Fate / Zero Anime Music Composer Yuki Kajiura

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We had the special opportunity to interview anime music composer Yuki Kajiura. Some of his works include the soundtrack for the animated series Destiny / Zero, the garden of sinners, and The files of Lord El-Melloi II {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note. All three of the soundtrack albums were recently released digitally in the United States by TYPE-MOON Aniplex’s Milan Records.


Thank you very much for your time! For the first time, your OST of the garden of sinners, Fate zero, and The files of Lord El-Melloi II {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note will be available outside of Japan. What are your first thoughts?

Yuki Kajiura: I knew all the entertainment had a lot of fans overseas, so I’m very happy that it made my music more accessible to them. I would be grateful if the fans could listen to the music I made with all my heart.

© KINOKO NASU / Kodansha, Aniplex, Notes, ufotable

It has been over a decade since the garden of sinners has been freed. Looking back, what did you like the most about the composition of the songs? What have you struggled with and is there anything you would like to improve or improve upon if you had the chance to remaster them?

Music for the film version of The garden of sinners was directed by film music **.

(** Editorial note: in this case “musical composition” refers to the creation of music for a theatrical production while having the visual component already available as a reference, as opposed to writing music separate from the visual component .)

In most TV animation, the music is made only from paper documents, and even for the animated film versions, the visuals are usually not sufficiently completed until the film score stage. It’s rare. In that sense, it was ambitious work and I learned a lot that I will never forget. I think this work has clearly changed the way I do background music.

As for the music on the CD, I think I improved it enough at the time by arranging the music from the original work into a suite, so I didn’t want to add anything more.

Often times, you are given instructions or directions on what music to work on for a particular project. What is the process typically like when you don’t have visuals to begin with?

There are of course commands, but they vary. It also depends on the song. Sometimes they leave most of the work to me, and sometimes they ask me to give a song a certain feel, so I can only say it’s on a case-by-case basis. It’s hard to explain the process in layman’s terms, but in many cases you’ll be told where the music should be used in each scene. do with the sound production of the stage. In some cases, I read the lines aloud and decide the tempo depending on the scene.

Do you often use frame matching to compose a series? How does the process go and how can you make decisions about the pace of your composition?

As for film music, there are very few opportunities to use this method in animation. No, it was little, but it has increased recently. In particular, in theatrical and television animation there are more and more cases where we can use film music for important scenes. The film music method makes it much easier to think through the early stages of musical creation. This is because you don’t have to think about the versatility of music since you can only create music for a particular scene. In film music, the overall flow is also important, so I carefully read the script, watch the film over and over again, and create an overall plan before I start each song.

If you don’t understand the whole flow of the movie and instead start building from each part, you will fail. I can only explain how to set the tempo for each part like “to suit the scene”, pausing to make the most of important lines, changing the tempo and building it to suit the scene.

How do you approach writing instrumental music as opposed to theme songs or other songs with vocals?

I think the opening and ending theme songs are “the entry and exit” of the world portrayed in the work. Anytime you go to visit any place, it’s exciting if the entry and exit is made a little more colorful and matches their view of the world. I try to make my music in such a way that the spectators can immerse themselves in the world of our works or make the most of the afterglow of the world.

Is there a song or project that you found particularly stimulating or rewarding to have written music for?

It is difficult to narrow it down to just one, as the scoring of all the works is stimulating and rewarding.

© Nitroplus / TYPE-MOON ・ ufotable ・ FZPC

For Fate zero, you mentioned how you got lucky to read General Urobochi’s light novels. Since you were familiar with the plot and some of the scenes, how did that impact your creative process behind the music?

Not only for Fate zero, but for any work that has an original story, I always read it carefully before starting music production. If there is no original work, I read the script several times. I think it’s crucial to grasp the overall picture of the story, the flow of emotions, the tension, the meaning of color, etc., before you start creating music. In this sense, making music for productions with original works is more useful because they really contain a lot of information.

For The Files of Lord El-Melloi II {Rail Zeppelin} Grace Note, the anime takes a different approach to Fate zero. What did you think when you were asked to work on the soundtrack?

I was a little sad when I finished making music for Fate zero, so I was very happy to be able to weave music for the “Fate” world again. In creating the music, I tried to create a unique worldview, different from that of Fate zero, because it’s a completely different world even though the characters are common everywhere. However, there are a few parts where I intentionally recreated the music of Fate zero. I think that by changing the overall image of music, these elements stood out more.

© Makoto Sanda, TYPE-MOON / LEMPC

Unlike many of your other works which feature much heavier series themes and scenes, Lord El-Melloi II {Rail Zeppelin} Grace Note’s Case Files The soundtrack features many fancy tunes such as “He’s Always Serious, No Kidding” and “An Excellent Student”. What’s the process of creating these tunes that almost sound like a foil to the more serious tone of the show?

The files of Lord El Melloi II {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note is basically a mystery with many quick-witted word exchanges. It’s more about solving mysteries than battles, so the music is lighter and more natural. Also, the story takes place in London, although it is a somewhat fictional setting, so I was aware of the humidity, the easily identifiable European feel and the slight heaviness of the atmosphere.

It’s not common for many animated TV series to have a completely instrumental opening track. How did you manage to compose Start Business: Rail Zeppelin to be used as an anime opening? Was it even meant to be an anime opening? For this work, I had a clear order that the opening theme had to be instrumental, that’s how the song was born.

A final thought for fans around the world as they get the chance to listen to your works?

All of these works are really unique and full of charm, and I really enjoyed making the music for them. It is my sincere pleasure to make it more accessible for people all over the world to listen to this music. Please enjoy it!

(** Editorial note: in this case, “musical composition” refers to the creation of music for a play
production while having the visual component already available as a reference, as opposed to
write music separately from the visual component.)


Yuki Kaijura Original Soundtracks Are Now Diffusion on Spotify.


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