Once you hear him, you know him. Hiroyuki Sawano is undoubtedly one of the most well-known original soundtrack music composers. Sawano’s huge range of works have featured in anime, from classics like Kill La Kill to movies as recent as Promare.
The Music of Hiroyuki Sawano
Despite his incredibly long music career and the variety of soundtracks he composes, the sound of his music — everything from epic battle tracks to tear-evoking melancholic melodies — is hard to mistake and even harder to forget. Sawano often blends orchestral instruments with powerful electronic beats and strong vocals, making for incredibly modern and crisp soundtracks. Sawano stands out from the crowd with his interestingly stylized composition titles. The titles dabble with various punctuation marks, capitalization, and numbers that all seem to play off the same recurring themes.
Yet for all that he has composed, Sawano keeps a relatively low profile. In fact, how much can you say you know about the man behind the music? I certainly don’t know very much. But I can provide a brief summary so that we can all better appreciate him!
Born in 1980 in Tokyo, Sawano started his musical journey as many music artists do — with piano in elementary school. As a late teen, he began formally studying composition and arrangement with contemporary music composer Nobuchika Tsuboi. Sawano won his first award in 2006 for his soundtrack to Team Medical Dragon, an anime television drama. He hasn’t lost any momentum since then, continuing to create award-winning music for anime lovers to enjoy.
Outside of composing music for shows and movies, Sawano also wrote songs for other music artists — including Korean singer Lena Park, mizuki, and Aimer — under the project name SawanoHiroyuki [nZk]. Through his project, he’s released three singles, “A/Z,” “&Z,” and “XU|scAPEgoat.” But given Sawano’s rapid production of music, we are sure to expect more!
While I await more music from Sawano, I’ll listen to some of my favorites on repeat.
Top 10 Favorite Music Compositions from Hiroyuki Sawano:
“BangBangBUR!…n?” from Promare
This soundtrack was nearly impossible to get out of my head when I first watched Promare in the theaters. As part of the opening sequence, the music really sets the tone for the movie. I absolutely love the distorted strings and the saw bass in the background.
Nui Harime Theme Song from Kill La Kill
Perhaps my adoration and fascination with Nui Harime biases me in choosing the best Sawano soundtrack in the entirety of Kill La Kill, but this incredibly short three-minute segment gives me the chills with each and every listen! The creepiness of the song, with its off-rhythm melody and xylophone lullaby, suits Nui’s character perfectly.
“βίος” from Guilty Crown
The vocals are what really stand out in this song — both in range and amplitude. German lyrics add to the power of the song, and its falls and drops bring you back to the very moments of battle when the soundtrack played.
“108” from Owari no Seraph
I think what’s interesting about this soundtrack is how there seems to be two distinct parts of the composition — the first, led by male vocals and structured like a modern song, and the second, led by female vocals that serve as a form of a bridge to the end of the track. The two parts connect seamlessly, even though they are completely different.
“Perfect Time” from The Seven Deadly Sins
This is one of my favorite Sawano tracks to get hype to! I love the clear influence of folk violin music incorporated into the track, which sides perfectly with the fantasy setting of The Seven Deadly Sins. The song was made for this world of knights, kingdoms, taverns, giants, fairies, and demons!
“UNICORN” from Gundam Unicorn
This track opens with traditional orchestral instruments but very quickly turns into an epic composition with its first drop. The strings carry the base melody of the theme, which reminds me somewhat of Steve Jablonsky’s Transformers soundtracks, but the soundtrack’s power comes in its original fanfare of vocals, brass, and strings.
“God of ink (feat. mpi)” from Re:CREATORS
The hard guitar and bass opening of this track hints towards this song’s rock-influence. The song is structured like an alternative rock song, even including an amazing rift toward the end!
“Roll The Dice <OrCH ver.>” from Thunderbolt Fantasy
This is an incredibly epic soundtrack that incorporates a lot of Sawano’s trademark style — the orchestral instruments with contemporary sounds, like the guitar, and a few electronic distortions.
“31N-M” from Sign – Ho Igakusha Yuzuki Takashi No Jiken
I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch the anime drama, Sign, that featured this soundtrack. I only stumbled upon this song by accident while listening to a stream of Sawano, but I am thankful that chance let me in on this riveting track! It opens with a peaceful piano, which is overturned by the electric guitar and drums before you even get a chance to process. The song walks the fine line between epic and tranquil — a treat to listen to!
“Barricades” from Attack on Titan
I love how this soundtrack starts with an interesting combination of an 8-bit old school electronic beats overlaid with piano. The co-ed vocals are uplifting and create a sense of urgency — which is an absolute must in a world against Titans.
Which Sawano soundtracks are your favorites? Share the music and the love with me! Tweet us at @geekgalsco!
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Featured image credit: Moshimoshi-Nippon.jp