Special Features Presents: Kenji Kawai, the God of Anime and Asian cinema soundtracks

This is going to be a bit of a different kind of post than you are used to reading on my blog. Because this is a post about music, or to be more precise soundtracks. A great movie soundtrack stays in your mind, and actually helps to increase the enjoyment of a particular movie. In the Western world we ofcourse have legends like Hans Zimmer or John Williams, that have produced a great many memorable soundtracks. ย Who can forget the dark sounds of the Dark Knight trilogy, or the impressive Imperial March from the Star Wars franchise.

As much as I love the sounds of these, I have come across one composer throughout my many years of watching movies and anime, that has impressed me the most. And ย that is Kenji Kawai from Japan. His soundtracks are simply speaking completely out of this world, and have given me goosebumps all over, every time I hear the sounds of them. Today I thought I would share a few of his impressive music compositions, from various anime and Asian films. I hope you will enjoy listening to them. Here they are in no particular order.

Ghost in the Shell: Opening Theme

This one is probably his best known composition. The opening theme to the brilliant anime movieย Ghost in the Shell, is hauntingly beautiful. The video below is a live performance that is absolutely amazing.


The Battle of Wits

Taken from the soundtrack of the Chinese historical martial arts epic, A Battle of Wits, this is one of my favorite songs from Kenji Kawai. It starts off slow, but then at 2:10 it becomes this incredibly epic orchestral piece, that literally produces goosebumps whenever I hear it. If there is only one video you have time for, this is the one you should listen to. Absolutely breathtaking.


The Sky Crawlers: Opening Theme

Another song from an anime movie, this one is called Sky Crawlers. I have not yet seen this movie, but I bought it just for the soundtrack. Yes, I kid you not, I bought a film solely for the soundtrack, not even caring if it’s any good. Another hauntingly beautiful song, this is almost dreamlike.


Avalon: Log in

This song is taken from the highly underrated 2001 live action movie Avalon. It was a brilliant movie with a truly epic scope, made even more impressive by the score. This song is another epic masterpiece, that comes to life at the 0:30 mark, when a choir and orchestra explode and produce a song that is not of this Earth. Another live performance, that only increases the awesomeness of this song.


Ghost in the Shell: Nightstalker

To close things off, I give you another song from the Ghost in the Shell soundtrack. It is the shortest song on the list, lasting only 1 minute and 34 seconds, but it is truly amazing. My only regret is that it’s so very short, but luckily you can always push the repeat button. A completely unique, very bleak but also very atmospheric song.


Final thoughts

For me Kenji Kawai is the absolute master of movie soundtracks. His compositions are simply amazing, and I can never get enough of them. He has a very recognisable sound, and usually whenever I see a new movie or Animeseries that Kenji Kawai has made the music for, I manage to identify it immediately. If you are interested in hearing more of his work, I suggest heading over to YouTube where you can find more of his amazing sounds. As mentioned in the beginning, this is the first time I have made a post like this, so I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Did you enjoy this post? Have you heard of Kenji Kawai? What do you think of his music, do you love it or hate it? Let me know in the comments section below. As always thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!



30 thoughts on “Special Features Presents: Kenji Kawai, the God of Anime and Asian cinema soundtracks”

  1. Kenji Kawai isn’t my favorite composer but he’s very high on the list and rightfully deserves all the praise you give him – the man manages to provide exceptional music for decades. Truly his music for Ghost in the Shell was one of the pillars upon which its frame holds, and even in Deen’s Fate/Stay Night the soundtrack was probably the only thing about whose quality nobody can argue about.
    Overall a very enjoyable post, definitely would love to see more!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much for these kind words, truly appreciate reading them ๐Ÿ˜Š I first became interested in his music through Ghost in the Shell. The movie itself was certainly impressive enough, but the music made it even more so. In fact I don’t think it would have been the same movie without his soundtrack. I haven’t seen Deen’s Fate/Stay Night yet, but knowing that he has produced the soundtrack I am going to see if I can find it somewhere. Thanks again for your comment ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the opening number for Ghost in The Shell, after the strings come on in full after the first couple minutes, that’s pretty. Nice changeup from your usual post๐Ÿ”บ๐ŸŽป๐ŸŽŽ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽŒ๐Ÿฎ

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much, appreciate it ๐Ÿ˜Š Yes, Ghost in the Shell’s opening theme is truly terrific. It’s one of his best known compositions, and truly amazing music. Glad you liked it ๐Ÿ˜€


  3. I absolutely adored this post, so please write more of these. I didn’t know Kenji Kawai or his work, regrettably, but you’ve shown me the light! This man is a complete genius and indeed, all of his songs are masterpieces. Rarely does music touch this deep, but this one certainly does.
    I love traditional Japanese music, of course. The instruments are absolutely magical and strangely nostalgia-inducing. As if they transport me to a different era altogether. But I’d never had the pleasure to listen to Kenji Kawai, I don’t think.
    Thank you for introducing me to him! I’ll definitely compile a playlist to listen to while doing… Well, anything. The perfect soundtrack for life, if I ever saw one โค

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you again for yet another amazing comment. I really honestly at times don’t know what to say: truly appreciate the kind words.
      Kenji is absolutely amazing. Everything he has made music wise, has lifted the series or the movie it was made for, to a higher level. I highly recommend watching the live concert you can find on YouTube. It features some of his best work,and is utterly amazing to listen too. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They really are amazing. I absolutely worship this man’s music. It is so incredibly powerful, and terrific. Every month I just listen to a couple of his songs. Glad you enjoyed them as well ๐Ÿ˜€ Oh yeah, I kind of put your blog in the spotlight a bit again. I apologise for any blush inducing words in advance lol ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I shall resist blushes to death but I will grin like an idiot and be greatly pleased ๐Ÿ˜€ I read it btw and seriosuly, you’re too kind.

        Unrelated but did you turn off the comment function on your blog? I just read your School Live review and can’t comment using WordPress Reader or the computer website :/

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha, you are welcome, and your and even more importantly you yourself absolutely deserves it ๐Ÿ˜Š And the comments section is fixed I believe now (used my incredible technical skills for it….ahum…๐Ÿ˜‚).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, I was at work, and I can check my blog out on work since I have a mobile phone (yes I have entered the mobile age as well since my birthday lol). I immediately checked it out, but for some weird reason the comments section was disabled on the post. I have edited the post, and you should able to comment again. I did find it odd that there were so little responses to the post, but didn’t think anything of it. Thanks for pointing it out, and sorry for the inconvenience ๐Ÿ˜Š

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Really no problem at all. As you might have noticed I am currently a bit busy myself. Have a bit less time on my hands as usual, which means I have a little less time to write. Luckily a vacation is coming up though ๐Ÿ˜Š

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I can see why you like Kenji Kawai so much! I love the drums in Ghost in the Shell, then the strings. Beautiful. And I see what you mean about Battle of Wits.

    I didn’t have a chance to listen all the way through to everything, but I’m going to have a listen during my next writing session. I think the music will be inspirational. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I agree about movie soundtracks. They can really elevate a movie and drive our emotional experience.

    I’m so glad you shared this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed this, every once in a while I just listen to a few of his songs, they are simply amazing ๐Ÿ˜Š You can find a lot of videos of his work that you can find on YouTube ๐Ÿ˜Š Thank you for your comment,and ofcourse you are welcome ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much ๐Ÿ˜Š It is such incredibly wonderful music. I’m glad you liked it. You can find a lot of his stuff on YouTube so there is definitely more to listen to if you are interested ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just came home from work, so am trying to catch up on what I missed today…there are quite a few posts I still have to read, but I promise to ofcourse read yours as well, either today, or tomorrow. Looking forward to it ๐Ÿ˜Š

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The live performance of Ghost in the Shell is absolutely brilliant. I didn’t know the composer’s name, but now I do! So a big thank you for the recommendation. I’ll be exploring more of his works. Looking forward to more soundtrack posts! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much: I am glad you enjoyed it. Kenji is absolutely amazing. I fell in love with his music ever since Ghost in the Shell, and I keep discovering new gems every time. I might do a post on Hans Zimmer, another one of my favorite composers in the near future ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

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