Few soundtracks rival the unmistakable atmosphere of The House in Fata Morgana. The predominantly dramatic and brooding compositions elicit powerful, visceral reactions in conjunction with the story. They effectively immerse the reader in the heartbreakingly painful world of those tormented by Morgana’s curse. The rare uplifting tracks punctuate welcome moments of brightness and anchor pivotal hopeful climaxes.
While the soundtrack is a collaborative effort, the majority of compositions for Doors 6 through 8 were composed by Yusuke Tsutsumi. His calling card is a composition that builds patiently through layering, dragging the listener along an emotional journey to a spectacular climax. The Fata Morgana soundtrack marked a stunning debut that has seen him branch out into motion picture soundtracks. He has also explored further collaborations with Gao, another Fata Morgana soundtrack favourite.
Right now, my anime wishlist is limited to two desires: first and foremost would be an adaptation of Matsumoto’s “Takemitsu Zamurai”. A close second would be another season of Dorohedoro.
This isn’t a series I’ve spoken about for a long time, but it was such a blast when it aired a couple of years ago. An intriguing mystery element unravels to expose incredible world-building, also exploring some truly memorable characters on what can only be described as a batshit crazy ride.
Heavy rock, and even further into metal, has never really been my thing though I do have a soft spot for it when done well. Makoto Miyazaki, Shuhei Mutsuki and R•O•N deliver an unmistakably gritty feel to match Dorohedoro’s bleak setting, segueing through an eclectic mix of electronics, jazz and funk to create a truly unique soundtrack.
Two years ago, on an OST post in my early days, I swapped a couple of comments with @manga.shitposts about Final Fantasy soundtracks. He remarked that 2020's Remake did an impeccable job of reworking the soundtrack, particularly noting Aerith’s Theme. Having completely forgotten about this exchange, I found myself this past week listening to the FFVII Remake soundtrack.
The delicacy and depth this rearrangement brings to an already revered track are beyond beautiful. What is a restrained and sorrow-tinged thematic at the 1:08 mark is completely reimagined at the 3:00 mark into something so joyous and uplifting despite the underlying melancholy.
Yoshinori Nakamura is the man behind the wonderful arrangement. You can follow him on Twitter (yossy_ny), as well as here on IG, where he posts his own music production under @noli_stark_gkc
Over the last year, I’ve seen a shift in how I approach soundtracks. I now find myself favouring those which sell the atmosphere of the media in question. The atmosphere Bloodborne’s soundtrack generates is incredible. It is so oppressive in its horror and life-threatening desperation that it borders on being overwhelming, instilling a blood chilling discomfort I’ve not felt from a soundtrack before.
While the Bloodborne soundtrack is a collaborative effort by the From Software music team, I’ve been specifically drawn to Yuka Kitamura’s compositions. The scale of finality she built into this work is breathtaking, conveying a catharsis to a never-ending nightmare.
Kitamura contributed to the Dark Souls II and III soundtracks, as well as a lot of this year’s Elden Ring soundtrack. She was also the major composer for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
I hold the firm belief that Yuki Kajiura sits at the peak of atmospheric soundtrack composers, but Yasuharu Takanashi is not far away. Within the horror genre, I feel he is unmatched, showing incredible diversity of atmosphere beyond just terror.
“Requiem” is a grander rearrangement of the beautiful “Epitaph”. My taste has always been for haunting, darker choir elements and this track has that in abundance. Shiki’s soundtrack alone gives me enough reason to watch the series.
Honestly, I don’t remember much from Kuuchuu Buranko other than Mayumi. The series was fun to watch but was perhaps a little beyond me to have made a lasting impression?
Hideharu Mori’s most notable credits are as an arranger for Ranma½ and Maison Ikkoku. He also arranged LotGH’s second season opening “I am Waiting for You”. While his solo composing credits are few (Kuuchuu Buranko, Black Rock Shooter), the majority of his composing work has been as a member of S.E.N.S. Project. Notable works are XxxHolic, Genji Monogatari Sennenki and Kimi no Todoke.
Only a few episodes into Eureka Seven, and already I'm loving its soundtrack. Reminiscent of late 20th Century Film scores, the emotional weight of many tracks feel so believable and genuine. These tracks are supported by lighter and genre-diverse tracks ranging from acid jazz, heavy blues and even classic reggae vibes.
While Naoki Sato’s more recent soundtracks have been for multiple live-action adaptations of anime series, his anime soundtrack resumé is equally impressive. Debuting with Clamp’s early 2000s X, he would find success with the Futari wa Precure and Yes! Precure 5 series. Other notable soundtracks would be Sword of the Stranger, Blood-C and Assassination Classroom.
I find it incredibly annoying that the only soundtrack released from the original Kino’s Journey series wasn’t that of the main series. The series soundtrack has a laid-back charm to it. The tracks never feel in a hurry to tell their story, nor do they stray into over-complication.
While his early career featured sound engineer and arrangement credits, Ryo Sakai’s first soundtrack credits lie with the late ‘90s Soul Hunter series. He would score the soundtracks for the Memories Off 2 and Memories Off 3.5. OVAs, taking over from Takeshi Abo.
Older followers of mine will know how much I love this soundtrack. It effortlessly swings between atmospheric traditional Japanese, melancholic piano and prohibition gangster vibes infused with an Edo-period twist.
If you’ve not watched Saraiya Goyou, it has my unreserved recommendation as a fantastic slow-burn mystery built around a memorable and endearing cast.
I need another series like Amagi Brilliant Park. Great visuals aside, the lewd humour was on point without straying into a cringe-inducing territory.
I still have difficulty reconciling that the man who created this soundtrack was also responsible for Revolutionary Girl Utena’s. The key driver my opinion of which tracks best define the Utena aesthetic. In saying so, I’m disregarding the variety in the Utena soundtrack.
Mitsumune did a great job delivering a lighter and quirky soundtrack for Amaburi.
What Hisaishi does so well is evoke an uplifting and wondrous sense of nostalgia in his compositions. He achieves this through a key theme which he builds upon in later iterations, often concluding with a grand climactic rendition.
This piece is peak Hisaishi.
My rewatch last year of A Silent Voice realigned my values concerning assessing soundtracks. Its impact is easily misunderstood or glossed over courtesy of the subtlety with which it functions. My awe of Kensuke Ushio’s creativity only grows stronger with subsequent listens. His use of dissonance and arrhythmic melody effectively communicates a disconnected environment.