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"Excel Saga" Soundtrack 2: Leftovers Lack Luster, Laughs

Back in late 2003, I stumbled upon a little anime comedy called Excel Saga. With little prior anime experience aside from some Sci Fi Channel movies and Dragon Ball, I gave it a shot. Not only would the comedy in Excel Saga far surpass my expectations, it would be my anime “gateway,” leading to hours and hours of new animated entertainment.

One of my favorite parts of the show is its soundtrack, which mixes all sorts of musical styles into a wide array of catchy melodies. Unlike other recent shows (Midori Days, Kodocha) that repeat a half-dozen tunes ad nauseum, Excel Saga has dozens upon dozens of melodies for every conceivable situation. It helps that most of them are a heck of a lot of fun to listen to.

Unfortunately, with most of the good tracks already used on the first CD, OST 2 contains some leftovers, seldom-used and of shaky quality. There are definitely a few standouts in the 30-track CD. The four Love Hena tracks from episode four’s dating sim parody, the fast-paced New Year’s Eve tracks, the two Roppanmatsu themes and a superhero/triumphant piece with heavy guitars and blaring trumpets entitled “A Nabeshin Conversation” all work well. “It’s an Actual Soundtrack” and “It’s Indeed a Soundtrack” parody tense anticipation and melodrama in film scores. “Teizoku” has the feel of a hospital soap opera, while “Good Song” encapsulates sugary sweet romance.

Then there are those other tracks. Two low-key tracks entitled “Sweat, Running Down” are nothing more than slow drum beats and boring guitar. “Is This a Song?” and “Will I Ever Use This?” both lack discernable melodies, and I don’t remember hearing them in the show. Finally, there’s the Menchi ending song with vocals (soundtrack one only included a karaoke version) and a few songs that were only used once or twice in the show, such as “Weather Break” and “News Theme.”

All this debris weighs down the few great songs on the album. Where soundtrack one was over 60 minutes, this one barely reaches 35 despite having the same number of tracks. There’s still some good stuff on here, making it worth picking up for Excel Saga completists, but impulse buyer beware.

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