|Fafner in the Azure Original Soundtrack – No Where
|Fafner in the Azure
|October 27, 2004
The Rundown: If you’re in the mood for some militaristic mecha fare, Fafner in the Azure‘s soundtrack is probably one of the better ones. Tsuneyoshi Saito’s compositions run the gamut of mellow, airy themes to battle themes that carry an intense atmosphere without overshadowing the melody amidst the bombast. But nothing matches the poignancy of the piano concerto he tucks in near the end. That track, with its overflowing emotions, turn a very good soundtrack into pure aural gold.
Review: Fafner in the Azure’s first soundtrack, -No Where- envelopes the listener with its sense of wonder, majesty, and ambition. In a genre that’s filled to the brim with thrilling orchestral scores, that Fafner’s music stands out among the many mecha anime out there is a testament to composer Tsuneyoshi Saito’s efforts. The struggles, tragedies, and triumphs feel much more impactful, elevating the Fafner listening experience to that of an epic. It’s not a term that I throw around lightly, but in this case, it fits.
Part of that is from the sheer diversity of emotions that Saito brings to the fore. We have our initial feelings of dread in “Prologue -Beginning-‘s” heavy-handed atmosphere. The sense of danger kicks into higher gear once the brass take charge, evoking the panic brought about by enemy attack. But in every adversity, there is a chance to seize glory. “Prologue” plays that trope magnificently near the end with its furious string ostinatos and brass fanfares, leaving us with the feeling that the characters will triumph.
Fafner then takes a few asides, throwing in calmer, more idyllic melodies in “False Paradise.” “False Paradise” stays true to its title with a relaxing flute and violin melody. “Blue Sky” is better still, with strings that are as lofty and airy in its depiction of the piece’s title. “Comrade” takes us into familiar mecha territory with a militaristic theme. Its staccato melody conjures the flurry of activity and camaraderie that will become critical once calamity strikes.
And it does. “Truth’s” melody summons the disaster through a violin melody that crescendos to herald the coming of the enemy. With disaster comes tragedy, and “Anguish’s” piano melody paints a stark picture through repetition to create a growing sense of despair. A respite is heard in “Flowing Tears,” and in “Valkyrie’s” meandering chorus. But that respite is temporary once “FAFNER -An Oath-” begins playing. Here, Saito mixes the epic and the majestic with its sweeping violins. The motif in “Prologue” is played at a slower, more deliberate clip to capture the rejuvenating morale that builds up the grit into stubborn resistance.
Battle is then joined in “Are You There? -Battle-” which brings forth the brass in all its intense glory, instilling into the listener with its sense of grandiosity, but it does not neglect to touch upon the tragedy. Indeed, one hears little hope in this and in “Assimilation Crisis” where the repetitive line builds up the tension which does not reach a resolution until the namesake track comes on to bring in a taste of glory to be had in victory.
With that, the sadness and regret bubbles up in “Blue Sky of Sorrow,” which uses a trumpet to play a funeral dirge that oddly reminds me of the theme from “Taps.” However, the best track that plumbs these emotional depths is “-SHOKO-,” which draws upon the power of the piano concerto. Immediately, the piano part plunges the listener into the pits of despair and regret with its melancholy melody, creating a tragic, yet strangely beautiful result. One of the highlights is hearing the piano plays as a counterpoint to the orchestra, moving exquisitely that one cannot help but feel the pain and sorrow that this piece expresses so well.
“-SHOKO-” serves its role as the emotional climax of the album; things wind down after that. “Prayer’s” chorus brings in an air of serenity which “Sky” picks up upon to harken to a peaceful era. The little harp crescendo helps elevate that feeling of hope and assures the listener that the triumph is well-nigh. Once “FAFNER in the Azure’s” fanfare starts, one feels that wave of triumph wash over, making it a great way to end the instrumental part of the album.
Through it all, Tsuneyoshi Saito brings us a majestic soundtrack that is more ambitious than the usual anime score. The way his music allows us to experience the action and empathize with the characters cannot be praised enough. Although it would have been a much easier to throw in the standard bombastic mecha fare, Saito’s memorable orchestral score for Fafner leaves us in awe at its beauty, majesty, and emotive power.