Looking back on 2006 we have seen a handful great series come and go, but even fewer great soundtracks have enlightened our senses. And when I say great, I mean music you can listen to at home, at work and on the bus.
Toshio Masuda’s beautifully sparse work on Mushishi was a relaxing and naturally magical listen, but my favourite right now is quite clearly the soundtrack for the recently concluded Welcome to the NHK. So far it’s been spread over two albums and three singles, and there are an escalating number of stand out tracks. My favourites (MP3 links at the bottom of the post) include:
- The sugary sweet “Madokashii Sekai no Ue de” by Makino Yui (otherwise known as the voice of disturbed N.H.K. character Misaki) is an absurdly high pitched, gleaming example of perfectly manufactured JPOP with an ultra catchy tune; often repeated through out the show in various forms – including a quite beautiful piano-based rendition.
- Puzzle by ROUND TABLE (featuring Nino) is the colourful and exhuberent opening theme of the show. Again featuring a stunningly spotless female vocal, what really makes this song so fun and energetic is trumpet in the background and a euphorically upbeat tone. No trace of cynisism here, just pure joy. Which is odd, considering the depressing nature of the anime it opens! Perhaps it’s meant to be ironic?
- So far I’ve spotlighted the fluffy opening and ending themes, but Pearl Kyoudai’s – who contributes to the majority of this soundtrack – heart-felt insert song “Youkoso! Hitori Bocchi” leaves me in awe every time its grungy melancholy kicks in; its grim acoustic strumming and nostalgic chorus conjuring up memories, the feeling of a golden, warm autumn. This is the song that really defines Welcome to the NHK for me – a resigned look back on life; a reluctant urging to continue onwards.
- If novelty tunes are your thing, Fushigi Purupuru Pururin Rin! by Shishido Rumi should be quickly scribbled on your list – a ridiculously cute song featuring angelic vocals and a head ache inducing chorus chant “Purupuru Pururin Rin, Purupuru Pururin Rin x 20” – this is intended as a parody of otaku flavoured anime anthems and it’s just about absurd enough to come off as a successfully odd, surreal and funny little number.
What is striking about this soundtrack is how well it blends sickly JPOP with grungy acoustic rock and psychedelic metal without sounding horribly uneven; it captures the dramatic themes and moods of Welcome to the NHK, but more than that, many of the songs stand on their own as dreamy, heart felt and imaginative pieces of music.
Soundtrack MP3 Downloads