Saturday, August 12, 2006
I got this weeks ago but didn't say whether or not it was any good.
I actually obtained ALL of the Mai-HiME soundtracks, every single one, and not all of them are by Yuki Kajiura - same goes with the .hack//SIGN soundtracks, by the way. The only soundtracks I'm going to talk about, however, are those by Kajiura.
Chronologically, of Kajiura's soundtracks that I have, Noir is first, then .hack//SIGN, and lastly Mai-HiME. All three come in volumes of two, one for each 13 eps. Both Noir and .hack are very solid for the most part but I found there to be big gaps in Mai-HiME's soundtracks with songs that just... didn't fit.
Mai-HiME does sound like Kajiura's work - it has that ancient/new age/European sound that is especially envoked when the female vocals start in. Examples are "Canta Per Me" (Noir), "Key of Twilight" (.hack), and the "Ensei" songs (HiME), usually sung in either English or Latin. The good songs on the soundtrack are VERY very good. But the not-so-good songs on HiME's soundtracks are very very bad. More so than the other two series there are a lot of filler tracks, probably because HiME was not created by Bee Train - while Bee Train's director gives Kajiura free reign to do what she likes with the music for their anime, she probably had tighter restrictions for HiME.
Also, there is a WAY more lighthearted side to HiME, so there are a lot of those goofy, lighthearted sorts of songs that just don't withstand listening to outside of the anime environment. And perhaps the biggest thing that seperates HiME from Noir and .hack is the battle-tournament nature of HiME. While Noir has a MUCH higher body count, the gunfights were poetry and the music reflects this. HiME, however, serialized the fights and the music also reflects this with intense, heavy beat, electric-charged theme songs for the opponents. Also not quite withstanding listening to outside of the anime environment for the most part.
There are a ZILLION songs on these soundtracks, too! While there are 32 tracks between the two volumes of Noir and 39 between two volumes of .hack, there are 58 songs between two HiME albums. Again, much of it is filler.
What makes this set worthwhile, for me anyway, is the "Ensei" series of songs. I haven't seen HiME in over a year so I can't recall what it is the theme for, but there are 7 distinct versions of it between the two albums. "Ensei ~Omou Kokoro~" fits right in with the Noir soundtrack and indeed when I first started collecting anime music last year, I thought it WAS from Noir. Love this song! MMM! Also nifty is the "It's Only the Fairy Tale" instrumental version, without the awkward Engrish singing of the Alyssa Sears character - which can be endearing at times but sometimes you want to mix stuff together in a serious manner and this verison does the trick well, a classical guitar replacing the vocals.
So there you have it. While I still HIGHLY reccomend Noir above all else for soundtracks and .hack follows close behind, I found this set a bit disappointing for the amount of tracks there were, though there are a few jewels to round out any good Kajiura/anime soundtrack collection.