Bubble – Hiroyuki Sawano

Music is written for all kinds of media. You can find many reviews of music for movies, TV shows and games on this site, but another type of medium that often comes with great scores is Japanese animation – ‘anime’ for short. One anime soundtrack even made it into my Top 20 soundtracks of the last decade, which is Attack on Titan, composed by Hiroyuki Sawano. When I found out that he also wrote the score for the anime Bubble on Netflix, I found myself on the couch the same evening to watch the movie, and, of course, listen to the new score by Sawano as well.

The movie is about a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, where the boy Hibiki and Uta – a girl who is not from this world – meet. What connects them is a melody of two groups of four notes they both can hear in the movie, which is a perfect opportunity for Sawano to integrate that concept into his score. The first track “BUBBLE” is an excellent example, starting with the melody from the story and while the track progresses, the melody gets support from the orchestra and additional synths. The track is also a terrific reflection of all the beauty in the score. 

The album contains more of these gorgeous orchestral pieces with additional synths, and as far as I can tell, they are all musically linked to the eight notes from the story’s melody. Some pieces are even elevated to the next level of beauty by adding the voice of Japanese vocalist ‘Riria.’. Not only does she provide the speaking voice for Uta, she also sings her parts in the movie, resulting in gorgeous cues in which Sawano’s music and her voice are beautifully blending together, as can be heard, for example in “UTAtoHIBIKI.”

There are more musical highlights to be found. An important concept in the movie is parkour games played in the destroyed city, for which you have to go from point A to B as fast as possible, traversing the hazardous terrain. These sequences are brilliantly scored by Sawano. “BATTLEKOUR” is a track that has a superb foundation of percussion and slapping bass, with guitar and orchestral elements laid over it, resulting in a piece that you can easily set to auto-repeat. “PARKOUR” is another piece supporting a parkour sequence, but this time, it sounds more gentle, and it also includes Riria.’s wonderful voice.

I loved watching the movie. The story was refreshing, with a good mix of light-heartedness and a slightly dark undertone. But the main reason why I liked it was the music. Especially how the music revolves around the eight-note melody is a beautiful concept and makes the connection between the music and the images even tighter. I have seen YouTube videos of concerts where Sawano’s music for Attack on Titan is performed live. I am secretly hoping we get something like this for Bubble as well. If it is not in a concert hall, another live performance on YouTube. The music is lovely and should be experienced in as many ways as possible.

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The highlights are in bold.

  1. BUBBLE (1:58)
  2. BATTLEKOUR (5:21)
  3. BB (0:53)
  4. JU-RYOKU ver.2 (3:58)
  5. BB2 (2:29)
  6. MERMAID (4:18)
  7. HIBIKI (1:55)
  8. UTAtoHIBIKI (1:32)
  9. UNDERTAKER (2:15)
  10. BB×UT (3:20)
  11. PARKOUR (3:56)
  12. UTA (1:57)
  13. 2ndBUBBLE (5:29)
  14. TOWER (5:56)
  15. NE-SAMA (2:19)
  16. BUBBLE-cho. (6:48)
  17. BUBBLE-THEME (3:52)
  18. Bubble (feat. Uta) (3:46)
  19. Bubble (TeddyLoid Remix) (3:23)
  20. 色彩 (performed by Riria.) (5:11)
  21. じゃあね、またね。(performed by Riria.) (4:05)
  22. BUBBLE-outtake1 (3:01)
  23. BUBBLE-outtake2 (1:48)
  24. BUBBLE-outtake3 (1:29)
  25. BUBBLE-outtake4 (2:06)
  26. BUBBLE-outtake5 (0:23)
  27. BUBBLE-outtake6 (1:48)
  28. BUBBLE-outtake7 (3:00)
  29. BUBBLE-outtake8 (0:36)

Total length: 1 hour and 28 minutes
Toys Factory (2022)

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