Joe Hisaishi has built some interesting music for some quality Anime productions, most notably for Hayao Miyazaki’s incredible animated stories. Miyazaki is the world famous co-founder of Studio Ghibli,, and some of the wonderful stories that Joe built the scores for include Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. From which list you will no doubt have figured out that Disney Distributes Ghibli in the US, because their quality for amazing animation is on a par. And Joe has been doing some of the best musical scores for Ghibli, which is a bit more complex than it might at first seem.
We all know that every good Movie and TV show, whether live action or animation, has an opening and closing theme that ideally sets the tone and expectations for the program as a whole. And we all realize (even if we don’t notice it on any specific show) that within any good program there are variations of one or both of those theme songs that enhance scenes emotionally and make it obvious that we are in a chase, or combat, or romance, or one of the other standard kinds of situations. The ones that become easiest to miss are also the ones that stitch together the presentation at the most basic level; the interstitial music, the tones or brief riffs that introduce a transition from one kind of scene to the next. Trust me when I say Joe Hisaishi has mastered all of those musical flavors, and built some of the most complete and inspiring sound tracks for each of the projects he has taken on. Just in case you still think you don’t already know who he is, this short selection of tracks should prove otherwise to you.
And for those in the audience that thought if it wasn’t Rock-N-Roll I wasn’t interested, you were mostly right. But I haven’t heard orchestral music twisted around and tied tight to a story line like this since I sat in the audience and had Leonard Bernstein play Peter and the Wolf for me live one day; that kind of experience really does change your perspective.