By Paul Browne.
The evocative melodies of the opening theme in the science fiction anime Noein take the listener away on a journey fuelled by strings and gentle electronica. It’s a gentle, uplifting number that comes via pop outfit Eufonius.
Primarily a duo comprised of Riya, who handles vocals and Hajime Kikuchi who composes and arranges the songs, Eufonius has been staggeringly prolific. Since their 2003 debut the outfit have released 17 studio albums alone, not including their involvement in collaborations and a semi-regular radio show.
Riya and Hajime originally met over the Internet in 2003, forming Eufonius soon after. The pair later signed to record label King which resulted in their first major album release Subarashiki Sekai in 2006. The group soon swiftly garnered an impressive catalogue of musical compositions designed for anime titles. This included the likes of Clannad, Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, Himawari!, True Tears and Noein.
The same year, Eufonius took on composition duties for the opening theme to romantic comedy Himawari. ‘Guru Guru’ is a serviceable pop tune underpinned by regimented percussion. The group returned to the series in 2007 for the Himawari Too!! follow-up which saw Eufonius take on ‘Kirakira’, an unusual composition that weaved together chiptune elements with more classical arrangements.
But it’s probably their work on Clannad that’s among their most well-known projects. Eufonius originally composed music for the original visual novel before transferring to work on the 2007 anime adaptation. ‘Mag Mell’, the evocative tones of Clannad’s opening theme features Riya’s distinctive airy vocals over a strings-driven melody that plucks at the heartstrings. It’s a perfect companion to the engaging anime series (and is actually a remixed version of the original visual novel version).
Eufonius later signed to the Lantis label, although they also continued to release independent albums. Meanwhile, the duo remained in demand for anime projects. Their work on the True Tears series included the wistful appeal of opening theme ‘Reflectier’ as well as the introspective piano melodies of insert song ‘Namida no Kioku’.
The release of the Ao no Scape album in 2009 scored the outfit’s greatest chart success with the album reaching No. 55 in the Oricon charts. Meanwhile, the light and wistful melodies of 2010’s ‘Hiyoku no Hane’ (which forms the opening theme for the series Yosuga no Sora) gave the outfit their highest chart position, landing a No. 16 position in the Oricon charts.
The outfit also returned to scoring music for visual novels, including work for the Love, Elections & Chocolate title and more recently Akai Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai, for which they composed the uptempo pop tune ‘Glowing World’. They also found time for video game themes, such as 2012’s Unchain Blades Exxiv.
Eufonius continued their anime adventures with the contribution of the perky ‘Paradigm’ for 2012 series Kokoro Connect. Their involvement in the series led to some controversy later however. Some ill-judged comments by Hajime revolving around another singer resulted in Hajime stepping away from involvement in the musical outfit for a period.
Despite this, Eufonius returned in 2014 with the release of the Kioku Seizu album for the Lantis label.
As an engaging J-pop outfit, that have delivered some fine examples of wistful and heart-warming songs, it’s clear that Eufonius still have a long musical journey ahead.