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Original Title:

Japan 2005

Taro Iwashiro

Shinobi - Heart under Blade - OST

Review: Taro Iwashiro proves once again after his work for "Azumi" that he is the first choice in Japan, when it comes to fantasy-swordfighting-movies, for a reason. This time he can show more of his melodic side, because his soundtrack for "Shinobi" is less action-orientated, but more dreamy and meditative. However, this doesn't mean that the music lacks the necessary rhythm. You can repeatedly recognize Iwashiro's feature characteristics, even so in the first track already, which starts tranquil and serene. The motif is first conveyed by the low sound of a flute. Slowly, tension builds up until a background motive is played by some strings and the use of a drum every now and then gives it some adrenaline boost. The wind instruments put the finishing touches on the track and imbue it with something reservedly pompous.

The second track is another intensification. The conduction of the main motive fades into the background, nevertheless luckily never vanishes completely, and percussion instruments eventually make this piece one of the most action-orientated and rhythmic ones of the CD. Not really one of the best tracks as the strings stay a little bit too much in the background, but this surely is more or less a matter of taste.
The third track sticks out with its soft violins and trombones as with a trumpet, which provokes tragic and yet hopeful emotions. The meanwhile familiar theme is then played by additional instruments and it then blends into the 4th track, which instantly creates a threatening atmosphere with its dark cello-sounds and becomes sentimentally sad in the end.
Track 5 with its minimalistic use of a melody and the heartlike pounding rhythm in the background generates an increasing tension bar, that suddenly fades into nothingness.

The true highlight of the soundtrack surely is title number 6. The tranquil melody of a flute and the gentle sound of the strings in the background bring back the dreamy landscape shots of the movie in one's mind. At the same time the tune can move and cause heartache with its tragical sound, especially if you have already seen the movie. It's just a shame that the track is way too short with merely a two and a half minutes running time. Anyway, it's not so bad, because the CD continues in a similar melodic and fairy-tale-like mood. Track 7 is something like a good working encore even though it can't really measure up to the previous title.
Introduced by dissonant piano sounds title number 8 has more ambience character. The constant subtle droning in the background and the menacing surge of swift string sounds make you feel like being trapped in a dangerous, dark forest, which' trees seem to have eyes letting you look around in panic without a break.
The last real title of the soundtrack is a little bit more tension-orientated, nonetheless halfway through it makes a turn to the more tragic providing us with familiar themes again. Unfortunately, the last tunes fade into nothingness once again leaving us a bit disappointed. It would have been a better choice to put some other song at the end of the CD!

As an extra "Heaven" from number one J-Popstar Ayumi Hamasaki found its way on the CD. The official theme of the movie proves to be surprisingly less pop-like or experimental than expected. Actually, it's just a simple, yet nice love ballad, which despite the modest use of a e-guitar in the background, mainly excells because of some strings and the use of a Japanese plucked instrument. Ayumi's voice, whatever you might think of her otherwise, conveys the song with lots of emotions and so "Heaven" has it all to become a really catching tune after repeated listening.

If there is one big sore point about the OST to "Shinobi" then it's the short running time. Taro Iwashiro did a great job once again and above all the CD is better than the "Azumi"-OST at times. If you've watched the movie you will find yourself back in the wonderful landscapes again and some of the more emotional tunes can even give you goose bumps or make you silently cry with joy, depending how much of an emotional person you are, of course.
Since the tracks are all very "flowing" they blend together very well and so the CD absolutely qualifies to be played in the background often.
Taro Iwashiro created a sentimental and dreamy soundtrack, that shouldn't be missing in any Fantasy-Movie-OST collection!

Copyright 2006 AsianMovieWeb

Track listing

Running Time = 34:48

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