Katekyo Hitman Reborn Original Sountrack – Review

Album Title:Katekyo Hitman Reborn Original Sountrack 1, 2 and 3
Anime Title:Katekyo Hitman Reborn
Artist:Toshihiko Sahashi, Keita Tachibana, SPLAY, the Arrows
Catalog Number:PCCR-441; PCCR-449; PCCG-910
Release Type:Soundtrack
Release Date:December 20, 2006; April 18, 2007; August 20, 2008
Purchase at:CDJapan(OST 1),CDJapan(OST 2),CDJapan(OST 3)

Review: One of the first tracks I have ever heard upon first venturing into the anime soundtrack scene was “Gokigen,” and it made an enormous contribution to why I have stayed here ever since.

The initial appeal of Katekyoushi Hitman Reborn OST is easy to pinpoint: sheer entertainment. That, and it’s aged well. While I have dumped numerous soundtracks I used to enjoy like D.Gray-man’s and Zombie Loan’s because the uniformity of their music meant that my interest in them died out fast, Reborn’s diversity across 3 separate OSTs is why it manages to stay appealing.

The majority of OST 1 is dominated by tracks similar to “Gokigen:” jazzy, cute, cheerful and yet diverse in its representations. It is not easy to compose something dynamic given the very simple and plain setting in earlier episodes, but Sahashi shows us that there are many ways to depict a laid-back and happy life, from the lazy nature of “Without a Care” to the faster, but still humorous and light-hearted “Battle 2.”

The latter half of OST 1 consists of short character themes. Each one is very distinct, and we hear a variety of themes and styles, from the unforgiving theme of Hibari Kyoya to upbeat synth tunes for I-pin. If one watches the anime, the resemblance between these themes and the actual characters is especially uncanny, and adds to the overall enjoyment as one will definitely relate to these characters upon hearing their themes.

Leader of the Discipline Committee, Kyoya Hibari

Human Bomb, I-Pin

The first shortcoming of this series of soundtracks is actually at the start of OST 2. Rather than taking on a new theme or style of its own, it picks up the mood from where the first leaves off, making it rather dull. Luckily, the lightheartedness does not last the whole way through, or it would have fallen into one of the common pitfalls that countless other multi-disc anime soundtracks suffer from: an innovative, enjoyable first disc followed by subsequent discs that feel like arrangements of the first.

The second half of OST 2 avoids this fate by featuring more action themes. This portion is comparable to Sahashi’s famous Gundam SEED soundtrack, yet it’s different enough that if I were given any random piece from either Reborn or Gundam SEED, I can still pick out which track belongs where. This brings me to comment on one of Sahashi’s wonderful traits: he pays attention to the small details and differentiates Gundam SEED and Reborn by instilling a sense of majesty in the former while delivering an aura of grace for the latter, which make sense given its setting. We are dealing with the formidable and composed Mafia after all.

The final BGM track of OST 2 brings in a whole new view: a battle of good against evil. And hearing this, who can resist going on to OST 3?

Holy War

Sure enough, OST 3 starts with similar themes: namely, the clash between good and evil. Some of the earlier tracks like “XANXUS” rely heavily on the organ to deliver those foreboding feelings. Following those, we have tracks like “At the end of the struggle” which skillfully depict victory against all odds, where one can feel the resolve pulsing from every beat. The strings taking flight later in the track also bring across the exhilaration of eventual victory.

At the End of the Struggle

Furthermore, the second half of OST 3 brings in new genres in rock and trance. In a soundtrack which contains a total of 91 tracks, changes in styles are absolutely necessary to keep the attention of the regular listener. “In Operation” successfully pulls that off with a relatively slow, but deeply entrancing electric guitar melody.

In Operation

OST 3 also comes with Disc 2, which contains the full-length character themes. Here, we get to hear the many memorable themes of Reborn along with groundbreaking arrangements of previous tracks. It is not hard to see why Disc 2 provides a huge boost to the overall soundtrack once you examine the before and after tracks for the character ‘Rokudo Mukuro’. The second version is much more expressive, and I just cannot help but admire the amazing way the melody flows, something I would have easily overlooked given how quiet the first version is.

In sum, OST 3 is easily the best one out of the three, given its more diverse nature, from magnificent, to foreboding, to entrancing and to peaceful which work well to keep things fresh.

However, it is also here that repetition sets in. This problem, largely absent throughout the earlier discs, surfaces prominently in Disc 2 of OST 3. For example, the clip of Rokudo Mukuro was cut from the third minute on; until you reach that point, the track was just filled with subdued and painfully boring strings. This problem surfaces in every track of Disc 2, which makes it a little frustrating to get through.

The other complaint I have would be that there are not enough focus on the emotional aspects, though this could be just due to me wanting to hear more of the stuff Sahashi provides in Gunslinger Girl’s OST rather than any real lack of attention to this area in particular. Gunslinger Girl is a drama after all, so it may just be unrealistic to expect its standards of depth in Reborn.

Reborn makes up for that by being how it is: entertaining. Each OST is engaging and there is a distinct shift of focus from the first to the third. While the main themes remained similar, their delivery changes drastically through each of the soundtracks, bringing across something that’s appealing to both the palettes of ruthless critics and casual listeners.

On the whole, Reborn OST is very distinct, truly putting it in a class of its own. This is, in fact, the only OST to date which has kept me glued to my chair for 3 whole hours, and I can say that it was time well spent.

Rating: Excellent


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.

3 thoughts on “Katekyo Hitman Reborn Original Sountrack – Review

  • October 4, 2010 at 4:54 am

    I love the different distinct styles in this OST, but I am not too impressed with the tracks themselves though. As you said, I would’ve liked a little more emotional impact.

  • October 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Thanks for OSTs reviews!

  • October 6, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Heh. May I suggest Black Blood Brothers? It’s another awesome score by Sahashi.

    I love how Sahashi manages to alter his style to adapt to every series he composes for. Most composers can’t do that, and he does it well.


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