Musical Musing: When Hisaishi and Touhou Collide, Some Miscellany

Doujin games and anime aren’t so far apart that we can apply the statement that ne’er the twain shall meet because the two fanbases do overlap. However, they are far apart enough that you rarely see anyone combining music from games and anime into a fan-made arrangement. After all, much of the doujin music that comes out of Comiket are decidedly non-anime in nature. Ditto with Reitaisai for obvious reasons.

So when I come across a track that combines both, it’s always cause for rejoicing and kaztora’s “チルノの動く城” is one that fits the bill. As you listen to this, you may find yourself surprised to find two familiar themes milling about (moreso if you can’t figure out the translation for the track title!):


[audio:Hisaishi Touhou.mp3]

From the first notes, the murmuring piano melody conjures forth the unmistakable sober introduction from Joe Hisaishi’s “Merry-Go-Round of Life,” the main theme from Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle. As you settle in and let this piece carry you on, it’s easy to let the expectation of another piano rendition of Hisaishi’s enduring theme take over. Even the sly hint placed during 0:10-0:15 doesn’t betray the piece’s direction.

And so, the main melody begins. The first first four notes don’t deviate at all, but then, without warning, the melody subtly shifts over to Cirno’s theme, “Beloved Tomboyish Girl” from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. If you weren’t paying attention or weren’t familiar with either track, it could be pretty easy to miss. Either way, this marks the point where ZUN’s and Hisaishi’s themes begin weaving in and out in a way that works beautifully; you get a few measures of one theme, then the other. This continues for the duration of the piece, remaining engaging throughout, whether it’s during the piano solos or the dignified/boisterous waltz.

To say that kaztora’s arrangement meshes well is an understatement and the interplay is absolutely wonderful. Oh the things I would do to hear more pieces joined together so impeccably like “Cirno’s Moving Castle” (and yes, that is the translated track title)…

For reference:

Merry-Go-Round of Life

[audio:Howl – Merry-Go-Round of Life.mp3]

Beloved Tomboyish Girl

[audio:Touhou – Beloved Tomboyish Girl.mp3]
While there are no plans for an Anime Instrumentality podcast (at least, none that I could really imagine happening in the near future), I did appear on the Nihon Review’s seasonal review podcast.

Much of the focus of that podcast was on shows from last season that finished airing, so if you don’t really care about my anime opinions, you’ll want to skip to the segment towards the end where I share some of my favorite soundtracks (maybe 2-3 minutes worth). With that in mind, an anime music podcast is something I’ve considered for awhile; my only worry really is a lack of topics to cover since many soundtracks get released long after the show airs, so keeping the podcast current/relevant on airing anime will be difficult. If people have suggestions for topics that might be of interest, feel free to share them.

Finally, given that this is a team blog, I was asked to give my thoughts on running an operation such as this. So if you’re curious as to how things manage to get done (or, in some cases, not get done), you might want to head over to Organization Anti-Social Geniuses to read my thoughts.


Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

4 thoughts on “Musical Musing: When Hisaishi and Touhou Collide, Some Miscellany

  • August 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Oh man, this is doing my head in. I keep hearing the melody of Howl’s, and expect a certain line to follow, only to have it shift away into something, and then when I think I’ve gotten the melody in that 3 second space, it morphs back. It’s a pretty good mix though. Good start to the morning.

    And read the piece over at Geniuses. Nice one sir!

    • August 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Isn’t just awesome how that works? It’s always a treat to see how two distinct melodies can work so well in tandem while being able to keep the features that made each track so enjoyable. Needless to say, I was quite pleased at this one.

  • August 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    This is definitely awesome, and I can’t thank you enough for making me discover that track!
    I didn’t know the Touhou track that much (although I’ve, of course, heard it a few times), but the arrangement definitely is something that’s worth being listened to!

    • August 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      I can’t take all the credit for this as it was one of my staff members who came across the track and sent it my way. Do hope that more doujin artists make an attempt similar to this as it is a treat to listen to when it’s as cleverly done as this incarnation. Probably the best arrangement I’ve heard in awhile too.


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