Anime, Reviews

Shadow of the Colossal Earthquake: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Original Soundtrack (Review)

December 23, 2009 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook Shadow of the Colossal Earthquake: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Original Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

If the title isn’t obvious enough, yes, this is the work of Kow Otani. When we first got this CD in at our office, I was listening to it and wondering who the heck could have written it. There were a few cues that sounded similar to Otani’s most popular foray into the videogame world, Shadow of the Colossus, but for the most part, the Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 soundtrack is something completely different.

Based on his involvement alone, it’s no surprise that this score sounds great. There are, of course, numerous live players who appear throughout, and in typical anime fashion, there are incredibly out-of-place J-rock intro and closing themes that cap off either side of the soundtrack. But hey, it’s all good, and I’m not one to complain about getting my hands on more music from Kow Otani!

Read on to find out what he’s done with the Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 soundtrack in our review after the jump.

As previously mentioned, the album opens with a track that is definitely not Kow Otani. Fortunately it’s a group that I actually know and love, Abingdon Boys School. They provide the opening theme, “Kimi no Uta” (“Your Song”) which is super upbeat and rockin’. It’s a powerful starter, although it doesn’t quite fit in with most of Otani’s moodier themes.

And right on cue, Otani opens with “Ordinary Future,” a somber piece featuring only piano and new age pads. There are hints of beauty that shine through in the melody, but for the most part it sounds rather desolate. You’re going to find that most of the music here is pretty glum and emotional, but I’ll get to more of that later.

Otani fans are probably wondering how this compares to Shadow of the Colossus, as that’s Otani’s most popular work among gamers. There are a number of tracks reminiscent of the powerful themes he created for the colossi, starting with “M8,” an ominous piece with pounding orchestral percussion, lots of brass, and rapid string stabs to build tension. It’s probably one of my favorites, and I can imagine this massive earthquake personified as a colossus. Other menacing, “Colossus”-like tracks include “Collapse” and “Collapse of the Tokyo Tower” which march along with a sense of dread. I recommend keeping a lookout for these ones!

After the world is torn asunder, “Growing Anxiety” is a perfect accompaniment to the devastating aftermath, using dissonant glassy pads along with a disordered harp progression to create a melancholy and confused soundscape. “Yuuki’s Illusion,” on the other hand, is a rather minimalistic piece that goes for atmosphere with its distant belltone melody with lots of reverb, creating an icy image in my head despite the rather upbeat melody.

While I don’t know what’s to be happy about at this point, “Truth” is a rather optimistic track that utilizes acoustic guitar and fun rhythmic percussion to voice an incredibly pleasant melody. This same melody is repeated in a much slower and dreamy arrangement titled “Nostalgia,” which is a nice touch. “A Fun Time” features some lovely woodwinds and pairs them with staccato piano and string notes that are brimming with positive energy. It’s cheery and almost bubbly, which is a sound I’ve not heard from Otani.

Other positive tracks include “Robot Activity,” which is, as you can imagine from the title, one of the quirkiest titles on the album with its electronic drum beat, synthesizer accents, and strong timpani presence. This is certainly something I’d never expect. “Three People’s Promise,” on the other hand, is a sweet solo piano piece that is later joined by strings to create a really beautiful piece of music. Next, “Tenderness of an Older Sister and a Younger Brother” works in acoustic guitar and strings to create a slow and contemplative piece with some amazing harmonies.

As I mentioned, this journey is an emotional one, and Otani comes prepared. “Yuuki’s Loneliness” is one of the most moving pieces here with its defeated string and woodwind melody, while “Pleased to be Helpful” is another emotional cue featuring only strings. The strings in “Pleased to be Helpful” are masterfully layered over one another to create something I’d expect to hear in a concert hall. “Reunited with Family” really pulls the heartstrings as well with its long drawn out notes that swell with emotion. From here through to the end of the score, things get even more dramatic and emotional, but I don’t want to spoil the ending for you by listing the overly-descriptive track titles, so I suggest watching or listening on your own.

The last track is the closing theme, “M/elody,” provided by Shion Tsuji. She has a distinctive voice that sounds kinda… nasally, but good! I don’t know if that makes sense, but there’s something about her voice that I like. The track itself is alternative rock in style with a nice swing and is a whole lot of fun. It goes a long way to elevate your mood after all the dramatic music found towards the end of the soundtrack.

Overall, this is another impressive piece of work from Kow Otani. I can’t say I love it as much as Shadow of the Colossus, but then I haven’t seen Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 yet. This is definitely a drama, whereas Shadow of the Colossus was more of a fairytale adventure, and the differences in style between the two are reflected in each score. This is truly some great stuff, however, and I encourage you to check it out on Play-Asia if you’re interested in hearing what Kow Otani has been up to recently.

Are you a fan of any other works from Kow Otani? Have you been following Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and have any thoughts about the series?

[Special thanks to Chris Ling for translating the track titles]

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