Pandora Hearts Original Soundtrack 1 – Review

VTCL-60120_10

Album Title: Pandora Hearts Original Soundtrack 1
Anime Title: Pandora Hearts
Artist: Yuki Kajiura, FictionJunction, Savage Genius, Wakana, Eri Itou
Catalog Number: VTCL-60120
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: July 8, 2009


Track List:

Show »

Track Title Artist Time
1. Pandora Hearts Wakana 2:06
2. Foretaste Yuki Kajiura 1:34
3. Parallel Hearts (TV Size) FictionJunction 2:44
4. Garden Yuki Kajiura 3:55
5. Misgiving Yuki Kajiura 2:10
6. Crush Yuki Kajiura 2:04
7. Tea Saloon Yuki Kajiura 3:05
8. Another Dimension Yuki Kajiura 1:48
9. Ghost Blood Yuki Kajiura 3:10
10. Bloody Rabbit Wakana 2:38
11. Lost Child Yuki Kajiura 2:33
12. Possess Yuki Kajiura 1:50
13. Alone Itou Eri 1:16
14. Contractor Itou Eri 3:03
15. Will Yuki Kajiura 1:44
16. Daydream Yuki Kajiura 1:53
17. Reminiscence Yuki Kajiura 2:44
18. Skip Yuki Kajiura 3:35
19. Parting Song Yuki Kajiura 2:05
20. Stealthily Yuki Kajiura 1:57
21. Preparation Wakana 1:58
22. Darkness Moon Yuki Kajiura 2:17
23. Relief Yuki Kajiura 1:48
24. Maze (TV Size) Savage Genius feat. Tomoe Oumi 2:25
25. Turn Yuki Kajiura 2:16
26. Melody Yuki Kajiura 1:24

Main Theme: Melody

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Review: Of all anime composers, Yuki Kajiura is one of the more established in the minds of viewers and that she has become an iconic figure in the anime soundtrack scene. That said, many of her soundtracks consistently lack their own distinct identity. Some soundtracks are such that when you listen to them, the anime and only that anime will come to mind. However, Pandora Hearts OST proves to be another case where, though the music sounds brilliant, one can hear many similarities between this and many of Kajiura’s other works.

As I went through this soundtrack, one major complaint that I had was the seeming lack of attention in its presentation, particularly to the order of the tracks. A fast-paced track can be immediately followed by a very light and jumpy tune, and then followed by a very heavy track, which made the listening experience a bit schizophrenic at times. There also seem to be little emphasis on instrumental quality, as some of the instruments sound suspiciously synthesized, such as the clarinet in “Tea Saloon” and the flute in “Alone.”

Furthermore, a few tracks from this soundtrack are almost exact copies of the tracks from Kajiura’s other works. For example, “Garden” is very similar in terms of style, instrument and even beat to “A Little Sunshine” in the Tsubasa Chronicles OST I. Finally, there is some ambiguity in what the track is trying to depict because a few tracks lack build-up or depth and function as a kind of ‘excitement’ track, like the first track “Pandora Hearts,” which is nice to listen to but is not really impressive in terms of composition.

However, it is impossible to hate this soundtrack because the melody flows really well in almost every track. One trademark of Yuki Kajiura is that her music will never be unpleasant. Some tracks such as “Contractor” and “Preparation” are really compelling and beautiful. “Preparation” is relatively slow paced but it provides serenity together with foreboding and sadness. There is an apt combination of both light and simple tracks, such as “Skip” and “Garden” and also the darker and more mystic tracks, like “Crush” and “Foretaste,” that offer some variety so one feels compelled to continue listening.

Skip

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Foretaste

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Yuki Kajiura’s soundtracks also include a lot of vocals which makes them stand out from other composers’ works. This gives a very unique feel, which, depending on the track, can range from tension to serenity to even surreal moments. In the case of Pandora Hearts, the vocals give it a mystic and ethereal feel, which fits the anime’s fantasy theme and the vocals are very powerful and suitable for their individual tracks. Wakana usually sings the tense and epic pieces, such as “Bloody Rabbit” while Eri Itou’s delivery sounds more peaceful and surreal, such as in “Alone.”

Bloody Rabbit

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There are definitely some noteworthy tracks. A few of the longer tracks such as “Foretaste” and “Crush” may drag on at first, but they’re well worth the wait because the music later evolves to be very dynamic. In the case of “Foretaste,” though it is hardly audible at first, it develops a very consistent beat. The violins’ entry and the increase in volume all helps to build up tension. Some tracks are also very well written to evoke emotions in the listener, such as “Parting Song” and “Another Dimension.” “Parting Song” uses a cello-piano duet to bring across a feeling of nostalgia while “Another Dimension” is very eerie, with a contrast of the light tinkling of a music box against a very heavy atmosphere. Finally, “Contractor” is notable in the way it puts many of the themes of Pandora Hearts into a fast-paced compilation, making it my favourite track because all the instruments complement each other perfectly. It has a perfect balance of the attention-catching segments as well as areas in between where softer bass notes take over.

Parting Song

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Contractor

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Overall, compared to many of Yuki Kajiura’s works, Pandora Hearts will fail to stand out. Though the tracks are pleasant to listen to, many may appear very familiar to those who listen to Yuki Kajiura often. It also fails at painting a picture of the world depicted in the listeners’ minds. Yuki Kajiura has not gone beyond her normal style in this OST. However, she does consistently bring us very pleasant music and her own unique use of vocals, which we seldom hear from other composers. So, for those who have never heard of Yuki Kajiura, this OST will be a good start. After all, the iconic figure of anime soundtracks will definitely have something good to offer. However, for those who have heard lots of her works before, do not expect this OST to be very outstanding.

Rating: Good

About the author

Jen A loyal follower of Japanese music and soundtrack, I have been a contributor to Anime Instrumentality since late 2009. Being a crappy musician trained in cello, keyboard and voice, I feel obliged to censure the other amateurs who have the cheek to release their rubbish to the world, and to affirm those who actually deserve their salary. Nothing gives me more joy than listening to good music, though I admit that writing scathing reviews on bad ones comes close.

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3 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Reltair says:

    I can only relate/remember to a few of the tracks since I stopped watching Pandora Hearts. Hm, guess I should finish that series sometime.

    I like listening to the tracks after I’ve seen the series that they were played in. ^^;

  2. Excellent stuff. Just managed to finish going through the soundtrack and I have to agree that while this album isn’t clearly distinct, I do appreciate how Kajiura has evolved just a bit over time.

    @Reltair
    Yeah, listening to the music after you watch it helps because it stirs up the memories one has with the show. One can hear a melody and recall a certain action sequence or something like that.

  3. Heh. Never seen this Anime before, but gonna check it out now. Thanks for the heads up!

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