Film scores

Soundtrack review: Assassination classroom (Naoki Sato – 2015)

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“Assassination classroom” is a famous Japanese manga series. I am not into that kind of think so I haven’t seen any of it but when the score is written by Naoki Sato, I get interested. This is one of the names that always have something special and interesting to offer and I am all ears.

The beginning of the score is on the more exciting side of the recent action scoring trends. It’s the electronic sound that composers like Harry Gregson Williams, Marco Beltrami or even Brian Tyler when he’s not at his very best have been abundantly using these past few years. I have a flashback of a lot of the “Fast and furious” scores as a general mood, although “Assassination classroom” sounds better. As soon as the first couple of cues are out the way, Naoki Sato takes a turn towards the delightful sound of the old school spy movies with the “Main title” which is just a celebration of life and music. It such a joyful cue, it makes me want to groove and jump and smile and I wasn’t expecting it. This charming and addictive theme will return at the end.

The risk though is that a cue like that one could ruin the rest of the score for me. This is not a happy story, this is not a happy movie and I am reminded of that when I listen to “Ikari no koro / Sensei” which is ominous and aggressive. There’s a lot of variation in this score but unfortunately not the good kind. The way the score swings from heavy electronic and almost unintelligible to me (“Jiritsu Shikou Kotei Houdai”) to a low key piano theme (“Karuma No Zetsubou”) to almost horror in “Horibe Itona”. As the music progresses I find myself drawn more to the less electronic parts, to the moods that try to make me reflect or remember. There aren’t many of these moments, and it’s a shame.

One of my favorite cues from “Assassination classroom” is “Yakusoku o mamoru tame”. I have no idea what the title means but I don’t need to know that as long as the universal language of music tells me everything I want to hear. This is a beautiful, sweeping and intense theme that takes me over from the inside and makes me wonder what those abrasive electronic sounds are doing next to it.

Still, the point of film music is to make the listener feel something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be all good, but if a score gets a reaction from me then I can’t say it’s not good. And the wild mood swings of “Assassination classroom” worked. This score was rich and thick and there’s a layer for everyone. You will find a cue which will make you think of Ennio Morricone and Edda del’Orso and another one that will make you imagine the sweetest love stories. Sure there are pieces that will make you think you were at a sick rave being chased by a chainsaw killer but at least you can have your pick. if it was for me, I would play the main theme and “Arigatou, 3-Nen E-gumi” for you.

Cue rating: 82 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 16 / 45

Album excellence: 36%

Highlights:

Irina Jelavić-Sensei

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu Main Title

Yakusoku O Mamoru Tame

Hinkon Tako Ikka No Seikatsu

Ansatsu Taikai Kekkou

Arigatou, 3-Nen E-Gumi

Yappari Koro-Sensei

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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