I always have very mixed feelings when it comes to writing about the Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon Soundtracks. On the one hand, Katou Tatsuya never fails to deliver magnificent music with enormous variety, but on the other, it’s always so hard to pick and choose between tracks to write about and I always feel like I’m leaving out something important. As always, this particular OST is frequently reminiscent of RPG music, though compared to the previous one, there’s far more stately music to represent the focus on Great Britain and its role in the story. Since I already talked about most of the important stuff in the last post (check it out if you haven’t already!) I’ll just dive straight into the music!
What better track to act as a representation of England in the Horizonverse than Anata to Odoru Yousei Kokka with its various nods to Scottish and Irish music in terms of instrumentation and the slight hornpipe feel, combined with a more mysterious – almost Danny Elfman-esuqe at times – edge to represent the otherworldly nature of its inhabitants. The gradual increase in chaos and counterpoint reflects the festive mayhem we get to see multiple times over the course of the series!
With a jump to a completely different mood and style, Nigiyaka na Hibi no Naka is slightly unusual compared to a fair bit of Katou Tatsuya’s other music. It’s another of those somewhat minimal tracks that feels like it would slot perfectly into an RPG, bringing to mind some of the music from the more recent Atelier games. It’s light-hearted, with a slightly bustling pace, painting a picture of a lively port in which people go about their daily business while working together. The vocal adds an extra dimension to the track, not always quite following the rhythm of its accompaniment, taking its own carefree pace.
Ketsui wo Himete is probably one of my favourite tracks on this OST – Katou Tatsuya really excels at writing this type of music, the kind that almost tells a story and never fails to get you pumped! There’s expectation and anticipation in the soft strings – a promise of what’s to come. The uplifting staccato string repetitions and the steadfast horns represent strength and determination, while the melodies add beauty to the mix. It’s a tale of love and heroism, of minds made up, of discarding hesitation and anxiety to do what needs to be done, and of unwavering resolve. The sudden addition of guitars and kit really helps to ramp up the intensity and draw out our emotions in light of the scenes taking place.
From uplifting orchestral music to a rather dark and gritty electronic rock, Kane ga Watashi no Kokoro wo Yonde brings us a rather hectic and unusual theme apparently written for the equally crazy Hatton. With the glitched vocals, scratching, and harsh arps, we have the chaos required for combat music, contrasting noticeably with the use of the Westminster Quarters as a rather English theme. As a fun side note, apparently the Westminster Chimes are used as the school bells in Horizon’s Oxford!
Just from listening to Kanojo ni Tsugete, it’s fairly easy to tell what kind of scene it was written to portray. The 3/4 time waltz and use of harpsichord give the piece a rather stately and regal air befitting of the English court, while the organ and string writing give off an otherworldly atmosphere. It’s the perfect theme for Elizabeth, Oxford, and England, looking down from a throne at those below, with an untouchable air about them.
Once again we move off in an odd direction, ending up at some rather stylish swing music. There’s such an elegant and refined feel to be drawn from the slightly jaunty pace which also provides a young and carefree atmosphere. The sudden transitions between the two contrasting sections, written with completely different metric styles, makes for a really nice change of pace. If I remember correctly, this is the theme for the dates midway through the series – it certainly conjures that sort of friendly and enjoyable vibe!
Thematically speaking, Raku mo Ku mo Tomo ni Suru Naraba is one of the stranger tracks on the whole OST. It has that typical feel we regularly associate with piracy these days thanks to the slight hornpipe edge, yet it also has the soaring solo muted trumpet so frequently associated with Spanish music. When I originally heard it, my first thought was that it would be Grace’s theme, but the decidedly Spanish edge led me to consider it more likely a representation of the armada. However, it is neither – it is in fact a Mitotsudaira theme! It does work in this sense thanks to that sort of stately walking tempo march that we could easily associate with Neito’s mannerisms and nobility!
According to the liner notes, Jud. was written to be a sort of Ikou ze Minna 2.0, intended to surpass it in every aspect from intensity to emotional impact. To be perfectly honest, I still prefer Ikou ze Minna, but Jud. does a magnificent job in its role nonetheless. With the slightly atmospheric guitar riffs and the massive orchestra backed by synths and complemented by vocals, it stands as another great track to demonstrate unity much in the same way as its predecessor. Like many other tracks in Katou Tatsuya’s repertoire, the title is significant – Jud. as in the Horizonverse equivalent of an affirmative. Just as the title suggests, it’s a very resolute and forward moving track.
Yuuki Motetachimukau is yet another great orchestral track, opening with a sort of call and response pattern which gradually moves through the various orchestral sections before the main body of the track begins. There’s certainly a very militant and hostile feel to be found, perfect for the approach and attack of the armada. In a sense, the beautiful sweeping string melody is a little reminiscent of Kajiura Yuki, though the track as a whole is very different to the styles she normally writes.
Save you from anything has to be my favourite track on the entire OST. It’s one of those masterful pieces of writing that’s great to listen to alone, but when tied with thoughts from how it was used in the show and what it represents, it takes on an entirely new level of impact. Katou Tatsuya really seems to enjoy messing around with sampled vocals (these particular ones come from Vocal Foundry) and various Auto-Tune effects. There’s a beauty to the human voice that really contributes to the track, especially given the choice of lyrics. With its extremely uplifting combination, it’s a perfect accompaniment to the camaraderie and co-operation beneath London’s moonlit skies. Really, it’s the track that defines the entire series – ‘Save you from anything’, a line that applies in so many ways to events from Elizabeth and Mary’s promise to the central romantic themes and Malga’s struggles.
Perhaps one of the biggest themes in Horizon’s second season was the romance between Mary and Tenzo. Saiwai ni Saku Shiro no Hana is the perfect complement to this, soft, beautiful and with a slightly melancholic tone as a backdrop for their time apart and their time together. Being so often associated with ballads and romantic dances such as the waltz, I always find triple time to be fantastic for this kind of love theme, with that slightly nostalgic upturn and gradual build being almost like the break of dawn. In that sense, it’s ideal for the representation of the struggles that brought the two to this point – dawn breaking after a dark night or clouds parting after a storm.
As a theme for the hectic aerial battles, Nanimo Kamo Muda dewa Naku mostly catches my eye because of the swift breakbeat and its passing similarity to the style of battle music used in the Shadow Hearts series albeit without the usual folk vocals. With the arpeggiated synths, booming percussion and minimal chaos, it captures the urgency of the battle quite nicely.
I may have said that Save you from anything was my favourite track on the OST, but in truth I’m a little torn. Tamerainaku Tobikomu no wa is another magnificent track that could well deserve the top spot. The opening with its string ostinato and subsequent build are fantastic, immediately drawing full attention – something massive is happening here. According to the liner notes, this track was written to give the feel of breaking through or overcoming odds and it certainly has that power to it. The use of Requiem chorus and the chaos of the B section both give the track massive intensity while the downward octave runs in the brass section give brightness and hope to the track as a whole.
Much of the second half of the second disk of the soundtrack is dedicated to ‘light arrange’ and instrumental tracks, all of which are interesting to listen to in their own way, but none of which I particularly feel the need to talk about in any great depth. I actually find it a little funny that many of the instrumental tracks are those which had sampled vocals from various libraries – it seems strange to listen to the tracks without them when they played such a large role in the overall atmosphere of the music. It’s also a little funny in the sense that he actually broke the license agreements on many of those sample libraries by not crediting the vocalist and original writers, but I doubt anyone cares about that too much!
All in all, much like the first soundtrack, this was a magnificent OST, full of so many wonderfully written tracks in all manner of styles. It’s not just impressive in how vast Katou Tatsuya’s repertoire is, but in how well he writes across the different genres and how perfectly they fit with the themes within the Horizon universe. Stories tell of how ridiculously dedicated Kawakami Minoru is to the universe he created and its adaption into anime form, and Katou Tatsuya seems to be the perfect counterpart to this – writing so much music, a fair amount of which was never actually used in the anime itself, for the show. Reading the liner notes, it’s evident just how much passion he had for the job and I can’t say I blame him! I rather hope for a third season, not just because I love the show, but because it will give me a chance to listen to another fantastic soundtrack!
I really like “Saiwai ni Saku Shiro no Hana”, it’s a beautiful track. o:
Amazing post! Moomba saikou \o/ Now, where is that FT OST vol 2…
Soon, I promise!
I was just listening to that when I read your comment, Stereo! Great minds 😀
You outdid yourself again, mooms. Well done sir
I think so as to not confuse people the title should not be “Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon – OST 2” but “Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 2 – OST”
Well actually, though the music is mostly from the second season, it’s considered the Horizon OST2 as opposed to the Horizon II OST, and that’s how it’s written on the cover.
Amazing tracks! Gotta say I am rather appreciating this type of music. If its done right and with passion it can convey so much. As it did here. Season 3…better happen!
Have had the OST for some time myself, and appreciate even more now. Thanks for the post! 😀
Great OST that covers one of the best anime from the previous season <3
Isn’t it hard to defend a show where a naked man starts dancing while hugging Excalibur for its good plot and music?
Well, I think so anyway.
It works in context.
I was wondering when this review would come up. Your review of the 1st OST made me better able to appreciate the various different tracks, while your musical knowledge gave me new insights into all the songs you highlighted, so I was definitely waiting for your review for this 2nd OST.
My favorite track on the soundtrack is without a doubt Ketsui wo Himete. Each time I hear it I never fail to get goosebumps all over, picturing that scene of Horizon activating and firing her ADS (Armament of Deadly Sins). Save you from Anything comes in at a close second though, as the soundtrack I immediately associate with Malga’s fight against the William Cecil-Robert Dudley tag-team and the subsequent arrival of the amazing Kimi-nee to Malga’s rescue.
Lovely medlodic OST ~
No love for Shounetsu Ryouiki? Also, I thought Raku mo Ku mo Tomo ni Suru Naraba was a theme for Francis Drake (it had a sail it’s ambience in my opinion)? Anata to Odoru Yousei Kokka indeed was a great representation of England and is one of my favorites. Also Moomba, was Kane ga Watashi no Kokoro wo Yonde actually used in one of Hatton’s battles? As far as I remember, it was only used in Drake and Gin’s fight.
*it had a sailor’s ambience
When my order of the ost came, I thought on hearing Raku mo Ku mo Tomo ni Suru Naraba it was either Grace’s or Drake’s theme. I never thought it would have been Neito’s lol.
Shounetsu Ryouiki is certainly another great track, but sadly I can’t talk about all of them or else this post would become even longer than it already is! As to the other two, I felt the same way – it’s the liner notes that state they were written for Hatton and Mitotsudaira which is what makes it so interesting!
I love the OST….I just hope that they decide to make a season 3 sometime soon. =D
Very nice OST indeed~ Thanks for introducing these tracks!
Ketsui wo Himete was definitely the stand out track for me. It really made that spiral logic of a final showdown with Shakespeare even more mind blowing than it already was.
This is one of the sweetest OST of 2012.
Great post Moomba! Really appreciate hearing your thoughts on this with the knowledge of music you have. I know how you feel…all these tracks are fantastic, pretty difficult to pick a favorite.
For me personally Ketsui wo Himete & Save You from Anything were my top 2 by far.
Others that I highly enjoyed:
Track 2 – 手を伸ばし輪に誘う (Te wo Nobashi Rin ni Sasou)
Track 3 – 焦熱領域 (Shounetsu Ryouiki)
Track 9 – いつかの別れは未来形 (Itsuka no Wakare wa Miraikei)
Track 23 – Jud.
Track 2 – 勇気もて立ち向かう (Yuuki Mote Tachimukau)
Track 6 – 幸いに咲く白の花 (Saiwai ni Saku Shiro no Hana)
Track 9 – 何もかも無駄ではなく (Nanimokami Muda de wa Naku)
There really isn’t a track I don’t dislike. Usually when I go through OST’s I only enjoy a select few…but Katou Tatsuya did an incredible job with OST 1 & OST 2.
There were some really nice OST for 2012 shows but Horizon OST 2 definitely takes the top spot for me.
Also…considering that this was released in Oct… 3 long months of choosing what went into this post must have been killer moomba!
Forgot to mention but Cheap na Iki wa Koutokuten (Disc 1 track 16) is a really interesting track. I was a bit surprised to hear something like it, but I’m quite fond of it really lol.
Funnily enough, I actually did start making notes for every track on the soundtrack within a week of the OST’s release, but the big mass of end of year posts severely hampered my ability to give it the time and attention it deserved so it ended up taking a lot longer than I would’ve liked.
My favorites are Ketsui wo Himete and Save you from Anything. I love them both and I have them in my mp3.
Thanks for the awesome post.
I hope season three will be coming out soon…(glances at sunrise)
My favorite track is Saiwai ni Saku Shiro no Hana.
Cheap na Iki wa Koutokuten is really strange, interesting. Although it is somewhat surprising that in Horizon’s world exist sounds like we knew through in 8-bit games.
We really need the third season.
I’m sorry about my ugly english.
The German states needs to be represented!
Or is Brandenburg-Prussia already in existence?
M.H.R.R. represents the German states. You will see them in depth in the next arc when it comes.
Listening to KyoukaiSen OST while sipping tea in evening is just pure bliss.
Same goes for other great soundtracks as well.
Frankly speaking Moombs…. Your opinions on some of the abovementioned tracks are almost similar to mine. Though I’m not as well versed as you when it comes to the details of it.
That being said, are you going to blog on GuP’s OST?
The GuP OST is most definitely on my list of OSTs to cover, though with my current backlog I’m not entirely sure when I’ll get to it sadly.
I’ll dutifully wait for it
Horizon music, why are you so good?
I was actually wondering when Moomba’s review of KyoukaiSen OST 2 will appear after it got pick as fav ost in the Best of Anime 2012. Glad to read another enlightening review. It is such a varied but nonetheless cohesive soundtrack. I totally enjoy listening to all the tracks on the album. Like others I have my pick of favourites as well. My top 5 favourites are Anata to Odoru Yousei Kokka, Ketsui wo Himete, Tamerainaku Tobikomu no wa, Nigiyaka na Hibi no Naka and Save you from anything. Looking forward to see more ost reviews from RC.
Ok, I listened to the ost song “hidden determination” because of this post… and now I am hooked and have new music to listen to. Yay!
Should check out K’s OST It’s pretty amazing. (vol 2-3)
Jesus christ, I can’t stop listening to this soundtrack. MUH FEELS