Death Parade Original Soundtrack Digest Edition – Review

Death Parade OST

Album Title: Death Parade Original Soundtrack Digest Edition
Anime Title: Death Parade
Artist: Yuki Hayashi
Catalog Number: HISN-00887
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: March 11, 2015
Purchase at: iTunes


Tracklist

Show »

Track Title Artist Time
01. Death Parade Yuki Hayashi 5:27
02. VS Yuki Hayashi 2:21
03. Saigo no Uso Yuki Hayashi 1:56
04. Jin wa Ikiru Mono Yuki Hayashi 1:55
05. Memento Mori Yuki Hayashi 2:35
06. Gemu B Yuki Hayashi 2:33
07. Gemu D Yuki Hayashi 1:42
08. Semarikuru Ketsumatsu Yuki Hayashi 2:21
09. Omoide Yuki Hayashi 3:35
10. moonlit night Yuki Hayashi 4:43

Review: The games Death Parade throws at the participants unfortunate enough to be sent to the Quindecim bar are tense and enthralling. So enthralling that it’s easy to miss out on Death Parade‘s solid soundtrack. While subtle, Yuki Hayashi’s compositions for the anime stand strongly on their own, without eclipsing the on-screen context in which it’s used.

Given the anime’s plotline, Death Parade‘s soundtrack switches between the melancholy and madness, giving both facets their own flavor. Hayashi’s melancholy tracks are poignant and the pieces that capture the sheer insanity of the games are distinct in their use jazzy lines to propel the games along.

Of the two, it’s the melancholy tracks that catch my attention most. The eponymous opening track, “Death Parade”, accentuates its mournful atmosphere through the bass, and then the saxophone. As the piece progresses, a sense of doom creeps in and the music grows more ponderous. A momentary halt lets the tension build up, which is released through a tragic air played by saxophones. The weight of emotions continues to build, amplified by the fitting use of backing vocals and chants to pave the way for some heart-rending violin and saxophone solos near the end. The manner in which “Death Parade” captures the struggles and pains arising from the individual tragedies is adroit as it lays down the expectation for what’s to come.

Death Parade

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After the tragedy dies down, it’s game on! The first of those tracks, “VS”, doles out a hurried rhythm carried primarily by dissonant banging piano chords. The frenzied mood becomes heightened when the violin and the jazzy piano line leave a chaotic atmosphere in their wake, thereby augmenting the anxiety and increasing mental unraveling. Like the games shown in the anime, this track is enthralling through its instillation of schadenfreude, making you curious as to the participants’ mental state all the way until “VS’s” final, doom-filled note.

VS

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The jazzy tones in “VS” become the trademark sound for the anime’s game music. Yuki Hayashi’s choice of music blends the class of the Quindecim bar with the unpredictable moments the game brings forth. “Gemu B” is largely methodical, and the various solos that drift in and out of the piece capture the human component of the game, with its machinations and ensuing drama. “Gemu D”, in comparison, is more laconic as it plods around repetitively in a matter-of-fact manner. Of all the tracks, this is by far the least interesting, especially when compared to the more dynamic pieces in the album.

Gemu B

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All games must come to an end and the results of the game are laid bare in “Saigo no Uso”. When the excitement dies down, the somber piano and violins provide a sincere delivery rich in emotion as the players face the tragic outcome. “Jin wa Ikuru Mono” provides a glimmer of hope, but the soundtrack refuses to back down from the dread that permeates the show’s atmosphere. We hear the doom and gloom in “Memento Mori” when the grim violins fill the air with suffering and regret. Each note and measure is heavy, as though the players’ mind was torn apart by the weight of the suspicion and anger that plagued them when they were alive. And when these emotions reach a peak, the strings resolve the piece with a movingly cathartic release, offering some hope despite the dark fates looming ahead.

Memento Mori

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As the album winds down, the dark fates materialize in “Semarikuru Ketsumatsu” when the quiet electric guitar opener paves the way for a scary and chaotic delivery. The sounds that flash in and out, along with the mournful violin and tense rhythms, give this piece a domineering air. But it’s the quiet moments that have the biggest impact; their eeriness allows you to feel the mind unraveling completely. “Semarikuru Ketsumatsu” provides a nice segue to “Omoide”, where the track’s barren introduction evokes a person that’s a shell of their former self. The somber mood continues through the combination of strings and piano. As they ride to the end, they leave behind an unsettling aura that’s just heartrending.

Omoide

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With “moonlit night”, the sorrowful vibe scattered throughout the album lingers. While the melancholy aura overshadows much of the piece, there’s also a sense of panic, apparent in the piano’s frantic, anxiety-filled delivery. As the introspective piece winds its course towards the end, all that’s left is a resigned sense of finality that’s captivating in its grief-stricken anguish.

moonlit night

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The games that Quindecim’s participants are forced to undergo are cruel and maybe even a necessity, but Yuki Hayashi’s superb music elevates those games to a whole new level by capturing the participants’ unraveling minds in the face of such horror and tragedy. Although Yuki Hayashi’s work on Death Parade is his least diverse, it’s his best as he captures the very soul of what makes this anime such a riveting watch.

Rating: Excellent

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.

6 thoughts on “Death Parade Original Soundtrack Digest Edition – Review

  • April 6, 2015 at 6:57 pm
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    I’ve been enjoying Jazz a lot lately so I was really excited for this soundtrack! It lives up to what I was hoping!

    Reply
    • April 9, 2015 at 12:35 am
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      @Acid
      That, combined with the melancholy piano stuff sets the mood right. I’m pretty impressed with how consistent Death Parade’s OST was.

      Reply
      • April 9, 2015 at 6:14 am
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        Yes, I’m also very pleased with the consistency of this OST. It’s also thanks to the cohesiveness of the anime itself, as per its clear vision from the 1st episode to the last. A well-deserved OST for a great anime.

  • April 9, 2015 at 8:45 pm
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    Great excerpts used for the review! Again, disappointed with the lack of a physical CD release as I prefer to collect them, but that would never dampen my enthusiasm for the score. Death Parade did a great job of having me remember the BGM without actively noticing it, and not for just one or two memorable tracks (another nod to the aforementioned consistency). Definitely looking forward to future works by Yuki Hayashi!

    Reply
    • April 13, 2015 at 11:14 pm
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      @Steve
      I’m always going to be optimistic and hope that a physical disc version gets released, but we’ll have to see. It’d be a shame if it doesn’t come out since, like you, I’m always looking to collect physical discs and expand my collection a fair bit more.

      Reply
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