|Natsume Yuujinchou Original Soundtrack
|Makoto Yoshimori; Hiroshi Kamiya; Shuuhei Kita
|Sept. 26, 2008
|1. Kimi ga Yobu Namae ~Natsume Yuujinchou no Theme~
|2. Kusa Odoru Kaze no Hibiki
|3. Meguru Natsu no Tayori
|5. Yuruyaka na Aze Michi de
|6. Natsu Mado Hirakettanashi
|7. Oushi Za no Kaijin
|8. Yamiyo ni Hisomu Monoari
|9. Hyakkiyagyou ~ Youkai Dai Koushin
|10. Saoburu Kami no Kourin
|11. Honoka na Kioku
|12. Ame Yoru no Tsuki no Youni
|13. Hyaku Kaminari no Kagura
|14. Kimi ni Fureta Hikari
|15. Atatakai Basho
|16. Issei no Koe TV Size
Review: Natsume Yuujinchou’s soundtrack is an interesting one. On the one hand, you have your share of instrumental pieces that are light and pleasant to listen to because they enhance the subtle mood of the series, but on the other hand, there are quite a few tracks that are just so strange that it borders on the bizarre. That’s not to say that the strange tracks are bad; it’s just that they appeal to those who can appreciate the attempts at experimenting with music, regardless of how weird the results are. While this album mostly retains a sense of the conventional, there is enough of the unconventional to grab at your attention and last you awhile depending on how tolerant you are of the quirky tracks.
It’s tempting then to focus entirely on the stranger fare this album provides, but a broader perspective of this album shows that the album is best described as “lazy.” Not “lazy” in the sense that the music is insipid and uninspired, but of the sort in which the music evokes images of a slow, sluggish, summer day. The method in which they achieve this does tend towards the repetitive side, but not overly so because sprinkled within the tracks are some tempo changes and melodic shifts that are unexpected and will catch you by surprise without feeling out of place. It’s this sense of the unexpected that makes this album worthwhile and if nothing else, will succeed at holding your attention.
“Kimi ga Yobu Namae ~Natsume Yuujinchou no Theme~” exemplifies this feeling rather well as it opens up with a glissando followed by an accordion melody that creates the lazy atmosphere. While it does serve up quite a few measures of its repetitive theme, the piece’s tempo speeds up around 1:20, bringing with it a piano melody that’s packed with emotion and elegance. The sheer beauty of this segment just cannot be emphasized enough because it succeeds at being soul-stirring while maintaining a sense of subtlety that meshes with the show’s atmosphere rather well.
The next few tracks also maintain the mellow mood. “Nyankorasetsu” is where this album’s quirks start becoming noticeable. It appropriately describes Nyanko-sensei through the bassoon melody that plods along lazily. This piece is where the background noises are first employed, but it works well here because it creates the effect as though you’re surrounded by spirits. The same can be said for the background noise in “Yuruyaka na Aze Michi de” which, in conjunction with that piano part in the middle, helps bring this piece to life as it immerses you in its world.
“Natsu Mado Hirakettanashi” is where the oddities play a major role. This track, to put it simply, imitates a swarm of mosquitoes, which can drive you absolutely wild. There’s no music to speak of here, thereby making it one of the few pieces that literally drones (and buzzes) on for its entire duration. While there are some who appreciate this piece’s atmospheric feel, I’m willing to bet that most people are going to skip this track. Ditto for “Oushi Za no Kaijin” which is slightly more conventional until some of the moaning and growling sounds set in to create a sort of tension that feels off-putting.
Even then, “Oushi Za no Kaijin” doesn’t come close to comparing to “Hyakkiyagyou ~ Youkai Dai Koushin” which is filled to the brim with outworldly noises and a discordant melody to boot. The cacophonous mood that results from this makes you feel as though you were in the midst of a massive gathering of spirits. Again, those who can appreciate tracks solely dedicated to creating an atmospheric effect will love this piece, but people who prefer actual music will give this one a pass.
The tracks that follow mark a return to conventionality as the pieces evoke all manner of feelings from dark and foreboding to introspective leading into sorrow and the album even throws in an energetic piece that has the feel of a ceremonial war dance. Some of the tracks throw in some randomness. For example, “Ame Yoru no Tsuki no Youni” employs a flute that chimes in at unpredictable intervals but nevertheless remains enjoyable.
“Atatakai Basho” essentially closes out the album if you disregard the OP. This particular song is soft and subdued, sung (appropriately enough) by Natsume’s voice actor. While it doesn’t leave quite an impact, it’s still an enjoyable listen because it’s really light and mellow; a perfect song that puts Natsume Yuujinchou’s atmosphere in proper perspective. Hiroshi Kamiya might not be the perfect singer to use since he’s not that great at sustaining the higher registers, but the tone and mood are spot-on, creating a calming and soothing effect that leaves you with a wonderful feeling.
Natsume Yuujinchou’s soundtrack evokes that lazy feeling you get during summer, but thankfully, it’s not a boring listen because there are just so many twists and turns that Makoto Yoshimori uses to keep the listener interested. While there are a few tracks that defy convention, they’re still worth giving a shot because of how well they project the series’s atmosphere. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you proceed into those tracks with an open mind, you just might enjoy them. And even if you don’t, the rest of the tracks delivers a satisfying experience, especially if you’re fond of the more subdued fare that fits the anime series perfectly.
Rating: Very Good