Ano Natsu, Ichiban Shizukana Umi
International Title
 A Scene at the Sea
Music By: Joe Hisaishi
Record Label: Toshiba EMI
Running Time: 41:50 Discs: 1
Release: October 1991 CD Number: TOCP-6907
Anthony Romero
First, thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this in for review!

Joe Hisaishi is without a doubt one of the best known composers in Japan. While much of this is due to his frequent team ups with Hayao Miyazaki, Hisaishi originally cut his teeth on live action and more obscure anime productions. These had a flavor much different from the grand orchestrations that one would find later in his career with films such as Howl's Moving Castle (2004), using more modest orchestrations along with some synth and piano work. The score for A Scene at the Sea embodies this early style pretty well, but also affirms how much the composer has improved in the years to come.

While I don't want to compare the score too much to Hisaishi's other recognized work, I will say that that this release feels very similar to some of his early "Image" albums (pre-release work) for some of Miyazaki's anime films, in particular with the Image album for Porco Rosso (TKCA-71155). It feels less refined and much more modest than maybe some are used to from the composer. The best example of this is the very electronic "Wave Cruising", which is all synth work. Being a master of the piano, Hisaishi also takes center stage with playing the instrument in a few pieces, such as "Solitude" and "Melody of Love", but without much orchestration to support him.

The real problem with this score, though, is that it lacks a star track, something to really stand out. "Silent Love (Main Theme)" is about as close as it comes, being a suite of other themes heard on the disc and also boasting some memorable vocal work in that it's unusual. However, even that theme falls a little short. The best the disc has to offer is really the soothing, violin heavy track "While at Work", which might only be a minute long but is very relaxing to hear.

Overall, this soundtrack is decent but nothing to write home about. Hisaishi fans will enjoy it, but more casual fans should exhaust the composer's more famous work before diving into his earlier material such as this. In terms of how this CD compares with the later release of the score (WRCT-1002), both have identical content. I have a preference for this release simply as it looks more like the movie's soundtrack, where as the 2001 edition has a very generic look and pushes the Joe Hisaishi element to the point it overshadows the actual subject matter. However, price point would likely win in terms of picking between the two.

As a side note, "Clifside" is how the track is spelled on the CD rather than "Cliffside".
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Silent Love (Main Theme)
  2. Clifside Waltz I
  3. Island Song
  4. Silent Love (In Search of Something)
  5. Bus Stop
  6. While at Work
  7. Clifside Waltz II
  8. Solitude
  9. Melody of Love
  10. Silent Love (Forever)
  11. Alone
  12. Next is My Turn
  13. Wave Cruising
  14. Clifside Waltz III