I talked before about how I feel Naoki Sato is one of the great unsung heroes of anime soundtracks, and for me, one of his most essential works is Hiten – from the live action Rurouni Kenshin soundtracks. Anyone who’s seen the Kenshin movies knows that this core theme occurs roughly two or three times per movie, generally at both the opening and close of each movie – as well as over key fight sequences – punctuating the movie’s highest moments of emotion and tension.
I’ve talked before about how Sato is a master at conveying a sense of epicness in his soundtracks, and Hiten perfects that with its swirling guitar lines, percussive, marching-band beats and that glorious, majestic choral melody. Such as the power of the tune, I’ve even seen it used on Japanese light-entertainment panel shows to punctuate ‘epic’ scenes when the presenters, for example, head out into the hills of Japan and try and scale a sheer rock face.
I’ll always remember the first time I saw the first of the three Kenshin movies and how Hiten so perfectly underscores the moment it’s first used – as we’re shown the unstoppable march of history and unfolding time, as feudal Japan gives way to the Meiji restoration and increasing Westernisation and modernisation. It’s powerful stuff, and Hiten serves its purpose perfectly.