Insights & Art

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Tag: Music

Up in the Air – Review & Analysis

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“Yes, it was pretty lonely.”
“Life’s better with company.”
“Yeah.”

You’ve made your bed, now go lie in it. Enter Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a man who summarises the shifting values of the 21st century, someone you see, but never meet. Tasked with the job of firing employees for ‘weak willed’ employers, Ryan travels the nation, never rooted, always moving. George Clooney delivers one of his best performances, and stars in the ‘Clooney’ role, an aging silver fox, with a seductive combination of wit and charisma, yet tragically flawed.

In this film, a young enthusiastic new employee; Natalie Kenner, played by the adorable and remarkably short Anna Kendrick, attempts to ‘revolutionise’ Ryan’s industry by introducing technology as the method of communication. Director Jason Reitman quietly brings up the moral questions of such an industry, will Skype make an already soul crushing announcement even less human? And if so, does it justify the cheaper economic cost? For Ryan, a gamophobic, he sees this decision as a direct attack on his laissez-faire state of living, ironically forgetting about the ‘real’ victims who are actually affected by the Global Financial Crisis. Already angry at Natalie for her suggestions, Ryan is tasked with the job of introducing her to the business, giving her first hand experience in this occupation, bridging the few months wait before the technology gets implemented.

This of course, cramps Mr. Bingham’s style, who personifies ‘easy come, easy go’.

On this subtle journey of self discovery, Ryan meets Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga); the modern day film noir love interest and a perfect combination of flirtiness, wit and unreachable allure. A self described ‘road warrior’, Ryan along with the audience is hopelessly charmed by her aura, even against their better judgement. It is with these bumps in the once smooth road, that the story starts.

[INCOMING SPOILERS]

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At the core of Jason Reitman’s film are the themes of relationships and responsibility; two dance partners who endlessly circle around the life of Ryan Bingham. Nothing reflects this like Ryan’s first encounter with Alex at a bar, both sipping on spirits, both waiting for the world to come and embrace them, but too jaded to make the first move. They start off their relationship by comparing credit cards, we as the audience are disgusted by such behaviour, but equally fascinated by their charm. They laugh and banter for a bit before going back to Ryan’s room to have sex. Casual and flirty; a quick transaction between two parties.

“We are two people that get turned on by elite status, I think cheap is our starting point.”

Apart from firing employees, Ryan Bingham also lectures about his isolationist philosophies, his message? “We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move.” The core motif of this philosophy is Ryan’s travelling bag; light, compact and ruthlessly packed to maximise efficiency. The quick series of cuts showing Ryan checking into the airport at the start of the film, immediate convey his sense of character; professional, calculated and deliberate.

When Ryan’s oldest sister (Kara) calls Ryan to discuss about their young sister’s wedding (Julie), she pleads him to participate in their ‘wedding gift’. This requires him to take a few photos holding a cardboard cut out of the newly engaged couple at iconic scenes around America. Begrudging, and after a lot of resistance, Ryan agrees. From the continuation of the bag motif we can see how disgruntled Ryan is, the cardboard cut out, is a little too wide, a little too longer to fit into the metaphor of his luggage; his indifferent lifestyle of constant movement, constant activity. We start to see and understand how detached Ryan is, an emotionally damaged man, incapable, or even worse, unwilling to maintain any relationship. A man whose definition of success is to reach a mathematical number; ten millions frequent flyer miles. It all makes sense.

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“How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel ’em?”

Yet this motif comes to a crescendo when Ryan sheepishly invites Alex as a date to his sister’s wedding. When asked to pin the photos of the cardboard cutouts on a map, he stands there, transfixed. In front of him is a map filled to the brim with photos from all of the couple’s friends and family, it’s so crowded that Ryan struggles to find space. And there lies the irony, this humble homely couple in Milwaukee, unable to afford a honeymoon and with close to no travel experience, has connections all over the nation. In contrast, Ryan can boast about all the exotic places he’s been, all the five star hotels he has stayed and all the casual sex he has engaged in… Yet can’t describe the feeling of friendship, he can’t describe holding someone out of a genuine sense of affection.

Ryan Bingham lived for his resume and not his eulogy.

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Slowly, we can begin to see Ryan’s outlook on life change, his relationships with Alex builds and builds, overwhelming his once mathematical approach to life. Maybe, she wasn’t a burden, maybe love was more than just a transaction between two people. The wedding scene stands out as my favourite in the whole film; it was just relatable, so genuinely human. Reitman switches to a shaky cam and the tinge of vintage red makes the audience feel as if we’re attending the wedding of a close cousin. The following scene, when Ryan comes back to his unglamorous Omaha house contrasts the warmth and happiness he felt when surrounded by his new relationships. There’s no music, there’s no dancing, the world has lost its musky red filter. Only cold white walls, a vacant desk and dusty couch greet him.

During the middle of his ‘backpack’ speech in Las Vegas, a speech which was has been very excited for since the beginning of the film. Ryan stops and stutters, his philosophies have changed and the spark of superiority and sureness which glinted in his eyes previously was gone. He can’t even bring himself to say these words. He steps away from the podium, offers an apology and in an act of complete vulnerability and spontaneity, he catches a flight to Alex’s house to finally speak without his cool air of invincibility, without his sense of complete assurance.

And Ryan gets his heart crushed, Alex is married. With children.

Ryan’s whole life had been predicated upon his isolation and the distancing of himself from people. Now a middle aged man with his youth quickly fading away, Ryan realises the consequences of his actions. He made his bed, now he has to lie in it.

It’s ironic that for a man whose occupation demanded a total sense of aloofness, Ryan now stands as a victim to his own game. He hangs up on Alex after what is assumed to be their final phone call, “You are an escape… You are a break from our normal lives… You are an parenthesis.” Ryan Bingham was always very detached, unfortunately for him, he met the only person in America who was even more detached. Karma? You decide.

Dejected and demoralised, he catches a plane back home, when the announcement is made that he just hit the ten million miles mark. In celebration, the airline chief sits down beside Ryan and starts making small talk, asking him “Where are you from?” to which a disheartened Ryan can only respond with “I’m from here.”

When Ryan gets back to his office, he rings the airline company and tries to transfer his miles over to his sister and her new husband, giving them the chance to experience the honeymoon they deserve. Yet the decision is interrupted by an co-worker knocking at Ryan’s door, and he hangs up the phone. The thought is there, but whether or not he completes the action, the audience will never know.

The film ends with Ryan standing in front of a large destination board, once again called to be a ‘road warrior’. His figure dwarfed by the immensity of the screen. Stunned by the enormity of the task ahead, Ryan lets go on his luggage handle, silently protesting this lifestyle which molded him into a hermit. A man who has lived in many houses, but never a home.

And this is what separates Jason Reitman from the average director, with already a string of witty and clever films under his belt. Reitman refuses to give the audience their candy. A ‘happy ever after’ ending between Ryan and Alex would have been too smooth, too unrealistic, too impractical, and at their core, both were practical people. To have this joyous ending would have absolved Ryan and Alex from their past and ultimately, this was a film about responsibility.

You’ve made your bed, now go lie in it.

Genre: Comedy-Drama
Certificate: R
USA Release Date: 23rd December 2009
Runtime: 149 minutes
Director: Jason Reitman
Writer: Walter Kirn & Jason Reitman
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga & Anna Kendrick
Synopsis: With a job traveling around the country firing people, Ryan Bingham enjoys his life living out of a suitcase, but finds that lifestyle threatened by the presence of a new hire and a potential love interest.

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5 Centimeters Per Second – Review & Analysis. (Byōsoku Go Senchimētoru)

63060 “They say it is 5 centimetres per second”
“Huh? What is?”
“The speed of falling cherry blossom petals is 5 centimetres per second”

The world is chaotic and cruel, threatening to consume us in the unstoppable waves of time, sweeping us with reckless abandon from location to location, from job to job, from family to family. Makoto Shinkai’s film 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007) explores how time and the outside pressures can alter even the purest of romances, resulting in a mature, emotional and realistic depiction of humanity and our attempts to overcome loneliness.

Shinkai develops one of the most visually stunning pieces of animation ever, using soft but vibrant colours to mesmerise the audiences. Sadly, the breath taking images has come to define this film and the other aspects of the story are often neglected or forgotten. The end result is a powerful texts with many flaws, but a text which explores the themes of isolation, communication and relationships in a sophisticated manner. Personally, as someone who believes that life is and should be completely about forging relationships, this film’s messages really resonated with me and I will acknowledge that in many sense I am predisposed to connecting with film. I would still recommend this film for all who want a text to maturely explore not only the highs but the lows and the pain which can stem as a byproduct of love, a message which is often ignored. Too often narratives opt to follow the cliche romantic formula substituting predictability for creativity, 5 Centimeters Per Seconds definitely has a sorrowful ending, yet in some aspects, the ending was surprising uplifting and… human.

“The overwhelming weight of our lives to come and the uncertainty of time hung over us, but soon, all my fears began to melt away, leaving only Akari’s soft lips on mine.”

5 Centimeters Per Second spans three different story arcs, consisting of Part One “Cherry Blossoms”, Part Two “Cosmonaut” and Part Three, each narrative details the life of Tataki Tono, his journey from an innocent child to a weary and lonely adult. This film explores how the two protagonist Tataki and Akari Shinohara attempt to maintain their relationship despite the widening physical and emotional gap between the pair. “Cherry Blossoms” shows the two school children bonded over common interests, gradually developing unspoken feelings for each other, which both of them struggled to understand. The following two chapters focuses primarily upon Tataki and the repercussions of falling in love, his inability to meaningfully communicate and reveal his feelings to Akari starts to eat away at his innocence and brightness. Whilst this is ultimately a simple narrative, Shinkai’s non-linear story telling combined with his ability to embed meaning and significance in ‘trivial’ every day moments means whilst 5 Centimeters Per Second can be rather slow, this was a calculated decision to highlight the realistic journey embarked by Tataki and Akari.*

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Animation style and the accompanying soundtrack are two critical components to creating an emotional and engaging text, thus I often feel the best way to present readers with the general vibe of the film is to simply provide both. There are limits to what words from a distant stranger can convey, thankfully music and these still images have the ability to conquer such boundaries. As previously stated the animation in this film is truly stunning and breath taking, under Shinkai’s genius, all images were subtly infused with a pleasant tenderness and softness. Japanese animation is home to a few masters such as Satoshi Kon, Mamoru Hosoda and of course the great Miyazaki, but no other director can manipulate light, shadows and colours the way Shinkai can. The end product is a film where the images feel alive, where blades of grass rustle when kissed by a gentle breeze, where people and objects move independently mimicking the hurried existence of the 21st century.

Part of Shinaki’s mastery is the fact that he is willing to take artistic liberties, outlining certain characters and objects in white to give them an angelic look, something which becomes even more prominent in his latest work Garden of Words (2013). Likewise even objects in the distance are not blurry and undefined, instead they are sharp and clear creating a dreamy world, one which doesn’t completely mimic reality, but a stage so similar that it threatens to swallow the audiences, never allowing them leave this melancholy paradise.

The music composed by Tenmon (Atsushi Shirakawa) was elegant, beautiful and sincere, never dominating or imposing its will upon the film but always present to help convey the haunting emotions to the audience. As previously stated in my previous articles, music has always been a subject which I feel words can not comprehend so instead of clumsily summarising my feelings on Tenmon’s works, I will embed these pieces at the end of my article for the audience to form their own judgments.

[SPOILERS]

A simple story can be engaging if the director is able to infuse meaning into the simplicity, 5 Centimeters Per Second is a work where symbolism flourishes, revealing the unspoken truths about humanity. Love is a dangerous game, it’s a journey paved with many pit falls and dead ends, but it’s the only game worth playing. Through out this film trains are featured prominently, being the bridge that both connects Takaki and Akari but also paradoxically serving as a reminder to the vast distance between them. Likewise the trains are reflections for the main protagonist, forever set upon their lonely path predetermined by the outside world, unable to change their course because their self determination had been stripped away. The train boarded by Takaki being immobilised by the cold weather represents more than just a stagnant vehicle, it foreshadows a stagnant future paralysed by the snow (snowflakes are constantly said to be the mirror of cherry blossoms).

Whilst the two protagonist have many similarities, their approach to their past romances highlights the fickle nature of love, Akari was able to forge new connections, replace her lost love with the presence of others. Takaki; whose past defines him, scars him and leaves him unable and unwilling to create new relationships due to a nostalgic desire to preserve the past, is currently sitting in a hole of self regret. I believe that’s one of the themes of 5 Centimeters Per Second, people change, relationships change, best friends and lovers become strangers, it’s a cycle which constantly repeats, but it’s important to rebuild new connections to stop one from sinking into a pit of despair.

Time has a strange habit of dulling passions which once burnt bright and despite the fact that relationships like cherry blossoms will slowly drift apart (at a rate of 5 centimeters per second), it is important to acknowledge the influences that people have had on your life. We’re like a blank piece of canvas with every friend, event and lover lending their own brush upon the white fabric, our life story will be an accumulation of not only our personal decisions but the decisions of our friends and family.

5 Centimeters Per Second‘s mature approach to such melancholy (but strangely endearing) themes meant I really connected with this film, even more than some Ghibli films. Topics of family, relationships and love have always spoken to me deeply, echoing the life which I strive towards. But besides the film’s thematic elements, there was a lot of substance to the story with some haunting images and scenes which have left an imprint on me. As Takaki finally arrived at his destination, hours later due to the dangerous weather conditions, he sees Akari slumped against a seat, visibly shaken by sorrow and weariness. Takaki approaches slowly and anxiously, upon seeing him, Akari reaches out and grabs his hand, the pair emotionally break down, their sobs echoing in the air as words are just inadequate to express their emotions.

Akari had waited at the station for an extra four hours, hoping desperately that Takaki would show up, that their friendship couldn’t be halted by trivial matters like weather, time or distance. Akari’s relief floods over her, she’s so happy that she can’t even make eye contact with him. Takaki tries to desperately compose himself, but his feelings of inadequacy rise to the top, he is unable to protect the person he loves the most, he silently cries, reunited with Akari at long last. It’s a haunting scene, a display of pure humanity, the need to love and be loved.

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“I became unbearable sad, sad because I didn’t know what to do with her warmth against me, or what to do with that soul, or how long I should hold onto them. I also came to the realisation, we would not be able to stay together.”

Communication is the heart beat of relationships. Friendship and love are fragile bonds and they nurtured with shared experiences and moments. That’s another theme which gets addressed in 5 Centimeters Per Second, how vital expressing one’s emotion is, if we are to maintain healthy connections. The two protagonist were always physically and emotionally isolated, their inability to converse with others meant the audience never really saw Takaki or Akari bond with others. Takaki’s letter which he originally wanted to give to Akari is swept away by a sudden breeze, foreshadowing their decaying relationship and reinforcing how outside events and situations had and will and had always impede upon their relationship. Likewise when Akari fails to give her letter to Takaki, the couple’s fate is sealed, as much as they wanted to remain by each other’s side, the cruel hand of fate had coldly predetermined their future already.

Takaki’s inability to express his emotions drives away Kanae, another classmate and a potential girlfriend as he is too absorbed in the past to live in the present. Unable to form meaningful friendships in Kagoshima, Takaki develops the telling habit of writing text messages, recounting his feelings and then deleting them, too afraid to send them to Akari, in case she reacts negatively or worse, aloof. In the third chapter, Takaki and Akari have both moved back to Tokyo, physically they are as close as ever, but the emotional silence has crippled the once passionate relationship, the lack of communication has sadly stifled their chances of love. Takaki and Akari’s bonds can symbolise two completely different things depending upon one’s attitude and situation. Either Shinkai is emphasising the fragility of love or this is a harsh reminder that long distance relationships will not survive, as letters, emails and text messages will never be sufficient substitutes for physical touch and smiles. ** 321784 5 Centimeters Per Second was an enjoyable film, filled with sophisticated commentary about love and the repercussions for such passionate emotions, it still had flaws which prevents it from reaching the level of a Princess Mononoke (1997) or Cowboy Bepop (1998). The characters failed to develop beyond their initial concepts as the film was not able to expand on their defining characteristics, instead Takaki and Akari felt rather bland and forgettable. Honestly there is not a single trait that either Takaki or Akari had which I could elaborate upon, the episodic nature of the film also didn’t help in this regard as after every time skip I felt like I was dealing with an entirely different character.

It is important to note the emotional heart beat of Shinkai’s work stems from the fact that the situations that Takaki and Akari find themselves in is inherently sad and not because they were memorable or relatable characters. This is especially true for Kanae, a supporting character who features in part two “Cosmonaut”, with her only defining trait being her feelings for Takaki. She barely changes throughout her screen time and her inability to break out of her character archetype combined with the fact the audience fully knew that a relationship with Takaki would be impossible meant Cosmonaut was rather stagnant and dull.

Whilst weak characters are a sign of poor writing and possibly a director who believed the visuals took priority, the undefined personality of Takaki and Akari means the audience can easily substitute themselves in place of the two protagonists. One could argue that the lack of strong and memorable characters was a calculated decision, further allowing the audience to implant their memories and experiences into the film. Whilst I personally see credit behind this argument, I still believe that the film would of been much more enjoyable if characters showed genuine signs of evolution or maturity, and overall I still consider the characters the weakest aspect of 5 Centimeters Per Second. 110127 Takaki’s  love for Akari starts to numb him, unable to cope with these emotions, he chooses to distance himself from society, creating a cycle of misery which seeps into his personal life, his home and his body language. He enters a local shop, flips through a few magazines and then suddenly it begins to snow, not only for him but also for Akari who is silently waiting at a train station miles away. The two protagonists were not able to conquer the physical and emotional distance which separated them, they were not able to enjoy cherry blossoms together, but even now their lives are still connected as their memories with each other transcends the physical world. At that exact moment, it starts snowing for the two protagonists, not cherry blossoms but snow flakes, a reminder of the night they spent together as youth, a night where the pair realised their love for each other but simultaneously that their eventual separation was inevitable.

Near the conclusion of the film, an adult Takaki walks down through the familiar streets, reliving the distant memories of his time with Akari, it seems that after a decade, he is finally willing to confront the past that had temporarily withered away his dreams and his chance at a future… The cherry blossoms begin to fall. Slowly, Takaki approaches the train tracks from his youth and unknowingly Akari crosses from the other side and in a split second, both the protagonists subconsciously recognise each other. Both begin to turn around, just as their view is blocked off by two incoming trains, our hearts soar for a few moments at the prospect of the pair uniting… But when the trains have sped away, Akari has walked off.

As dearly as I wanted Takaki and Akari to rekindle their past love, Shinkai’s decision to keep their separate means the film was not only more emotional but more plausible. We all walk down a lonely road and our paths will occasionally intersect with others, but for our protagonist, life had stubbornly separated their journeys, only embers of their passion remained.*** Takaki turns around, a sad, nostaglic smile fixed on his face, he marches forward, signalling his decision to embrace a future not tainted by self regret and not defined by a love that never came to fruition. 295942

Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters Per Second, stands as a reminder, a reminder to the tenderness of human passion, a reminder of this chaotic and unexpected road we all walk called life and the importance of constant communication; the life blood of relationships. This film’s connections to Romeo and Juliet (1597) are numerous, from two star crossed lovers born into difficult situations to a text which explores the negative consequences sparked by uncontrolled love. The combination of spectacular animation combined with a gentle soundtrack creates a rich world for the audience to dive into. 5 Centimeters Per Second stands as one of my favourite pieces of animation, with themes and messages that resonate with me so much, I quite literally feel like Shinkai’s work was produced specifically with myself in mind.

What we are left with is a film, a film which bravely attempts to tackle the unspoken negative consequences of love without the glamour and glitz of portrayed in popular media. Is love worth so much suffering? Is love synonymous with suffering? Despite the many flaws in Shinkai’s work, it still stands as one of my favourite animated works, the pains of unrequited love is one of the hardest emotions to deal and 5 Centimeters Per Second hauntingly shows how a romance so pure can be withered away by reality.The film reflects Shinkai’s mature story telling and his dedication to crafting a realistic environment which mirrored our own.

Whoever you are, where ever you, I wish you all the best and that love never, ever falters you.

Genre: Anime, Romance Film, Animation, Japanese Movies, Drama
Certificate: G
USA Release Date: 3rd March 2007
Runtime: 63 minutes
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Writer: Makoto Shinkai
Starring: Johnny Yong Bosh, David Matranga, Hiliary Haag, Erika Lenhart, Tara Platt, Kira Buckland, Julie Ann Taylor Synopsis: Takaki and Akari fall in love at a young age, the pair try to understand and maintain their feeling despite the widening physical and emotional distance.

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* It is the small decisions that lead to the significant and important events, the moments where Takaki and Akari would spend time at the library, running around the playground or patting a stray cat could be considered slow and uneventful… But personally, it reflects the reality of life, most people don’t meet their loved ones by saving them from a burning building, love usually doesn’t announce itself to the world, instead it is something which most be worked upon by two people, slowly, but surely.

** This theme is furthered emphasised by Takaki’s description of his most recent relationship with a nameless girl. “We must of exchanged emails a thousand times, but I doubt our hearts got closer by even a centimeter.”

*** I love cyclical stories, it gives the impression that all the events were significant and that the story did follow an over arching plot. 5 Centimeters Per Second begins with Akari running across the train line whilst Takaki is held up on the opposing side, likewise the same scene is reenacted with the same characters but at a much older age. Originally, Akari waited for Takaki, their constant communication and their common interests meant that Takaki was important to her. Sadly, as the pair grew older and further apart, Akari chooses not to wait for Takaki anymore and unfortunately, he is no longer a part of her life. It was moments like this where the film really shone, Shinkai has the ability to embed so many emotions in such a simple action.

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Ten Orchestral Pieces.

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Joe Hisaishi and Jeremy Zuckerman, my two favourite composer as of now.

I was and still am really hesitant to write this article, music is a universal language which communicates through emotions and memories, all tangible feelings but that also makes it incredibly hard to write about. How do you accurately describe a triumphant crescendo? There’s no doubt that my own personal experiences and emotions will affect how I interpret that piece, but how can I accurately communicate these thoughts to the wider audience? Though, regardless I think orchestral is one of the most undervalued genres of music and sadly there is a distinct lack of exposure since it doesn’t fit into ‘pop music.’

This is a key reason why I am writing this article, hopefully I will be able to intelligently and articulately explore how these pieces of music have touched me without allowing my writing to becomes overly personal and incomprehensible. I have written another article about the orchestral genre and unfortunately I decided to name it “Top Ten Orchestral” pieces, completely ignoring the fact that my knowledge in this field is still very shallow and that my top ten list would be constantly changing. Of course I will not be mentioning any of the songs I wrote about in my previous piece which you can find here.

Personally, I define orchestral as a more modern variation of classical music and whilst classical composers like Bach, Mozart and Verdi have all stamped their legacy upon the history of the world. My heart has been whisked away by composers like Akihiko Matsumoto, Jeremy Zuckerman and Yoko Shimomura.The most beautiful aspect of orchestral music is how the absence of words means that the audience can easily and freely substitute their emotions into the piece, orchestral music really is a blank canvas, allowing listeners to paint however they please.

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” – Plato

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Title: Fantasia Alla Marcia
From: Kingdom Hearts II
Composer: Yoko Shimomura

What a musical journey, this is a song which incorporates many different emotions, from genuine warmth, to impending doom to glorious victory. This song starts off casually, a bouncy and bright melody that quickly transforms into a heart wrenching melody, softly whispering silent pains into the soul of the audiences. Then like a lion, it announces it’s return and it finishes upon a crescendo, the darkness is cast aside! The Keyblade remains undefeated and chaos has been imprisoned! One complaint I have of classical pieces is that too often the changes between their melodies seems forced, unnatural and inconsistent, the biggest strength of this piece is Shimomura’s ability to guide the listeners on a journey of highs and lows.

Now if only Square Enix could release Kingdom Hearts within the next century and on the PS3, that would be fantastic.


Title: The Village in May
From: My Neighbor Totoro
Composer: Joe Hisaishi

Joy to the world! Flirty without compromise, Hisaishi delivers one of his most memorable works for a Studio Ghibli classic. This song perfectly captures the innocent and curiosity of youth and in particular of Mei, the younger sister of the protagonist; Satsuki. It was clear that Hisaishi was trying to reflect the optimism and energy of youth, for myself this song triggers buried memories of picnics, sunflowers and spring; the simple events in life which give colour to our existence.


Title: Greatest Change
From: The Legend of Korra, Book One
Composer: Jeremy Zuckerman
Such power and strength, for anyone that has visited my blog they will know I am a huge fan of animation and The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra series both have a special place in my heart. Zuckerman has one of the most original sounds I’ve ever heard as both Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko wanted Zuckerman to create music which deviated from traditional styles. Zuckerman has managed to combine eastern instruments with the spirit of western orchestra to produce some of the most mesmerising music I have ever heard. Jeremy Zuckerman’s music was the emotional heart beat of Avatar The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, his impact on these works and my life can not be understated.

For me, this song represents growth and evolution, it starts off timid, shy and reserved but slowly the melody grows stronger, embolden by its success, until finally it creates a tidal of emotion to overwhelm the listener. The thunder of the drums further adds to the power flow of this piece, like a flash of stallions, galloping along a river.


Title: 150 Million Miracles
From: Summer Wars
Composer: Akihiko Matsumoto

“And if you remember nothing else, remember to find time to eat together as a family. Even when times are rough; especially when times are rough. There’s no lack of painful things in this world, but hunger and loneliness must surely be two of the worst.”

Having an angelic choir is one of the oldest tricks in the book, it adds a gorgeous sincere element to the music and the same could be said for 150 Million Miracles. Of course as someone who has watched and loved Summer Wars, I feel a much stronger connection to this piece of music than strangers to Hosada’s film, played during a very intense and emotional moment; for me this song speaks about family, loyalty and love.


Title: Omnis Lacrima
From: Final Fantasy XV
Composer: Yoko Shimomura

The goddess of Japanese orchestral strikes again, the flames of human adrenaline, the frenzy of battle and the fall of great empires. Omnis Lacrima taps into the darker elements of humanity, our desire for glory and our sub conscious thirst to vanquish our foes. Humans are a fickle species, being able to simultaneously shed tears for nameless victims of a tragedy whilst inflicting death in the name of love and loyalty. The crescendo of drums, trumpets and voices at the start of the song combined with the driving beat and the Latin choir produces a chilling piece of music, full of passion, courage and power.


Title: Ruby & Sapphire Ending Theme (I presume)
From: Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald
Composer: Junichi Masuda

You could definitely make the case that I spent too much of my youth playing with my Pokemon Ruby and pretending my Blaziken was real. But did I regret spending over 300 hours training my Pokemon, capturing basically every Pokemon I could except that pesky Huntail and beating the Elite Four over and over again to the point where I could remember every single Pokemon the trainers had? NO. This song is so nostalgic for me, sending me down a roller coaster of memories from a close friend giving me a Camerupt EX trainer card, to switching Rayquaza to abuse the Air Lock ability to negate Solar Beam. I don’t expect my readers to be so emotionally charged when listening to this gorgeous piece, but one can still appreciate how lightly the keys echo, how the soft music seems to coat and soothe the soul. Sunflowers, seashells and a picnic with a beautiful girl in a grassy mellow.

Long live Hoenn, long live Swampert and long live Treecko.


Title: The Name of Life
From: Spirited Away
Composer: Joe Hisaishi

Joe Hisaishi at his very best, riveting and seductive. Like other Hisaishi pieces such as Journey to the West and Laputa: Castle in the Sky, he manages to intertwine bitter sadness, optimism and joy in a single piece. Whilst the echoing piano notes contain a sombre element, when stringed together, this piece of music delivers a powerful emotional punch. For the frequent listeners of Hisaishi, they may notice a distinct resemblance to One Summer’s Day which was featured in the critically acclaimed Spirited Away (arguably the 21st century’s version of Akira, in terms of influence and introducing Japanese animation to western nations). However One Summer’s Day lacks the haunting piano keys at the start of this piece, arguably my favourite section of this song (excuse the lack of musical terminology).


Title: Traffic Jam
From: Halo ODST
Composer: Martin O’Donnell

Martin O’Donnell’s music has the ability to transform the mundane into the spectacular, the ordinary into the chaotic and the predictable into a frenzy of movement. This piece starts with it’s head held high, every note reflecting its proud and militaristic origins, every thud of the dream saluting a distant victory. War is dangerous, filled with sorrow and suffering, but amongst such conditions, iron bonds of camaraderie are formed. This is a thunderous salute to the selflessness of sacrifice to the men and women who would die for their country and their peers.

Lock and load marines, time to flank some elites.


Title: Dearly Beloved
From: Kingdom Hearts I
Composer: Yoko Shimomura

I would often leave my PlayStation 2 on all day with my Kingdom Hearts disc inserted just to hear this song on repeat and repeat… And repeat. This is as bitter sweet as it comes, a tale of star crossed lovers, redemption and separation. Honestly, it’s hard to write about this song, it’s one of the defining soundtracks of my younger days. There’s something magical and soothing about Dearly Beloved’s soft and angelic start, like the final hug from a departing friend, or the warmth of twilight stars. Arthur Schopenhauer argued that music was the purest form of literature because of its ability to produce unfiltered emotions, unlike other mediums such as books or films which required the creation of situations, events and characters to move the audience. A tranquil song like Dearly Beloved is both haunting and beautiful and even cultural barriers can not hinder its message of loneliness. Music expresses emotions in its purest form, I truly believe that.

Press play and let the music sweep you away to a land of wonder and tranquility.


Title: Legend of Korra Ending Song (Has not been officially released, no official title)
From: Legend of Korra, Book Four
Composer: Jeremy Zuckerman

I had to. I had no choice.

Music has the ability to make or break films and television shows, adding a subtle splash of depth and emotion to accompany the visual. The finale of Legend of Korra impaled my heart, it was like losing a friend, a friend you never fully appreciated, but someone who was tenderly loving and supportive. Bryan Konietzko and Michael Di Martino told Jeremy Zuckerman to deliver an emotionally charged sound track, nostalgic and gentle and he delivered in spades. The ending notes in particular are what resonate with me the most, it’s so graceful and haunting leaving the audience satisfied but strangely wanting more.

I’ve stated this before, but I’ll state it again, Zuckerman has one of the most unique sounds I have ever heard, being able to masterfully combine the spirit of the east with the soul of the west. This was primarily achieved by playing the Erhu like a violin, allowing it to boldly produce its authentic high pitched sounds whilst being surrounded by the versatility of western instruments. That’s no easy feat and the end product is a heart breaking piece of music, which will strike you at your core. Maybe I’m a lot more invested in this piece because it featured in Legend of Korra, particularly at the ending which was just a tidal wave of feelings. Maybe it’s just a beautiful piece of music that needs no context for it to overwhelm.

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I have always struggled with articulating my thoughts on music and its impact. Unfortunately I am not musically literate and thus I often have to discuss the context of the musical piece or my personal experiences and thoughts attached to the melody instead of publishing a piece which breaks down the different approaches and methods used to produce said sounds.

There are still many other pieces of music I have yet to suggest and discuss about, as you can tell sadly there is a distinct lack of musical appearances from the Lord of the Rings franchise, a sin which I shall mend in my next musical article. Music is that splash of colour that everyone’s life needs and humanity’s ability to create art to entertain and heal, separates our species from every other living organism.

Hopefully these ten songs I have recommend and written about will resonate with you the same way it has affected me. We live in an age where war and death are more threatening then ever with technology proving to be both a curse and a blessing. We live in an age where the mobile phone may replace physical interactions.

Music is something which we can never forgo, not even for a second. It may be the bridge which unites us all.

Protected: The Last Stand, the End of Korra.

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Summer Wars – Review

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[AS SPOILER FREE AS POSSIBLE FOR A REVIEW]

[KOI-KOI MOTHER FUCKERS]
(however you play that game…)

If there is one picture that could sum up this film it would be this picture; the typical family, a single unit with its many quirks and personalities, all with unique character traits, imperfections and values that is found every time a large number of people unite. Summer Wars, directed by Mamoru Hosada and animated by Madhouse is one of my favourite animated films, whilst I can hardly be quoted as an authoritative source on Japanese animation, Summer Wars‘ heart warming message and plot ensures an entertaining watch for basically all demographics. If reading long articles is something you struggle with, then let me briefly give you my thoughts on this film; watch it. Watch it if you want a casual tale embedded with genuine warmth and sincerity, watch it if you want to explore a loving family whose connection to each other will touch you deeply.

The film starts with Natsuki asking our typical goofy, socially awkward high school student Kenji to accompany her to her elderly grandmother’s (Sakae Jinnouchi) 90th birthday; Kenji whilst reluctant at first eventually decides to accompany her and that’s when the chaos ensues. When the pair finally arrives, Natsuki informs Kenji that his mission is to pretend to be her boyfriend, Kenji is very hesitant and only after some pleading, does he accept. Following this he’s introduced to Natsuki’s family members, the Jinnouchi family equipped with the family staples… The drunk uncle that tends to discuss ‘taboo’ subjects after six drinks, the motherly aunties and the awkward younger cousin who just began his teenage internet rebellion phase, opting for online over physical communication. Kenji who repeatedly tells the audience that his only skill is mathematics receives an anonymous encryption during the middle of the night… And like any sane person, he decides to spend the next few hours deciphering it. From then on madness accumulates like a rolling snowball, as a mysterious virus ironically and ‘threateningly’ named ‘Love Machine’ begins to destroy the digital world which is heavily intertwined to the physical. Not only does Kenji have to juggle the complicated web of family affairs, his sense of guilt compels him to combat this deadly virus who threatens the social fabric of modern Japan.

Whilst I may of given this away in my previous paragraphs, the most endearing and likable aspect of this film was the family, it felt realistic and fluid and every time I saw little children screaming in unison or the mothers giggling amongst themselves it instantly triggered a deeply buried memory in my head. Audiences may point to the lack of a protagonist as a key flaw within this story and I will admit, I really wanted the story to focus upon the budding relationship between Natsuki and Kenji, especially since the times the film did it was usually executed with heart and passion. Surprising Kazuma, a thirteen year old cousin of Natsuki received a large amount of screen time, especially near the end, despite the fact that his character was largely undeveloped and his icy demeanour made me instantly dislike him. For the most part the box art and introduction of the film gives the impression that Natsuki and Kenji are the protagonist but both fail to develop beyond their stereotypical and cliche constructs. Kenji is the shy and timid ‘nerd’, who lacks confidence in himself and the will to widen his comfort zone, whilst Natsuki fits the ‘pretty face and bold personality’ archetype. Sadly both characters won’t given the necessary screen time to fully expand beyond their initial defining traits.

Whilst these are all legitimate flaws and in most other films I would find myself emotionally disconnected or bored of the story in Summer Wars it is somewhat and strangely forgivable. The main reason was because the entire family felt like a single unit or a single character, Kenji didn’t only need acceptance from Natsuki’s grandmother, he needed to be embraced by the whole family for his relationship with Natsuki to work. In this sense, the overall lack of protagonist or the lack of development to major and minor characters was forgiven because the audience immediately substituted their own experiences and memories into the said family members. I think for the most part Hosada purposely tried to ‘limit’ the unique traits of different family members. The story was never really about individualism, if anything the ending is an example how relationships and the will of a community will always triumph individualistic pursuits or goals. This is why I honestly didn’t mind the fact that the characters excluding the grand mother were rather simplistic they were all pieces to a puzzle, pieces to a single family, Hosada had a purpose in mind with the execution and to a large extent, Summer Wars achieved it.

I can’t talk about the family any longer without mentioning the grand mother or her English voice actor; Pam Dougherty, who simultaneously embedded the character with strength, kindness and a motherly touch. Out of all the characters, she shines the brightest and her resilience and courage serve as the pillar of the proud Jinnouchi family. Honestly watching her was quite sad as my grandmother also had a few of her traits, maybe she wasn’t as strong or clever, but she was the eldest and in an Asian household, she was the most respected for her age and knowledge. Unfortunately Amnesia withered away my grandmother’s independence and personality and her bright talkative spark is now replaced with a quiet, sad obedience. The presence of any strong female character is especially welcome in a genre where females are generally sidelined as weak or unimportant (Naruto, Bleach, Death Note) Descended from a proud samurai family, responsible for moulding her fierce personality, the grandmother’s leadership and enthusiasm is responsible for some heavy moments later on; centred around forgiveness, the importance of family and the joys of simple living.

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Apart from the familiar characteristics of the family members, the attention to detail subtly breathed life into the rather simplistic story, like Kenji lagging behind Natsuki when he first enters the Jinnouchi residence, or the slightly disgruntled family member amongst the wave of smiles, hugs and laughter. The animation created an environment which felt like it was lived in, the walls were stained with age and the character designs were realistic and believable. On top of this the background was vibrant, fluid and alive with characters and objects independently moving, once again drawing the audience into a plausible world which similarly mirrors our own.

You may be wondering why I’ve neglected to mention the digital aspects of this film in particular the world of Oz until half way into this review? I really enjoyed this film and I felt that it was important to start this review off with a positive note because generally the strengths outweighed the negatives (a first impression is a lasting impression). But my main gripe with this story how disconnected I felt from the digital scenes in contrast to the scenes with the family, honestly I didn’t care for Kazuma very much and I cared even less about his presence on the digital world. I will praise Madhouse for giving those scenes a wonderfully unique art style and simultaneously blending a minimalist 3D animation look with the traditional forms of Japanese animation, to exaggerate the barriers between the physical and the cyber world. It was very effective and the actions scenes in Oz were smooth, fluid and was basically sexual intercourse for the eyes. However this doesn’t cover up the fact, I wasn’t fully engaged during those scenes and for the most part I wished the plot had simple followed the ‘dysfunctionally-functional’ Jinnouchi family, the Oz scenes served more as a distraction. It was hard to be emotionally invested in the world wide destruction caused by Love Machine when the story was so localised and the intricate inner family relations were so much more interesting. Ironically the strength of the family unit might of been the weakness of Summer Wars as I would of much rather watched the Jinnouchis eat dinner and reminisce about the past together than a cartoon rabbit defeat a mysterious virus to protect nameless and faceless individuals.

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If Oz becomes a real internet application, I want my avatar to look like that rabbit.

[Some spoilers, though to be honest, the information I will be discussing is really, really obvious, but if you want to avoid all spoilers, I would advise you to skip the next two paragraphs and go straight to my conclusion.]

Apart from the digital aspects of the film, there were only a few other instances which I was disengaged from Summer Wars, now I will admit that most of these issues maybe the result of cultural differences, but regardless I feel like it’s necessary to lightly address them. Animation is a powerful tool allowing the creators to create a ‘realistic’ world where rules can be bent to fit the narrative, that’s why we don’t really question the alchemy in Full Metal Alchemist, nor do we frown when a single punch from Ichigo rivals the power of an atomic bomb. However there were a few times the film’s use of animation served as a detriment, one particular scene jumps to mind which involves Watisube rushing home. However the audience quickly receives flashbacks to World War II at the amount of destruction caused by Watisube parking the car. Whilst this was semi-believable, evoking a humourous atmosphere during such an emotional scene was definitely counter productive.

Likewise the final scene involving Natsuki and Kenji was also quite anti-climatic, though I will once again acknowledge that Japan’s stance on public displays of affection or sex seems rather ‘prudish’ in contrast to my western upbringing. But the fact that Kenji was not comfortable or confident enough to properly and serious confess his feelings for Natsuki was rather disappointing as those two traits were aspects to Kenji’s character that should of developed during Summer Wars. Ironically it did feel like Kenji had grown, his uplifting leadership during the final conflict validated his position within the family and honestly Kenji not returning Natsuki’s kiss was just contradictory to what growth he had experienced. I understand that Kenji was more of a concept (shy, nerdy, introverted) rather than a actual strong character, but that doesn’t erase how disappointed I was, since I honestly wanted the two of them to become a couple, surrounded by such warm family members. If the camera (or animation) had zoomed up on Kenji’s face as he seriously expressed his feelings, it would have fit the themes of communication emphasised by this film and established Kenji as a more memorable character.

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Those pesky aunties… You gotta’ love em’.

Just as I feel it is important to start a review of an entertaining text on a positive note,the same logic can be applied to the conclusion as I want you to leave this review with a desire to watch this film. The music directed Akihiko Matsumoto was superb with certain tracks like Summer Wars, Happy End, 150 Million Miracles and Everyone’s Courage standing out on such a strong album. Despite the obvious Hisaishi influence on Matsumoto’s music which included a lot of uplifting songs with light and bouncy melodies, this is an album I would definitely listen to in my spare time. Honestly describing music is one of the more difficult task, music is a language, one which communicates through feelings, memories and emotions instead of words. So instead of doing Matsumoto’s works a great injustice, I will simply embedded said pieces at the bottom of this review for the audience to personally enjoy.

In many ways, Summer Wars could be classified as a slice of life anime but without the cliche cringe worthy moments and thankfully Hosada executed this project with more soul than most other films could dream about. At its heart, this is a film which highlights the importance of family, of opening communication lines and the responsibility we have to other family members during times of opulence and meagerness. Unlike Inception or Grave of the Fire Flies, this was a film where the story served as a springboard to explore the characters and whilst the plot was rather cliche, this is forgivable as the story was ultimately a tool to unite the Jinnouchi family. During its worst moments, this film can be slightly disengaging, particularly the scenes involving Oz, but at its best, Summer Wars leaves an imprint on the audience, gently reminding the audience to value family without the message being overly intrusive.

A box of tissues is highly recommended for viewing.

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“And you always eat together as a family, even during difficult times, because being hungry and being all alone are the worst things that can happen to anyone.” 

[KOI-KOI MOTHER FUCKERS]

Genre: Anime, Romance Film, Animation, Comedy, Science Fiction, Adventure Film, Drama, Action Film,
Certificate: PG-13
USA Release Date: 1st August 2009
Runtime: 116 minutes
Director: Mamoru Hosada
Writer: Satoko Okudera
Starring: Michael Sinterniklaas, Brina Palencia, Maxey Whitehead, Pam Dougherty, J Michael Tatum.
Synopsis: Kenji accompanies Natsuki to her grand mother’s birthday party, as chaos beings to affect the physical and cyber world.

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PS: [SPOILER] There was one scene in this film that made me clap out loud with joy, the scene where the Jinnouchi brothers lightly remind the over protective Shota Jinnouchi that he is not Natsuki’s boyfriend. The voice acting combined with the animation created such a memorable moments, the family is truly the best aspect of this film.

PSS: [SPOILER] I have heard many people confirm that Summer Wars is a more sophisticated and enjoyable version of Hosada’s other film; Digimon the Movie (1999). Whilst there are key similarities in plot and animation style, I am not too fused by this because… Firstly I never watched said Digimon film and secondly, it’s not exactly plagiarism since Hosada essentially copied his own ideas, though you could take points away for a lack of creativity.

10 Pieces of Orchestral Music.

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Hip Hop has been the staple to my musical diet for the past 3 years, I’m a 5 foot 6 Asian with a slightly under average frame but if you caught out my heart you would found out I’m equipped with 50 Cent’s vernacular and Method Man’s flow. However I’m still a sucker for beautiful, peaceful music that tugs at your heart strings, gently reminding you that there’s still hope and “through every dark night there’s a brighter day.” (2Pac) 2013 was a year of discovery for me, I aimed to push my boundaries and forever leave my comfort zone, I’m glad to announce I have achieved everyone of my goals. Along the way I discovered the tranquil affect classic and orchestra music had upon me, they were a total contrast to what I’ve religiously listened to over the past 3 years. They rarely had words, allowing you to shape the meaning according to your emotions and instead of draining my energy like some hip hop songs do, I felt more mature, relaxed and generally more optimistic after listening to songs of this genre. So to share my new found love of soft and gentle music, here’s my top 10, I can guarantee you this list is far from complete, after all I’ve only started to dabble in this genre 6 months ago. I can guarantee there’s a few songs which were absolute staples on everyone’s list that I’ve left out due to sheer ignorance. But this is my list, my personal list and at the end of the day everyone’s a winner (Unless you disagree with me… Then you’re the opposite.)

NUMBER 10:
Everything’s Alright.

To The Moon is a game that deserves so much more recognition, it has a unique and quite frequently heart melting story line. We follow two scientist as they aim to give an old man (Johnny) his final dream; flying to the moon, a goal that could never be achieved due to the harsh and suddenness of life. Along the way, the audience learns about his life, his goals, his dreams and his failures and the game crescendos into an emotional explosion at the end. Everything’s Alright is a song which captures the main themes of the game perfectly, a beautiful soft voice accompanying a melodic tune. Honestly I could of easily put 2 or 3 of the songs from the game’s soundtrack on this list because they’re all so beautiful but Everything’s Alright definitely stood out. (Yes you should go check out the soundtrack, and NO I’m not getting paid for advertisement, you have to give credit when credit is due.) The lyrics are put together carefully and aim to reflect the tear jerking relationship between Johnny and his wife River.
When this world is no more 
The moon is all we’ll see 
I’ll ask you to fly away with me 
Until the stars all fall down 
They empty from the sky 
But I don’t mind 
If you’re with me, then everything’s alright

Grab the tissues children.

NUMBER NINE:
Avatar’s Love.

Bedroom eyes here, bedroom eyes there, bedroom eyes everywhere! I love Avatar The Last Airbender. I love everything about it, from the characters, the humour, the excellent story line and oh did I say the characters? This short song inspired by the budding romance between Katara and Aang and Eastern instruments symbolises the finale of my favourite series. The fire lord has been broken! The world is safe! The Avatar has returned and finally he has overcome his sense of failure and fear and fully cemented his relationship with Katara, go get him boy! It’s a short song but it ends on a triumph and proud note, it’s head held up high much like the cartoon series. You know this piece of music has touched the lives of thousands when you get comments like this on the Youtube page, “actually makes me weak. At the same time strong, it makes me remember the things that’s so good in my life that every time I make a mistake, it doesn’t keep me down. Avatar was the best cartoon I’ve ever watched. Thank you for the memories :’)” – Dom Novak and even “I want to walk down the aisle to this when I get married.” – Pevensify. 10/10 Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, 10/10.

NUMBER EIGHT:
The Promise.

You know I could make a top 10 list with only songs from the Final Fantasy series. You ABSOLUTELY know I could. Every game, Square Enix somehow is able to embed songs which we’ll remember forever. The Promise made me cry in year 9, it was just overwhelming beautiful, noble yet sad, proud yet solemn, I can’t explain it, just press play and let the genius flow.

NUMBER SEVEN:
Aerith’s Theme.

No, I never finished Final Fantasy 7, I’ve downloaded on Steam and there it sits quietly in the corner. I don’t know why I don’t play it much, it’s probably a mixture of the fact I’ve slowly but surely moved away from video games and I already know 85% of the plot from Wikipedia and just searching the net. Regardless you can tell without a doubt Final Fantasy 7 was one of the most influential games of all time, solidifying Square Enix/Soft’s legacy, thus leading to Final Fantasy becoming one of the most famous video game series ever. Personally I feel as if this songs stands as a metaphor for life, it starts off slowly and sadly and then becomes joyful and triumphant. Much like Aerith, we will eventually pass from this world, all we can hope for is that we’ve touched those we’ve loved enough so that our legacy will be remembered. All I can say is I listened to this song for 3 days straight when I was studying for my University examinations. 3 days straight! I couldn’t even watch Michael Jordan clips for 3 days straight!

NUMBER 6:
A Watchful Guardian.

The quiet before the storm. The echoing of thunder. The roar of horses and the taste of blood. That’s what I imagine when I listen to this song. I always see Theoden sitting proudly on his steed, armour gold, hair flowing shouting out his battle cry. “Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day… a red day… ere the sun rises! ” A Watchful Guardian sums up passion, courage and camaraderie within the song, the quick beat creates a whirlwind of movement, exciting yet dangerous. It’s a gorgeous song to listen to.

NUMBER SIX:
Time.

Easily the most haunting piece of music on this list. Whilst searching for the Youtube video to embed, I knew I had to choose the MusicVideo version, so much emotion. It successfully captures the true essence of humanity. Like the other songs on this list, Time’s melody can be shaped into whatever emotions you are feeling. Need a song to give you strength when you are weakest? Need a song to inspire and empower? Time is perfect, it’s the Swiss army knife of classical orchestra. Hats off to you Hans Zimmer and hats off to Inception.

NUMBER FOUR:
Halo Theme.

Man the turrets! Grab the ammo! Solidify the defense! The Halo Theme is an instant spark of energy, turning every day things like taking out the rubbish into an epic event for the ages. I feel unstoppable when I listen to this, it’s like sniffing cocaine and injecting moose testosterone into your veins simultaneously. The pace is fast enough to inspire courage but slowly enough so one doesn’t descend into the realm of sadness or insanity. This song takes you on an incredible high now choose your weapon, get your grenades and let’s kill some elites! WOO-RAH!

NUMBER THREE:
Journey to the West.

Just wait for it. It starts off weak and timid and then transforms into an explosion of power and strength. Princess Mononoke is also one of my favourite films of all time, it’s an instant classic for a wonderful plot with epic Japanese mythology combined with great characters. Can humans advance forward without destroying the natural environment? Will the animal spirits cling to their traditions despite a shifting landscape? The film and the musical score are both beautifully crafted and it stands as a testament to the greatness of Hayao Miyazaki. Long live Studio Ghibli, long live Totoro! Long live Chihiro! Now if only I had the courage to watch Grave of the Fireflies… I don’t want to become an emotional wreck for two days!

NUMBER TWO:
Promise to the World.

It’s just so beautiful. Fuck you Japan for being producing the most heart moving music, no I’m not crying there is just something in my eye! On a serious note, I’m 100% convinced an angel sang this. Listen to this whilst you just had an argument with a friend or family member and I guarantee you this will absolve away all tension and hatred. Once again Studio Ghibli you never cease to amaze! There’s literally nothing left for me to say, words can’t capture how gorgeous this piece of music is… Just press play.

NUMBER ONE:
Forbidden Colours.

I was literally spellbound when I held this. I was frozen with wonder, “How can music be this beautiful?” It’s music like this that makes one reflect… Why are we on this planet? Am I being true to myself? How should I better myself and thus better those around me? This song was  used in the film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, a film I’ve never watched and don’t plan to because this song may reduce me to a babbling and crying two year old. For me, the songs is about a relationship that will never work because it’s deemed forbidden by society, it’s about the fundamental need every human wants; love. It’s about acknowledging joy can only be experienced with sadness, that heart break only leads to true love. This will play at my funeral and my wedding, hopefully serving as a reminder that people need more than just materialism to sustain them and that life is too short to waste on trivial matters. Ryuichi Sakamoto you are my deity and I’m your disciple.

There were so many runner ups for this list and I could of easily made a top 20 or even top 25.  So here’s a few songs below which were excluded and YES, you SHOULD give them a listen… Here’s a short tip, Final Fantasy/Square Enix/Studio Ghibli/ To the Moon/ Hans Zimmer are my favourites and you should definitely check out their works.

Man of Steel.
Twilight Town. (I’m sorry Kingdom Hearts for not including you in the top 10)
My Neighbor Totoro
Married Life (From Up)
Once Upon a Memory (To the Moon)
Kairi I (Kingdom Hearts)
Born a Stranger (To the Moon)
For River (To the Moon)
Roxas Theme (Kingdom)
To Zanarkand (Which I have NO idea how it didn’t make the top 10… Should of made a top 20…)
Finish the Fight (Halo)
Into a Night Time Sky (Avatar)
Peace Excerpt (Avatar)

Ahh… Music, it’s the language of humanity, spoken by few but understood by all. It supports us at our most vulnerable and humbles us at our strongest. No doubt that I’ve fallen in love with this genre and there is still  space for one more, yes you, the one reading this right now, now be ready to be gripped and moved.