An OST In Review

Hey, can people guess what I picked up today?  Hint: It’s not the latest whatever Idol just released a CD, CD.


It’s The Gundam 00 OST


With BGM



Yes, I picked up the Gundam 00 OST off of, and somehow despite the fact that about a quarter of the songs (of which there are 22) on it are actually the same Celestial Being theme remixed with a different tempo or instrumental accompaniment, it still manages to be more listenable than about 95% of the BGM Ost’s I’ve come across in recent years.  How is that possible?  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it features real instruments.  Note that I am a massive synth fan so don’t take this as an assault on synthesizer music, but Japan just hasn’t been paying much attention to it’s BGM in the last few years…..period.  It’s all about the Idol Single lately, that is your song, that is what you are going to promote, that’s it.   Not so much here though.  Quite the opposite actually.

My plan is to give a quicky description and my thoughts on each song and to assign it a score so that people can gauge for themselves a little bit whether they want to consider picking it up or not.  Here goes:

1. Exercise: This is the song played during the AEU’s test of the Enact in the very first episode and has a bit of a Celtic twist to it.  Like all songs on the CD it also features a significantly on the percussion, but doesn’t hold bake on the strings and brass.  I also believe there is an Organ Piano in there.  Anyway, it is one of my favourites on the OST and when it ended up be the first thing I heard when I watched that first episode of Gundam 00 I breathed a sigh of relief.  Gundam (actually more like Sunrise) still refuses to give up the use of orchestral music even in it’s twilight as far as anime is concerned.

Kaio’s Score: 9.5/10

2. Unknown: It’s most recent use was when Dr. Eifman got the “You have witnessed too much message” and it begins on an ominous brass note before heading off into a fast paced tempo featuring percussion and strings.  I think the title unknown fits the song pretty well as it conveys that feeling that something bad, but well…unknown is headed towards you.  It also has a really abrupt ending which is pretty cool.  It’s as if to say that unknown entity has arrived and something horrible has come to pass.

Kaio’s Score: 8/10

3. Alarm Bell:  If you’ve been watching the show you know this one.  trust me.  It’s the one that features the choir and has a slow paced strings portion and uses the bass drum (most of the other songs use a snare).  By the way, all the songs have a sort of military march feel to them, which is grand because I love marching songs to death and they fit the series militaristic theme quite nice.  See this concept of matching the music to the series Japanese Studios?  We could all learn a bit from this OST I think.

Kaio’s Score: 8/10

4. Intervention: This is basically Alarm Bell only with a much faster tempo and brass in place of the choir portion of the song for the first part.  The choir comes in later, but the song now has a marching band style beat.  I actually prefer this one to Alarm Bell to be perfectly honest.

Kaio’s Score: 9/10

5. Innovation: I would best describe this as having an Industrial feel to it, on top of sounding like it belongs in the next Metroid game.  Again it features a choir, but it’s not just another remix of Alarm Bell.  The choir is actually at the forefront of the song, but you can also hear what sounds kind of like a Shamisen at one point.  It manages to convey to convey the futuristic feeling of the overdeveloped and industrial 00 Universe while at the same time using very traditional instruments.  Very nice indeed

Kaio’s Score: 8.5/10

6. Power: Not really all that powerful or compelling.  It’s yet another remix of Alarm Bell that lies somewhere between the tempo of Alarm Bell and Intervention, but lacks anything really unique.  Neither slow nor fast, nor really all that remarkable.

Kaio’s Score: 3.5/10

7. Attack: Really slow version of Alarm Bell (Fuck! AGAIN!) with only an ominous chord and the choir.  It’s funny because it doesn’t really sound like it would be played when there’s an attack going on so the title really doesn’t describe the song very well at all.  It’s still more unique then Power though.

Kaio’s Score: 4/10

8. Turn Back: It’s Alarm Bell yet again, but it’s slightly reworked now, almost corrupted.  It features only brass and strings in the beginning with a really ominous chord playing in the background before the choir kicks in, also slightly corrupted from normal.  The tempo is slower, it’s kind of warbly and I think it’s supposed to convey the point when Celestial Being’s mission starts to take on a more obviously sinister tone (See episodes 16 and beyond) and the Meister’s either have to call it off now or see it through.  We all know which option they chose…

Kaio’s Score: 6.5/10

9. Windless: A Piano song with a depressing atmosphere.  Starts of with only strings, but then the brass kicks in.  I really like this song as it sort of heralds how Gundam 00 has been the return to the darker Gundam series of yesteryear (The last time a Gundam series has been this dark was in 1993’s Victory Gundam).  In fact it kind of sounds like a Victory Gundam song now that I think of it.

Kaio’s Score: 9/10

10. Tension: The ominous chord is back (if someone can tell me what that instrument is that would be awesome) with a very slow tempo and long notes.  I don’t know really how to describe it, but the song sure does it’s job of making me feel uneasy and tense.

Kaio’s Score: 8.5/10

11. Setsuna: This is probably my favourite song on the OST.  It has a Middle Eastern twinge to it without sounding annoying in the process (on the contrary it’s quite relaxing) and is one of the only songs on the OST to feature Woodwinds.  This is the kind of song you’d here in Chrono Cross or one of those old Settlers games.  It conveys the feeling of something that is lost and unrecoverable, much like the basis of Setsuna’s character who is constantly losing his pillars of strength to the ebbing and flowing of time in a world gone increasingly and more rapidly mad.

Kaio’s Score: 10/10

12. Union:  Another great military march song.  Lots of trumpets and flare.  I like to think this is Graham Acre’s personal theme song.  It also has a rather fast paced tempo that conveys quite well Graham’s inherent charisma and fast paced style of…..everything.

Kaio’s Score: 9.5/10

13. Control: The kind of song that conveys a mission with a purpose.  Seriously, it sound like a mission briefing song.  There’s some flute and the usual military march with some very nicely timed cymbals in there along with the usual brass.  By now if you’ve been listening to this OST in order you should have a pretty complete feel of where Kenji Kawai’s style lies.  I personally love it.  This song on the other hand is just sort of okay.

Kaio’s Score: 7/10

14. Beating: Alarm Bell remixed with a style not unlike the kind of music you would hear in a front mission game.  This time we get what sounds like Timpani drums and the choir is back again.  If the beating describes the drumbeat then it’s definitely an accurate title.  I like it quite a bit.

Kaio’s Score: 8.5/10

15. Communist Camp: Crusader would have a field day if he found out there is actually a song with the word Communist in it in Gundam 00.  It’s also evil sounding, really evil, and it also sounds like a Metroid song.  I think I hear a steel drum in it as well.  Not bad, not great.

Kaio’s Score: 6.5/10

16. Daily: Yep this is Louise’s theme which is Piano and Woodwind based.  Incidently it’s also the shortest song on the OST.  It conveys a feeling of innocent everyday life, much like Louise is supposed too.  It’s the kind of music you’d hear in an upscale mall foodcourt to be perfectly honest.  It’s also kind of funky and I like it.  God I miss the days when most BGM was like this and managed to really create atmosphere and could make me feel relaxed, tense, depressed and pumped up when the time called for it.  This one is really relaxing by the way, as it should be.  Yeah……so many series you get the sense that the BGM was an afterthought…..

Kaio’s Score: 9/10

17. League: Definitely the HRL’s theme.  It has an Asian flare to it and features the return of the instrument that sounded like a Shamisen from Innovation.  The song also seems to really want to sound like Kimi Ga Yo during the second half.

Kaio’s Score:  8/10

18. Unrest:  Another title that fits the song.  The ominous chord is back yet again and the song may actually be all synth.  I honestly don’t know in this case.  Either it does what it set out to do by making me feel rather uneasy.

Kaio’s Score: 5/10

19. Crisis: Again I believe this song might be all synth.  It’s has a fleeting feel to it as a flutish sound fades in and out inbetween an ominous chord with the occasional cymbal being hard as if it’s very far off.  It give the sense that something is fading away forever.  It sounds kind of like Legend of Zelda Music as well as perhaps Creepy RPG Dungeon Music.  Maybe it’s trying to convey the aftermath of a horrible event, which is where the crisis title might fit in.

Kaio’s Score: 7/10

20. Adminstration: We’re nearing the end of the OST here and it sort of comes full circle as the Celtic tinge is back.  Only now it also sounds corrupted a bit with that ominous chord I keep describing instead of the hopeful sounding song from the Enact’s field test.  I guess it’s to show how the world has changed since the first episode.  As people who have been following the show should know, there has been a massive arms buildup and the world has turned into a very dangerous place.  What once seemed like the dawn of a new age in solar technology and military detent for the 3 supernations now feels like a world ever bordering on apocalyptic warfare.  This tune conveys that feeling quite well.

Kaio’s Score: 9/10

21. Hallelujah: Heavily dominated by strings and a bass drum.  It lacks that ominous chord but is still suitably unsettling, much like Hallelujah.  It’s pretty good, but not outstanding like Setsuna’s.

Kaio’s Score: 8/10

22. Eyes: This one sounds kind of like Setsuna only with a much faster tempo.  I’m not even going to begin to decipher all the instruments put into this one.  Despite it’s complexity I still prefer the laid back and relaxing nature of Setsuna’s theme overall.

Kaio’s Score: 9/10

Well I hope I did this OST Justice with my attempt to describe and score the individual songs.  All of this is of course my personal preference, but nonetheless in a an anime music scene dominated by the J-Pop and J-Rock establishment, Kenji Kawai’s modest and reserved throwback to the innocent days of orchestral music and choir’s (see the 60’s to early 80’s), before all the glitz and glamour of Idol’s and androgynous rockstars, has made it’s way on to the market.  It’s a refreshing breather from the uniformity of Japanese music and quite relaxing to listen to.  Even the songs meant to be unsettling.  This one is probably staying in my CD Walkman, that’s all I can say.

Final OST Score: Eight And A Half Out Of Ten


5 Responses to “An OST In Review”

  1. 1 Any February 27, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Wow, a very detailed review. I myself love this ost a lot, probably the best I’ve ever heard. “Setsuna” is indeed a very very good track and I was hooked the first time I heard it fully (in episode 12). The arrangement/remix used in ep 19 is even more awesome. I’m hopping they will include it in ost 2.

    Kenji Kawaii definitely did a good job on Gundam 00, which adds up to the reasons why I love Gundam 00 so much.

  2. 2 PQQ February 27, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I don’t know if I’d be in the minority here but I liked his work on f/sn also, though there was a lot real instruments in it.

  3. 3 Kaioshin Sama February 27, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Yes, well I’m very interested in hearing more of Mr. Kawai who was also responsible for Serei No Moribito which has some of the most engrossing battle music I’ve heard in a good while. He also scored Higurashi, where I think he was instrumental in creating the eery atmosphere that engulfed the show. As it stands his style is one that pulls me in rather than puts me off or even worse, fails to make me take notice at all. Plus I just plain love his choice of instruments. They are all definitely unique as far as most Japanese music these days go.

  4. 4 RmX February 27, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Kawai Kenji is awesomely awesome. I found that out listening to his Fate/stay and Seirei no Moribito soundtracks.

    I dig his nationalistic themes in this OST release, and am looking forward to the ones that will hopefully be released in the future (specifically the tracks related to the UN alliance and such).

    The choir parts are comprise the overall theme for Celestial Being are also quite impressive, which is why I wonder why you scored “Power” and “Attack” so low. In the contexts that those pieces have played in so far, they’ve been nothing short of thrilling.

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