How do anime composers write their music

Annand's Anime Parlor

I think it is important to familiarize myself with the original content or script of the series and come to truly understand the worldview that the title is describing, the overall flow of emotions, the characters' state of mind, and the atmosphere and tone of each scene. In certain ways, I believe that composing the BGM for a title is similar to working on the scenario of that title. It is not possible to compose something satisfactory without having a clear sense of the story and an idea of ​​how I want to describe each scene. - Yuki Kajiura (interview)

Even if you're not really familiar with anime composers, the name Yuki Kajiura should at least sound familiar to you, and even if not, I can assure you that pretty much everyone has seen an anime with one of their soundtracks. Sword Art Online is one of the first anime for a lot of people - myself included - and even then the soundtrack stood out for me, even if I wasn't really interested in music. The piece “Swordland”, for example, managed to give the scene in which Kirito fights with two swords for the first time such an epoch-making feeling that I cannot shake it off even now, although I no longer particularly value SAO.

Yuki Kajiura was born in Tokyo on August 6, 1965. Interestingly enough, however, she spent parts of her early childhood in our realms. To be more precise in Bonn and only as a teenager she returned to her home country Japan. Through her father, she came into contact with music at elementary school age and accompanied his singing on the piano, making opera and classical music a part of her life. In addition, she spent part of her school days in choirs and learned how much fun music is and in her high school she even composed pieces which were then sung in the choir.

Her musical career only really started in the 90's after she left her office job and became part of the group “See-Saw”. Shortly thereafter, in 1996, she made her debut as a composer with the soundtrack of the anime Kimagure Orange Road: Summer’s Beginning.

However, her big breakthrough only came at the beginning of the next millennium with her soundtracks for anime such as Noir and .hack // Sign. From there on, her path led her to some of the most famous anime of our time such as Sword Art Online or Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. In addition, her creations can be found in many of ufotables adaptations of the Type-Moon works such as Fate / Zero, Fate / Stay Night and the Kara no Kyoukai films.

In 2007 she also founded the band Kalafina, for which she works as a composer and arranger. The band found great success with their contribution to the Kara no Kyoukai soundtrack, which, as previously mentioned, was composed by Kajiura. However, I think that the band is much better known for many anime fans through a very specific song. I'm talking about the song “Magia” which is linked to one of the most famous anime plot twists in the third episode of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and from then on served as the ending song for the anime.

What fascinates me personally about their music is the great variety it offers. You definitely recognize their music every time you listen to them, as many of their soundtracks have a similar mysterious and slightly dark sound that is practically always supported by a choir. However, each of her soundtracks brings out the soul of the work she is working on and thus gets a unique sound. Be it the melancholy undertone of the Kara no Kyoukai soundtrack, the shining hope in the Madoka Magica soundtrack, or the almost epic feeling in the music of the Fate series.

The number of different instruments and styles she uses is another point in which she stands out from many other composers for me. Orchestral music, especially with violins, is clearly her main characteristic and can be found in practically every of her soundtracks, but it is always experimental and mixes, for example, electronic elements with orchestral to create a unique and memorable style. Monotonous melodies are also something I have practically never heard of her. The varying tempo and the use / break-off of individual instruments ensures the necessary variety even in longer pieces and makes your music so fun to listen to all the time. You always hear something new.

A long way from the soundtrack of Kara no Kyoukai, the music of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is my absolute favorite of hers. Perhaps this fact can only be broken down into the fact that I am a hopeful person and always think to myself that no matter how bad a situation is, everything will always get better. With that in mind, the music in this anime speaks to me on such a deep, personal level as probably nothing else in my life has, or will, ever do. This means that the individual pieces of this soundtrack also capture the theme of the anime with such a degree of perfection that is rarely heard. This shows how much work she invests in understanding a work and I think that Yuki Kajiura could only achieve this perfection through the seething passion for her own work that speaks from every single note.

Thanks for reading. In a way, this was a little experiment to see how well I manage to write about music that I have a deep passion for, as I never really felt that I could express myself well enough for it. So I would be happy if you could briefly leave your opinion here and maybe even tell me how you feel about Yuki Kajiura's music.

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