As mentioned, I wasn’t as impressed by the latest Studio Ghibli film, Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea, as I had hoped and expected to be. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either.
All of the Studio Ghibli films directed by by Hayao Miyazaki have had music composed by Joe Hisaishi, and Ponyo is no exception. While I’m not the biggest fan of the composer’s scores (due to the fact that they can come off as being a bit too generically cinematic with lush and bombastic orchestral pieces moving along with whatever’s happening on the screen, which I find doesn’t work well for me off screen), he has definitely authored some very good pieces of music.
In addition to the soundtrack they also released a so called image album for Ponyo, containing some instrumental and vocal pieces composed by Joe Hisaishi which (I believe) were not used for the film. One of these is a song performed by the Japanese artist Mai, which is this week’s pick.
I wish they had used this song in the actual film; there’s nothing quite like the successful marriage of a beautiful piece of music with beautiful animation, and this is certainly a beautiful piece of music. Mai’s vocals almost sound like they’ve been through some sort of high-tech audio effect, but I’m fairly certain it’s her actual singing voice as she performed this song live with great success at the Studio Ghibli 25th anniversary concert.
(Which was a somewhat odd choice; why perform a song that’s not used in the actual film but only available through a supplementary album? That’s a bit eclectic. They even performed another song from the same image album during the concert. I’m guessing they wanted to promote it, seeing as it was released the same year as the concert was held.)