Sound Wave of Stellvia
Being that I'm such a Stellvia fangirl, it was only inevitable that I'd get my hands on the primary Stellvia OST, sooner or later. I will say up front that this CD features one of the aspects that I hate on soundtracks -- a ton of tracks with running times under two minutes. Running at seventy-three minutes, and with forty-three tracks, you do the math.
Sound Wave of Stellvia open with Angela's "Brilliant Road to Tomorrow," the opening song to Stellvia. As always, the song is quite dramatic, introducing us to the space-romance story. My only complaint is that Geneon gives us the TV edited version, nothing that we haven't heard many times before. I'm a true believer in getting the actual, full-length opening and ending songs when I pick up a soundtrack, so this left me rather disappointed.
"Glittering Each Star," "In Search of Way," "Sense of Fulfillment," "Astro-Ball," "Farewell to..." and "Premonition of a breeze" are all variations of a single melody, first encountered in the second track. Instead of being repetitious, each track had its own charm, with "Astro-Ball" being the most comedic and over-the-top, while "Farewell to..." was a somber guitar and flute duet.
The climax of this album is track seventeen, "STELLVIA Anthem." A symphonic piece featuring strings and woodwinds, it creates a feeling of floating in the loneliness of space. Next, it ushers in a warm sensation of company and love within this void, while maintaining an epic tone from the first movement. It's a beautiful piece that serves perfectly as the signature theme of Stellvia.
Quiet piano instrumentals frequently occur in the early section of this CD, in particular with tracks twelve and thirteen, "Absence of Mind" and "Rumbling Heart." If the entire album consisted of songs such as this, I wouldn't mind listening to it in the car.
However, a large problem that I have with Sound Wave of Stellvia is that it encompasses the entire series, from start to finish, placing the tracks in order of their original appearance in the anime. If you are familiar with the series, you will be aware that Stellvia has two distinctively different story arcs. (I won't get into details, as I don't want to spoil the series for potential viewers.) All of the tracks after "STELLVIA Anthem" reflect the darker, more sci-fi tone of the second story arc, thus this album would have perhaps flowed better if it was divided into two CDs. Perhaps if this had been done, Sound Wave of Stellvia would have more of a sense of unity. As it is, it feels like I'm listening to an episode of the anime in the background, sans voice acting and sound effects. In a soundtrack, I like to get a sense of intention, that a sound editor or composer deliberately placed the tracks on the album as to convey a message. Sound Wave of Stellvia feels as if they just placed every single piece of music in the anime onto one CD. As a soundtrack to accompany the anime and to enhance your experience, this OST fails.
Tracks twenty-two ("Ova-avis Machine"), twenty-three ("Splendid Night") and twenty-five ("Jingle B-type") are martial pieces, with the electronic keyboard making an entrance on this album. It reminds me of 60's and 70's sci-fi TV shows, such as Dr. Who. Even with the repetitive rhythm to indicate stress, these songs are still melodic and interesting.
"Destination unknown," track thirty-one, is a great percussion piece, featuring the piano, the marimba, and various drums. This track is guaranteed to make drum geeks tap their feet. Tracks thirty-seven and thirty-eight, "Great haste" and "Make a fuss over..." sound like music for a circus or a parade, and they serve to uplift the rather bleak mood in the second half of this CD.
The last three instrumental pieces ("Yearning for the COSMOS," "Road to the star," and "Make a fresh resolve") are all epic in their scope. They make this album worth almost purchasing on their own merit, being on the level of a Final Fantasy OST. The romantic orchestral ending music of "Yearning for the COSMOS," taken down a notch in "Road to the star," is breath-taking, while the flute and guitar duet and reprise of "STELLVIA Anthem" in "Make a fresh resolve" softly closes the Stellvia anime. It makes me feel as if I had finished a really hard RPG, and now I can sit back and enjoy the credits running on the screen.
The album itself ends with Angela's "Beautiful Night Sky" and "The end of the world," two of the three ending songs for Stellvia. These J-Pop songs jump in abruptly after the melodious instrumentals, but I guess that the end of an OST CD is where the anime episode ending songs logically should go. Both are the TV edited versions, which again, gives fans of the anime nothing new. I guess if you enjoy Angela and you want to hear the full version of these songs, look for their own album.
I will say that I was pleased with the packaging. The cover features our heroine, Shima Katase holding Earth in her hands, with darkness surrounding her. My only complaint is that the loopy silver font of the title is plastered rather ungracefully across the bottom-center of the cover, ruining a great motif of Shima as Earth’s savior. The back cover contains a list of tracks enclosed within a ball of water, perhaps representing Earth. Inside the insert, the themes of space and water continue in the background artwork, as we have another list of the tracks, followed by the Japanese and English lyrics to Angela's three songs on this album, five pages of artwork from the series, focusing on the five themes of Stellvia -- friends, team, jealousy, family and love. Finally, we have some comments from composer Seikou Nagaoka and director Tatsuo Sato, as well as the production credits for the anime and this CD.
Overall, this is a good OST, despite the track layout and it giving me no desire to listen to the CD while commuting in the car. Sound Wave of Stellvia has a few great tracks alongside a lot of filler music that we really didn't need included on the CD. Fans of the anime will enjoy it, but they might want to purchase Angela's Sora no Koe ("Voice of the Sky") album in order to own full-length copies of the opening and ending songs. If you are new to Stellvia, however, this soundtrack will not inspire you to pick up the anime or upcoming manga, except perhaps for the last three instrumental tracks, which seem to indicate a great ending for Stellvia. We shall see if this musical prediction is true when the final DVD comes out.