Ah! My Goddess: The Movie : Ah! My Goddess The Movie Original Soundtrack (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Lauren Goodnight
Date: Friday, May 14, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, April 08, 2003

What They Say
A must-have for fans of the movie and Ah! My Goddess in general! This original soundtrack contains 26 musical tracks and the bonus track: Cantilena Angel.

The Review!
Content: A
Audio: A-
Packaging: B-
Extras: n/a

Pioneer has delivered a slick, direct package for their product, showing the consumer an uncharacteristically happy Beldandy in the brightly colored film version of her goddess outfit as well as the title of the album. Sadly, the font and type are not nearly as eye-catching as Beldandy herself, and this works to the delivery's detriment. The disc itself is pleasing to the eye, with diminutive red text on a gold and silver background of one of the many pseudo-technical/religious designs, which is repeated under the disc itself on the case liner, visible through the clear plastic case. Upon close inspection, it looks like the colors in this part of the insert were not lined up QUITE right prior to printing, and the effect is a bit of a letdown for detail freaks like myself.

Upon opening the booklet, the aforementioned design is repeated as gray-and-white background fodder, as well as a church, a large and fuzzy picture of Yggdrasil, a pink, blue, and white moon scene, and finally, a view of the earth from the moon, reverting back to the earlier gray-and-white. Color screenshots of the principal characters from the film are liberally used as book-filler, some coming out very good and some looking enlarged and poorly aligned in the manner of the case liner.

Also, small blurbs in Latin grace most pages. A track listing is provided, as well as a brief blurb by Shiro Hamada, the composer, about his experiences during the production of this soundtrack. Included are translations and credits for "Love Lesson 3", "Recollection - Nostalgia", "Try to Wish - What You Need", and "coro di dea - Voices of Goddesses", however the original lyrics are not included, furthering the listener from the vocal music. Yes, we know what it means. Now help us connect with the song at its core with some Romanized lyrics! The back cover features Beldandy and Keiichi at the climax of the film.

Music Review:

This disc is notable for not only its distinguished composers, Shirou Hanaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy fame (where does Shiro Hamada fit in? More on that question later) but for its orchestra. The Warsaw Philharmonic has a long and distinguished history and is the National Orchestra of Poland. Having now played for over 100 years (the only break in performance having occurred during World War II from 1939-1947; the centennial celebration was held in 2001), the Warsaw Phil is considered not only Poland's leading musical institution, but one of the world's top symphonic ensembles. This, of course, excited me and spurred my listening. For more information on the Warsaw Philharmonic, please visit their website.

As this is my first time reviewing music for Animeondvd.com, I'd like to take a different approach and break down the album song by song, and then summarize the work as a whole.

1. Iuna Aeterna - The One Who Awakens You
This track introduces us to the composer's gentle hand as well as the Warsaw Philharmonic, conducted here by Mario Clemense. It is immediately evocative, beginning as a light, expectant piece which quickly swings the listener into suspense, fulfillment, and finally something soft that lies between determination and sad hope.

2. Dea Cantat - The Goddess Sings
A bare series of "la la la" vocals lifted straight from the film seem to be included here for the sake of completeness. After all, this is the film based on the series that boasts as one of its most popular songs a quick slice of Beldandy's bare vocals from a kitchen scene. By itself, this track has little weight, feeling like a misplaced lullaby. However, in the already heavy context of the film/soundtrack combination, it fits well.

3. Spring Unchanged
This shapes itself into a quick light song that relies first on the Warsaw Philharmonic's strong and versatile string section, and then on a lovely piano accent, to carry on a narrative. The brighter rhythm instruments such as chimes shine here.

4. Magister -Beloved Master
With an almost music box-like tone that expands through woodwinds and strings, Magister is a lilting waltz that is not only pleasant but nearly decadent. Perhaps I'm biased: there is no faster way to win me than with a waltz. The song gains a more sinister feel when the strings once again take center stage. This is also the first track to exhibit the use of synthesizers. The tension caused by the technology at the very end of this song (now no longer a waltz) is palpable?perhaps to subconsciously define the methods used by the culprit in the film to attack the goddesses' happy life?

5. The Fountain of Heart
More synth music here, but it is reminiscent (for me at least) of both the Totoro soundtrack and the fantasy films of the 1980's, most notably Legend, composed by Tangerine Dream. Piano is sprinkled in lightly.

6. Love Lesson 3
The first vocal track! Sadly, while I can read the booklet for a translation, I cannot sing along. This song literally bounces, and the quality of the vocal production is above average, with Ikue Otani (the voice of Sora in the film) plugging along with both tenderness and energy. This song exhibits both heavy synth and electric guitar, giving it just the slightest edge. Overall, a fun pop song.

7. Don't Expect
Strings here provide a backdrop and then a crescendo, but the woodwinds take the stage at first with a staccato opening. This piece is short, but it continues the mood set in "Spring Unchanged".

8. Wishing for a Bond
A lone piano opens here, and as soon as you feel intimate within the song, the whole orchestra gets in on the action, carrying along the narrative in a rousing fashion. I felt like I was free and hurried towards something quite happy. The decrescendo of the song is almost heavenly, flutes and soft strings. After a moment of silence, the piano returns, accompanied by a Spanish guitar.

9. Together We Can
The xylophone work here sounds like a music box?again, I return to that comparison. The guitar from "Wishing for a Bond" returns, slowly unraveling the theme melody of the film.

10. Believing Your Heart
This track begins in a bombastic fashion, continuing with what feels like a royal energy in the trumpets and building with deep, booming drums. This particular piece ends very abruptly.

11. Invidia - Swaying Heart
"Swaying Heart" is a wonderful title for this piece, as it evokes a sense of slow, back-and-forth motion, as with a willow tree, a demonstrative conductor, or a slow porch swing occupied by two sleepy lovers.

12. Recollection - Nostalgia
Beldandy's voice actress, Kikuko Inoue, lends her gentle voice to this beautiful song. I have played the English equivalent of one of her roles, Natsue Awayuki, in Pretear, and so again, I am biased here. Her voice is similar to mine, and so I really mourn the lack of Romanized lyrics. This is an easy-listening sort of ballad, very adequate and very expected within this frame of composition. It?s a very nice image song, and a non-intrusive break in the flow of the soundtrack. A note or two: her voice is lovely as usual, and I found the small spinnet solo at the beginning VERY unusual and entertaining!

13. Crystallus Mallus - Dark Shine
This song feels, at first, like Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, yet much more sad. Then a choppy piano/strings segment finishes this strangely tense track.

14. Celestin - Seditianis Auctor
Bell and choral sections alight through the beginning of this song. Strings and piano are here, but rather than making it a light track, these instruments add a very palpable gravity. A small break in the music is relieved by a more militant sounding segment, oddly appropriate to the character this song was named for.

15. Sealing the Feelings
The Spanish guitar is back to pluck a very naked tune with a single violin and flute. The three instruments quickly weave together to make a pleasant and down-tempo listen.

16. Ventus - Raging Goddess
The whole orchestra roars forth, and the drums and horns are highlighted to bring a truly sinister feel to this song. Each crescendo is followed with a little more energy, a little more sound. This piece was tailored to fit the film's particular scene, certainly, but it would be appropriate in any film with a suspenseful, frantic scene.

17. Wishing for Happiness
At once mournful and comforting, the woodwind section returns with the still-prominent flautist leading it in, over, and through the cellos and basses. Again, after a small break in music, the flow changes to a slightly more cheerful and yet still "pianissimo" song.

18. Morgan-Amor Tristis
The title of this translates very roughly to "sad love", and the character Morgan embodies that phrase. The emotions evoked by the piano solo are not unlike those in Robot Carnival's "Cloud" segment (music composed by Jo Hisaishi). The whole string section shines forth with a little help from a harp and the lead flute. This track could easily have felt muddled, but the production quality is near flawless. The waltz returns here, yet not so charmingly this time.

19. Whisper of Life
This track is JARRING. Mio Shionori's "la la la" against the piano background is enough to scrape the insides of my ears so deep as to find brain matter. Inoue, however, adds a few "la's" herself and helps heal the damage. Mercifully short.

20. Prospositum - Defying God
Horns strings, drums and crashing cymbals give an immediate and intricate sense of urgency, but these are halted by more synths that fade left and right in stereo. Again, the synth here is meant to represent the workings and weaknesses of Yggdrasil and the Goddess Network. The intense track continues with more from the whole orchestra, plodding forth in 4/4 time, towards a drum-heavy climax. Again, I have to point out that the sound quality is superb. The reason I can sit here and pick out individual instrument groups is that quality was not overlooked in this product.

21. Thor - God of Destruction
This track feels as though it belongs at the climax of a several-million-dollar Disney film. Anyone who is familiar with Disney orchestral scores knows this is high praise indeed. The booming drums push this song forward relentlessly, and the rest of the orchestra plays out the drama of the film.

22. Thundering Destruction
Here, synths and the orchestra meet. The synths hold up a staccato tempo through the beginning, in much the same way the drums in "Thor - God of Destruction" did, as it pushes the song forth into yet more heavy drumwork. All of this is overlaid with intricately composed and rolling instrumentation.

23. The Proof of Us
And here we find the sweeping, happy-ending music, and it truly does sweep. As the drums are no longer here, we see the Warsaw's more delicate harp again to great effect.

24. Coro Di Dea - Voices of Goddesses
Kikuko Inoue, Yumi Fuyuma (Touma? Fuyuma.), and Aya Hisakawa join forces for a lovely song in Latin. The Goddess Family Club strikes again? Hardly. This is not one bit pop, this does not bounce. This lush track is a victorious and well-orchestrated hymn. Now that I know this track is within my reach whenever I want it, it will become part of just about any playlist I make. This could have felt like a dry, bloodless affair, but instead it gushes forth with emotion and sincerity.

25. The New World Prelude
This instrumental gathers together the loose ends within the score and plugs them all in where they should be. It makes sense of the unresolved happy music box feeling that started to crumble with "Believing Your Heart" by tying it to the sweeping, sweet finality of "The Proof of Us". Well played, Mr. Hamada (which brings me to a small worry: Shiro Hamada is interviewed as the composer of the work, but in the back of the liner notes, Shirou Hamaguchi is credited as "Musical Composer". I researched this and found both men's names associated with the project but never in the same articles.)

26. Try to Wish - What You Need
This is the single that supported the film, and it is sung by newcomer Saori Nishihata. Her voice is pleasingly raw, and while the song itself threatens to overwhelm her vocals at times, her wide range, inviting harmonies, and tinges of vibrato are delightful. Again, the electric guitar gives this very radio-friendly pop track just the barest edge. I'd probably not buy this as a single by itself, but it is a very satisfying end to the disc.

27. Cantilena Angel (Song of an Angel)
This is labeled by Pioneer as the "Bonus Track". No translation or Romanization is provided in the liner notes. The title translates roughly to Angelic Women's Chorus, and that's exactly what it is. This is the track where all of Heaven's goddesses and their angels are singing together with the hope of saving the world. The instrumentation here is the string section, the harp, and a grand pipe organ, all of which do an excellent job of delivering and decorating the vocals, which are not credited. Is this the famed Warsaw Philharmonic Choir that we're hearing? This tune is, uncharacteristically for women's choral music, not carried by the sopranos but rather accentuated by their presence, relying on the altos and contraltos for bearing. The production here is good, but could be better, as I would have preferred a cleaner, crisper vocal transfer. This is a very fitting track to include, and a joy to listen to.

In summary, this disc is a well-rounded and complete soundtrack with high production values and some truly stellar moments. The story that plays out between the bassists and the flautist is as compelling as the fight between Heaven's goddess-"tech support" and Celestin's painful legacy. Throughout the album, the listener is treated to detailed and grand scenes that pluck at the imagination and conjure up scenes of both celestial bliss and very earthly conflict. I highly recommend this disc for all fans of the film and of modern orchestral composition.

Iuna Aeterna - The One Who Awakens You ,Dea Cantat - The Goddess Sings ,Spring Unchanged ,Magister -Beloved Master ,Fountain of Heart ,Love Lesson 3 ,Don't Expect ,Wishing for a Bond ,Together We Can ,Believing Your Heart ,Invidia - Swaying Heart ,Recollection - Nostalgia ,Crystallus Mallus - Dark Shine ,Celestin - Seditianis Auctor ,Sealing the Feelings ,Ventus - Raging Goddess ,Wishing for Happiness ,Morgan-Amor Tristis ,Whisper of Life ,Prospositum - Defying God ,Thor - God of Destruction ,Thundering Destruction ,Proof of Us ,Coro Di Dea - Voices of Goddesses ,New World Prelude ,Try to Wish - What You Need,Cantilena Angel (Song of an Angel)

Review Equipment
Total Length: 66:41

Age Rating: All
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 14.98
Aspect Ratio: 5183-2
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ah! My Goddess