|FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST Original Soundtrack
|Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
|Akira Senju, YUI, SID, NICO Touches the Walls, Miho Fukuhara
|October 14, 2009
|1. Main Theme ~The Fullmetal Alchemist~
|2. Laws of Alchemy
|3. again (TV size)
|4. Nightfall in Central City
|5. Fire in the Sky
|6. Clash of the Alchemists
|9. Spiral of Truth
|10. Mortal Sin
|11. One is All, All is One
|12. Requiem for the Brigadier General
|13. Lie (TV Size) / SID
|14. Lullaby of Resembool
|16. Hologram (TV size) / NICO Touches the Walls
|NICO Touches the Walls
|17. Far East Suite
|18. Beneath the City
|19. Fifth Laboratory
|20. Fanfare for the Brave
|21. Trisha’s Lullaby
|22. Concerto ~Brotherhood~
|23. Hum of the Streets
|24. Beyond the Walls
|25. Next Chapter
|26. Home ~en route to Resembool~
|27. Lapis Philosophorum
|28. Happiness ~Requiem from ”The Blind Alchemist”~
|29. Home ~a house on the hill~
|30. Overture ~Brotherhood~
|31. LET IT OUT (TV size) / Miho Fukuhara
Review: When Akira Senju is scoring any anime, it’s not unreasonable to expect nothing short of greatness, but that’s unfortunate baggage to be carrying around when he does finally stumble. His previous works, from Arete Hime to the fantastic Red Garden soundtrack have shown us just how good he is at writing music that brings out not only that upwelling of emotion associated with loneliness and suffering that the characters experience, but also the wellspring of hope that the characters draw from to see them through to the very end. With such lofty expectations, it’s a matter of time before he’d let us down.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’s soundtrack is that letdown. It’s far from a fall from grace, but it’s riddled with enough inconsistencies to raise a few questions. Was the sheer immensity and scope of the project just too much? He’s done a quality job for the 51-episode Victory Gundam series which also featured a three-disc soundtrack, so that can’t be it. Perhaps he’s just going through a phase where his creativity isn’t as high. Whatever the reasons are, FMA:B should have been a good fit with Senju’s compositional style since the show’s plot centering upon the physical and emotional trials and tribulations that Edward and Alfonse Elric must undergo isn’t unlike that of Red Garden’s, and yet, Senju doesn’t draw out those poignant emotions as well as he normally does.
The pieces featured early on carry the hope that once again, Senju will deliver a memorable score. “Main Theme ~The Fullmetal Alchemist~” opens up with an ominous tone, depicting the extent of the monumental struggles that the Elric brothers will face throughout their journey. The orchestra builds its tension slowly, and once it hits its peak, the chorus takes over with the orchestra in accompaniment and together, they bring a sound that mixes in both majesty and sadness in showing a long road, filled with little reprieve from tragedy and suffering, that will take the brothers to hell and back. “Laws of Alchemy” follows that with a rigid-sounding violin melody that highlights the unforgiving nature of alchemy and the horror inherent in its backlash should anyone cross that forbidden line. It’s a strong start, and because of that, you’re not quite prepared for the drop in quality when it materializes.
Main Theme ~The Fullmetal Alchemist~[audio:01 FMAB1.mp3]
Laws of Alchemy
Starting around “Fire in the Sky,” Akira Senju moves away from the distinct melodies that characterize his past works and aims towards building ambiance. While it works well in context, I find my attention wandering rather than focusing upon the music without the visuals to accompany them. Tracks like “Mist” bore me out of my mind because it repeats a bland melody that fails to grab my attention in any way. The same goes for “Fifth Laboratory,” which heaves in the bombast and crescendos it further without tossing in much variety to keep the listener interested. “Fanfare for the Brave” takes on a different form of badness because initially, its melody inspires, but as it keeps on progressing towards glory and redemption, it becomes painfully evident that the piece intends to leave us hanging by not delivering any sort of payoff at the end that would clinch it all and leave us in awe.
Fanfare for the Brave
Scattered amidst the ambient doom and gloom are a few delightful tracks like the “Far East Suite” which bring out the scope of FMA:B’s epic odyssey similar to the feeling evoked in Joe Hisaishi’s Princess Mononoke score. “Home -en route to Resembool-” is jaunty and happy while “Home -a house on the hill-” is warm and nostalgic even if a subtle hint of sadness lies underneath it all. Together, their mellow melodies provide a welcome break from all the tension that’s built up through the other tracks. And as the soundtrack winds down, “Overture -Brotherhood-‘s” poignant melody gives us a peace of mind with the hope that at the end of the odyssey, the two brothers will find the happiness that they have sought all along, making this track a strong closer.
Far East Suite[audio:17 FMAB1.mp3]
Depending on how you look at it, this letdown could be seen as a positive because even amidst the boring ambiance, Akira Senju still manages to draw forth a handful of tracks that are as good as the ones he’s composed in the past or a negative in that this album on the whole is so inconsistent in comparison, making it difficult to sit for the whole way through. My mindset definitely falls into the latter category, and so, I hope that FMA:B marks the bottom in the spectrum of Senju’s compositions.