Studio Ghibli: A Cappella Songs
Many times, a rearranged soundtrack can make all the difference in remembering a song, be it for the better or worse. Songs can be made grander, cooler, quieter, or remain entirely unchanged. In Studio Ghibli's case, their songs have all been seen in the form of original soundtracks, image soundtracks and symphonic arrangements. This time, the Studio Ghibli A Capella Songs album adds a new and remarkably fresh sound to these well-known songs -- voices. With the whole album performed entirely a capella, I was blown away by the emotions involved, and my perspective of what these songs mean to me was changed instantly.
Of course, it helps if the singers are good, and believe me, they are very good on this album. Blending male and female voices, the singers possess sublime voices capable of creating new emotions in a snap. Such versatility means that the songs that they sing can switch tone unexpectedly. While it sounds bad on paper, trust me on this, it is an experience that you must have. There is a great variety of songs present here, many from the old Ghibli films that we all know and love.
The album begins with "Kimi wo Nosete," the theme song from Laputa. Here, they emphasized on the grandness that the entire film had, and the female vocals leave a very haunting feel behind. This continues with the ending song from Spirited Away, "Itsumo Demo." While originally a lullaby, it becomes rather pop-like in this version, while retaining the innocence of the original. "Toki ni wa Mukashi no Hanashi" of Porco Rosso follows, the original version being one of my favorite anime songs of all time. This arrangement is a more powerful rendition, with the female lead showing off her vocal range, amidst a quiet background chorus. I liked how this song got jazzy towards the end.
"Kaze no Tani no Naushika" from the movie of the same name is a much faster version of the original. It's an old-school ballad, and the vocals do not disappoint. The next track is "Rouge no Dengon" from Kiki's Delivery Service, and it is one of the highlights of the album. Cheeky and light, the song playfully floats like the film itself. Although short, it will definitely put a smile onto your face. A very slow version of "Country Road" comes next. From the film Mimi Wo Sumaseba, better known to English-speaking fans as Whisper of the Heart, this song has very impressive chords that merge seamlessly with the rest of the arrangement. While slow in the beginning, it gains momentum towards the end, before crashing into a grand climax.
A very familiar tune appears next, one that most anime fans should be able to pick out. A drum plays here, as in the original version of "Sanpo" from Tonari No Totoro. When the voices take over, it becomes definitely corny, but the group simply takes it in stride, creating something fun and playful. A much groovier version follows of "Yasashisa Ni Tsutsumaretanara," the ending song of Kiki's Delivery Service. A drum beat accompanies the singers as they change the normally country-like tune into a pop song. Another favorite song, "Tonari No Totoro" is exactly like the original version! Even without the instruments, the carefree nature of the song is still very evident. This is a song that speaks of warmth and heart, which is heard many times over in this arrangement. The last song is a lilting, ghostly rendition of "Mononoke Hime" from the movie of the same name. It starts off soft, but it gains strength with every stanza, the vocals getting stronger and more haunting as time goes by. The song speaks of sadness and raw emotion, and it is conveyed here, making for a suitable end to a marvelous album.
Studio Ghibli A Capella Songs is a fantastic re-working of past Ghibli themes that have captivated listeners all over the world for years. While definitely different, this album has managed to capture the essence of these songs, while incorporating new emotions into them for a very changed sound. This is an album that I would highly recommend for any Ghibli fan.