I’m definitely guilty of having mentioned my favorite anime (and show of all time), Puella Magi Madoka Magica, in more than one article whether its inclusion was relevant to the subject or not.
The show thrives on mixed media and subverting tropes, but despite being a very visual person, I still took note of Madoka’s gorgeous soundtrack. And this soundtrack wouldn’t have been the same without the haunting vocals and intense string work of Kalafina that manage to be both tragic and triumphant at the turn of a witch.
In parsing through songs I thought would be fitting for a Madoka-inspired playlist, I tried to pick five, one from each of Kalafina’s five albums, that weren’t already tailored for the show or another project.
Who Are Kalafina?
Kalafina was originally conceived as a two-women “girl group” by renowned composer Yuki Kaijura of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero, and Sword Art Online fame who wanted the duo to perform music for anime like TYPE-MOON’s The Garden of Sinners.
In fact, half of the tracks on Kalafina’s first album, Seventh Heaven, were recorded with the goal of serving as theme songs for said anime. I like “Aria,” the theme for Garden of Sinners’ fourth chapter, in particular for its build-up and solemn tone.
By mid-2008, the Japanese vocal group cemented itself with four singers, Keiko Kubota, Wakana Ōtaki, Maya Toyoshima, and Hikaru Masai. The group went on to release many a successful studio album and spearhead live tours at places such as Nippon Budokan.
However, in the end, composer Kaijura’s departure from Space Craft Produce agency in 2018 in favor of continuing her rotating personal project, “FictionJunction,” was the first step to disbandment. On March 13th, 2019, the group went their separate ways.
Needless to say, the Kalafina trio’s fashion ranging from fairytale to gothic, overall stage presence, and unique theatrical tracks will be greatly missed.
But hey, nothing’s stopping fans from enjoying the music they did manage to produce in their twelve years active. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at Kalafina and their less-talked-about hits!
Top 5 Songs
1) “Ashita no Keshiki” (Seventh Heaven, 2009)
“Ashita no Keshiki” translates to “The Scenery of Tomorrow,” and the uncertainty of daily life, of memories past, shows in its slow start. The melody reminds me of something that an anime heroine, perhaps of the sheltered princess variety, would sing. It’s a song that speaks to longing.
However, the hopeful flute that comes in halfway is a musical choice I link to the magical girl transformations of Madoka. With that said, the shift from solemn to triumphant, even for a fleeting moment, makes this track worth a listen.
2) “Hoshi no Utai” (Red Moon, 2010)
In contrast to “Ashita no Keshiki,” “Hoshi no Utai” starts with a bang.
“Hoshi no Utai” translates to “Chant of the Stars,” the song’s dramatic drops, flute solos, and ominous string music coming together perfectly. There is an unearthly quality to the literal chanting in the song that evokes magical girl shows like Madoka and Sailor Moon Crystal yet again.
3) “Eden” (After Eden, 2011)
“Eden” is simply feel-good, which is interesting considering the weight the biblical Eden harbors. With that said, “Eden” embodies the idea of new beginnings, of paradise. It is untouched by harsh or sudden instrumentals and vocals.
I think this is emphasized by the slow decline of the rest of the album. And by decline, I don’t mean a decline in quality.
And yes, I said I’d only discuss five songs, but it’d be criminal not to talk about “Magia Quattro.”
The jump from “Eden” to “Magia Quattro” couldn’t be greater. The latter was used as the ending theme of Madoka and signals its true twisted nature as a show about heartbreak and loss of innocence.
4) “moonfesta” (Consolation, 2013)
Where “Eden” is feel-good in a low key way, “moonfesta” is fun, high energy, and simply infectious.
While the other songs on this list give off either serious fantasy or slice-of-life vibes, this track feels like the musical equivalent of stepping foot into a renaissance fair.
5) “Sora-iro no Isu” (Far on the Water, 2015)
I admit, out of Kalafina’s five albums, Far on the Water resonated with me the least. On one hand, I recognize that composer and songwriter Kaijura was trying something a bit different with this album, but there just wasn’t any one “hook” to latch onto.
That aside, I still wish to acknowledge the gentle harp of “Sora-iro no Isu” (translates to “Sky-Blue Chair”).
The quieter Kalafina songs do a better job in general at showcasing the trio’s voices in a clean, clear way.