Akira Soundtrack CD's

It is not that well known that the Akira soundtrack is the second part to a musical trilogy by the group Geino Yamashirogumi led by Shoji Yamashiro. Below are the original Japanese releases of these albums. My personal favourite of these albums is definitly Symphonic Suit Akira.

Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Ecophony Rinne

"From 1986, Ecophony Rinne, (Reincarnated Orchestra) is a concept album in four movements based on the eternal cycles of birth, death and rebirth. This landmark recording saw the group fuse the traditional music of different cultures into a hi-tech wall of sound. Created by over 200 performers the music has a distincly East Asian flavour- Japanese shomyo type buddhist chants, Japanese drums, Balinese gamelan, Noh music, Tibetan percussion, together with synthesizers adding dynamic and dramatic effects."

Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Ecophony Rinne front cover.

Released: 1986

Composed By, Conductor, Producer: Yamashiro Shoji

Performer: Geinoh Yamashirogumi

  • Primordial Germination (11:43)
  • Falling As Flowers Do - Dying A Glorious Death (7:51)
  • Dark Slumber (5:07)
  • Reincarnation (13:36)

Running Time:

Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Symphonic Suite Akira

"There's no arguing that AKIRA is one of the top anime theatrical features of all time, with a uniquely unorthodox soundtrack that retains its futuristic, yet modern-day appeal, becoming an integral part of this groundbreaking film. From the initial tribal chanting that builds up to a cacophony of primal disorder and frenzy, to the unmistakably haggard breathing that signifies the arrival of the Clown biker gang, there are 10 over-the-edge instrumentals that will have your aural senses reeling on this percussion rich CD."

Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Symphonic Suite Akira front cover.

Released: 27 July 1988

Composed By, Conductor, Producer: Yamashiro Shoji

Performer: Geinoh Yamashirogumi

  • Kaneda (3:10)
  • Battle Against Clown (3:36)
  • Winds Over Neo-Tokyo (2:48)
  • Tetsuo (10:18)
  • Doll's Polyphony (2:55)
  • Shohmyoh (10:11)
  • Mutation (4:49)
  • Exodus From the Underground Fortress (3:18)
  • Illusion (13:56)
  • Requiem (14:26)

Running Time: 69:27

Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Ecophony Gaia

Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Ecophony Gaia front cover.

Released: 30 June 1990

Composed By, Conductor, Producer: Yamashiro Shoji

Performer: Geinoh Yamashirogumi

  • Chaos (13:58)
  • Genesis (11:03)
  • Euphony (17:29)
  • Catastrophe (8:33)
  • Disco (8:39)
  • Gaia (10:53)

Running Time:

Akira - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

This is not a Geinoh Yamashirogumi album. It is instead a remixed album featuring audio samples from the film. It lacks the qualities that make the three Geinoh albums so amazing and with the samples from the film added, it becomes quite unlistenable.

Akira - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack front cover.

Released: 10 October 1988

Composed By, Conductor, Producer: Yamashiro Shoji

Performer: Geinoh Yamashirogumi

  • Kaneda (9:56)
  • Tetsuo I (12:36)
  • Tetsuo II (12:33)
  • Akira (7:56)

Running Time: 43:06


by Fred Patten

There are many outstanding motion picture composers and many brilliant sound tracks. It is almost impossible, for example, to think of George Lucas' Star Wars movies without thinking of John Williams' scores, or of Star Trek without the music of Alexander Courage (the TV series) or of Jerry Goldsmith (the first movie). Or, to go back further, of Errol Flynn's 1930s hits like Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood without the music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Terrific music, all of it, which undoubtedly contributed considerably to those movies' dramatic impacts and popularity.

But suppose, in some parallel universe, other composers had scored these movies. The music would have been different, but would it have been any worse? It is hard to imagine, say, that Max Steiner or Miklós Rózsa would have scored anything inferior to Korngold's stirring themes, or that Jerry Goldsmith or Peter Schickele (or Henry Mancini) would not have matched Williams' quality.

However, there are rare occasions when you can truly say that this movie had to have this particular music. The cinematic imagery and the emotion-stirring music were such a perfect blend that no other music would have worked as well. One was the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stanley Kubrick's decision to replace the original score which Alex North was composing for it with classical music, notably Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra and Johann Strauss' The Blue Danube, was a stroke of genius. This is not to criticise the quality of North's music. His partially-completed score has been released separately, and if you have heard it you know it is also fine music. But it does not have that undefinable little bit extra that Kubrick realized his classical picks would bring to his movie.

A second was Fred M. Wilcox's 1956 Forbidden Planet, with its "electronic tonalities" by Louis and Bebe Barron. The 1950s were the decade of lots of "futuristic" sci-fi music featuring the electronic theremin. But despite the intent of such composers as Bernard Herrmann to write valid music for it, the theremin never succeeded in sounding like much more than a generically "eerie" sound effect. The Barrons' score for Forbidden Planet, however, was truly electronic music, futuristic yet pleasant to listen to and perfectly matched to each scene, however much the American Federation of Musicians (the labor union that controlled Hollywood's movie music in the '50s) may have tried to deny it by requiring MGM to say that Forbidden Planet did not have any music, only tonalities.

The third, of course, is Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira with its throbbing, primal music by Geinoh Yamashirogumi; the Yamashiro Artistic Group led by Shoji Yamashiro. Otomo has said that he had the Yamashirogumi in mind from the start, and approached them even though he feared they would turn him down because they did not do movie music. Fortunately they accepted the assignment. Their taiko-like drumming and powerfully resonant masculine choral musical depiction of 21st-century Neo-Tokyo fits Otomo's technologically advanced imagery, yet ties it into a seamless Japanese cultural gestalt stretching into the ancient past. Dynamic percussion and chanting are the most memorable aspects of Akira's score. The sparklingly metallic theme for Tetsuo created by the gamelan also stands out. It retains Tetsuo's Japanese identity yet dramatically lifts him above his pals in Kaneda's gang and signifies his transformation into something more than human: a new identity tied by the soft chorus of women's childlike voices into the world of the wizened psionic "children of the future" -- the artificially-hastened next step in human evolution.

Sure, John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith or Danny Elfman could have written an excellent score for Akira. Their Japanese counterparts like Jo Hisaishi, Kenji Kawai, Yoko Kanno or Toshiyuki Honda might have done even better. But Akira without Geinoh Yamashirogumi ... well, it just would not have been Akira.