Naoki Satou FTW!

Listening to the new El Cazador soundtrack reminds me how Yuki Kajiura can hit left and feint right. But after doing it so many times, I no longer care about the feinting as much as how she does it. And oddly enough she only impressed me once since Aquarian Age TV, in Mai-Hime. I still don’t quite get why people get so riled up about her .Hack or Xenosaga, for praise or scorn.

But listening to Naoki Satou? It’s totally like a 10yr old listening to John William for the first time. And so far, every time. It’s not that he does anything really original or anything like that, but ever since I first heard him through X TV‘s soundtracks, it feels at first so powerful, that like Kajiura’s earlier works, the music drives the imagery by itself. We don’t need anime or animation to tell a story, if it’s going to be like that.

But unlike MADLAX’s “lol still pan + YAMANI” nonsense that lots of Kajiura fans like, different directors did it differently with Naoki Satou. X was probably a more conventional take about sweeping destinies crossed in a forest of revenge, much like Noir. And the musical presentation came across similarly. But not so in Eureka 7.

Eureka 7 was the place where I first took a good and hard look at his stuff. It was incredible at times, but yet it left a weak impression. Maybe it has to do with how musically Eureka 7 was all over the place, or maybe because the direction was trying to tell a story about people instead of trying to present a moving slide show with a nice soundtrack. The soundtrack albums themselves were epic enough but it didn’t quite give off that orange, legendary glow.

It is much like The Heroic Age. The two soundtracks for the show that are out now helped me understand a bit better what I’m experiencing. As far as music in the show goes, unlike E7, Heroic Age was mostly typical of “lol grand space epic” sort of thing. Some of the main themes and pieces that are repeated on the soundtrack got a lot of prominent use in the show. Some of the music stood out but it wasn’t remarkable. Yet listening to the soundtrack themselves tells a different, similar, but much more engaging epic. The music definitely does not go all over the place like E7 but yet listening to the album arrangements was just a delight.

In fact, it makes me sort of sad that so much of the great stuff from the second OST is just obscured by the silly show, and sort of wished that a show with slow-moving space battles and lofty racial politics can afford some stillness and sing us a few new tunes. The key is in the arrangement, I guess.

The Heroic Age has fast moving space battles as well, so that might be what’s taking up all the sound space? Maybe Naoki Satou needs to write for the next Simoun-like show. That’ll be beyond legendary.

6 Responses to “Naoki Satou FTW!”

  • D

    I preferred his Eureka Seven work as it was much better at bringing up the emotions within the show itself, and listening to it on it’s own made me vividly remember the more emotional moments of that show. The people making that show had a better idea at how to properly use his music as opposed to HA. In my opinion of course.

    However his Heroic Age OST is also remarkable itself, and definitely captures like you said, the grand space opera sound that many composers often overdo. But I agree it works better when listening to the CD itself rather than in the show, though that can be blamed on the Director and/or Sound Director of Heroic Age moreso than Satou imo.

    In any case, with E7 and Heroic Age, and X of course which was my first experience with his work, he’s definitely become one of my new favorite composers. I can’t wait to hear the music he composed for the new studio Bones movie, Stranger.

  • omo

    I pretty much agree with you, but I like the music in Heroic Age a tad more. OST2 was supremely good.

  • BluWacky

    Satou’s score captures a very different show from what Heroic Age actually is, though. It’s not a big grand ol’ space opera with lofty themes – it’s mostly an excuse for giant Godzilla-esque monsters to growl and hit each other and a shallow “why can’t we all just get along?” message IMHO. It does have a lovely score, though, thus I agree pretty much with everything you say.

    What’s your opinion on Yasuharu Takanashi’s score for Terra E? It’s less bombastic than Satou’s work but works very well for a show I think is much more epic and sweeping in scope.

  • firestingerx

    Hmm I think I agree with D. Eureka Seven’s OSTs were really such opuses that rightly revive the emotions that the anime’s trying to portray, from the sad parts to the psychedelic excess for the largely optimistic parts. Of course, nothing less can be said of Heroic Age, though I still enjoyed Eureka Seven more. :)

    Also Bluwacky was prolly right…it’s like Satou’s just composing epic songs without really knowing how the Heroic Age goes…doesnt really capture the feel but still nice anyway. :p

  • omo

    Looks someone doesn’t like Heroic Age, lol.

    I’ll give Takanashi a listen. I don’t think I’ve really watched a show he has composed for…

  • soltaire_rv

    Yeah somewhat i also feel the same. Kajiura Yuki does it in Mai Hime. That’s the first time I heard her arrangements, and once Ensei or Mezame became a must in my .mp3 player. But it goes dull when i tried to reminisce it, or when i compare it to the diverse tunes Yoko Kanno can make.

    The last album Yoko Kanno (Darker than Black) is pitching up again the level of scores for anime sountracks to higher level. However, just in the recent times when I reach a cynical view to OSTs with cliched composition and arrangement, or why-it-sounds-similar-to-previous-work OSTs, and decide not to download anymore sountracks, there goes Sato Naoki with his E7 and Heroic Age works.

    Maybe he was influenced by the Hollywood scores. I mean, some of the composition in his music remind me of Lord of the Rings tracks. Just waiting for Eminence to take notice of his works, and play it epic-ly in their concert :p

    Btw, Heroic Age was good for, er.., the last 3 episodes.

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