Summer 2009's Soundtracks -Revisited-

summer 2009 revisited

Although Eminence Online is where I submit my anime music previews for upcoming seasons these days, I’ll still be reserving this blog space for the opportunity to look back on the music that’s been presented just to see how my guesses (if I made any) managed to pan out. As far as my summer preview article goes, I wasn’t able to take a peek at some of the shows I mentioned (notably, Toshihiko Sahashi’s work on Elements Hunters, nor was I able to check out Nanase’s work on CANAAN, or Yukari Hashimoto’s double duties on both Kanamemo or Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou. Of course, I wasn’t all too impressed with the music that she had written for Toradora! and the content of the shows themselves weren’t exactly up my alley either. Not that it was a problem since commentators like Sorrow-kun and hashi have declared summer to be one of the better seasons in recent memory (if not the best since Spring 2006). So not only was the content particularly strong, some of the soundtracks were downright fantastic.

In the feature, I mentioned that I wasn’t all too familiar with Takefumi Haketa’s work, but since then, I’ve really come to appreciate the sort of quiet, beautifully-executed piano pieces that Hata uses in his soundtracks. Listening to his compositions from Someday’s Dreamers which I was introduced to through Discovery Week (Week 11) on the MALKeionbu proved to be an enjoyable experience as he uses everything from a light chorus to putting in a section that has Celtic influences in it to top it all off. Though I’m nowhere close to finishing up Aoi Hana, the piano music has been unassuming, but is still beautiful all the same. It’s certainly not the soundtrack I’m looking forwards to most (that goes to the next series I’ll discuss), but the music is pleasant enough and given my love for soft-spoken (some might say boring) piano music, I’ll definitely be all over Aoi Hana’s soundtrack.

Based on what I heard as I followed the series, the prize for best potential soundtrack goes to Taisho Baseball Girls. This series managed to surprise me in so many ways, from its charming moments to the endearing characters, sentiments that I expressed in my upcoming review of the series at your nearest friendly neighborhood Nihon Review. In terms of the music, Taisho was me rediscovering Takayuki Hattori’s music once more since I haven’t listened to any of his works since Martian Successor Nadesico. Needless to say, Taisho’s soundtrack promises to be filled with light, bouncy, orchestral compositions that fit in with the overall atmosphere and that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Bakemonogatari, on the other hand, does not impress me all too much in the music department. The problem I have had with Satoru Kousaki’s work is that they can be enjoyable, but they often play second-fiddle to the content on the screen to the point where it becomes almost unnoticealble. His music was dwarfed by the sheer energy that Haruhi Suzumiya provided and in Bakemonogatari, it’s diminished in the face of the excellent dialogue. The OPs (all of them) and the ED however have stood apart, and all of the songs used have gotten a heavy amount of playtime on my media player or when I jump on youtube to de-stress after a long day. That the OPs/ED have not been reviewed on this site is a travesty and I hope that one of my sporadic contributors will get a review up by next week to correct this grave injustice.

The other potentials that I want to mention are Otani Kou’s work on Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 which managed to take more of a cinematic flavor than the sort of Shana-esque music that have come from him lately. Though I might be reaching just a tad, TM8.0’s melancholy music reminds me of the work he did on Haibane Renmei. I don’t know if anyone feels the same way, but once the soundtrack comes out, I will take the opportunity to compare that and Haibane Renmei’s in terms of stylistic similarities. Umi Monogatari is a show that annoyed me from episode 2 and currently, I’m loath to put more time into that series despite Muramatsu’s usual swing/jazz shtick that has always made for a good change of pace. Of what I’ve seen, Muramatsu does deliver on the summer/beach themes well and the brief snippets of conversation that I’ve caught here and there indicate that his music doesn’t work well during the more intense moments in the series. Spice and Wolf II is more of the same and I still feel disadvantaged at not having Umineko’s tracks at my disposal, but those two are certainly strong and in the case of the latter, brings with it a lot of enthused fanboyish reactions across the places I lurk.

My Fall preview article will hopefully be up at Eminence in a few days. The content of the season doesn’t particularly excite me all that much and I only had about 10 shows to comment about anyways. So while everyone else will be plunging into this new batch, I’ll effectively be dipping my toes in slowly and feeling my way around pretty much in the way that I have done after all these years. Either way, I do hope to see some pleasant surprises roll around.


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.

0 thoughts on “Summer 2009's Soundtracks -Revisited-

  • October 3, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Aye Aye, I hope to hear some good music this new season. A travesty indeed that you haven’t reviewed the Bakemonogatari OPs/ED. =P

    I still haven’t seen past episode 2 of TM8.0, so I can’t really recall any music from that series. Need to get around to finishing that, although reading posts/comments online already spoiled it for me.

  • October 4, 2009 at 3:31 am

    Yes very looking forward to Ootani’s music in TokyoM 🙂 Only saw an ep but it gives me Haibane’s vibe as well.

    Haven’t gotten time to watch a lot of older shows like Canaan, Pandora Hearts (Kajiura), Guin Saga (Nobuo) and many others yet, lots of OST to look forward to.

    Imho even though Satoru’s music might give a nice impression while watching the show, they are generally not good as standalone music. Kannagi is another example.

  • October 4, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Tell me about it. At least the expectations are there so I have a clue when to expect the plot bomb in that show to be set off. :\

    Pandora Hearts’s music was supposed to be really good, I still need to give Uematsu’s score on Guin Saga a good listen to, and yeah, I’m starting to feel like I’ve been flooded by too many good pieces.

    Also, agreed with your thoughts regarding Satoru’s work on Kannagi.

  • October 4, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I know there was one BGM in Bakemonogatari that I really liked, but I don’t remember what it was called. The OP/ED are spectacular though 😀

  • October 4, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Are you thinking about that one piano swing track? That’s one that really caught my ear as I rewatched the Mayoi Snail arc yesterday.

    No idea when the Bakemonogatari OST will be out, so I’ll have to wait and see.

  • October 5, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I can honestly say that I’ve not cared for an anime’s soundtrack(OP/ED notwithstanding of course) for a very long time now. The last show to leave an impression on me in that department would probably be err, Death Note?

  • October 5, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I know what you mean. Yoshihisa Hirano’s work on Death Note is outstanding from what I’ve heard, and it’s rare to find a soundtrack that is capable of winning someone over. That’s why the few soundtracks that I do like become that much more precious to me because I know how hard it is to make music that’s as stirring as say… Red Garden.

  • October 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    While Satoru might have some lopsided priorities in composing, I’m feeling that he’s with the best out there in terms of minimalist music which are only at their best when used complementing the scene. While this might not make for much enjoyable standalone sampling, that’s probably why every single anime soundtrack of his is packaged with a limited edition DVD.

    (In Bakemonogatari’s case the DVD will come December… I forgot the exact day)

  • October 5, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    That’s actually a very spot-on take on Satoru’s compositional style. Somehow, I didn’t really consider that angle nor did I ever realize that he’s yet to release a standalone full-length OST. Thanks for bringing up that point! 😛

  • October 5, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    My pleasure.

    Although having said that I need to correct a brain fart… Bakemonogatari’s OST Volume 1 will be out 27 January next year with DVD volume 5. Volume 2 should follow a month later with the next DVD, I predict.

    Also, with regards to Hattori’s work, his drama compositions are a joy to listen to, and he’s far more prolific in that field. Until a while ago he was the one of the go-to composers for big budget shows…the Nodame drama adaptation included.

  • October 17, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    IIRC, Aoi Hana had a fukken superb OST. It got the whole smooth/gentle/’slife thing down perfectly, as if it were a musical culmination of JC’s latest ‘slife and romcom shows (eg Kimikiss, Toradora, H&C, Hatsukoi, though I can’t say anything about Hayate, Shana, Index, or Nodame, to speak of other recent shows). I don’t think I’ve transcribed anything though…and I deleted all the files, but this show deserves a rewatch sometime.

    IIRC TM8.0 music sucked balls. I don’t remember anything.

    Bakemonogatari had some…interesting music. Clearly, Kousaki was having a hell of a lot of fun with this. Some tracks are vaguely stylistically reminiscent of the fun, goofy and noodling-around-y tracks in Lucky Star. There are also some more complex and interesting tunes, I’m thinking of the jazzy one in ep11(?) when Araragi is talking to Hanekawa about, like, her father beating her or something…

  • October 18, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Heh, looks like we differ a lot w/ regard to some of JC Staff’s musical offerings. Well, except for Aoi Hana. Like I said, I really like the kind of stuff that Hata has served up and I look forward to listening to the whole album if/when the usual suspects release it.

    A few of the others though:
    Kimikiss: nice enough, though I’ll be damned if I can actually remember any melodies. That series kept the soundtrack in the background and it didn’t strike me as being memorable. Caveat is that I’ve only listened through the soundtrack once and it’s nice, but non-descript (I need to give it a more thorough listen).
    Toradora: non-descript and just not all that captivating. I fell asleep halfway through the album and needless to say, I’m not convinced of Hashimoto’s musical talents as of yet. In my mind, much worse than Kimikiss. At least Kimikiss never bored me :\
    Anything that I didn’t comment on I never listened to. Those might have a fighting chance if all goes well.

    Hayate: never listened, no comment
    Shana: It’s like Kou Otani he takes the more intense tracks from Shadows of the Colossus and sticks them in here. The result is good, but not great. I enjoyed it though.
    Index: Far too much electronica. You already know I’m not a fan of I’ve Sound’s composers. Guess the group that Index’s composer belongs to?
    Nodame: Terrible terrible terrible. For a classical-music-themed anime series, the soundtrack was lackluster.

    As for the others:
    TM8.0: This might fall into the non-descript-but-pleasant melodies section. I’ll have a better clue if/when I listen to the soundtrack.
    Bakemonogatari: Sometimes my expectations will not correspond to reality. This might be good, but my impression based on the anime is that it’s unremarkable. Will test to see whether his music is decent.

  • October 20, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    True, Yukari Hashimoto might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I think she’s very original, and her style is very “airy”. It doesn’t have the drive (mostly harmonic) that a lot of s’life OSTs have, even if the “drive” is very subtle. I’m mostly referencing her solo piano pieces (eg. “<a href=""lost my pieces“) and the one from Kanamemo. Juxtaposing these two pieces really highlights her “airy” style. Well, it’s kind of hard to describe.

    I thought KimiKiss had a good OST. I have it and I’ve listened to it several times, though only a handful of tracks stand out as having stand-alone listening value. A lot of the tracks (Hashimoto does this too I think) use the same exact infamousized-in-the-40’s-doowop progression, I-vi-ii-V, which is pleasant but can get a little boring unless the arranger does a great job of making you listen to more than just the harmony.

    It’s probably unfair of me to judge an OST by how much of it I remember, but that could also be due to the anime. At any rate, I don’t have a desire to go back and listen to TM8.0’s stuff :/.


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