After listening to the Angel Beats Original Soundtrack, I wondered about the other Original Soundtracks from other previous Key works like Kanon, Air and Clannad. After extensively listening to them, the three soundtracks had different styles between them and obviously completely different from the synth dominated tracks in Angel Beats.
Note: Fanart used in this post is made by さとPON
Even though One is technically Key’s first Visual Novel production, Kanon is the first under the Key/VisualArts name. Kanon is a winter theme story, thus most of the songs are styled to capture the winter theme. This is also the first time for most Key fans hear Jun Maeda’s and Shinji Orito’s emotionally striking songs… From all the songs in the whole OST, the following strikes me the most:
Pure snows are one of those songs that capture the winter theme perfectly. The feelling of this song gives some kind of mysterious feel to it. The same feeling is used similarly in Shoujo no Ori (Girl’s Prison) composed by OdiakeS. However, the song used strings instead of pianos and other instruments.
Yuki no Shoujo
Cannot forget the other upbeat wintery themes and the one that stood out the most is Yuki no Shoujo (Girls in the Snow) not because the story is about “Sad Girls in Snow,” but happy girls in the snow. In addition, I cannot deny the fact that Nayuki loves winter and the snow.
Other characters themes follow the upbeat style such as Hidamari no Machi (A Sunny City, an upbeat remix of Yakusoku (Promise)), The Fox and the Grapes and Egao no Mukōgawa ni (Beyond the Smile).
Fuyu no Hanabi
This theme is mainly used in flashback scenes involving Yuuichi. The feeling of the song gives a feeling of nostalgia and a sense that something like this happened before. Because of the feeling that the songs express, it makes the flashbacks feel warm and unforgettable.
Toudo Kougen and Kaze wo Matta Hi
Basically, these themes are primarily used when there is tragedy or sadness. Toudo Kougen conveys the feeling of mostly despair and hopelessness. However, Kaze wo Matta Hi is also emotional with a feeling of hope at the end of the tunnel. Basically, Shinji Orito pretty much takes the same feeling of these themes with Sōsei and Futari in Air and Yuki Nohara and Shionari in Clannad. Sonzai would technically count since it has a similar feeling, but not composed by Shinji Orito.
Umaretate no Kaze
Lastly, Umaretate no Kaze (A Newborn Wind) is the end of the dramatic story with renewed hope as a result of the miracle. As the title suggests, the song plays during spring after all the hardships from winter is over. Lastly, this song is loosely based on Kaze no Tadori Tsuku Basho (Where the Wind Reaches), an upbeat ending song.
Unlike Kanon, Air’s music besides being summer themes has an ethnic feel to it, especially when you get to the music played in the Summer Arc. The summer feeling of the songs makes it one of the most enjoyable listens compared to Kanon and Clannad…
We know there is a lyric version made by Jun Maeda and sung by Lia, but the original song sound just as amazing, or even better without lyrics… Don’t get me wrong, the one with the lyrics sounds good too.
It’s a very upbeat and a nice listen. The song kind of reminds me the bubbles Michiru were trying to blow.
This song obviously had a summer feel to it and you wish you were at a pool or water park… hehe… On top of that, Mizutamari, a calm theme goes along with the previous song.
The following selection is played during the Summer Arc that happened 1000 years earlier in Ancient Japan. Because of the time period, the songs had to have an ethnic feel. As a result, the four songs have a different style compared to the earlier songs and it conveys the feeling really good while keeping the summer feeling.
Air Orginal Soundtrack also features some emotional tracks like with Kanon, which had Mukai, Tōdo Kōgen and Kaze o Matta Hi. Air has Sōsei and Futari… although I could be missing some of them.
Hane is a music box version of Tori no Uta… similar fashion to Angel Beats, My Heart.
Lastly, we cannot forget about Tori no Uta, which was the first time we heard Lia’s beautiful vocals. After her debut, she is also featured in other songs and pieces in Clannad (and Clannad After Story adaptation), Tomoyo After and other works outside Key.
Compared to Air, Clannad has a bigger selection of music considering how long the story is. The soundtrack features a lot of slice of life songs that flow well with the story. There were a few songs that I liked out of the whole soundtrack.
Sore wa Kaze no Yōni
This is one of my favorite character’s songs out of the whole selection. The song is very upbeat and fits Kyou’s rather spunky and tsunderish attitude.
In addition, Hārī Sutāfisshu is a very fun, playful and enjoyable track to listen to… It made me thought about starfish, Fuuko’s favorite.
Onaji Takami e/Negai ga Kanau Basho
It’s very interesting that both of these songs have versions with vocals, both done by Jun Maeda. However, the original versions are pretty emotional as well. Onaji Takami e gives the feeling of melancholy with a sense of a brighter future at the end of the tunnel. Negai ga Kanau Basho has a similar feel with the feeling of nostalgia with a sense of hope. There are two versions of the song with the last one being more dramatic.
If you heard Toki wo Kizamu Uta, Onaji Takami e has a similar melody. In contrast, Toki wo Kizamu Uta felt more melancholic and emotional compared to the original song.
In the After Story arc, we are given Shirotsumekusa and Natsu Jikan, which are pretty calm, peaceful and ambient music. They are a bit different from the earlier background music in the school arc.
Lastly, Nagisa is the last important theme that plays throughout her story. The song starts off with a simple melody and then gets stronger. Most know that Nagisa has an unknown illness that makes her sick, but with the help of Tomoya and others, she becomes stronger and able to achieve her goals. Like with Negai ga Kanau Basho, there are two versions of the song, the latter being played at the end of After Story when Nagisa successfully gives birth to Ushio without any complications.
From listening to all three original soundtracks, it is obvious that they did a pretty good job in sticking to the theme the story had and gave an emotional impact when it was needed. Even though there are a lot of songs I did not really comment on since it would make the post too long to read, there is no doubt that the soundtrack from all three visual novels turned out to be outstanding. The Air soundtrack was the best out of the three mainly because the way they used the music to convey the summer theme and the ancient times. Clannad also had a great selection of music, most of them I enjoy listening to while playing the visual novel and outside. Lastly, Kanon’s music was outstanding except that it suffers from a lack of variety that Air and Clannad had.
Compared to the three with Angel Beats Original Soundtrack, the feeling is completely different. Most of the songs in the three visual novels mostly used Piano, string and acoustic instruments and they did not go overboard with synth. On the other hand besides a few exceptions, Angel Beats reliance on synth makes it feel like a role-playing game, not a visual novel as I said in my final thoughts of the Angel Beats Original Soundtrack.
If you had the opportunity to get a hand on these soundtracks and have watched/played Air/Kanon/Clannad, give them a listen. You won’t regret it. ¶