More of the Same: Shakugan no Shana OST

Lionrampant (Editor) — July 5th, 2011
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Kow Otani has composed soundtracks for a number of different shows, and each time he creates a score, he generally strives to create something different than what he has done before. For example, his music for Haibane Renmei is very different than his music for You're Under Arrest, which is different than his music for Ghost Slayers Ayashi. With the soundtrack for Shakugan no Shana, he once again produces a (mostly) different musical style, and yet, I feel like I have heard it all before.

The immediate thought that sprang to mind when I first listened to this album was that it reminded me a lot of the soundtrack to the Fate/Stay Night TV show. While the composer for that show is different, the style is generally the same. Many of the same flaws are evident here, as well. While the music on this album is technically good, and there are a few stand-out pieces, for the most part it doesn't mesh into a cohesive whole.

The album starts out on a high note with the track Shana, a nice synthesizer piece that manages to cover a range of emotions, and helps put the listener in the mood for some dramatic music. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there. What follows are a mix of synth tracks bouncing back and forth between dramatic pieces and mellower tracks. As the "dramatic" tracks tended to use unusual synth sound effects, I much prefer the "mellower" tracks, like La pensee ce qui est faible and Debut d'un jour. While the technical quality of the music is generally quite good (those annoying synth sounds aside), the end result isn't something that I really find myself wanting to sit down and listen to.

I did notice in the CD liner notes that the composer specifically mentions the dichotomy of the attitude of the show (high school romantic comedy juxtaposed with supernatural fighting) getting reflected in the music, which explains the constant jumping around of styles, as both the "dark fantasy" and "comical" aspects of the show got different musical styles. He also notes that he was trying for a "European sound," but I honestly don't know what that means. If the intent was to produce a sound like classical European orchestral music, this is nowhere near it. If the intent was to produce a sound like modern European pop music, this is nowhere near it.

Where the album started on a high note, it also ends on a high note, with the TV edits of the opening and ending themes. I freely admit that I greatly enjoy the opening theme, Hishoku no Sora, and consider it the best part of the entire show. The ending theme, Yoake Umare Kuru Shoujo is no slouch, either.

In summary, this album starts well, and ends well, but muddles through in the middle. There are only a small handful of tracks that really stand out, so unless you are a big fan of the show, you can safely pass on this album.