Welcome to the Paradise Parade!: A Beginner's Guide to Sound HorizonPresentation Transcript
Welcome to the Paradise Parade! A beginner’s course in Sound Horizon Art by Yokoyan
The Fantasy Band: What is Sound Horizon? Sound Horizon is, in essence, a fantasy band. Under their leader and composer, Revo, members form a cohesive cast and perform full stories every album. Sound Horizon, often abbreviated by fans to “Sanhora” or simply “SH”, was one of the pioneers of an emerging Japanese musical genre known as “fantasy music”. Albums are arranged much like suites and are heavily influenced by classical music while still retaining roots in rock music. Music is performed by making use of narration, sound effects, and cryptic lyrics in order to create a fully immersive experience for the listener. Vocalists of all different ranges and styles are present, from operatic to popish, and the style of the music can change drastically from release to release in accordance with the story presented. Each musical release features its own story, characters, conflict and themes, and they often intertwine with one another. Heavy themes such as life, death, revenge, religion and other moral conflicts are discussed in full in order to express Sound Horizon’s “worldview”. The band draws heavily on a sense of unity among its fans. With the release of the album “Roman”, Revo instilled the concept of the Sound Horizon Kingdom – that is, an imaginary nation encompassing not only every character and story presented by Sound Horizon’s music, but also all of the fans from all over the world for the cause of uniting all fans under one patriotic banner. Fans are referred to as and call themselves “Laurants”, drawn from the last name prevalent in “Roman”.
Members Outside of Revo, the leader and creator of Sound Horizon, the band has no completely concrete members. Singers and musicians alike have been known to participate in one album and be absent the next. A few groups of consistently active members can be categorized into the first, second and third generations of Sound Horizon.
First Generation: 2001-2005 Begins with the release of the first Story CD, “Chronicle”, and ends with the release of the fifth Story CD, “Elysion ~Paradise Fantasy Story Suite~”. Composed of three main members: Revo, Aramary and JIMANG. Haruka Shimotsuki collaborates. Also known as the “doujin era” or “Aramary era”.
Revo The original creator of Sound Horizon and the only member present through each release. Writes, composes, arranges and produces every musical release. Creates every original story. Plays the role of the “king” in the “Sound Horizon Kingdom” and is affectionately referred to as “heika” or “his majesty” by fans.
Aramary Joined SH for “Thanatos”, the 2nd story CD, in 2002. Known for her abilities as a seiyuu and played many different roles without regard to gender or age. Left SH in 2005 after the release of “Elysion” for unknown reasons. Now does work with the band Rain Note and participates as a seiyuu on the doujin circuit and in TV spots.
JIMANG Joined SH for “Lost”, the 3rd story CD, in 2003. Sound Horizon’s first male vocalist. Known for his unique voice and eccentric, energetic performances. Mostly plays the roles of older men. Known for singing the ending song of the anime adaptation of “Umineko no Naku Koroni”. His latest solo album, “BEST ALBUM BUST”, was released in early 2011. Has participated consistently in the band to this day.
HarukaShimotsuki Collaborated in select songs from “Chronicle 2nd” and “Lost”, rejoining the band in 2008 for the release of “Moira”, the 6thStory CD. In 2006, she collaborated with Revo to release “Kiri no Mukou ni Tsunagaru Sekai”. She is a well-known musician on the doujin circuit, composing her own music and lyrics. She frequently works as a solo artist for both doujin and major releases.
Second Generation: 2006-2007 Begins with the release of the first maxi-single, “ShounenwaTsurugiwo…”, and ends with the second maxi-single, “Seisen no Iberia”. Characterized by the creation of the “Sound Horizon Kingdom” and Revo’s inception as king. Everything from here to the present is also referred to as the “major era” or “post-Aramary era”.
YUUKI (Yuuki Yoshida) Joined in 2006 for the release of the maxi-single “ShounenwaTsurugiwo…” Was in idol in the pop group “SpringS” in 2003 Known for her childish, popish voice. Has not participated in the most recent releases, but has returned for the live tours. Took center stage in the role of Layla in the 2007 maxi-single “Seisen no Iberia”
KAORI (Kaori Oda) Joined in 2006 for the release of “ShounenwaTsurugiwo…” Former member of the vocal group CHIX CHICKS. Current member of Yuki Kajiura’sFictionJunction project, singing themes for Baccano!, Tsubasa Chronicle and Pandora Hearts. Known for her powerful, deep voice as well as her ability to hit high notes. Has not participated in the most recent releases, but has returned for the live tours.
REMI (Remi Tanaka) Joined in 2006 for the release of “ShounenwaTsurugiwo…” Known for her powerful operatic voice, which is similar to a mezzo-soprano. Has participated in SH up to the most recent release. Took a main role in “Roman” as the character Michele Malebranche as well as in “Märchen” as ‘Buranko’*. *fan nickname
RIKKI (Ritsuki Nakano) First collaboration with SH was 2005 for the Leviathan Image Album, but she returned in 2006 for “ShounenwaTsurugiwo…” Known for her high-pitched voice, heavily influenced by traditional Japanese singing. Left the band in 2008 to give birth to twins, but returned in 2009 for the live tour. Famous for singing the Final Fantasy X ending theme, “Sutekida ne?”.
Akio Ohtsuka A well-known voice actor in the anime and movie dubbing circuit. First narrator for the second generation. Known for his commanding, steady voice. Took center stage in his first SH role as Bluebeard in “Märchen”.
Third Generation: 2008-Present Begins with the release of “Moira” and continues into the present day. Characterized by a grander scale of storytelling, expanded cast and a more orchestra- influenced soundtrack.
MIKI Joined the band in 2008 for “Moira” as a replacement for RIKKI. Known for her low voice. Took her first major roles in SH’s two most recent releases as Therese von Ludowing in “Ido e Itaru Mori e Itaru Ido” and as several villains in “Märchen”.
Minami Kuribayashi Joined in 2008 for “Moira” as a ‘guest singer’ in the role of Artemisia, a major character. Renowned for her voice acting and singing skills. Appeared again in the most recent release, “Märchen”, as one of Bluebeard’s dead wives (‘Aohigeko’*). *fan nickname
JOELLE Born in the USA to an American father and Japanese mother before moving to Japan. Fluent in both English and Japanese. Part of the musical duo Joelle & Clinton. Joined the band in 2010 to participate in “Ido e Itaru Mori e Itaru Ido” and “Märchen”, in both of which she took the role of the main heroine, Elisabeth von Wettin. Memorial booklet scan by Murkki
Discography Story Albums: Chronicle (2001) Thanatos (2002) Lost (2002) Elysion ~Paradise Fantasy Story Suite~ (2005) Roman (2006) Moira (2008) Märchen (2010) Singles: ShounenwaTsurugiwo… (2006) Seisen no Iberia (2007) Ido e Itaru Mori e Itaru Ido (2010) Other Releases: 1st Pleasure CD “Pico Magic” (2003) 2nd Pleasure CD “Pico Magic Reloaded” (2003” 1st Story Renewal CD “Chronicle 2nd” (2004) 1st Major Album “Elysion ~Prelude to Paradise~”
Chronicle Released by Revo at Comiket 61. Only 1200 copies were produced. It sold out. Hazeri and the MAIDLOID “Acme Iku” provide limited narration/voice acting. Devoid of singing; “lyrics” accompanied the songs in the form of several poems packaged with the CD. Tells several fragmented stories, each connected to one another in minute ways. The frame story tells of a cult which worships a series of books called the “Black Chronicle”. The books are said to contain all of history: past, present and future. Themes: War, loss, beauty of the world, love, regret, conflict.
Thanatos Released by Revo at Comiket 62 First album to feature Aramary as a vocalist Centers around a girl (‘Thanako’) who is unable to sleep for fear that Thanatos, the Greek god of death, is constantly watching her, waiting to take her away once she falls asleep. Individual songs tell of the fantasies the girl weaves in her mind to keep herself from falling asleep. Themes: death and acceptance of it, fate, impulse vs. reason, eternity.
Lost Released by Revo at Comiket 63 First to feature JIMANG and HarukaShimotsuki as vocalists Centers around a girl (‘Lost-ko’) trapped in the “watery bottom of memories”, where she watches several people’s memories unfold. She resists the wiles of the “Eternal Boy”, who causes all souls who fall into the bottom to forget their memories of their lives. The key phrase repeated throughout the album is “Have you forgotten anything?”. Each track exhibits a different memory the girl observes. Themes: Futility of life and faith, hypocrisy and naivete of man, revenge, acceptance of death, pessimism.
Chronicle 2nd 1st Renewal CD ‘Remake’ of “Chronicle” featuring additional instrumentation, vocals, and additional tracks. Like “Chronicle”, it contains several interconnected stories circling around conflict and loss. The tales are framed by the larger conflict between Lucia (or “Rukia”), who wishes to overturn fate, and the cult of the Black Chronicle, which seeks to fulfill the books’ prophecy. She is overseen by Chronica, the personification of the Black Chronicle. Themes: sorrow, loss, struggle against fate, loyalty, love, political strife, war, conflict, betrayal.
Elysion ~Paradise Fantasy Story Suite~ First Sound Horizon Story CD released under their major record label, King Records. Its songs can be divided into two parts: ELYSION and ABYSS. Tells the story of a man named Abyss who searches out young girls in hopes of finding his “Elyse”, or ideal. He adopts a sickly girl named El. The songs tell the stories of the individual girls Abyss seeks out as well as his and El’s own story. Each revolves around a doomed or taboo romance. Themes: consequences of lust, impulse vs. rationality, paradise and hell, redemption, societal taboos, fate.
ShounenwaTsurugiwo… Maxi-single released in 2006. It contains three songs, two of which were used for the themes of the Japanese MMORPG “Belle Isle”. The last was a preview of a song from the upcoming release “Roman”. Despite the songs being intended for commercial use, the stories they tell still connect to Chronicle 2nd and can be considered something of a continuation of the album. Themes: fate, revolution of time, hope, war.
Seisen no Iberia Maxi-single released in 2007. Contains Spanish and Arabic lyrics, as well as English narration. Set in the Iberian peninsula during the Reconquista, it tells the story of Layla, a girl torn between the Christian and Muslim sides of the conflict. Upon her death, she makes a pact with Shaytān, a demon, who promises to destroy whichever side she chooses. Themes: religion, conflict, human weakness, corruption and hypocrisy of religion, war.
Roman 5th Story CD. Contains French lyrics. A two-volume manga adaptation was penned by YukimaruKatsura. Set in France, the frame story revolves around a man named Hiver Laurant, the embodiment of the soul of an unborn child. The living incarnations of two dolls he was buried with, Hortense and Violette, representing life and death respectively, are tasked with observing the human world in search of the story which leads to Hiver’s birth. The individual songs each tell a different ‘roman’, or story, that Hortense and Violette find while searching for Hiver’s story. Themes: the cycle of life and death, war, mourning, futility of revenge, greed, optimism in the face of adversity, regret, motherly love.
Moira 6th Story CD. The first Sound Horizon release to attempt a complete epic tale. Contains Greek lyrics as well as English narration. A tale set in Greece in the vein of traditional Greek mythology. The story centers around a pair of twins, Elefseus (Elef) and Artemisia (Misia), who become pawns in a game between Thanatos and Moira, the Greek goddess of destiny. As expected of a typical Greek drama, it does not end well. Themes: destiny, fate, war, conflict, futility of mankind, loyalty to country vs. family, struggle against fate.
Ido e Itaru Mori e Itaru Ido Prologue Single released in 2010. It chronologically precedes the following release, “Märchen”. Abbreviated by fans as “IdoIdo”. Contains German lyrics and narration. The VOCALOID “HatsuneMiku” was utilized as the singing voice of a living doll, Elise, and a beta voicebank for VOCALOID called “Junger März PROTOTYPE β” provided the singing voice of März. Like “Märchen”, IdoIdo is set in the Thuringia Forest of Germany during the time of the Black Plague. It revolves around the von Ludowing and von Wettin families, telling the story of the young love between März von Ludowing and Elisabeth von Wettin. März’s death, which involves falling into a well, the doll which he receives from Elisabeth as a parting gift, and Therese von Ludowing’s eventual burning at the stake set the stage for the events of “Märchen”. The ending of this single flows into the beginning of the album. Themes: the Freudian id and ego, revenge, impulse vs. rationality, lust, corruption of religion, conflict, greed, politics, motherly love.
Märchen 7th Story CD released in 2010 following “IdoIdo”. Contains German lyrics and narration. All but two of the nine tracks revolve around one of the seven deadly sins and are loose adaptations of traditional Grimm Brothers fairy tales. The VOCALOID “HatsuneMiku” returns as the singing voice of Elise. Marty Friedman of MEGADETH participates on guitar. The frame story follows the character Märchen von Friedhof and his living doll companion, Elise, both of whom are vengeful spirits bound to a well. Märchen acts as both a musical conductor and a conductor of revenge, aiding the girls of each fairy tale in their revenges against those who have wronged them. The story of März von Ludowing and Elisabeth von Wettin from “IdoIdo” is continued. Themes: Freudian id and ego, revenge, redemption, corruption of religion, lust, price of sin, war, conflict, impulse vs. rationality, salvation, independence, loyalty.
Other Releases 1st and 2nd Pleasure CD’s: Pico Magic & Pico Magic Reloaded Compiled of remixes of songs from various albums as well as a few new songs. Pico Magic is lighthearted and humorous. Elysion ~Prelude to Paradise~ Compiled of several songs from the doujin era as well as two slightly altered songs from the subsequent release, “Elysion ~Paradise Fantasy Story Suite~”. It was released as a transition between Sound Horizon’s days as a doujin band and its new role as a major label band.
Related/Collaboration CD’s “Leviathan” Image Album Released in 2005. Music composed by Revo as inspired by the manga “Leviathan”. RIKKI and Aramary participated as vocalists.
“PocaFelicita”, Gunslinger Girl Image Album
Released in 2005. Character songs for the
anime/manga “Gunslinger Girl”, composed by Revo.
“Kiri no Mukou ni Tsunagaru Sekai”
Released in 2006. Collaboration between Revo
and Haruka Shimotsuki.
Contains the opening theme for the video game
”Atelier Iris Grand Phantasm”.
Released in 2008. Collaboration between
Revo and famed composer Yuki Kajiura.
LIVE TOURS Live tours of Sound Horizon can be divided into two types: story concerts and lives. Story concerts typically begin the same year a new Story CD is released. During a story concert, the cast of the newest Story CD performs the album top to bottom. Although the musicians are still in sight, the performance carries out more like a typical musical, relying heavily on costumes and genuine acting ability without MC breaks between songs. Songs from other albums may be performed at the end, but not before the entire story album is over. Lives take a form more similar to a normal concert and are typically conducted over the summer. Old and new members perform on the same stage, and songs originally sung by one vocalist may be sung by another. Depending on the song being sung, members may or may not also be in costume. These performances are more lighthearted and casual than those conducted at story concerts and feature emceeing.
Welcome to the Kingdom! And thank you for making it this far! I hope you’ve found this presentation to be informative and enlightening on your road to becoming a Sound Horizon fan. At times during your journey the numerous theories and storylines may seem overwhelming, but please remember to have fun. This is the fantasy band, after all, and all interpretations of Sound Horizon stories are valid if there is evidence to support them! In the following slide I’ve listed a few online resources which may further aid you in your quest for Sanhora knowledge. Rest assured that a majority of the members are very kind people who will be more than willing to answer any questions you may have about Sound Horizon. Much of my information and photos have come from these resources as well as my own experience with the band. So without further ado, go on and open your ears to the wonderful world of Sound Horizon! Gloria Sound Horizon Kingdom!
Resources/Credits White Crow: Sound Horizon International Fansite: www.sh-whitecrow.net Sound Horizon International Forum: www.sh-kingdom.net SH White Crow on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SHWhitecrow Flandre (Sound Horizon image/discussion board): http://flandre.us/sh/wakaba.html