Sound Decision A-va? E-va? Eh-va?
by Jonathan Mays,
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Day of Second Impact —Geneon Anime Music (2004-09-07)
For those of you keeping score at home, we're up to five on the domestic Evangelion CD counter. As for Japanese releases...well, gosh, my abacus doesn't go that high. Before I get to the actual review, I'd like to take this opportunity to (once again) mock the Eva fans out there who imported this and then realized, "Holy cow, I can buy the same thing at Wal-Mart for five bucks!" Yes, dear fan, that's how Gainax works.
All kidding aside, Day of Second Impact is a really good disc. Collecting all of the best vocal tracks from the series along with some of the essential background instrumentals, this is basically an Evangelion music fan's Starter Set. Shiro Sagisu's "Angel Attack" has become anime's version of Bernard Herrmann's "Psycho." In fact, I dare say no single instrumental track is more recognizable to anime fans than "Angel Attack." If by chance you haven't heard it...well, the piano crashes are a whole lot of fun.
Also squeezing its way onto this surprisingly long CD is the best Evangelion song ever: "Thanatos - If I Can't Be Yours." If you're not paying attention, you might mistake it for something out of His and Her Circumstances, but if you are, this song is freaking creepy.
Naturally, there's also a copy of "Fly Me to the Moon" included. (Trivia: "Fly Me to the Moon" nearly found its way into an episode of the new Battlestar Galactica, which, incidentally, is playing more and more like Evangelion these days.) Nevertheless, you should rejoice because A) there's only one version of it instead of twenty, and B) it's a full 4:40 from Claire, the best of the bunch. Next to Frank Sinatra. And Tony Bennet. And Nat King Cole...
Wolf's Rain #2 —Bandai Entertainment
You know what's really cool about Yoko Kanno music? It's unpredictable. Listen to "Night Owl" and say with a straight face that you weren't surprised by any of the turns it takes. But that's just the first time. Listen two or three more times, and you'll begin to see how the layers all fit together. The piece doesn't even reach the four minute mark, and still Kanno accomplishes more in a few minutes than most anime composers do in an entire soundtrack.
In the second Wolf's Rain disc, Yoko Kanno is always in control. Her music is very patient. That doesn't mean it's slow—"Escape" is about as fast a string piece as you'll ever hear in anime. But even in that 88 second dash of a piece, Kanno finds time for a full three seconds of silence.
It also helps to have Maaya Sakamoto's silvery voice on your side. At 1:41, "Tell Me What the Rain Knows" is all too short, yet it still finds the time to fly from harp to violin to piano to cello, topped off with a heavenly chorus. What I love most is how the piece reaches its apex after the chorus has already come and gone—with a harp note of all things, right on top of a full string accompaniment. No other anime composer would dare to try something that awesome.
R.O.D -The TV- #1 —Geneon Anime Music (2004-09-09)
It hurts to put something like R.O.D TV in a category that has seen the likes of Love Hina, Chobits, Hand Maid May, and...man, I've had this thing repressed for a couple of years now...
Gosh, I feel like I need to take a shower now.
Okay, that's better.
As I was saying, it hurts to put something like R.O.D TV in the "Tune Out" category. Taken on its own, the score has a heaping pile of catchy, creative tunes. But you have to factor in that the same Taku Iwasaki did the same kind of thing a year earlier for the Read or Die miniseries, and he did it a lot better. Heck, even the new series' creators realized that. (If you're here because you loved the battle music in the TV show, this is where I direct you to the miniseries soundtrack because you won't find it here.)
What's worse is that the feature songs on the TV soundtrack are five variations of the R.O.D theme, itself a variation of the original Read or Die theme, and as with other forms of inbreeding, that kind of genetic mishmashing takes its toll pretty quickly. Maybe I'm just numb from Gainax trying to sell me two billion remixes of Fly Me to the Moon, but I find this R.O.D disc, its lame themes, and its interminable lounge music to be utterly boring.
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