Shiki Original Soundtrack Mini Album “Rouge” – Review

Album Title: Shiki Original Soundtrack Mini Album “Rouge”
Anime Title: Shiki
Artist: Yasuharu Takanashi
Catalog Number: ANZB-9404 (Bundled with DVDs)
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: November 24, 2010
Purchase at: CDJapan


Tracklist

Show »

Track Title Artist Time
1. Day and Night Yasuharu Takanashi 3:08
2. Pendulum Yasuharu Takanashi 2:49
3. Crimson Yasuharu Takanashi 2:20
4. Eau de Vie Yasuharu Takanashi 2:52
5. Muddy Water Yasuharu Takanashi 2:21
6. Mosaic Yasuharu Takanashi 2:21

Review: Of the composers who’ve entered my radar in 2010, none have made a bigger splash than Yasuharu Takanashi. I was first exposed to his excellence in his Fairy Tail soundtrack, which featured a dazzling synthesis of Celtic tonality and rhythm set to rock. As delightful as that combination is, many would say that his forte lies in composing soundtracks to horror anime; my brief forays into Jigoku Shoujo’s score have supported this statement. In Shiki, Takanashi once again demonstrates his ability to weave a compelling horror atmosphere while conveying the scope of the tragedies that arise during the course of the anime.

Through “Day and Night,” the scenes for the tragedy are set. Its introduction, played using the glockenspiel and acoustic guitar, bear a melancholy tone, but it’s the vocalist’s entry that really nails the bleak mood. Normally, such a wispy, halting delivery would be cause for concern, but here, it works well in revealing the depths of the despair that settles upon the village. This atmosphere is further amplified by a grim violin passage that wouldn’t feel out of place at a funeral, reflecting the aura of death that hangs over Shiki’s setting. A calming chorus section comes in the second half and one might easily think it a reprieve from the haunting melody that preceded it if it didn’t feel so much like a benediction for the fallen. Its presence is soothing, carrying with it an air of acquiescence towards one’s fate and lingers there before the violin returns once more, with its mournful dirge.

Day and Night

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If “Day and Night” captures Shiki’s emotional side seeped in despair, it’s “Pendulum” that depicts the horror. Its dissonant chant is downright eerie, carrying an ominous tone fitting of some dark ritual. The piece isn’t content to let just one voice draw out the horror; gradually, more vocal parts enter the picture and the piece, with its heavy rhythm running through the background, crescendos, growing more threatening with each passing note, bringing a murderous atmosphere to the fore. And then there’s the creepy chuckles near the end which add to this chaotic air, until the ponderous melody, complete with an organ playing a haunted house theme, leaves one with no doubt that the village of Sotoba (Shiki’s setting) is doomed.

Pendulum

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Just as you think the end has come, “Crimson’s” heartfelt piano melody hearkens to happier times, granting a reprieve from all the darkness. The track is seeped in contentment, traipsing along without a care in the world, and in the process, conveys that brief, intimate, and charming moment.

Crimson

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Unfortunately, it’s just far too short as “Eau de Vie” returns us to the action with a heavy dramatic track suggestive of covert actions taking place with the goal of bringing about Sotoba’s doom. Here, you’ll notice that Takanashi recycles the general melodic structure from “Day and Night,” setting it to a faster tempo so as to convey the scope of the Shiki’s (the show’s chief protagonists) nocturnal activities. Once again, the chorus serves to heighten the creepy factor that, along with the strings, form a dynamic rich in grim and foreboding tones while maintaining a mournful air in the face of the tragedies which continue to mount with dizzying speed.

Eau de Vie

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The extent of these nightly activities are fully manifested through a tension-filled “Muddy Water,” which seems to draw inspiration from Shoji Meguro’s Persona soundtracks. This track utilizes a heavy dose of synth early on as well as a moaning sound to nail the horror, but that’s nowhere as notable as the beatboxing that follows shortly after. I’m not quite sure why Takanashi went this route aside from it being a popular device to illustrate the chaos and uncertainty that the humans find themselves in as the shiki’s plans roll into action. The electric guitar and bass feature heavily here and there’s even a bit of R&B (hence, the comparison to Persona) to add to the confusing fabric. All this gibbering matches with Shiki’s atmosphere, but it’s a bit too in-your-face for my liking and not something I’d listen to without the context.

Muddy Water

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The mini album then closes out with the introspective, yet emotional “Mosaic,” which, once again, takes the melody from “Day and Night” and sets it to a piano and glockenspiel duet. This arrangement works out well, bringing out the extent of the despair and the loneliness that afflicts humans and shiki alike. The internal struggle manifested through this piece’s lonely theme is a perfect reflection of Seishin Muroi’s ongoing depression, captured poignantly through its tragic aura that continues to linger. There is a bit of closure, but the conclusion it depicts is rather depressing, which is not a surprise in light of the unfolding tragedies as shiki hunts man and man himself becomes a monster.

Mosaic

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It’s just a shame then, that we’re not getting a standalone soundtrack that fully encompasses, in music, the events that transpire in Shiki. Takanashi’s efforts in weaving a horror atmosphere and unveiling the tragedies have been solid thus far, and I thirst for more of what he has to offer up.

Rating: Very Good

About the author

zzeroparticle Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

17 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. vucubcaquix says:

    I think it was the moment I heard mosaic, during one of the early conversation scenes between Muroi & Sunako that I realized that I was listening to something special & began to pay special attention to the BGM. Its one of the premiere examples of eliciting melancholia I’ve heard in an anime thus far.

  2. Jo says:

    I don’t know. I’ve got mixed feelings about this mini-album. I found from the samples you posted up, that its a bit too creepy and depressing for my liking. But on the other hand, it’s a nice listen.
    Overall I guess its not an album I would constantly have on replay.

    =)

  3. Rhythmroo says:

    I am in despair. I was hoping for something a bit more unsettling… but come on not even a tritone melody or phrase to be found, or a brass flutter-tounge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flutter-tonguing)?

    I have to look into this… It’d be nice if the composer was a bit more adventurous and explore atonality, 12-tone, serialism, or perhaps chance music. Maybe they chose to stick with tonality for comfort or by director’s order. What can you do?

  4. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this review up. I just addressed the music of Shiki when I reviewed the series, so this…YES. I’ve mentioned before that I love Yasuharu Takanashi, so the music used in the anime was definitely my favorite part. The track I love the most is Eau de Vie (the music is lovely and the vocals clinched it for me). I’m with you on Muddy Water though–I enjoy it because I can think of where it was used in the series, but without that knowledge it isn’t something I’d be too big on, especially with the beatboxing…not a big fan of that sorta thing.

  5. Mystlord says:

    Just listening to the preview pieces here really makes me want to get it.

    Personally I like all of the tracks, and it’s perfect when paired up with Shiki. Muddy Water is the one that seems completely out of place, but it’s actually rather fitting when it was used in the anime. It gave certain scenes a very distinctive feel, and it helped to change our perception early on about the Shiki.

    The wonderful thing about this selection of pieces is that all of them are very distinctive in the anime. I can exactly imagine and place each and every piece in a scene from Shiki, which I feel is a testament to how well these pieces were composed and used. I’m not a big BGM person, but there are some OSTs whose tracks just end up sounding alike *coughKnKcough*, so it’s nice to hear a selection of pieces that don’t do that.

  6. @vucubcaquix
    Takanashi’s definitely good at invoking those sorts of emotions through that wonderful piano melody. It’s certainly up there amongst the melancholia though I might give the edge to some of Jun Maeda’s music or even Akira Senju’s stuff that he’s capable of putting forth.

    @Jo
    It’s really fitting within the context of the anime though! Yeah, the whole series is dark and dreary, definitely for a good reason since it is a horror anime and that might not work with you if you prefer lighter fare (I do think it’s one of the better shows to have come out though :3 )

    @Rhythmroo
    I’ll have to read your text before I can come up with a better response. I do think that for setting atmosphere while remaining melodically pleasing (if not off the beaten path in terms of composition).

    @Arianna Sterling
    Agreed! Without the context, Muddy Waters just seems like an oddball, but it does heighten the creepiness when heard in the anime. I’ve really got to use this soundtrack and Fairy Tale as a springboard to check out more of his works.

    @Mystlord
    Man, how I wish this got a full-length album release. But yeah, the musical motifs they used in the anime were really memorable and it’s one of the better examples of where the music and the scenes worked in tandem to really make the atmosphere altogether fitting. I do think that the reuse of that “Day and Night” theme is a worrisome thing, but that the different variations and arrangements help keep it fresh so it doesn’t get stuck by the KnK/Kajiura syndrome you alluded to earlier.

  7. sensei says:

    Hi, in the Music Reviews table
    The Disappearance of Haruhi
    Suzumiya Original Soundtrack Decent zzeroparticle Soundtrack

    Instead ‘Decent’ it should be ‘Good’.

    regards

  8. Aftershok says:

    @Sensei
    Good catch, man. Fix’d.

  9. Yi says:

    Wow Pendulum is… creepy. It gave me chills. Depicts horror very well indeed.

    • @Yi
      Yeah, Takanashi has a good grasp on the horror genre. Should definitely follow in the footsteps of the other crowd and watch it since it’s a really good show all around.

  10. vanessa says:

    well i love this albummm mini one but i really want the rest of the songs of the episodes i think its the best album ever:D i wanna hear more=D

  11. MC says:

    Have you tried listening to the other Shiki OST Mini Album “Noir”?

    • @MC
      Has there been a release with a corrected track? I do remember one of the songs from this album being recycled and that obviously wasn’t supposed to happen. I’ve perused it though and it’s pretty enjoyable!

  12. MC says:

    From what I’ve found in Google, there were two mini albums released. One’s called Rouge and the other was called Noir. As the tittle suggests, Noir is much more intense and gripping. And unfortunately, some songs in Rouge are recycled in Noir. In fact, I can’t spot any differences between Amethyst from Noir and Pendulum from Rouge. Personally, I like Epitaph, Eau de Vie (a slight variation of Epitaph) and Amethyst. Not so sure about the corrected track :(

  13. @MC
    That’s precisely the mistake that I was referring to. The first version of Amethyst that got sent out was a mistake, and Pendulum somehow got thrown in there instead of Amethyst. The company did admit that it was a pressing error and posted instructions on how to resolve that problem. Whether anyone did so to get the actual Amethyst, I don’t know.

  14. MC says:

    Found the right version of Amethyst. Enjoy! :)
    http://www.mediafire.com/?cu8a0amu6cto3ls

    Feel free to drop any comments in my email inbox.

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