Soundtrack of the Month 12/2008: Romeo x Juliet Original Soundtrack

December 1, 2008 | | 7 Comments Share thison Facebook Soundtrack of the Month 12/2008: Romeo x Juliet Original Soundtrackon Twitter

Last month we highlighted the music of Yoko Kanno, a composer famous for her work on various anime series. This month, we take a step in the opposite direction with Hitoshi Sakimoto’s score for the anime Romeo x Juliet. Sakimoto is known for his contributions to Final Fantasy XII, Odin Sphere, the recently released Valkyria Chronicles, as well as the upcoming action RPG Muramasa: The Demon Blade, and he’s often praised for his lush orchestrations and impeccable attention to detail. Does this trademark sound translate over into the world of anime? Well, there’s a reason it’s the soundtrack of the month.

Find out why after the jump.

Romeo x Juliet premiered in April of 2007 in Japan, and quickly garnered an Internet following overseas. It was subsequently licensed by FUNimation Entertainment with a tentative 2009 US release. The series features a twist on the classic Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, while taking quite a few liberties in an attempt to flesh out the story. As a result, Gonzo, the studio responsible for the series (who you may remember from our Blassreiter coverage), managed to create a universe that could be easily mistaken for a Japanese RPG. What would be more fitting than to have it scored like one? This task was left to none other than veteran game composer Hitoshi Sakimoto, and he doesn’t disappoint. With his first major foray into scoring Japanese animation, Sakimoto contributed a total of 31 pieces which were used throughout the series 24 episode run.

The first track “Tragedy in House of Capulet,” commands a bold introduction with its sweeping strings and brass. Not only does it provide the right atmosphere for the scene in which it takes place, but also foreshadows the overall theme of tragedy portrayed in the series. The next track on the CD is the main theme, Lena Park’s pop ballad “Inori~ You Raise Me Up,” which is an arrangement of the inspirational piece “You Raise Me Up,” popularized by various singers including Josh Groban. The song contrasts the overall theme of tragedy and reminds us that even though Romeo and Juliet is tragedy, it’s a love story as well.

“Neo Verona” sounds almost as if it belongs in Final Fantasy Tactics, starting with a moving string section led by an oboe, followed soon after by sweeping strings, flute flourishes, and moving brass. It paints a picture of a bustling city with ease, and alludes to its grandiose nature by finally building to an end with thick brass. “Revolution” provides a great sense of sneakiness with it’s clever use of bells, strings, harp runs, and a number of suspenseful builds that leave you wondering what will come next.

Several main motifs make their appearance throughout the series with varying arrangements. One such piece is the piano solo “Unexpected Encounter,” which provides a very simple piano interpretation of the love theme. Perhaps my favorite arrangement of that theme is “Contact” which starts with a harp and bells, and then slowly layers strings and brass into what could almost be described as a waltz. It’s easy to believe that the entire soundtrack is filled with love songs, as I’ve merely touched on a few select pieces. I assure you there is more to it, from dark and brooding to mysterious. Considering it was arranged with a live orchestra, it certainly runs the gambit.

Since this series aired, Sakimoto has continued to produce music for both games and animation. He recently finished work on the animated series The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk, also produced by Gonzo. His current game projects include the scores for both RIZ-ZOAWD and Muramasa: The Demon Blade for the DS and Wii respectively. We’ll no doubt be hearing more from him in the future, and I can’t wait. I personally feel his works are top notch and if I had my way, he’d score every new anime series. You can still pick up the Romeo x Juliet soundtrack at CD Japan.

Do you share my love for this soundtrack, or Sakimoto’s work in general? Don’t hesitate to let us know.

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