Various Artists

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Rivale

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In anime, character albums have become an interesting extension of the worlds embodied in the various series. Not just soundtracks of music from the shows, they instead put a show's characters either into a singing setting or present music surrounding the style of a given character -- something of a musical collage built around a character. For Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, another twist is given -- one album (Famiglia) contains songs from the family of characters surrounding the protagonist, while a month later a response album (Rivale, this one) was released with harder-edged songs from the group of antagonists. The music is rarely at the level of established music stars, even by the somewhat loose standards of the Japanese pop scene, but it does provide for what essentially becomes an audio-only version of a Broadway musical -- call and response, melodramatic deliveries, and hints of rock all combine for musical theater built just for the series' fans.