passages. When paired with the opening tracks, “Sea” and “Dawn,” the listener is invited to explore this strange new world, starting with the naval district in which it takes place.

Morning Fleet

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Of course, a show about re-imagined naval history wouldn’t be complete without militant marches, which Kameoka brings out in spades through “Torpedo Soul.” A bold clarinet’s call conjures a brass-bolstered reprise, before building up and combining with the irresistible energy of the entire orchestra. It’s also worth noting this theme is also used with a more leisurely pace in the track, “Taking Up a New Post.”

Torpedo Soul

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While Kantai Collection revolves around naval warfare, that doesn’t preclude the silly slice-of-life antics peppered throughout the series.

Poi?

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Poi! Here, Kameoka employs a lighter, dynamic composition to set the tone. We have a perky pizzicato and percussive backdrop, mimicked by a playful piano, before the rest of the ensemble begins to run amok. After the energy winds down, we are treated to the relaxing, reflective “Café.”

Café

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A traditional shakuhachi flute plays a short, but heartfelt melody atop the waves of the slow, sustained strings. My only qualm is that this calming moment doesn’t last longer, since I enjoy relaxing to mellower pieces such as this.

At the end of the first disc, we are shown the “Sortie” theme, reminding us that amidst the pleasantries, the vague Kantai Collection story actually includes battles.

Sortie

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Kameoka uses the swung rhythms of sea shanties to reinforce the setting, mixing heroic brass fanfare with sweeping strings in this dramatic call to arms. The piece briefly softens as if to give one last wistful look towards simpler times, but quickly surges forth back into action.

Beckoned by “Sortie,” the second disc of the soundtrack shifts gears to bring us into battle! In “Enemy Fleet Sighted,” creeping bass instruments accompany a relentless string cadence to kindle a sinister urgency, before the upper strings burst forth to construct the foundational motif that Kameoka uses in other battle pieces. As the strings take over the melody, the winds weave in to provide the rhythm and together, the ensemble pours in the tension. Let the battles begin!

Enemy Fleet Sighted

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The intensity increases with “Crumbling Battlefront,” where a brisker tempo beckons forth a foreboding motif similar to that of “Enemy Fleet Sighted.” However, the action is more palpable in this piece, as delicious syncopation readily interrupts the steady pulse of the string ostinato and the driving snare drum rhythm.

Crumbling Battlefront

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Once the smoke clears, only sorrow remains in the battle’s wake, as war inevitably brings tragedy. Kameoka captures this contrast beautifully in the eulogistic piece, “Loss.” A somber horn song is mirrored by the string section, after which the winds follow to offer their parting salute. Despite the lighthearted angle that Kantai Collection maintains throughout, the heaviness evoked in “Loss” demands an air of gravitas. Furthermore, “Loss’s” melody materializes as a beautiful trumpet dirge in “Repose of the Soul.”

Loss

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Finally, against the hardships of battle, one remains hopeful for the fruits of victory. Kameoka crafts these uplifting sentiments in the closing song of the soundtrack, “Torpedo Squadron’s Radiance.” The piece opens with a portly string cadence paving the way for a stately horn melody. This enthusiasm builds up as the two sections switch roles, with strings soaring above the orchestra, and even rock drums jumping into the celebration.

Torpedo Squadron’s Radiance

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Throughout all this, Natsumi Kameoka’s masterful command of orchestral instrumentation yields a colorful, evocative soundtrack. Rarely am I able to listen through an anime soundtrack without growing tired of the music style or having to filter out a large part of the staler tracks. While I may not be an avid KanColle player, I may be swayed to start if the game’s music is comparable to the anime’s! Kameoka’s work in Kantai Collection left me clamoring for more, and I look forward to any series she’ll be involved with in the future.

Rating: Excellent

Pointblanket

I enjoy discovering and sharing musical gems in anime and games, and I tend to categorize soundtrack music for their virtues in both contextual use and stand-alone listening (with a personal bias for the latter). Though my musical roots come from years as an orchestra dork, my day-to-day musical preferences include a mish-mash of many genres, based on what I happen to be in the mood for and some nebulous definition of "sounding good."

4 thoughts on “Explore the Surprisingly Refreshing Maritime Music in Kantai Collection!

  • May 11, 2015 at 9:03 pm
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    What a great soundtrack! I’m completely in love!! Thank you thank you thank you!

    ~Jamie

    Reply
    • May 12, 2015 at 1:08 am
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      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I think this was my work music for a good week, if not more! :)

      It was pretty tough to pick out just a small selection of songs to share in the review, there’s just so much great writing from Kameoka here.

      Reply
  • May 11, 2015 at 10:36 pm
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    The anime soundtrack is quite different from the game music from what I can tell. Mostly the music that stands out is the event boss music in the game and that is more similar to…I dunno, Umineko no Naku koro ni music? Trance music with some really interesting samples and vocalizations in it? Maybe I am just deaf to some of the themes as I have been playing and listening to mostly the same music for well over a year now.

    Reply
    • May 12, 2015 at 1:29 am
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      Yep, it is indeed quite different! I actually browsed through some of the game music as I was writing the review (http://kancolle.wikia.com/wiki/Music) to see if there were any parallels, but was surprised to find there weren’t any direct references. The game’s music (by different composers) has a fairly different style and feel than the anime, using more electronic and rock/metal vibes for their action (my guess would be due to originally not having the budget to get a full orchestra, thus generally sticking to synth sounds).

      Many of the tracks I heard also maintain that “imperial Japan” feel with its choice of instrumentation. Kameoka leans much more “Western” in her military references, with “Cafe” probably coming closest to the game’s Eastern flair.

      I did enjoy the game music though, and the quality of the music for events seems to improve greatly from the original tracks. It was also fun to hear some nods to both Uematsu’s and Sakimoto’s music in several songs.

      Reply

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