Radwimps’s work on Your Name’s soundtrack has many a memorable pop tune. But while the instrumentals don’t offer the same earwormy melodies that the vocal tracks do, “Mitsuha’s Theme” stands out as a notable exception.
Its motif can be heard early on in “Date”, which features a sparse piano introduction as if it’s unsure of itself. Little by little, the piano adds an additional voice to create a burgeoning sense of warmth and tenderness. Once that emotional foundation has been established, the piece takes you on a playful side journey before returning to its core, this time backed by shimmering strings. And as the piece continues to the end, it grows more assured, all the while retaining the warmth it built up in the beginning.
“Theme of Mitsuha”, like “Date”, also starts sparsely, but this time, the warmth and tenderness are more apparent when the violin is introduced, playing a lovely accompaniment to the piano melody. And to further contrast itself from “Date”, the whimsy is replaced by a resoluteness that spans across time and space. The buildup that takes place between the piano and strings is beautiful, ending it all on a stirring note.
Enter Joe Hisaishi…
So of course Radwimps’s Yojiro Noda‘s composition for Mitsuha’s theme is wonderful and memorable. But when you have Joe Hisaishi’s (of Studio Ghibli fame) well-practiced hands at the reins, the piece takes on a new light. I positively squee-ed with delight when I got the notification of this arrangement’s release.
From the opening chords, the tenderness and warmth are there, but Hisaishi amplifies the impact of those feelings. I found the emotional outpouring more varied and complex. Here, a sense of longing that is aching in its delivery. There, the resoluteness from the original version, but with a tone that maintains the gentle aura. Needless to say, I’m captivated by the little changes that Hisaishi makes to enhance an already amazing piece and take it to the next level. Definitely give it a listen!