Naoki Sato is a composer I feel deserves more respect within anime fandom than he perhaps gets. With his work split relatively evenly between anime and live-action works, it is perhaps this fracturing that means he’s relatively passed over in terms of anime music discourse. It’s worth noting though that he’s been nominated a number of times for his work by Japan’s equivalent of the Oscars, including for notable war epic The Eternal Zero. He’s also scored the live action adaptations of Rurouni Kenshin, Parasyte and Space Battleship Yamato – so clearly has form for a certain kind of material.
I’d like to take us back to what I believe was his very first anime score – from 2001 – for the TV version of Clamp’s X. Now, with the original manga as one of my favourite of all time, and Kawajiri’s TV adaptation being unfairly maligned in my opinion due to its age and use of digi-paint, I believe Sato’s score lies at the heart of the TV show – glowing everything together and adding bucketloads of heart and emotion to the series. Every time I hear the central refrain of core track Destiny, I can vividly remember key character deaths from the series and just an overwhelming, palpable sense of raw mortality and the inescapable fate of the world. A great deal of Sato’s scores operate on this vast, epic, almost militaristic scale, and Destiny is perhaps one of his best core themes – like many of the other songs from the X soundtrack, incredibly strong on melody above all else.