SSS02 - Joe Hisaishi - Better than a Boar-Demon

The dramatic flourishes from parts of the 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' soundtrack reminded me of my favourite Joe Hisaishi score, so he'll be under the spotlight in this week's Summer Soundtrack Series piece. Yes we're going to keep calling it the Summer Soundtrack Series as the temperature drops, someone has to keep the summer alive.

An incredibly prolific composer, Joe Hisaishi (born Mamoru Fujisawa) has notched up over 100 scores and solo albums. 

Like all great composers, he manages to draw from an enormous range of influences to create a sound that is both instantly recognisable and indubitably his own. Although he's worked in minimalist electronic styles, he became famous for his work on anime scores that fuse European and Japanese classical themes. No more so than the scores he worked on for Hayao Miyazaki's incredible films. They began working together in 1984 with Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, forming a partnership that would span over 25 years . Hisaishi's scores seem to parallel and bolster the limitless imagination of Miyazaki's anime scope, oozing childlike innocence and an unstoppable sense of wanderlust. 

2001's Spirited Away was probably the massive breakthrough for Hisaishi/Miyazaki films in the UK mainstream but it was with Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind that they set the anime bar, and with Princess Mononoke (1997) that they raised it. Miyazaki was going to stop making films after Mononoke but its success inspired him to keep working. Disney wanted to distribute a cut version of the film (which stands at well over 2 hours) to get a PG certificate for US release but Miyazaki admirably refused any cuts.I strongly suggest putting on Princess Mononoke - Journey to the West next time you have to set out on a late evening odyssey such as picking another couple of Red Stripes or a pint of milk. Enjoy.

And for any Studio Ghibli geeks out there, here's their tip of the hat to old school Japanese sci-fi - their first foray into live action using miniatures and inspired by the Giant Warriors from Nausciaa:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 14:15