Joe Hisaishi in Budokan – Concert DVD Review

Title: Joe Hisaishi in Budokan
Anime Title: Various Ghibli movies
Artist: Joe Hisaishi
Catalog Number: VWBS-1078 (Blu-ray), VWDZ-8130 (R2 DVD)
Release Type: Visual Media
Release Date: July 3, 2009
Purchase at: CDJapan: Blu-ray, DVD, Play-Asia: Blu-ray, DVD


Movie Track Title
1. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind 1. Opening [Legend of the Wind]
2. Requiem ~ A Battle Between Mehve and Corvette
3. Tooi hibi (Days Long Gone)
4. Tori no Hito (Bird Person)
2. Mononoke Hime 5. Ashitaka Sekki (Tale of Ashitaka)
6. Tatari gami (The Curse God)
7. Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
3. Kiki’s Delivery Service 8. Umi no Mieru Machi (A Town with an Ocean View)
9. Shoushin no Kiki (Heartbroken Kiki)
10. Kaasan no Houki (Mom’s Broom)
4. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea 11. Deep Sea Ranch ~ Mother of the Sea
12. The Ponyo of the Fish of the Wave ~ Fujimoto’s Theme
13. Rondo of the Sunflower House
14. Mother’s Love ~ Little Sister ~ Mother and Sea’s Song of Praise
15. Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea)
5. Laputa: Castle in the Sky 16. Hato to Shounen (Pigeons and a Boy) with Marching band
17. Kimi wo Nosete (Carrying you) with Choir
18. Taiju (The Huge Tree)
6. Porco Rosso 19. The Bygone Days
7. Howl’s Moving Castle 20. Symphonic Variation ~ Cave of Mind ~ Merry-Go-Round
8. Spirited Away 21. Inochi no Namae (The Name of Life)
22. Futatabi (Reprise)
9. Tonari no Totoro 23. Kaze no toori michi (The Path of the Wind)
24. Sanpo (Stroll)
25. Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)
Encore – Porco Rosso 26. Madness
Encore – Princess Mononoke 27. Ashitaka and San


If you’ve ever listened to a Ghibli orchestral arrangement album, you will be awed by the intricate instrumentation and expression of Joe Hisashi’s timeless music. Now imagine watching an orchestra consisting of over 200 players and a choir of over 600 members performing the pieces under Hisaishi’s energetic conducting. With a variety greater than that offered by any arrangement albums to date (then again, it is commemorating Ghibli’s 25th anniversary), Joe Hisaishi’s concert at the Budokan brings to fans and regular listeners alike a feast for one’s senses and a performance for the ages.

What is good about it? Well, almost everything. From the dark and tribal ambience created by the booming beats of the Taiko and tinklings of the triangle in “The Curse God” (Princess Mononoke), to the solo violinist’s soulful performance of “Mother’s Broom” (Kiki’s Delivery Service), to the nostalgic piano melody of “The Bygone Days” (Porco Rosso) played by none other than Hisaishi himself, each piece is a musical and emotional adventure for listeners, and the experience of watching Hisaishi bring out the magic in his music is just phenomenal.

Hisaishi’s competence with orchestral instruments makes his works perfect for this sort of presentation. In Joe Hisaishi in Budokan, the orchestra helps bring out the different dimensions in the music and the nuances between different segments. “Tonari no Totoro,” for example, started out slowly and gracefully with strings accompanied by lower brasses. The different sections then took turns at the main melody, steadily increasing the energy, reaching its peak at the portion after the piano.

Hisaishi’s skill at the piano is another reason for the success. There haven’t been many good renditions of “The Merry-Go-Round of Life,” but Hisaishi gentle piano introduction to the piece nails the it spot-on. Many versions are just unable to articulate the elegance of the piece, and they often turn out overpowering and clumsy. Here, the orchestra takes the baton after Hisaishi’s soulful introduction and builds it into yet another fantasy for listeners to immerse themselves in.

The invited vocalists also hold their own against the might of the orchestra and Hisaishi’s presence. My personal favourite is Hirahara Ayaka, who sings “The Name of Life” and “Reprise” from Spirited Away. With her repertoire of classical renditions, it is of little surprise Hirahara’s vocals worked wonders with this orchestra, and her deeper voice almost caresses listeners with its gentleness. Operatic Soprano Hayashi Masako also provided her version of Princess Mononoke, which I personally thought could only be expressed fully with a piano or strings solo. But with her virtuosic expression, and an aria accentuating the anguish, I found myself grudgingly admitting that she has not let the music down the slightest.

With such a talented group of musicians, Hisaishi himself as conductor and pianist, this performance truly does justice for his works. It is indeed a pity for anyone, whether Hisaishi fans or not, to miss this breathtaking performance. And if you weren’t already a Hisaishi fan already, I’m almost certain that by the end of the performance, you will become one.


I have been a contributor to Anime Instrumentality since late 2009 (blimey...). Being a lousy musician trained in cello, keyboard and voice, I feel obliged to censure the other amateurs who have the cheek to release their rubbish to the world, and to affirm those who actually deserve their salary. Nothing gives me more joy than listening to good music, though I admit that writing scathing reviews on bad ones comes close.

8 thoughts on “Joe Hisaishi in Budokan – Concert DVD Review

Leave a Reply