Arjuna Original Soundtrack: Into the Another World

Yushiro (Former Staff) — May 18th, 2003
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Chikyuu Shoujo (Earth Maiden) Arjuna struck to my core like few other anime shows have, its magnificence being aided in no small part by the accompanying score and associated vocal songs. The original soundtrack, Into the Another World, collects most of the more memorable instrumental works, along with most of the vocal songs. There is a more than healthy amount of material on the album, standing at more than an hour of music, and this clearly is the definitive collection of music from Arjuna. (But I would also ensure that you not overlook the second album, Onna no Minato, which I consider to contain equally magnificent material, and as shall be made evident, a better listening experience.) Considering the quantity of music, and how long-winded I tend to be anyway, I shall only touch on a few themes and making passing mention of most songs, though I would mention that I don't mean to slight anything here through lack of a mention. As anyone who has seen the show should know and to put it simply, the music is remarkable.

The music makes liberal use of vocals in most of the songs, seen mostly in the form of chanting. This can range from the marvelously stirring, such as in Kakusei (sampled below) and Chikyuu Kyoumei, to something more primal and forcefully disquieting, as used in Clone. While I find myself head over heals for the first style, the second is a prime example of the single issue I have with the album - the large variances in style lead the album to have a disjointed feel, with some songs being more invasive than others, leading to rises and falls in my listening experience. To be perfectly honest, I wrote off a number of songs because of this, such as the choired Toki no Shizuki, the generically folksy Before Breakfast, and aforementioned Clone. The undulations are far from the worst I have witnessed on a record, but their presence is strongly felt nonetheless.

(As a bit of a tangent, I'm reminded that I am reviewing soundtracks, with music crafted for specific purpose (or at least with a thought to purpose in mind) within a show. And that with varied purposes come varied instrumentation, some of which I can appreciate musically and in terms of the show, but not really enjoy otherwise. Unfortunately, a fair number of songs on the record fall under this in the case of Arjuna. Regardless, it may be beneficial in that I end up viewing Arjuna as greater than the sum of its parts or taking one aspect into account too heavily, and looking more to the overall effect.)

Turning to lyrical vocals, songs from the lovely Maaya Sakamato are include, such as the somewhat overused ending theme Mameshiba (the only song I would accuse of being overused in the show, outside of the usual 'battle/tension' theme Chikyuu Kyoumei), as well as the insert song Bike. The latter is easily one of my favorite songs from her, if not the single one I favor the most. There are several songs from the childlike Chinatsu Yamamoto as well, which I consider to be the cream of the crop as far as the record goes. Her inclusions are Cloé (the song playing during the fateful sunset ride at the beginning of the show), Early Bird (an occasional opening song), and Kuuki to Hoshi (a near-a cappella with haunting sound effects in the background). Lastly, "Gabriela Robin" herself performed a few songs in the form of Diving (the most familiar of the chanted songs, and certainly a wonder of compositional harmony), Aqua (a song I end up with mixed feelings on, for its half-despairing, half-comforting tone), and the truly gorgeous Omega Blue, which may be heard below.

To touch on a few more notable instrumentals, guitars both acoustic and electric are given prominence in a number of songs. Though Diving saw a fast-paced interlude of the acoustic, Second Life allows it to flow out as I'm used to hearing it. Though contributing to the rises in pace mentioned earlier, the driving electric guitar work with an almost hard-rock edge in Aerobic and Time to Die remain a thing to behold in their own right. (As talented as Kanno is, the musicians playing under her deserve much credit - true skill and heart is shown throughout the record, especially in the guitar work.)

Finally, there is an unlisted track tacked onto the end of the record. For ease of reference, it is generally given the title of the record, but it is essentially an instrumental version of Mameshiba. I find myself enjoying this more than the original, mostly because it captures the beauty of the music itself without Maaya's forceful voice. (But I must admit to liking the version on Onna no Minato - with Sakamoto's vocals - more than both versions on this record.)

I should like to note that there are a number of pieces missing from both records, which is understandable considering the sheer amount of music crafted, and already featured across two records, but a shame considering the quality of the missing work. I know of four songs as least, including a charming vocal piece at the beach in episode nine, and a stirring song played towards the end of the first bout with the Raaja in episode thirteen.

In the end, Arjuna contains some truly brilliant aural delights, and I would recommend Into the Another World (and Onna no Minato) just as much as I recommend the show itself. I may have not found myself captivated by every song as casual listening, but the majority is worth every moment of your time and every dollar spent on acquiring this soundtrack.