Musical Impressions- Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun


Iruma-kun. Such a poor guy. Don’t judge him, he may have been the son of incompetent parents and quite average on Earth, but the Netherworld is different. What better way to narrate a story than using a well-written and dynamic soundtrack. Even though it’s only the first episode, I can tell that we’re about to come across some memorable compositions that will stand out.

DISCLAIMER: May contain spoilers ahead. May also contain eggs, milk, soy, nuts and the tears of your enemies.


First things first. The Opening Theme. “Magical Babyrinth” by DA PUMP

Discover more on DA PUMP’s YouTube channel.
DA PUMP members posing in front of an urban landscape, at night, vibrant neon colours, bright.
All male dance and vocal group DA PUMP (source)

The slightly rough around the edges pronunciation of the vocalist gives it this old-school impression and makes me feel like I’m watching an anime back from the late 90s… maybe early 2000s.

And… it’s. so. catchy! (^O^)~♪ babi babi babi babi babi babi babi babi -ruu

The first time I heard it I was like ‘Maybe that’s a few too many babi…’ and baby, was I wrong.

Small intermezzo here:
I found the instrumentation predictable and interesting at the same time. The first instrument we listen to is the pair of bongos– INTERESTING. Then, we have this cliché electronic sound that becomes the signature sound of the entire piece, similar to Soul Eater– ultimately PREDICTABLE. We have a sound effect featured as a filler instrument -that is the ‘ghostly’ tremolo sound during the last 30 seconds- unsure, probably a bit of BOTH. So, moving on…

Find DA PUMP here:
Official Website // Twitter // Facebook // Ameba // YouTube


OST first impressions. by Akimitsu Honma

Akimitsu Honma on stage, sits facing left and is wearing a headset, surrounded by keyboards and other music equipment.
Composer, producer, arranger Akimitsu, H. (source)

It is diverse, comedic, dramatic, nostalgic. From 03:00, what I assume is Sulli- granddad’s theme, or perhaps Sullivan’s variation of the demons’ theme, we are hit with a slow boogie-woogie variation of a shorter, simplified and slightly altered twelve-bar blues that features the Diabolus in musica [Devil in music].

Yes, you read right. The tritone. The diminished fifth. The augmented fourth. The most dissonant sound, according to the professionals of the time when simple counterpoint and nice, consonant, uniform ecclesiastical music was the alpha and omega of the music scene.

Back to our topic, then. At 3:30. So simple: C-Eb-F-Gb-G-Gb-F-Eb. That would be an eight note half ascending and half descending sequence, similar to circular motion (or a mountain). But let’s only take the five note ascending part (C-Eb-F-Gb-G) that is in C minor with the addition of a diminished fifth. Now let’s take the elements and say a couple of words about each one. Minor scales are characterized by their sad, sentimental, almost restless sound, which usually comes from a minor third, followed by a semitone. The minor third in this case (C-Eb), is what gives us this restlessness and is followed by a tone (Eb-F), which makes it more stable and not sad. F is a pivotal note with the sense that C-F is a perfect fourth and is one of the common consonant sounds. Gb is the dissonant sound of the diminished fifth. Now, the diminished fifth, is an unstable interval. Think of leaving a glass of water on the edge of the table. You will either need to place it in a better spot, or let it fall. Which ever of the two would resolve the situation. Though, one of the reasons this sequence is not as alarming and restless as it could have been, is because the dissonance has the role of a passing note, rather than being a main element of a chord. It’s there, but we don’t really pay way too much attention to it.

Enough with the theory. It’s like stomping on people’s (or just Iruma-kun’s) hopes, while not being overly… over the top. Caught my attention immediately. Oh, and it just sticks with you.

As most OSTs, the key to a successful soundtrack is the use of variations. Technically, it’s the recycling of melodic and harmonic material in different scenes to communicate different emotions or associate the music with similar yet different characters. Luckily enough, in the first episode, we listen to a variation of the -let’s call it- demons’ theme, right before the duel. It starts off like a toccata/fuga for an organ which later evolves into classic action music, featuring off-beat rhythmic accentuations.

A simple change in the scale and the addition of a few instruments can evolve something unearthly into something new and joyful, like in the scene where Iruma-kun goes to demon school for the first time.

Then, there’s the music that underlies in the background. Its main purpose is to comment on what’s happening on the screen. We encounter it during the opening ceremony, where Iruma-kun makes the speech and is characterized by its -kinda- ambient nature. But for good measure and to tense things up even more, what accompanied the stunned reactions of everyone in the auditorium were the distorted electronic sounds with high attack.

So we have a plurality of sounds, textures, timbres, rhythms, moods, that make a soundtrack what it truly is. And it’s nothing other than… a playground of discovery.

*In case you haven’t watched the episode: Ok, I get it. There were a couple of minor spoilers, but everything’s in the first episode. Just deal with it and watch the episode. It’s good.*

Find Akimitsu Honma here:
Official Website // Twitter // Instagram


Last things- well, not so last. The Ending Theme. “Devi-Cue” by Serizawa Yū

Watch the full song and discover more on Avex’s YouTube channel.
Serizawa Yū doing the heavy metal gesture, wearing cute devilish clothes and small glistening and black horns, in front of a bright pink background with graphics.
Voice actor, singer, idol Serizawa Yū (source)

Refreshing, playful and just a bit mysterious. There is a shadow play (as in shadow puppetry) going on, but kind of reversed. The ED is repetitive, fast, upbeat and playful as it features exclusively female charact- Wait. Will it turn into a harem?

Find Serizawa Yū here:
Official Website // Twitter // Instagram


Generally speaking…

It seems to me that a lot of thought was put into music. The music compliments the animation rather beautifully, especially when considering that it has nice balance between the acoustic, let’s say the more ‘grown-up’ instruments and the electronic, let’s say the more ‘shounen’ sounds.

The nature of the OP makes me think that it is not just for the younger audiences, but for older folks as well, because, dude… the late 1990s nostalgia.

The music, the sound effects, the voice acting, the animation, the directing, everything is good. And it all makes everything else seem even better.

I came across the OP before watching the anime and before knowing what it’s about. One of the first things I thought was that it reminded me of Soul Eater in a weird way, but a lot brighter and lighter.

TL;DR (shame on you if you start reading from the end)

  • Really nice combo of music and sound effects.
  • The music doesn’t seem to be excessive and in many cases it shines.
  • There’s a really nice balance between the background Vs foreground music, that is the music we don’t pay attention to and the music we acknowledge.
  • I like how the music is on ‘equal terms’ with the image. It’s not like the one overshadows the other; it’s more like the two work well together.
  • I really enjoyed the OP and the OST. The ED, although good, didn’t have the same impact to me.
  • Everything was way above par.
  • I hope it gets the attention it deserves. However, I believe that it may be one of the late bloomers.
  • I think that the OST will have some memorable pieces.

Score

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


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