Track By Track: Music reviews by Otaku Nate
Today’s Listening: My-HiME OST 1
My-Hime, in my humble opinion is a rather underrated anime. Granted, the story has its share of plot holes, and a few “There is…logic…in what he says” moments, but I feel the good far outweighs the bad. It has a strong protagonist, with an even stronger supporting cast, the melodrama is solid, the character and creature designs are great, and of course it has an epic soundtrack by Yuki Kajiura. And frankly, since I have nothing better to do with my time, I’m going to review the Soundtrack…well, volume one anyway. Now, this is my first time reviewing an album, and frankly, I feel the best way to do it is to look at each track individually and decide if it’s good or not. Now, I’m not one to give number/letter grades to a track, Frankly I think it’s much easier to say “I like this”, “I don’t care for this,” “I Love this,” Than it is to give a grade to something. However, I will be marking my favorite tracks with an asterisk. The ones that I suggest everyone listen to I marked with 3 Asterisks. So with that out of the way, let’s look at this thing!
1. HiME Star***: A Very calm, soothing track, yet at the same time, sounds very tragic and sorrowful. As usual, the vocals on this one are very beautiful, forming a very somber and melancholy harmony. The bells that come in at around the 1:35 mark add a very mystical touch to the song.
2. The Start of today: Another soothing track, though this doesn’t really feel like a “Morning” Sort of track, I feel there’s a bit too much pep in it with the rather joyful piano, and whatever background noise is present. Had it been played at a slower tempo, it would’ve been a lot better. The Presence of a guitar riff also sort of baffles me. I usually don't wake up to an electric guitar...unless it's "Eruption" by Van Halen
3. The Summer, the Sky, the Breeze*: Now this is a song for the summer. I like the fast paced guitar in the background, but the Clarinet line that’s prevalent in this track is what seals it for me. This is a song you play when you go for a nice jog on the beach and then top it off with some gratuitous tanning!
4. Fuuka Academy life: “Academy” indeed. This song has a nice militaristic feel to it with the drums in the background conjuring up images of a military lineup. Also, the xylophone bits in the middle are cute. I actually forgot that this was Haruka’s theme, and the tone of it suits her character well!
5. Creeping shadow: it starts out as a very good ambiential piece, but around the 30 second mark, it erupts into a more confrontational piece as the music swells up. It then changes dramatically around the 50 second mark when a frantic drumbeat kicks in. a very nice track that really does a good job of building to what sounds like a big fight.
6. Dance of Darkness*: I love how this song starts out, very slow and creepy with what sound like distorted, choppy voice samples. Then around the 30 second mark, a sitar sample kicks in along with a techno drumbeat, which then explodes into a thundering tribal drumbeat. You can literally picture the battle between the HiMEs and Orphans.
7. Meet Gakuten-O!*: The theme for Midori’s wheeled HiME is triumphant and upbeat. I love the rocking beat, the powerful drums, and the triumphant guitar riffs that really do make this song feel like it’s a great entry theme for a Midori. My only problem is that it peters out toward the end.
8. Kind Allegory*: I like this one a lot more than “The start of today” since it’s a much simpler song. There’s only three instruments present here; a cello, a violin, and a piano. The somber yet upbeat piano starts this song of nicely, and the string instruments carry it further along a song that sets up a nice romantic mood. The piano bit at the end is also cute.
9. Mysterious: I don’t really see the mystery at all in this one. This song feels like filler. There’s really no substance to this one outside of the synth chords and bongo backbeat. Not of fan of this one, and I feel it’s the weakest song on this album
10. I’m Hungry!: The theme for Mikoto is, in simplest terms; cute and childish. The fast-paced xylophone coupled with the bongos really captures Mikoto’s character as being childish and somewhat hyperactive. It’s a good song, but not really my cup of tea.
11. Let’s meet again!: This is the song that plays during the next episode previews. I’m not a fan of this one either. I feel that it tries to do too much between the piano, the synthesizer bassline, and the pseudo-woodblock drumbeat. It would’ve been much better if it was just the piano, the triangle, and maybe perhaps a cello, played at a much slower beat. I do like the piano part at the end.
12. Sunset sky*: This song does a really good job of setting the mood of…well, a sunset. It’s primarily an acoustic guitar, but unlike most acoustic tracks, it doesn’t make the mistake of being a remix of another track. I love how, just when you think the song’s about to end, the guitar comes right back and plays a few more notes to carry the mood.
13. Prologue to a dark night: Not really a fan of this one either. I think it’s because that the high-pitched bell sounds don’t blend with the chaotic drumbeat that’s going on the background, but once the string instruments come in, they’re sort of drowned out. Though the drumbeat is the best part in my humble opinion, as it does capture the feel of “Oh crap, something’s coming!”
14. Duran Summoned*: I really love the theme for Natsuki’s child. It starts out nice and soft with some beautiful female vocals, then starts to pick up speed with a techno backbeat and some awesome rhythm guitar riffs. Then 1:15 mark, the song takes off with some awesome drumbeats, and as usual, gorgeous chants. LOAD SILVER CARTRIDGE!
15. Kagutsuchi Descends: Now this is an awesome theme. The epic opening notes really do feel like the spirit of the Japanese god of fire is descending on you, ready to wreak havoc on the land. Again the thundering drums coupled with a sick guitar riff and the presence of violins make this song feel all the more epic. At the 1:30 mark, the song changes entirely, opting instead for more violent riffs from the string instruments, that make you feel like the great god of fire is unleashing his wrath! The song then turns back to normal at the end.
16. It’s only the fairy tale***: This song is beautiful, that’s really all I have to say about it. I love the music-box style melody of this song, it gives it a very nice…err…”Fairy tale” feel to it. The vocals by Yuko Miyamura are very engrishy, but they are very very gorgeous. The instrumental bits at the 1:27 mark always give me goosebumps, to the point where I almost want to cry. It’s a great song that I highly recommend to all.
17. Afternoon sunlight*: After several frantic, fast-paced pieces, and one gorgeous insert song, The album then goes to this very soothing piece. I love the clarinet parts in the beginning, for some reason, just hearing the clicking of a clarinet in a song always makes me smile for some reason. The piano parts that play the clarinet’s melody are also cute.
18. A Small Happiness: for some reason, this song reminds me of “Kiss the girl” from The Little Mermaid. It’s another nice song which focuses mostly on the piano, but to me, the percussion is where it’s at. I love the little rattle in the background coupled with the bongos. Why couldn’t THIS Be the next episode theme?
19. Because I fell in love with you*: I’m always one for a nice piano-only piece. Though, this one is accompanied by these odd ambiential noises that actually enhance the mood of a very romantic-sounding song. Another slow, but solid track that almost makes you forget that it played when A lesbian confessed her love to a non-lesbian.
20. Mystery invites mystery: Now this is a song that lives up to its name! the song opens up with a very melancholy violin, before transitioning over to what sounds like a harpsichord, and a cello. The odd, mysterious techno beat in the background really gives the song that mysterious feeling.
21. Sinking to the bottom of the night: The backbeat in this one gives this song a nice feel of somebody going on a late night spying mission. The violins in this song though don’t really work for me (I personally feel it would’ve been better with a cello), I do like the inclusion of the chorus of “HiME Star” though!
22. Pink Dance: Anyone want to tango? Seriously, this song makes me want to tango with its violent acoustic guitar riffs, frantic bongo playing, and use of a lute as the main source of melody in this one.
23. Mezame***: My favorite song on the whole album. As with previous songs meant for action scenes, this one starts out rather slow, but builds and builds with chanting at the beginning with great acoustic guitar riffs, and a subtle swelling. Then the techno UNTZ-UNTZ-UNTZ kicks in, and then the song escalates into a very nice “Duel-of-fates” esque song. Then the edition of a rockin’ guitar and thunderous drums give this song a nice little kick. I love the chorus of this piece too, very beautiful with the vocals, and the one alto in the background really help carry this song to the climax. The bridge is cool too, with the sick bongo breakdown and mini guitar solo. An excellent track for when you’re driving (Works best at night IMO), or doing a workout.
24. Serenity of the HiME star*: Not really much to say about this one, it’s just a piano cover of the first track. It’s a very sweet sounding song that does a good job of bookending the album.
Overall: This a solid album for a solid series by one of anime's top composers. There's a good mixture of fast-paced tracks to get you psyched, and slower, more emotional tracks on those occasions where you feel down in the dumps. While some tracks didn't really work for me, There really weren't any I would flat-out skip over.
Final Verdict: Recommended.
Albums I'm considering reviewing next
Witchblade: Sexual Panic
Serial Experiments Lain OST
L/R: Licensed By Royalty
Tom Waits: Bad As Me