Rokka no Yuusha and Akagami no Shirayuki-hime are my two fantasy anime picks for this season. They’re set in very different fantasy worlds (the former appears to be inspired by the Mayan and Aztec civilisations, while the latter draws from European fairytales), but both convey a sense of wonderment and majesty that is difficult to encapsulate in words. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the two series share the same soundtrack composer – Michiru Ooshima, one of the most talented ladies in the business.
If you’ve seen an anime with an Ooshima soundtrack (Fullmetal Alchemist, Xam’d: Lost Memories, etc.) you’ll know what to expect: grandiose, heavily orchestrated themes with some well-placed synthesisers. My personal favourite soundtrack of hers has to be Zetsuen no Tempest’s – never has an anime’s tone complemented Ooshima’s musical style so perfectly.
Rokka no Yuusha and Akagami no Shirayuki-hime stack up pretty well against Ooshima’s multi-award winning record. Out of the two, I’d say I prefer Akagami no Shirayuki-hime a little more. This might have something to do with the fact that the musical cues are very well-timed in the anime. The opening scene featuring Shirayuki running through the forest is magical precisely because the soundtrack is more restrained elsewhere. Mad props to the sound director Kazuhiro Wakabayashi (who also, coincidentally, worked on Zetsuen no Tempest).
This isn’t to scoff at Rokka no Yuusha, though. The music injects a sense of epic scope into what might otherwise feel like a rather generic fantasy premise. The scene in the first episode where Adlet receives the mark is a particular standout. It is far and away the most viscerally impactful scene in the anime so far.
Rokka’s soundtrack is arguably more memorable as well. The bombastic music certainly stands out more to the casual listener. And it’s so unabashedly straight-faced about its epicness, too. If the music can get me to take a bunny girl 100% seriously in the context of the plot, it must be doing something right.
In the end, it’s hard to decide which soundtrack is better overall, because both sound great and are extremely well-utilised. Perhaps it simply comes down to genre preferences. I like the whimsical sound of Akagami no Shirayuki-hime because I’m a big fan of prominent oboe parts, especially when they’re accompanied by light strings. I also simply prefer the light-hearted, Disney-esque feel of Shirayuki-hime in general. I’ve always had a sweet spot for Disney princesses, and this series scratches my shojo itch.
In any case, suffice it to say that Ooshima has done it again. I don’t think she’s produced a soundtrack that didn’t stand out to me in some way. She really needs more love.
Finally, how can I finish a post about one of my favourite anime composers without mentioning my favourite song of hers? As flawed as the story of Patema Inverted was, its theme song was really something special.
So, my readers, what do you think of Michiru Ooshima’s music? If you’ve seen Rokka no Yuusha or Akagami no Shirayuki-hime, what did you think of them? Yay or nay?