(Update1) Soundtrack Review: 進撃の巨人 Attack on Titan Original Soundtrack

(Update 11 Aug: Shots of the physical CD)

I was first recommended Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) by a friend who gave me the English title sometime around early May. After which, another friend shared several photos of fanart depicting several characters from the series under Shingeki no Kyojin. It did not occur to me that they were speaking of the same show until I finally laid hands on Episode One later that month.

My friend who was on exchange for a year came back recently and helped me buy the CDs. So happy. 🙂 

My first impression was traumatic, grotesque, cruel, and crude. This was not what I had in mind for an anime. I wanted to pull the plug on it immediately.

Hang on, my brain countered. Give it another chance. It might get better. Nope, more people continued to get chewed up; the military continued to display its inadequacy to manage both enemy and internal affairs; and I was still tsk-ing in disgust. And this is after spoiling myself with information from Wikipedia.

Pop-up CD art; and that’s as creative as the CD sleeve gets. 

Still I pressed on and continued to watch the series until Episode 16 where it is at present.

I will be lying if I said the storyline had a very small part to play in drawing me into its world (seriously. Why anyone could stomach animating humans get eaten alive, let alone watch them, is a mystery to me and something I never want to witness in my life). But a large part of it was the amazing animation sequence, which to me displayed a distinctive edge and unparalleled clarity and detail unknown back in the day.

And then there’s the soundtrack.

The backing tracks were laid out at all the right places, both instrumental and lyrical. The collaborations between the various artists and the series’ main composer Sawano Hiroyuki (澤野弘之) may be choppy when heard individually, but when played out according to their respective scenes… I mean, if you want epic, this has it by the truckloads. Even the title track names are epic (Hello? 凸】♀】♂】←巨人? Who does that?!).

The map of track list. 

As much as it did make the show more compelling, hearing the music by individual track made it more awkward than a pleasant, seamless experience. Yes, there were powerful hope-slash-mystery-and-uncertainty-slash-all-or-nothing tracks such as 立body機motion and XL-TT; tracks like cóunter・attàck-m’ænkάɪnd depicting some form of new discovery or epiphany; and not to mention thoughtful, inward-seeking searches for one’s own humanity through eye-water and Vogel im Käfig. Yet, with songs such as The Reluctant Heroes and DOA in between, one can’t help but feel a slight disruption to the flow of the experience. Again, not that it hasn’t worked in the anime; but perhaps it might make more sense if it had been released as a second CD compilation (with more comprehensible lyrics). While it is unfair to compare Sawano’s works with the likes of the legendary Kanno Yoko (Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell SAC, Wolf’s Rain) and Hisaishi Joe (the composer synonymous with Miyazaki Hayao’s works), one can’t help but feel he’s trying a little too hard to create the same effects of an unforgettable audio journey like them, when he could have simply channeled his focus towards his compositions which are already good.

Foreward/introduction by Sawano-san.

Nonetheless, the Shingeki no Kyojin franchise has never failed anyone who has been a part of it. And with the many twists and turns this show has to offer, the flaws in the soundtrack may be easily forgiven.


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