Arjuna Original Soundtrack: Onna no Minato

Yushiro (Former Staff) — May 18th, 2003
Text Size: smaller text normal text size bigger text

While the original soundtrack to Arjuna, Into the Another World, contained a great deal of fantastic music, the record can be a chore to listen to straight through, with its dramatic musical variances. Where Into.. failed to be a cohesive album, Onna no Minato, the second Arjuna album, makes up for in droves without sacrificing any quality whatsoever, in my opinion. The second soundtrack is indeed light listening, and those looking for more of what they heard on the first album may be disappointed to find few similarities. However, taking it for what it is, Onna no Minato is an absolutely superb record to kick back and allow to wash over you.

The album has an interesting duality to it. On one hand, nearly every song has an underlying melancholy, but is brought up in tone in each instance by some other form of instrumentation. Lilting indecipherable vocals bringing up a deep bass riff (Butter Sea, Veggie); a flute lighting across a guitar or other strings (Gold Fish, Shizukana Seikatsu); synth and percussion against other forms of synth and percussion (Mawaru Spoke); a beautifully played acoustic guitar against a cello (Didn't it Rain); and so on. In each case, it is an well blended balance, with neither aspect dictating tone to the other, and leading to a very atmospheric album. It is soothing without being lethargically so and active enough to stay interesting. (And without being as intrusive as some of the songs on Into the Another World are, as the stylistic changes are moderate and the tone remains largely the same.)

There are a few exceptions to this, but nothing so extreme as to throw off the wonderful flow the album has, and fit into it nicely themselves. One is a very traditional orchestral piece, with heavy string emphasis and light accents of percussion and piano. Enka features a skillfully played robust sax, that is drawn out and somber enough to balance well with the rest of the songs. Asura Jittakia also leans towards traditional methods, and is likely the liveliest and most dramatic song on the record. The vocals keep the song in check for a portion, but this is the one song that might be considered the flow-killer. Thankfully, though, it has crescendo (Girl with Power, mentioned below) and diminuendo (Teresa, a piano comedown) songs placed before and after it to lead in and out. The point being, as if the songs themselves were not already exquisitely crafted, the album as a whole is structured perfectly; even with songs that go against the overall grain.

Girl with Power is the one instrumental song I would focus on as my favorite from the record. It has a folksy vibe to it, with the flute lightly dancing to the rhythmic beat through the song, but is tempered from going too far in that one direction by a variety of strings, distant muted brass, and deep percussion, making for a hauntingly lovely song.

Pop goddess Maaya Sakamoto returns for two songs, Sanctuary and Saigo no Mameshiba, both generally reserved songs. Sanctuary, the true ending song to the entire show, and what I consider the musical epitome of Arjuna... I dare not defile by applying my poor words to - the audio sample awaits below. Saigo no Mameshiba is a remix of Mameshiba, the closing song found on Into... that I personally find to the superior to the original. The light j-pop feel of the original is replaced by an electronica/strings combination that comes of beautifully next to her voice.

(While on the subject of vocals, it is worth pointing out that this record is largely instrumental, with Sakamoto's pieces and a few spots by 'Gabriela Robin'. Into the Another World was rife with vocals, though, so I would reiterate that these are rather different types of albums.)

Like the first soundtrack, Onna no Minato has a hidden track. The song is entirely out of place on the album - and I should note that I am not including this song when I speak of the mild rifts in the tempo of the album, as this is beyond flow-killing. But I am glad it was included on one of the soundtracks nonetheless. I am speaking, of course, of the Appare Genki theme song from the major faux commercial in the show.

I don't know how to make it much clearer than this - Onna no Minato is top tier in light listening. Arjuna, Kanno, and Sakamoto fans have every reason to own this album, and everyone else will find it more than worthwhile. I could not even being to count the number of times I've become lost in this music. As has been stated profusely, it is not nearly as varied as the original soundtrack, and it would be best not to go into the album with any such expectations. Enjoy it for what it is, and it will reward you handsomely.