In looking at a list of shows and movies released in 2004, the one thing that I notice is the huge gulf in the quantity of shows released during 2004 versus 2003. When I look at such lists, it becomes a constant reminder of what great shows I’ve missed out on. For instance, 2004 was a year that saw the airing of titles like BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad, Elfen Lied, and Paranoia Agent and I have yet to see any of those. Perhaps time will be kind enough for me to go back to give these shows a fair shot, but at this stage in my life, that’s not exactly an option.
So what of the shows that I did see? It’s so huge a list that to cover them all requires me to spend days happily rolling a soundtrack and taking in every note and chord that comes my way and describe it in elaborate detail. In short, it’s not practical, so I’ll keep it as short as I can and leave it to you readers to reminisce and explore these soundtracks on your own.
Note: Once again, youtube videos are spoilered, clips contain the entire track, and with that, let’s go!
It’s really hard for me to believe that Mai-HiME came out in 2004 since it’s always seemed like only yesterday that I watched the action and drama unfold. Maybe a part of that is because how often I give Yuki Kajiura’s score a listen and how tracks like “Ensei ~Omou Kokoro~” are always going to impress me in the way it weaves a mix of mystery and beauty while tracks like “Gakuten-Ou Kenzan!” never skimps out on the action. The soundtrack covers its bases pretty well, and it’s not a surprise that of Kajiura’s soundtracks, this gets the most listens from me.
Ensei ~Omou Kokoro~
[audio:My-Hime – Ensei ~Omou Kokoro~.mp3]
In contrast to Mai-HiME, Fafner in the Azure might have had action, but it left me utterly bored. The effect that this had was that I ended up paying a whole lot of attention to the soundtrack because it was that good. I really marveled at Tsuneyoshi Saito’s compositions because his orchestral melodies that bordered on the epic while retaining a sense of the melancholy. While the orchestral bit is usually enough to win me over, he also puts in a piano concerto in “-SHOKO-,” which elevates the soundtrack further. I just love the way “-SHOKO-” brings out the depths of despair as we are constantly reminded of the tragedy. Also, you won’t find any atmospheric pieces as this soundtrack brings a really strong focus on the melody which is something I can definitely appreciate.
[audio:Fafner in the Azure – -SHOKO-.mp3]
We depart from the action-oriented shows and get into the taboo love that characterizes Koi Kaze. Not only were they able to bring out a really mature story given the setup they had, the soundtrack was also a blast with Takumi Masanori and Makoto Yoshimori at the helm. I’m particularly won over by the former’s piano tracks through with stuff like the “Main Theme” catching my attention really well. Maybe that’s just because I’ve really enjoyed it after listening to it on loop in the DVD’s menu. The general atmosphere is emotionally rich, yet restrained which reflects the taboo-laden nature of the relationship between the two siblings.
[audio:Koikaze – Main Theme.mp3]
Since we’re pretty heavy on the themes of love, Tenmon’s soundtrack for Beyond the Clouds: The Place Promised in our Early Days is always worth a listen. There might be quite a few similarities across Tenmon’s works, but this consistency allows us to compare how he depicts his love themes. “Beyond the Clouds” might start a bit heavily, but as the piece progresses, it sure does an excellent job of bringing those heartfelt loving feelings to the surface.
Beyond the Clouds – The Promised Place
[audio:Beyond the Clouds – Beyond the Clouds – The Promised Place.mp3]
Finally, we come to Rozen Maiden, which features a good mix of violin, piano, harpsichord, and other instruments scattered about the album which works together to match the show’s setup. In a way, this show requires the mix that you get from a show like Mai-HiME; that is, you need many different kinds of themes to capture both the serious and the whimsical moments that the show serves up. For the most part, Shinkichi Mitsumune succeeds in delivering them unto us.
[audio:Rozen Maiden – Bright Red.mp3]
It ain’t over yet though. This list is already getting too long and is sorely in need of a page 2 where I’ve cobbled a list of OPs (and an ED) that I found to be worth my while. They might be worth yours too.
On to Page 2