Music used in Person of Interest

Sean and I love Person of Interest, a show whose heroes are like a combination of Batman and James Bond. Former CIA operative John Reese has the spy skills and general badassery; partner Howard Finch brings the technological expertise. Unfortunately the show isn’t available to watch online, so we don’t see it as it airs; instead, we wait for the season to end and buy the Blu-Rays. Season one is available here.

Aside from its excellent score, written by Ramin Djawadi of Game of Thrones fame, the show is augmented by some iconic tracks, listed on the Person of Interest Wiki. Here’s a guide to buying the tracks from season one on Amazon MP3, mostly for my reference but also for yours if you’re interested. The songs are sorted by artist.

“Girls Be Ambitious”

I was skimming through CDJapan’s clearance sale when I came across this CD. It’s the ending song for an anime called So-Ra-No-Wo-To. I’ve never heard of this show; what intrigued me was the name of the song: “Girls Be Ambitious”.

There’s a statue in Sapporo, Hokkaido, on the campus of Hokkaido University, with a similar message. The statue is of Dr. William S. Clark of Massachusetts, a former vice principal. Beneath his head-and-shoulders bust is a monument with what appears to be his signature, a seal, and the text “Boys Be Ambitious”. Here’s a picture of me posing with that statue in 2001. I sort of took that command as a challenge. If boys were supposed to be ambitious, what were girls supposed to do? Be completely overlooked?

me with William S. Clark statueMay 31, 2001

I don’t know if Haruka Tomatsu had this statue in mind when she wrote her song, or how ubiquitous the “Boys Be Ambitious” quote is in Japan, but it certainly struck a chord for me!

Kyou Kara Maou OST 3

I’m a big fan of the music of Kyou Kara Maou. Youichirou Yoshikawa expertly weaves together Baroque, pop, acoustic, keyboards like something out of The Princess Bride, and swelling orchestral movie soundtrack styles for an eclectic blend worthy of the cultural mishmash that is the universe of Shin Makoku, Dai Shimaron, et al.

The actual name of the third soundtrack is 今日からマ王! ユーリ陛下・生誕記念!? 想い出のアルバム, which means “Kyou Kara Maou! King Yuuri’s Birth Commemoration?! Memory Album”. I’m guessing the “birth commemoration” thing is a reference to Yuuri’s coming-of-age ceremony, which occurs early on in season 3.

The album came out in July of last year(!), but due to the odd name, which is a far cry from the easily comprehensible “Kyou Kara Maou OST2 + D“, I didn’t realize it was a soundtrack until a couple weeks ago. Perhaps this is why the album is also referred to online as 「今日からマ王! 第3シリーズ」O.S.T.&メモリアル・ダイアローグ, or “Kyou Kara Maou Third Series OST and Memorial Dialogue”.

Regardless, I was very excited when I realized what this album was, I ordered it immediately, and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks listening to it over and over. Like the other KKM OSTs, it’s got some great pieces, with a few disappointing and surprising omissions. Here’s the rundown.

1.      閃光~魔王のテーマ3 – “Flash ~ Maou Theme 3”

This is the spooky new Maou theme that made me wonder if Yuuri was going to turn evil. It first appeared in episode 81 and was used to great effect in episode 99, when Saralegui uses Yuuri against Dai Shimaron for the first time. Though the piece initially seemed to foreshadow a moral fall, Yuuri’s purity was ultimately incorruptible, and it was Geneus and Saralegui who ended up bringing forth Soushu-like energy in the end. This theme faded out as the series progressed and Yuuri matured; it stands as a testament to what can happen if Yuuri lets his emotions rule his powers.

2.     切願~ジェネウスのテーマ – “Supplication ~ Geneus’ Theme”

This theme truly serves its purpose of representing the tragic character of Geneus. It’s sad, wistful, filled with longing, quiet, despairing. It’s the theme of a man who’s been cowed, a man who acts out the wishes of another, a man with an impotent will. There’s calm but sorrowful chanting, sad strings, and then the echo of Shinou’s theme to represent Geneus’ true desire–the very thing he can’t have.

3.     神謀~サラレギーのテーマ – “Divine Strategy ~ Saralegui’s Theme”

There are two three themes used for Saralegui, both involving Asian-style string-plucking music. (I should probably know what instrument that is, but I don’t. Some kind of lute, perhaps?) This is the more evil of the three. While I’m glad to have this creeping, calculating, overconfident theme, I wish I could also listen to the piece used at the end of episode 84 or 85, when we first see Saralegui. That version is more gentle, and I think it represents the part of Saralegui’s soul that is drawn to Yuuri. When the episode first came out, I made a .wav file from my fansub so I could listen to it. The piece can actually be heard in track 26 on this album, but Yuuri’s talking over it…I wish I had a raw version, without talking or episode sound effects. The third Saralegui theme can be heard in track 25, with Saralegui talking over it. It’s kind of between the other two; not sinister but not gentle, it’s more of a general theme.

4.     神剣 – “Divine Sword”

We first hear this piece when Shori uses the Divine Sword in episode 105(?), and it comes out again in episode 111, when Alazon appears at Blood Pledge Castle and Beryes reveals his true shinzoku appearance. It’s strikingly different from most other background music in the series, powerful, with strong, eerie organ, the low tolling of a bell, cymbal and gong crashing, and chants that seem swept along by the sheer might of the shinzoku. It’s the music of the “gods”.

5.     雄飛 – “Embarking”

When I first heard this piece, in the OVA, I was irritated. The main melody is pretty much a rip of “Fireworks” from the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix OST. However, as time has passed and I’ve listened to both pieces, I’m starting to like this one a little better. Where “Fireworks” is pretty repetitive (other than a weird guitar solo that wasn’t used in the movie), “Embarking” has interesting variations and eventually goes into a different theme. It’s kind of like Yoshikawa heard “Fireworks” and said, “I bet I could do that better!”

6.     夢現~アラゾンのテーマ – “Sleepwalking ~ Alazon’s Theme”

We first hear this piece in Saralegui’s dream/flashback about his mother. It’s a very pretty, slow and dreamy piano solo. I think it represents the more innocent time of joy and love in Alazon’s life, before the Divine Sword was stolen. If back then she was “sleepwalking”, the theft snapped her awake and hardened her resolve.

7.     襲来 – “Attack”

This is the new, oft-used fighting music. It’s similar to the old standards 戦闘 (“Battle”) and 厳峻 (not sure how to translate that one!) from OST 1–lots of drums and strings all over the place, with horns heralding the encounter.

8.     反撃 – “Counterattack”

More battle music! This slower piece is used a lot with the White Ravens and includes plenty of strings and horns. Sharp bursts call to mind running and ducking behind trees, and then the slow, charging strings and horns hail the coming onslaught. The horns do something similar to what they do in 襲来, but slower and in a diminished 7th (I’m pretty sure, anyway…I’d need to check it on a piano).

9.     試練 – “Ordeal”

This piece was used when Shinou flew up to help Yuuri at the end of episode 115 and beginning of episode 116. The low, rumbling intro and  triumphant horns call to mind a warring army, a crisis, and then a regal figure appearing to bring new hope.

10.     勇姿 – “Hero”

This piece was used for Alford and for episode previews. It’s a little more simply heroic than most of the series music–there’s no gray area, no emotional crisis, just a hero doing his thing. I like it though; it’s soaring and passionate.

11.     風の子守歌 – “Lullaby of the Wind”

This is the song Greta’s mother sang to her in the magical flashback in episode 93, which shares its name with this piece. Since this song is only used in one standalone episode, I was surprised to see it included on an album. It’s okay, but I would have rather had the Latin-inspired instrumental piece from episode 89, 花嫁はアニシナ!? (“The Bride is Anissina?!”).

12.     希望 – “Hope”

This is the quiet, gentle piece that serves the same purpose for season 3 as 追憶 (“Reminiscence”) did in the first season: it gives you warm fuzzies. It’s pretty and soothing. It’s used for episode denouement and for quiet times at the palace.

13.     架橋 – “Bridge”

This is actually a variation on 邂逅 (“Chance Meeting”) from OST 2. The tempo’s the same, and the left-hand piano is identical, but the piano right hand is an octave higher doing a pretty little theme that would probably act as a good harmony to the original piece. The strings come in later, swelling to support the right hand piano theme. It’s a nice variation, but I think I prefer the original.

14.     宿運 – “Destiny”

This is the spooky piece that’s always associated with Murata/Daikenja and Shinou. It’s often played in the Shinou Temple. The theme is actually a slow, more haunting variation on 畏敬~眞王のテーマ~ (“Reverence ~Shinou’s Theme~”) from OST 2.

15.     帰還~ジェネウスのテーマ2 – “Return ~ Geneus’ Theme 2”

This is a vocal version of the music played in episode 116, when Yuuri saves Geneus’ soul and all the dark power is transformed into beautiful energy snowflakes. I do enjoy the vocal, but I prefer the instrumental and really wish it had been included on the album. It can be heard in track 25, with Saralegui talking over it.

The next eleven tracks are the individual voice actors performing lines from throughout the show–or, in Conrad’s case, paraphrasing, since much of Conrad’s character development didn’t occur in easily-recognizable dialogue.

16.     ユーリのメモリー for コンラッド – “Yuuri’s Memory for Conrad”

17.     コンラッドのメモリー – “Conrad’s Memory”

18.     ギュンターのメモリー – “Gunter’s Memory”

19.     ヴォルフラムのメモリー – “Wolfram’s Memory”

20.     ユーリのメモリー for ヴォルフラム – Yuuri’s Memory for Wolfram”

21.     グウェンダルのメモリー – “Gwendal’s Memory”

22.     村田のメモリー – “Murata’s Memory”

23.     ユーリのメモリー for 村田 – “Yuuri’s Memory for Murata”

24.     勝利のメモリー – “Shori’s Memory”

25.     サラレギーのメモリー – “Saralegui’s Memory”

26.     ユーリのメモリー for サラレギー – Yuuri’s Memory for Saralegui”

27.     大切なもの(TVsize) – “The Important Thing (TV Version)”

This is the light pop song played in episodes 92 and 117. It’s kind of cheesy, but nice.

One piece I was very sorry to discover was not included at all, not even as background music for a memory, was the Latin-influenced instrumental from episode 89, 花嫁はアニシナ!? (“The Bride is Anissina?!”). The piece is played when Gwendal drags Anissina away from the castle and everyone (even the audience) thinks they’re eloping. It isn’t used anywhere else in the series. It’s just lovely, and I’d like to listen to it on repeat. There were also several pieces used as background music in the Memory tracks that I’d like to have clean.

In all, though, I’m pretty pleased with this album. It’s great to have so much more of the music I love, and the memory tracks provide good Japanese listening practice. Maybe in a future post I’ll break down what’s said in each of the tracks.

Kyou Kara Maou OST 2 + D

The second Kyou Kara Maou OST was released on April 23. It includes two discs, with the OST on one and a drama on the other.

I haven’t listened to the drama yet, but I’ve played the hell out of the OST.

This soundtrack is wonderful, but there were some surprising omissions. The music that plays at the amusement park during the “apple tree” flashback is one obvious example. I don’t care so much about having that, but I’m surprised that it was left out. I was really looking forward to having the updated version of track 18, 降臨 (kourin, advent or descent), from the first OST. That’s Yuuri’s Maou-mode music…or at least, it’s the music that often plays when Yuuri enters Maou-mode. Tracks 4 and 5 from OST 2 actually claim to be Maou themes, but I will always associate track 4 with Shinou, as discussed below.

Here’s the rundown:

1. 出陣 (shutsujin, Departure for the Front)

2. 曲宴 (Banquet Music)

3. 畏敬~眞王のテーマ~ (ikei~shinou no teima, Reverence~Shinou’s Theme)

Note: This is not the “shin” that means new or ultimate. This is actually the kanji for a person named Shin.

4. 絶大~新・魔王のテーマ1~ (zetsudai~shin maou no teima 1, Immense~New Maou Theme 1)

Note: This “shin” is the one that means new.

5. 必殺~新・魔王のテーマ2~ (hissatsu~shin maou no teima 2, Certain Kill~New Maou Theme 2)

6. 春暖~新・ギュンターのテーマ~ (shundan~shin gyuntaa no teima, Spring Warmth~Gunter’s New Theme)

7. 探求~アニシナのテーマ~ (tankyou~anishina no teima, Quest~Anissina’s Theme)

8. 清風~ダンヒーリーのテーマ~ (seifuu~danhiirii no teima, Refreshing Breeze~Dunheely’s Theme)

This is my all-time favorite track. That’s kind of odd, since I don’t recall ever hearing it in the anime whatsoever.

9. 慈愛~ジュリアのテーマ1~ (jiai~jyuria no teima, Kindness~Julia’s Theme)
10. 悲哀~ジュリアのテーマ2~ (hiai~jyuria no teima 2, Sadness~Julia’s Theme 2)
11. 宿命~勝利のテーマ~ (shukumei~shouri no teima, Destiny~Shouri’s Theme)
12. ありがとう~(インストゥルメンタル1) (arigatou~insuturumentaru 1, Thank You~Instrumental 1)
13. 危機 (kiki, Crisis)
14. 火蓋 (hibuta, Gun Barrel Cover?)
15. 拮抗 (kikko, Rivalry)
16. 光明 (koumyou, Hope)
17. 進軍 (shingun, March)
18. 決戦 (kessen, Decisive Battle)
19. 約束 (yakusoku, Promise)
20. 想望 (soubou, Yearning)
21. 邂逅 (kaikou, Chance Meeting)
22. サブタイトル (sabutaitoru, Subtitle)
23. アイキャッチ (aikyacchi, Eyecatch)
24. 予告 (yokoku, Next Episode Preview)
25. ありがとう~(インストゥルメンタル2) (arigatou~insuturumentaru 2, Thank You~Instrumental 2)

It’s my own damn fault

The National Symphony Orchestra is playing tonight at the USC Convocation Center in Aiken.

They only travel to one city each year. This year they happened to pick a city in my area. When I first heard about it I was so excited that I leveraged my media contacts to get myself a pre-sale password. I bought two extremely good seats.

For weeks I looked forward to the concert, gazing fondly at the pink tickets that had arrived in the mail and sat waiting for that fateful day atop my desk.

Those tickets are in my purse right now.

For the past several days, I’ve bragged to friends and coworkers alike that I was going. I was so excited I couldn’t hold it in.

So why, pray tell, am I not there, taking advantage of what might very possibly be a once in a lifetime chance to hear the official symphony orchestra of the United States of America in person?

You want to know? It’s a really, really stupid reason.

I couldn’t find the place.

Matter of fact, I couldn’t even find the city of Aiken.

It’s all my own fault. I’ve only been to Aiken once before, and I’ve never been to the Convocation Center. I should have gone up there to find my way sometime before tonight. Or I should have gotten good directions from someone.

As it was, I was following my Google Maps printout when all of a sudden I hit a detour somewhere around Graniteville, and after that I was nothing but royally screwed. I couldn’t find the next road. I actually passed a sign with the highway number on it, but there was no arrow or anything letting me know if I was on the highway or if I needed to turn somewhere. I kept going straight, and to tell you the truth I have no idea where I ended up. I do know that when I turned back around and stayed on that same road, I ended up in familiar territory…back in North Augusta, just as the concert was scheduled to start at 7:30.

The whole experience was so humiliating and frustrating that I just want to curl up and die.

But I’m having friends over tomorrow, and there are chores to be done. Maybe I can just pretend it was meant to be, so that I would have time to prepare for company.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t make me feel any less stupid.

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Case Closed OPs

I recently received $250 worth of Case Closed DVDs (yay birthday presents!).

Three of the DVDs were damaged and I’m going to return them. The discs were horribly scratched, so I tested them all in the DVD player to see if they would even play. It was then that I discovered that they did include “Nazo”!

I’ve done a little research, and it appears that the second OP, “Feel Your Heart”, was skipped over and replaced with the first OP on all discs. I can’t find an official reason for this anywhere, though I and others guess it’s a licensing issue. “Feel Your Heart” was never one of my favorite songs, so that I guess I don’t mind so much, even if it annoys the completist in me.

However, there is something that really bothers me, and that is the fact that the OPs aren’t synched up with the animation properly. In “Nazo”, for example, Conan will go through his little intro with the song playing in the background, but then, when the animation of the black-suited guy jumping out the window begins…the song starts over! WTF!

I don’t know if this means they only got the rights for the full-length versions of the songs, which they then sloppily patched into the animation, or what. But it throws me off and completely ruins my enjoyment of the OP animation.

Regardless, it was a good concert

I feel kind of dumb because I had a group of musicians sign a CD they apparently didn’t perform on. But Sophie Milman did perform–of course–and I got her signature too (made out to me!), so I suppose it’s okay.

(I should have bought Preface for Paul and Cameron to sign, at least. But I didn’t, and I’m going to force myself to stop obsessing about it!)

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Media bias; plus, what I’m up to

I love it when Den Beste points these things out. What you see or read on the news really is just a matter of how the news organization wants to frame the information they’ve received.

I finished off Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with time to spare before seeing the movie last night. I must say, it’s my favorite book so far. That may have tempered my opinion of the movie, too, because I came away from it feeling like it was the best of the three, while Kelly was far less impressed.

Regardless of whether or not the movie is actually good, I stand by my opinion that the soundtrack is the best of the Harry Potter music, and is indeed the best from John Williams that I’ve heard in awhile. The man is my idol, musically, but of late he has taken to essentially plagiarizing himself. (For example, of all the music in The Phantom Menace, the only truly unique theme was “Duel of the Fates”. For a more relevant example, the main theme we hear when a Harry Potter movie opens or is advertised is almost exactly the same as a spooky, magical little melody from Hook.)

Having blown through three Harry Potter novels, I’m starting to feel like a real reader again. In fact, tonight I finally started reading The Time Traveler’s Wife…and it is really, really good. I’ve missed being a reader; I haven’t been voracious about it since sometime in high school. The only thing I don’t really like about reading is having to handle the books. There is no comfortable way to read. I have three typical positions, which I switch off as I get uncomfortable: on my back, holding the book over my face; on my stomach, with the book resting on my pillow; and sitting cross-legged, leaning down towards the book. Depending on the size and weight of the book, lying on my back, which is otherwise the most comfortable position, can be a true hassle.

I don’t particularly like reading things of novel length on my computer, because I have no real way of stopping. It’s not like I can put a bookmark in exactly where I want to (although I don’t know about ebook software, and whether or not this is possible with that). I have read in the La-Z-Boy we got from Sean’s parents, and it works out okay: I can prop my elbows on the armrests, which is something of a relief to my arms. Maybe with a pillow in my lap it would work out…

It might be fun to take a book over to the workout room at the apartment clubhouse and read while walking on a treadmill. I may try that at some point; more exercise would definitely be a good thing.

Work has been much better than it was on Monday and last week. I’m not sure what my problem was, but at least part of it can be attributed to hormones and lack of sleep. Yesterday I had something of a bad experience on a call, but I refused to let it bother me. I was pretty impressed with myself afterwards. If it had happened on Monday, I’m not sure what would have happened.

Mari and Brooke and I were supposed to bellydance today, but things didn’t work out. Hopefully we will be bike-riding tomorrow, and maybe we can squeeze in some bellydance too. I would like to get myself on a regimen of going through all the basic bellydance motions, several times each, every day. I got the idea from Mari; it would be a fantastic aerobic/muscular workout. Now I just need to figure out what time of day I want to do it. I would have time in the morning if I got up at 5 (like I usually try to), but I would also have time right after work, in the “dead” time between then and when I have to start making dinner. I suppose I could just dedicate myself to doing it during one of those two times.

I need to go grocery shopping and pick up some meat for the week, and vegetables. Perishable food is the bane of my existence…I have trouble actually using it up before it goes bad. At the same time, though, I really want to start eating fresh foods, and stop using packaged/processed products.

As a final note…I found a couple new blogs to read recently. One belongs to a 17 year old and the other belongs to a 73 year old. I found them through Blogger’s new profile feature…I have “emotion” listed as one of my interests, and out of curiosity I clicked it to see if anyone else had used that word too. Interestingly, only a handful of people came up. Of those, I found myself drawn to these two: goei and rare.

rare has a sort of rambling, stream-of-consciousness, yet somehow practiced and beautiful flow to his writing, and yesterday he wrote something that really touched me, so I would like to share it.