August 6, 2013

Settling the Score: Mondo’s Studio Ghibli 2X Vinyl LP

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When you look over the 18 features produced by Studio Ghibli since 1985, where do you begin to pull selections for a compilation? It’s an unenviable task for sure, but the 13 tracks that play out over two 180 gram colored vinyls on the Studio Ghibli release from Mondo get the job done.

Side one features 3 tracks from Joe Hisaishi’s score for Princess Mononoke. There are beautiful movements within these pieces that are evocative of the studio’s name itself. Ghibli means wind, as the intent of Studio Ghibli was to “blow a new wind through the anime industry,” according to a 2005 doc on the company. While I’m not a huge fan of Princess Mononoke this is my favorite part of the collection. Largely grand and sweeping it also manages to feel at times intimate. A great balance and flawless instrumentation (at least to my somewhat novice ears…).

When you flip to side two you’ll be treated to a couple more playful and somewhat jovial selections from My Neighbors The Yamadas, by Akiko Yano. I’m not familiar with this film at all but after listening to this and seeing the inner sleeve art card with track listings that features the Yamadas, I’m inclined to track it down. I’m by no means a Studio Ghibli completist so this feels like a welcome introduction to film I was otherwise unfamiliar with. Side two concludes with another track from Joe Hisaishi, this time from Spirited Away. Always With Me is the lone track from that movie in the collection and it fits perfectly here.

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With side three Hisaishi’s work from Howl’s Moving Castle gets a lot of love. Four tracks from my personal favorite film from director, Hayao Miyazaki. Not that imagination is ever in short supply within his work, I just love the world created here. But I’m a sucker for living scarecrows, fire demons and wizards.

As for side four, it’s all about the cat. The Cat Returns is another film that escaped me but reading the description has moved it to the top of my list. A girl that can speak to cats is offered the cat prince’s hand in marriage? Consider this me R.S.V.P, I’ll have the chicken. These three selections from Yuji Nomi close out the compilation nicely and leave me looking forward to hearing the rest contained within the film.

This is a great package overall. What might bum out the folks that double and triple dipped on this release in an effort to collect all the covers is that the gatefold showcases all of the great artwork from Tyler Stout. No matter which album you purchased you get it all. So as far as I can tell the only differences would be which art is featured on the cover and the color of the vinyl. The slightly marbled pink and purple vinyl accompanying my Howl’s Moving Castle copy are beautiful. Most importantly this pressing sounds fantastic and would be a welcome addition to any collection.

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Side One:

Chapter One – The Legend of Ashitaka
Chapter Four – Princess Mononoke
Chapter Eight – Ashitaka And San

 

Side Two:
The Theme of My Neighbors The Yamadas – Orchestral Version
Takashi And Matsuko’s Tango – Sinfonico
Always With Me – Orchestral Version

 

Side Three:

A Mysterious World
The Moving Castle
War War War
Cave Of The Mind

 

Side Four:

The Baron
Pastorale
Haru’s Memories