Friday, July 30, 2010

The Music of Clannad

I'm a big fan of music overall, so when I watch an anime, I pay attention to the music.  And when I say music, I don't mean just the openings and endings.  I mean the background music: all those themes played in the background that add to the characters or the drama or just the feel of the show.  There are many anime soundtracks that I find to be stunning musically and that work perfectly with the anime itself.  For instance, Michiru Oshima's compositions (performed by the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra) for the original Fullmetal Alchemist portray excellently the tender brotherly love so important to the series and the harsh military reality that is ever present.  Tenmon's subtle piano work in Makoto Shinkai's films, especially Voices of a Distant Star (Hoshi no koe), are beautiful and add to the calm yet emotionally poignant aura of the films.  Then there's Susumu Hirasawa's intriguing electronic pieces, especially in the soundtrack to Satoshi Kon's film Paprika.  Finally, the soundtrack to Air, another anime based on a visual novel, from the same creators as those of Clannad, includes some gorgeous piano-based pieces, such as my favorite, "Natsukage."

But amid all of these wonderfully made soundtracks, Clannad stands out.  When you experience something emotional, your mind can connect different parts of the moment to that emotion, and I think Clannad's music does that.  On its own, it is beautiful, varied, and well-made.  After watching the show, listening to the music brings back all sorts of emotional memories, and then the power of the music transcends words.

The team of Shinji Orito, Magome Togoshi, and Jun Maeda created a stunning collection of pieces for the visual novel that were then worked into the anime (though some pieces might have been made only for the anime; I don't know for certain).  First of all, there are the character themes.  The heroines have their own pieces: Fuko has "Hurry, Starfish"; Kyou has "Like the Wind"; Tomoyo has "Her Determination"; Kotomi has "Etude pour les petites supercordes"; Yukine has "Tea in the Reference Room."  Shinji Orito (who wrote Fuko's,  Tomoyo's, and Kotomi's) and Magome Togoshi (who wrote Kyou's and Yukine's) did a great job capturing the spirit of each character in their individual themes.  But there's still one heroine's theme left, a theme which cannot be topped:

Nagisa's theme, simply titled "Nagisa," is possibly one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.  When just listening to the song, it may seem like a nice piano piece, but nothing too mind-blowing.  After watching the entire anime and truly connecting with the character, this song goes beyond powerful.  If you really felt emotion while watching this show, then I think this song will be connected to your emotion in an indescribable way.  That's just the power of it.  And you can thank Jun Maeda for this song; he created the scenario for the Clannad visual novel (along with Air and Kanon before it, among others), and he wrote some of the most beautiful songs from it; if you think about it, he's basically the creator of Clannad.

I think the majority of really powerful songs in Clannad where written by Jun Maeda.  He created such masterful pieces as "To the Same Heights" (which is the basis for a good part of the melody of the After Story opening song), "Distant Years," and the variations on Nagisa's theme, "Nagisa ~ Farewell at the Foot of the Hill" and the song from Episode 22 of After Story (which he also wrote lyrics to), "Chiisana Te No Hira."  He also wrote one of my other favorite songs from Clannad: "The Place Where Wishes Come True."  I especially like the second, longer version of it:

Now, I know I may be boring some of you with my ranting about music.  I'm sorry if I am.  But I love music, and I especially love the music of Clannad.  It is so powerful, beautiful, and emotional.  For me, Clannad is the most emotional series I've ever watched; it's the only thing I can ever remember watching that made me cry (and continues to make me cry); that means that the music is connected to that, for me, so the music is some of the most emotional music I've ever heard.  If you've watched all of Clannad, and you've felt genuine emotion during it, I'd encourage you to listen to the songs I've embedded in here, and maybe follow some of the links.  I think then you'd understand what I mean by the emotion connected to these songs.

And I can't end a post on an anime's music without discussing the openings and closings.  Here's the quick rundown: the opening of Clannad is "Mag Mell -cuckool mix-" by Eufonius; the ending is "Dango Daikazoku" by Chata.  The opening of After Story is "Toki o Kizamu Uta" by Lia, and the ending is "Torch" by Lia.  Personally, I like the openings of both (and I'll admit, the After Story opening is the better of the two), but I don't like the ending of After Story.  It's too happy and peppy for a show so heavy on drama.  After some of the truly emotional episodes (like Nagisa's death, Tomoya's reunion with Ushio, and the collapse of both of them in the snow), it feels terrible; I read one reviewer describe it as a "sin" to keep that song as the ending.  While that might be little extreme, I definitely dislike that song, and after those very powerful episodes, I even despise it.  But without a doubt, my favorite song from all of Clannad is the first closing: "Dango Daikazoku."  I think it sums up the show perfectly, and its melody is based on Nagisa's theme.  It's my official favorite song of all time.

Thanks for reading this informational rant.  God Bless, and peace.

Nota Bene: Image is from Google Image Search.  All videos were found on YouTube; I don't know the creators of these videos, and I did not ask their permission to link to them or embed them here.  If they run across this and wish me to remove their videos from this post, I will be sad, but I will comply with their wishes.

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