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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Toshio Masuda, the composer of..

Not as easy as I found out Hajime Mizoguchi's work when I only listening it (Jin Roh, Escaflowne), Toshio Masuda played in very different way when he composed for Naruto and Mushishi. This is actually easy to understand due to the difference of anime genre. Naruto -- take a story where the characters act seriously but also funny and enrich with battle scenes. The story itself is pretty light that makes children under 13 years old can follow. In contrary, Mushishi is a more serious story where the drama take more spaces. It doesn't contain a very dramatic chill scene, instead, it looks like a slow flowing river which at the end, always left you with a heavy and deep feel. This - thanks to Masuda - made Mushishi has its own emotion to share.

Naruto - the various feeling

Listening to Naruto's score, from the first to the third seasons - was quite fun. Some of the score sounded like a game score. The other sounded as jazz, gothic/baroque period, rock, ambiance, and easy listening. Not to forget, some of them had tunes like chinese and indian music. The jazz influence could be heard at Kakashi's Theme. The jazzy, lazy sound of saxophone was successfully giving a scent of Kakashi's character - a lay back person with sleepy eyes. The 'gothic' sounds mixed with India style singing were noticed in Orochimaru's Theme. It gave sense of horror. Among non-japanese anime lovers, this score is called as one of the best score in Naruto (I personally made a question about Naruto's score people like in Grief and Sorrow as Sandaime Sarutobi's funeral score was influenced by chinese tunes and sounded very sad (and I played this score in Music Demo of JIPS,.. but that's another story ^_^ ) like your heart become the sorrow itself. However, I felt not satisfy with his work on Naruto. Overall, I felt that only some scores that really worth it to hear.

Mushishi - deep, chill sounds

Though the sounds here are easy listening, I think he successfully created a lightly and deeper feel. The use of XG keyboards, triangle, some of traditional instruments, created the sense of quiet place and mystery. Accompanied with a clear and simple tunes. Ame ga Kuru Niji ga Tatsu (Rain Falls, Rainbow Comes) was a good sample of it. The sound of horror and mystery can be heard on Yama Nemuru (Sleeping Mountain) and Tsuki Kasa. Tsuki Kasa was interesting score, not only because it was short but I can say it contains no tunes. Only percussion and its family (triangle, etc). The influence of traditional instruments were clearly used in Kehai. I sense he used gamelan (javanese traditional instrument) -- if not, then he probably use japanese instruments. I pick Kehai as one of my favorite score. Mabuta no Hikari and Kago no Naka gave you the relax and light feeling.

It is interesting to hear Masuda's work in Mushishi. The story where Ginko - the main character - lived was a traditional Japan. You can see that all supporting characters were using kimono and living in traditional houses. Only Ginko who wore modern fashion. Wikipedia explained that there was no information why he dressed like that. Just like what Masuda did in Naruto, seemed he also tried to fit with Ginko. Not only from his fashion, but also his manner and his past. As Ginko was an objective person, a clear mind, and compassion, he was also a lay back type who will get serious when needed. His past was mystery, though there was flashback about his past. Maybe these are the reason why Masuda took easy listening style for Mushishi. That's my opinion.

As an epilogue, I admire Masuda. He simply masters various type of music -- jazz, club/ambiance, traditional, rock, etc. He thought on how to fit the music to the characters. He created special music for special scenes. Especially in Mushishi, non of his work had repeated tunes from other title (variation). がんばれ、ますだーさん

(2008/5/04 as written in mitayashi の 前)

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