Anime, Reviews

Oasis vs. Kenji Kawai: Eden of the East Original Soundtrack (Review)

November 13, 2009 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook Oasis vs. Kenji Kawai: Eden of the East Original Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

I’ll come right out and say I’ve never seen Eden of the East. It does, however, sound pretty awesome. It’s set in Japan after a mysterious missile strike that targeted uninhabited areas of Japan, and follows a huge cast of characters, including a naked Japanese dude named Akira Takizawa who seems to have had his memory wiped and carries a cellphone with 8.2 billion yen in digital currency.

Interesting story, some great artwork, and of course, excellent music provided by FolksSoul and Fate/stay night composer Kenji Kawai. He provides a blend of tense orchestral (with live recordings), upbeat electronic, and futuristic jazz that all come together to create something reminiscent of a Xenogears soundtrack. There’s nothing too intense or action-oriented here, but there’s a lot of atmosphere which I totally dig. Even more, it features an opening theme from Oasis and a closing theme by school food punishment. This is definitely a soundtrack that makes me want to go out and watch the show.

Our review of the Eden of the East Original Soundtrack, after the jump!

There’s so much good music here, I’m not quite sure how to organize my thoughts. I guess the best way to go is by style, since this one’s pretty much back and forth between upbeat and moody. We start off with “A Secret Plan -Saki’s Theme-,” a super cheery theme song for the anime’s main character, featuring jazz organ, swingin’ piano chords, and belltone melodies that had me thinking Hiroki Kikuta right from the start. That’s high praise coming from me, of course.

“Eden of the East” is a lovely jazz piece more upbeat piano, jazz organs, and a minimalistic yet catchy sax melody. Strings join in later, adding in a whole new layer of warmth and maturity that is one of the highlights of the album. Later, “Rainy Eden” is a more laid back arrangement with the grand scale of the original, but it’s still great. “Get Over Depression!” is an aptly titled track to get you out of a funk with its churning bass synths and more positive smooth jazz, and “Shopping Mall” sports a similar vibe but with some poppy pitch-bendy synths instead of the traditional jazz instrumentation. Very nice! “Naked Prince” is appropriately titled for such a playful track, and it definitely has a sense of finality to it.

Before getting to the moody stuff, let’s take a look at what’s cookin’ in the “cool” category. The naked Akira Takizawa that I mentioned earlier has a pretty awesome theme titled “No name in D.C. -Takizawa’s Theme-.” It features clap percussion, jazz organ stabs, and an ascending string progression that’s epic yet smooth. “JUIZ,” on the other hand, is pure smoothness with its side stick percussion and reverberating synth lines that sound oh-so-dreamy. “The Game” gets heavy with its drum ‘n’ bass percussion and foreboding string melody.

It’s then on to the brooding atmospheric tracks, of which there are a whole lot. “Society” features a descending piano progression while a synth bass hits the same note repeatedly, driving home a whole lot of tension. Oh, and did I mention that Kenji Kawai scored Ring and the Ring 2? This is definitely some dark stuff in that vein. “Unbalance” is similarly dark, but as the title would suggest, it’s quiet disorienting with its overwhelming dissonance and repetitive phrases that seem to move deeper and deeper into madness. A very effective track for sure. One of my favorites of the bunch is “Supporter,” a track that weaves layers of strings together with a droning bass pad that all come together to create another haunting ambiance that distinctly reminds me of the church track that Yuki Kajiura wrote for Xenosaga III (unfortunately the track wasn’t on the official soundtrack). “Black Swan” sounds like the resolution to a horror film where you know something is still amiss, with the fear of the unknown being more terrible than what has already come to pass. There are these horrible wailing pads here that sound like a female voice screaming out… maybe I shouldn’t be reviewing this one so late at night!  While not dark, “Satisfying Loneliness” is certainly ambient, sounding a bit like “Seamoon Sea” from Chrono Cross, which was one of my favorite tracks from that soundtrack.

The last three tracks on the album are vocal themes. “Reveal the World” is a beautiful gospel track that’s rather contemplative with some nice piano chords and electric guitar work. There’s even a jazz organ solo in here. Next up is Oasis, who provide Eden of the East’s opening theme, “Falling Down.” It’s another brooding track that sounds down and dirty, staying low in the mix with lots of grunge effects. The last track is the closing theme, “Futuristic Imagination,” provided by school food punishment. It’s the first time Japanese makes an appearance here, and it’s some standard J-rock, but that doesn’t mean it’s not awesome. There’s some great string work like that heard elsewhere on the album, and the piano work during is a nice touch. Overall, three great vocal tracks.

And there you have it, the Eden of the East Original Soundtrack. This is truly some great stuff. The packaging is littered with artwork from the series, which is awesome, and there are even three little art cards included that I particularly appreciated. Kenji Kawai has done a great job with this series, and while the 11 episode series is complete, there are two movies scheduled for November 2009 and January 2010 in Japan, so I hope we’ll be hearing a lot more of this kind of thing from Kawai in the near future. I recommend checking out the soundtrack at Play-Asia if you’re interested.

Are you familiar with much of Kenji Kawai’s music? Know anything about the Eden of the East series that we should know?

[Special thanks to Shota Nakama for track title translation]

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