There are two soundtracks for Earth Maiden Arjuna:
*This is a freaking STEAL at $2.96 on Amazon!
(click on the picture or the title to purchase – affiliate link)*
and Onna no Minato (Kind of a weird cover…)
You can get this at CDJapan for $14.88 (not an affiliate link)
*NOTE: This review is only for Into the Another World, though I intend to listen to Onna no Minato at some point, too, because I just know it’s gonna be awesome.
*Persons of note:
Yoko Kanno/Gabriela Robin
Stick with me long enough and you will come to find out that I am an avid fan of The Holy Trinity -> Yoko Kanno-Maaya Sakamoto-Iwasato Yuuho.
Thus, the following will surprise no one – the soundtrack for Earth Maiden Arjuna might be one of the best anime soundtracks I’ve ever heard.
Why aren’t people still talking about its genius? Is it because Yoko Kanno (esp. when paired with Maaya Sakamoto and Iwasato Yuuho) is always genius and thus it’s become everyday? Or is it because, beyond the OPs and the EDs, few really think about the whole body of music that supports an anime, or consider that it might be an entity unto itself – where it could actually be better than that which it supports? One could posit that it simply as slipped from memory due to age, but could the same be said about The Beatles? The 50th anniversary may have passed just last year, but come on, really, who doesn’t know anything about the legendary band that has influenced modern music so greatly?
Oh. My. God. Well, that sucks.
Let’s get onto the review!
*OP and ED:
“Sanctuary” (ED) is the winner and the not-quite-loser is “Mameshiba” (OP).
I actually have less to say about “Sanctuary” because there isn’t really anything to complain about. So, how about “Mameshiba”, then?
Mameshiba – The OP – HOLY CRAP THAT BASS LINE IS HOT. It starts out really nice, with a feel of 90s alterna-pop with the rough acoustic guitar work that lasts through the end of the first verse. Sadly, the chorus just sounds like a completely different song – like some light adult contemporary sadness. And I get it, it’s an OP – it’s gotta hit certain points so that there’s a piece of music less than 1:30 that they can use – and you can hear exactly where that segment is. I’ve never seen Earth Maiden Arjuna (not yet, anyway), but I can already visualize exactly what the opening animation looks like and what part of this song was used. It is actually pretty tragic ‘cause they had a seriously cool jam going on with this song. Overall, this song is a pretty mixed bag. But then comes that end…..sounding just like a bike ride on a summer evening where all of a sudden, before you know it, you and your friends are racing to see who can go the fastest, with a coral sunset as the backdrop. And I start to think that I love the it…
*Music: 9 / 10
Takeaway: One point taken off for the lyrics; otherwise, an outstanding sonic experience – lush and strange and adventurous. The mixing is fantastic – not necessarily perfectly balanced, but it’s because of this you actually experience some of the tracks as almost 3D. Also, you’ll want to make sure you use a good set of earphones that know how to treat a sick bass line the way it deserves to be treated.
So trite, but seriously, there is a journey to be taken here, if you are into that kind of thing.
The earbuds I use – Panasonic RP-HJE280-A
Wikipedia says that Kanno “used Indian music as partial inspiration…” – it’s definitely there, but just not how you might necessarily expect. Think of it more as…hmmm…the chai flavor you might get from a dirty chai (chai latte w/a shot of espresso), but somehow the espresso flavor is stronger…
In songs like “2nd Life”, I get more of a Celtic music feel than Indian, but perhaps that speaks to the more earthy nature and folk roots of the tracks, rather than a direct representation of any said musical tradition.
“Diving” certainly achieves the feeling of just that. In fact, the guitar work makes one feel the surface of ocean water moving further away as the air bubbles float up past you and the bass line harkens whatever it is that you are getting closer to – You are a much cooler Little Mermaid. (pic)
“Awakening” delivers some really satisfying, crunchy guitar work combined with strings, too, that I just adore.
*Lyrics: 3/ 10
Takeaway – While generally bland, I will still be singing the songs in the shower once I learn the words. Iwasato Yuuho is a PHENOMENAL lyricist, responsible for two of my all-time favorite songs “Kiseki no Umi” and “Hemisphere” – songs which have exponentially greater wordsmithing, so the songs for this soundtrack are forgettable, at best.
A short comment regarding “Bike”: I almost expect to hear this, without vocals, being played in the lobby of a classy, upscale hotel…it feels nondescript, yet creamy and luxurious at the same time. The lyrics themselves are pretty standard fare, but they fit.
Both Bike and Mameshiba are great at building intensity; however the lyrics for both are like mashed potatoes without salt and pepper, or even butter; flavorless.
If you are interested, you can check out the some English translations of the lyrics I’ve done here:
Highlight: Songs with words from artificial languages
Yoko Kanno is well known for this, and doing so here is just as effective as ever in creating that sense of the epic and unknown. Early Bird, in particular – sounding of the holy and ethereal and childlike – makes me think of The Childlike Empress from The Never-ending Story.
Favorite Song: “Cloe”
Overall score: 8/10
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Have you listened to this before? What was your opinion? Leave a comment below!