Ghibli the Best: Hacla Instrumental Music Collection

"The Ghibli cafe collection for undiscerning consumers."

Artist Credits

  • Joe Hisaishi (composition)
  • Nana Hiwatari (guitar)
  • Kaoru Kukita (cello)
  • Eiji Otake (harmonica)
  • Dolce de Musica (performance)
  • Les Freres (piano)

Tracks

57 minutes total
  1. Ponyo on a Cliff (Ponyo on a Cliff) (from the album "Ghibli the Guitar")
  2. Teru's Song (Tales from Earthsea) (Ghibli the Harmonica)
  3. Always with Me (Spirited Away) (Les Freres: Anime de Quatre-Mains)
  4. My Neighbor Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) (Ghibli the Classics)
  5. Carrying You (Laputa) (D.d.M: Dolce de Magica)
  6. Princess Mononoke Medley (Princess Mononoke) (Ghibli the Harmonica)
  7. If Wrapped in Kindness (Kiki's Delivery Service) (Ghibli the Classics)
  8. Far-Away Days (Nausicaa) (Les Freres: Anime de Quatre-Mains)
  9. Merry-go-round of Life (Howl's Moving Castle) (Ghibli the Harmonica)
  10. Love is a Flower, You are the Seed (Only Yesterday) (Ghibli the Guitar)
  11. The Adobe Inn (Grave of the Fireflies) (Ghibli the Harmonica)
  12. Occasionally, a Story of Old (Porco Rosso) (Ghibli the Guitar)
  13. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Nausicaa) (Ghibli the Classics)
  14. Around When Cherries Ripen (Porco Rosso) (Ghibli the Classics)
  15. Town with an Ocean View (Kiki's Delivery Service) (Ghibli the Guitar)
  16. The World's Promise (Howl's Moving Castle) (D.d.M: Dolce de Magica)
  • Released Jul 16, 2008 by Aniplex (catalog no. SVWC-7556, retail 2625 yen).
  • All tracks are compiled from five instrumental albums from the Hacla label.

Reviews

The Ghibli cafe collection for undiscerning consumers.

Editor's review by Adam Corn (2009-03-11)

Ghibli the Best contains selections from five albums from the Hacla instrumental music label. "Best" is of course subjective - though many of the most famous themes from Studio Ghibli's anime films are included, the focus is on basic instrumental renditions of songs well-known to the average Japanese moviegoer, rather than more substantial themes better suited to an instrumental arranged album.

Most of the albums Ghibli the Best draws from are dedicated to a certain instrument, be it piano, guitar, or harmonica. Though many arrangements also take advantage of added accompaniment, the collection is nonetheless quite similar to your typical game music piano collection, in that the arrangements are mostly content to rest on the merits of their original melodies without making drastic changes. Were the more substantial compositions from the Ghibli catalog given preference that wouldn't pose such a problem, but the combination of simple compositions with plain arrangements makes for an often dull album. "Always with Me" from Spirited Away is a good example; its simple but pretty melody could certainly work as a piano arrangement, but the version here takes the theme nowhere beyond its most basic state. Combined with an uninteresting, completely uniform performance, it gives the impression of being at a children's piano recital.

Whoever decided to arrange Princess Mononoke for harmonica needs to have his soundtrack license revoked, as does the person responsible for including it on a best album. Though the instrument works quite effectively for the "lonely wanderer" sound in "Teru's Theme" (from Tales from Earthsea), it fails spectacularly at conveying the dignity of Mononoke's sweeping, epic themes. "Love is a Flower, You are the Seed" isn't as immediately repelling but is so sappy it eventually becomes hard to tolerate as well. (Incidentally it's based on a Bette Midler song, "The Rose".)

The one true standout track of the album is "If Wrapped in Kindness" from Kiki's Delivery Service, an earthy folk arrangement featuring acoustic guitar, violin, and Native American percussion. Everything about it contrasts with the rest of the album, from the multifaceted instrumental ensemble to the patient, purposeful arrangement to the virtuosity of the performance. Aside from this and the aforementioned "Teru's Theme", the only tracks really worthy of attention are "My Neighbor Totoro" and "The World's Promise", thanks in both cases to lighthearted but meaningful interaction between piano and violin.

With so many excellent Studio Ghibli original soundtracks, arranged albums and compilations available, only hardcore fans need bother with the tolerable but generally forgettable Ghibli the Best. The superb arrangement for "If Wrapped in Kindness" would be a shame to miss, but I would recommend trying the Ghibli the Classics album from which it is compiled in the hope that it offers a few more tracks of similar caliber, because Ghibli the Best sadly doesn't.

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