|Album Title:||La croisée dans un labyrinthe étranger Original Soundtrack|
|Anime Title:||Ikoku Meiro no Croisée|
|Artist:||ko-ko-ya, Youmou to Ohana, Megumi Nakajima, A.m.u.,
Nao Touyama, Mamiko Noto
|Release Date:||August 10, 2011|
|Purchase at:||CDJapan, Play-Asia|
|01. So Ra So Mi||Ko-ko-ya||2:59|
|02. Sekai wa Odoru yo, Kimi to. (TV Size)||Youmou to Ohana||1:29|
|03. Hanasaku Machi wo Waltz||Ko-ko-ya||2:41|
|05. Soup Kakimazete||Ko-ko-ya||3:20|
|06. Sore wa Yokatta ne||Ko-ko-ya||1:17|
|07. chanson pour deux||Ko-ko-ya||1:24|
|08. Hizuru Tokoro no Shoujo||Ko-ko-ya||3:24|
|09. Egao ni Wink||Ko-ko-ya||2:15|
|10. Tooki Hi no Omoide||Ko-ko-ya||3:37|
|11. Ureshi, Tanoshi||Ko-ko-ya||2:51|
|12. Lady no Otanoshimi||Ko-ko-ya||1:44|
|14. Tooku Kimi he||Megumi Nakajima||5:30|
|15. Tomorrow’s Smile||A.m.u.||5:04|
|16. So Ra So Mi ~piano ver.~||Ko-ko-ya||2:42|
|17. Sekai wa Odoru yo, Kimi to. (Acoustic Version)||Youmou to Ohana||1:32|
|18. Saita Sakura||Touyama Nao||0:59|
|19. Miwataseba||Touyama Nao||1:23|
|21. Takaramono||Mamiko Noto||1:14|
|22. Waltz Domino||Ko-ko-ya||2:27|
|23. Ikoku no Choro||Ko-ko-ya||3:13|
|24. Kazoku ni Naritai||Ko-ko-ya||1:31|
|25. So Ra So Mi ~accorion ver.~||Ko-ko-ya||1:45|
|26. Koko Kara wa Hajimaru Monogatari (TV Size)||Nao Touyama||1:39|
|27. Tooku Kimi he||Nao Touyama||5:30|
Review: The opening notes of “So Ra So Mi” ooze absolute contentment. Its tempo moves at a languid pace, wafting a pleasant, dreamy aura through a repetitive motif carried first by the clarinet, then the violin, to evoke an image of a more idyllic era. Never too fast nor too slow, it channels a mellow sound which works well to immerse us in a charming atmosphere as the piece fittingly depicts the relaxed pace of life on display in Ikoku Meiro no Croisee.
So Ra So Mi
Ko-ko-ya, the group responsible for Ikoku Meiro no Croisee’s soundtrack is no stranger to the realm of anime soundtracks, especially in sculpting that image of an idealistic, romanticized Europe. Their members are talented, including the likes of violinist Yuki Etoh and clarinetist Saeko Kurokawa, but the biggest influence by far comes from the Choro Club’s Shigeharo Sasago. With Sasago’s involvement, the ARIA-esque sound makes a wonderful return as Croisee’s music ebbs, flows, and ripples forth serenely and wonderfully. Ko-ko-ya’s prior work on Ristorante Paradiso’s soundtrack captures this unhurried ARIA-esque atmosphere nicely but I daresay that Croisee’s OST takes that earlier effort and does it one better.
Croisee’s soundtrack beats Ristorante Paradiso’s largely through the slew of emotions on display, bringing with it a greater level of variety to keep the listening experience fresh. Its melodies follow the gamut of emotions Yune feels as she adjusts to her new life in Paris. The mood that follows from “So Ra So Mi” is one of excitement, brought about by “Hanasaku Machi wo Waltz” which exudes the joys and thrills to be had in discovery. Its spritely, animated melody imparts the sort of childish curiosity and delight, with a dab of pleasant whimsical excitement. Although other tracks like “Soup Kakimazete” also captures those moments of euphoria, nothing quite hits the excitement quota quite like “Lady no Otanoshimi,” with its lively violin and accordion melody that rains energy through its festiveness as it makes you want to get up and join in the celebration.
Hanasaku Machi wo Waltz[audio:03 Croisee.mp3]
Lady no Otanoshimi
As the excitement dies down, the measured pace of life and routine settles in. In “Hannari,” the mood of the soundtrack moves towards the introspective, and with it, a daydreaming sound delivered by the clarinet and violin which floats on the piano and acoustic guitar’s harmonic layer to envelope the listener with contentment. The energy moves up a few notches in “Hizuru Tokoro no Shoujo” as the piece adopts a brisk, upbeat tempo while the violin and clarinet showers us with the warmth and joy to be had through the simple pleasures life offers up.
Hizuru Tokoro no Shoujo
Starting with “Sore wa Yokatta ne,” the lonelier moments materialize, fitting in with Yune’s sense of isolation and initial homesickness as she adjusts to Paris. The piece, carried through the xylophones, is somber as it rides atop the acoustic guitar to draw out that desire to find a sense of belonging. “Tooki Hi no Omoide” is also poignant. Its clarinet introduction already feels spiritually burdensome, but once the violin enters with its wails of anguish, it’s enough to bringing the listener to the brink of despair as they empathize with the piece’s despondent sentiments. And yet, there is hope. “Kazoku ni Naritai,” coming in near the end of the soundtrack, soothes the soul with a contented piano melody, instilling a sense of optimism and belonging while easing the pain as the characters look forward with a sense of confidence.
Tooki Hi no Omoide[audio:10 Croisee.mp3]
Kazoku ni Naritai
While the instrumental pieces shine most wonderfully, the vocal tracks are a mixed bag, but are, at worst, mediocre. Of the songs featured on this album, Megumi Nakajima unsurprisingly succeeds in winning listeners’ hearts with her excellent version of “Tooku Kimi he.” The way she delivers her vocals taps into the sense of longing not unlike the one brought forth in Macross Frontier’s “Aimo.” A.m.u., for her part, does well in exuding a positive feeling through “Tomorrow’s Smile,” as she captures the sense of quiet optimism through her soothing singing that sees a bit more energy in the chorus. Nao Touyama’s songs are appropriately sung in a child-like voice, fitting, given that she is Yune’s seiyuu. There are moments during which I found it charming, but Touyama’s singing never engages my emotions quite like the way Nakajima is capable of doing. As for Mamiko Noto… well her vocals aren’t much of a revelation. Noto has always been a two-bit singer at best despite her accomplishments as a seiyuu and her performance on “Takaramono” only confirms this. Here, her delivery is a bit too breathy for my tastes, making it just slightly distracting from what is an otherwise catchy melody.
Tooku Kimi he
Still, the instrumentals eclipse the songs by a fair bit and yield a most enjoyable offering. The melodies contained within, especially “So Ra So Mi” and its various arrangements, go a long way towards making Ikoku Meiro no Croisee’s soundtrack a memorable experience. Between ARIA, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, and Ristorante Paradiso, it’s probably safe to say that any project Shigeharu Sasago touches can be counted upon to deliver with the relaxing vibe that makes for music that soothes the soul, allowing you to temporarily escape the stress and pressure of day to day life by relaxing and unwinding to such calming fare.
Rating: Very Good