D.Gray-man Complete Best
by Rachael Carothers,
Click below for a clip of the song "Yume no Tsuduki e "
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After two seasons and 103 episodes, the D.Gray-man anime ended its run on September 30, 2008. A week before the final episode aired, a limited edition soundtrack titled D.Gray-man Complete Best was released. This compilation features a CD including all of the opening and ending theme songs from the show as well as a DVD with creditless animations for each song and a 40-page illustrated booklet. It's definitely a ‘must have’ for any D.Gray-man fan but what would someone who has never seen the show think?
The album progresses exactly as the anime does. As such, the first song we hear is the first opening theme, “INNOCENT SORROW” by abingdon boys school. It's easy to figure out why this particular song was chosen to start off the series. Energetic vocals mix with the hard rock instruments to give us an amazing song that makes you want to listen to it over and over again instead of skipping straight for the show.
Next up is the first closing song, “SNOW KISS” by NIRGILIS. A lovely song that can be found somewhere between rock and pop, it doesn't have quite as much energy as the previous song but that is true for most ending theme tunes. Starting off rather slowly, it does pick up before we hit the 30 second mark. Once it does pick up, the song doesn't go anywhere particularly special. Just another one of those songs that isn't bad but there isn't anything to make it stand out from the others.
“Pride of Tomorrow” by JUNE was the second ending theme, running from episode 14 through episode 25. It appears here as the third song on the disc. With a danceable pop feel to it, “Tomorrow” is a catchy tune that is surprisingly appropriate as an ending theme. There is a slightly jazzy undertone that not only keeps the song interesting but also kicks it into the awesome category.
Heading back into the opening songs to pick up “Brightdown” by Nami Tamaki, we regain the energy that “SORROW” gave us. The steady drumbeat combines with a harsh guitar line to form the hard rock sound that many action shows love to use as an opening tune. Instead of getting lost in the fray, Tamaki's pop-sounding voice mixes well with the background music. While this is a good song, it isn't one that is likely to keep people interested after a couple of listens. They'll be skipping over it by the 27th or 28th episode, which is only the second or third time the song has aired.
Also starting at episode 26 was the third ending song, “Yume no Tsuduki e” (“The Continuation of a Dream”) by surface. It is somewhat sad that such a beautiful song got relegated to ending theme status. On one hand, it's not really a song that would attract people to the show. Yet, on the other hand, it is absolutely gorgeous and I really hope people were sticking around to hear it.
Following “Yume” is “Antoinette Blue” by Nana Kitade. Through the verses, it is a soft pop song but once the chorus starts, it picks up a slightly harder edge. Unfortunately, that isn't enough to save it from being bland. Despite the prettiness of Kitade's voice, it comes off as a typical pop song. It would be nice if there was a little more oomph in the vocals to match the instrumentals.
The third opening song, “Doubt & Trust” by access, falls into the seventh position on the album. Right from the beginning, a fast piano solo with some chiming bells tells us that we're in for a crazy ride. Soon, the dance beat picks up as we're tossed into a whirlwind of sound. With only a few songs left on the album, this is, by far, the one that stands out the most. An entire album of this Para-Para-inspired music would be headache-inducing, yet “Doubt” makes a wonderful addition to this collection.
A third of the way through the album, we come to “Anata ga Koko ni Iru Riyuu” (“The Reason You're Here”) by Rie Fu. Since this is another ending theme, it is a bit slower. Though, in this case, slow isn't a bad thing. Rie Fu is at her best when she sings folksy-type pop songs. This one may not be quite as folksy as some of her other songs but it still shines just as brightly.
Sowelu's “Wish,” the sixth ending theme, follows “Anata.” While both songs are understandably slow, as they are both ending themes, “Wish” is the bad kind of slow. Instead of keeping the attention of the audience, it seems dead-set on putting us to sleep. Yes, it is another pretty tune but that can really only get you so far. This is the perfect example of the reason people often skip past theme songs when they can.
Luckily, before we can truly fall asleep, we get jarred back into reality with the final opening theme, “Gekidou” (“Agitation”) by UVERworld. Everything about the song is loud and, for once, it is quite enjoyable. The drums mostly take the lead here, even though the guitar doesn't want you to forget that it is there too. Sprinkled on top is the vocal line, which you would think would need to be overpowering in order to be heard. On the contrary, it all comes together nicely to create a loud, yet amazing song.
With only two songs left, the seventh ending theme, “regret” by Mai Hoshimura, appears. After the loudness of “Gekidou,” “regret” is thankfully softer. Also thankfully, this is another song that is spectacular. The verses are quiet, but not too quiet, and then the chorus expands into a beautiful ballad. Individually, none of these pieces are stand-out. However, much like a puzzle, once you stick them together, the result is something wonderful.
Finally, “Changin” by Stephanie finishes off the album. I really wanted to like this song and, for the most part, I do. Stephanie has a very pretty voice and the verses are well-suited to her. Unfortunately, the chorus is where it goes all wrong. (Even the bridge, which is often the weakest part of a song, is better than the chorus.) This is attributed to the fact that someone, somewhere, decided that they needed to hype up Stephanie's five octave range. So, instead of keeping the song solid and steady, they use the chorus to shoot for extremely high notes, which don't seem to fit properly. Higher doesn't necessarily mean better, even if you can hit the notes well.
While I've never seen a single episode of D.Gray-man, I have heard some of these songs before. I liked those songs before, individually, and I think I like them even better as a compilation with the rest of the songs. Any D.Gray-man fan would love to have this in their collection. Any music fan would love to have it as well. Of the 12 songs, only one or two are truly duds. Ten really good songs plus the DVD with the animation is absolutely a worthwhile buy.
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