|Kuragehime Original Soundtrack “Amazing AMARS!!”
|Kuragehime (Jellyfish Princess)
|Makoto Yoshimori, Chatmonchy, Sambomaster
|January 26, 2011
|01. Koko dake no hanashi (TV Version)
|02. We are AMARS
|03. Umi to tsuki no yume
|04. Yokoso Amamizukan he
|05. Marco de o kaimono
|06. Yugatairo no omoide ni
|07. Tayutau you ni yurayura to
|08. Raika Madonna
|09. Sakurako no heya
|10. Souten no gotoku
|11. Shasou ni ikou~Kakueiki teisha hen
|12. Shasou ni ikou ~Kyuukou hen
|13. Kareki ni yume wo
|14. Clara detsu!
|15. Wabishiki shokutaku
|16. Kimyou na gishiki
|17. Gogo no junjou
|18. Ah bousou
|19. Kuro no dandy
|20. Chiba-ken ichikawa shusshin YA
|21. Nana iro no yuuwaku
|22. Emajen !
|23. Wasuretai ame ni
|24. Asu, ameagari
|25. Odore! Amars
|26. Kimi no kirei ni kizuite okure (TV Version)
Review: Those who’ve tracked Makoto Yoshimori’s emergence as an anime composer will know that his style is extremely varied, weird at times, but never boring. His musical brush in Kuragehime’s soundtrack highlights a broad spectrum of genres, from jazz, to Celtic, to the sweet emotional piano melodies that have been a staple of his works since Koi Kaze, but the one constant running thread that’s present here and in his past soundtracks is his penchant for combining natural sounds, be it human groans or a busy thoroughfare, with his instrumental melodies. Listeners new to his style may find the weirdness disconcerting and chafe at what Yoshimori considers music, but this style has grown on me. Now, when I chance upon a new work of his, I eagerly anticipate the thrills that come out of Yoshimori’s eccentricities.
Nowhere is Yoshimori’s weirdness more apparent than in “Kimyou ga Nishiki,” which initially feels tame by his usual standards with only a sproinging sound to raise any eyebrows early on. But towards the second half of the piece, the piece unravels as the trumpet player throws all semblance of order to the wind and plays each note seemingly arbitrarily as though to depicts a mind slowly fraying from whatever stresses the person depicted is experiencing. The chaos that issues forth might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found the disorder to be engaging in the way it evokes near-bedlam from whatever hi-jinks are going on in the anime.
Kimyou ga Nishiki
But that’s about as weird as it gets; the other tracks, like “Tayutau you ni yurayura to” and “Yokoso Amamizukan he” are more conventional Yoshimori weirdness in that the weird parts either make sense or work in concert with the instrumentals. “Tayutau you ni yurayura to” is an example of the latter as it bears a graceful, flowing piano melody reminiscent of the more heartfelt pieces from Natsume Yuujinchou’s soundtrack along with forest-y sounds as accompaniment. “Yokoso Amamizukan he” is unbalanced, featuring a heavy bass rhythm atop the melodic line, making the entire package sound awkward. The random woofing noises, dissonant synth, and stomach groans that follow exudes clumsiness, thereby capturing the socially maladjusted denizens of the Amamizukan apartments perfectly.
Tayutau you ni yurayura to
The rest of the tracks offer a rich range of diversity, with a few ethnically-oriented tracks worth highlighting. Mayaya’s obsession of China’s Three Kingdoms period is heard through “Souten no Gotoku,” which has the flourishes that you might expect from a stereotypical Imperial Chinese court theme complete with a gong that sounds out periodically. Yoshimori’s work in Celtic music is also present in “Asu ameagari” which delivers with a lively Irish reel. But none of those tracks manage to make me smile quite like “Clara Detsu!” The music draws its influence from the Caribbean calypso, including the use of the steel pans typical of the genre, but the highlight of the track is the memetic call and response of “Clara!” and “Tequila!” No amount of puzzling can conjure any satisfying meaning behind the “Tequila!” response, but I love it anyway for the whimsy that’s on display.
Asu ameagari[audio:24 kuragehime.mp3]
Kuragehime’s soundtrack continues to provide us with the dreamy tracks that have put Yoshimori among my favorite anime composers. The star of this soundtrack is none other than “Umi to Tsuki no Yume,” which is wrapped with a bubble of innocence. The music box melody that comes forth is a mixture of the sweet and the heartrending moments; the tone that sounds out paints a tragic picture of a dream that has repeatedly disappointed, but one that Tsukimi’s – she’s Kuragehime’s protagonist – nonetheless yearns for. Its bittersweet, longing tones really put their stamp upon me, and if there’s one musical theme that I’ll take out from this soundtrack, it would be this one.
Umi to Tsuki no Yume
Finally, a Kuragehime soundtrack review wouldn’t be complete without a mention of how much I love Yoshimori’s forays into jazz. I’ve often complained that Baccano!’s score is a bit of a bore, but Yoshimori seems to have learned from that experience and has given us some engaging jazz numbers like “We are AMARS,” which adds a dab of funk along with some side trips into a folk dance before returning to the groove once more. And as far as finales go, “Odore! Amars” is a wonderful sendoff as it brings in a big band sound that is overflowing with energy. The tempo that moves the piece along gives it a strutting movement that’s further accented through the call and response between the saxophone and the rest of the band. Its style is superb, oozing with a confidence that ends the soundtrack on a solid note, even if the anime still has threads left dangling.
We are AMARS[audio:02 kuragehime.mp3]
There’s more to praise of course, like how well Yoshimori showcases his ability to compose Minimalist piano themes in Kuragehime’s soundtrack, but what’s the point aside from reinforcing my declaration that each Yoshimori soundtrack is better than his last is still true? In each subsequent work, Makoto Yoshimori continues to raise the bar; each iteration shows slight improvement, whether it’s making his emotional, introspective pieces even more so or simply showing his competence in composing a wide variety of musical genres to keep the listening experience fresh and engaging. The groans and other odd sounds that people might have issues with are unlikely to go away, but Yoshimori has also done a better job implementing them so that they never clash so harshly with the instrumentals. Or maybe I’ve been hypnotized by Yoshimori’s eccentricities to the point where I actually look forward to enjoying the strangeness each and every time.
Rating: Very Good