Music by Shiroh Sagisu Produced by Hideaki Anno
1. Opening (Zankoku No Tenshi Na Thesis) – 4.05
2. Fly Me To The Moon – 4.33
3. Angel Attack – 2.31
4. Rei I – 2.59
5. Hedgehog’s Dilemma – 2.47
6. Barefoot In The Park – 2.37
7. Ritsuko’s Theme – 3.03
8. Misato’s Theme – 1.32
9. Asuka Strikes – 2.23
10. Nerv – 1.59
11. Tokyo-3 – 2.24
12. Shinji’s Theme – 2.02
13. Eva-01 – 2.48
14. A Step Forward Into Terror – 1.54
15. Eva-02 – 2.00
16. Decisive Battle – 2.25
17. Eva-00 – 1.51
18. The Beast – 1.40
19. Marking Time, Waiting For Death – 2.44
20. Rei II – 2.56
21. Fly Me To The Moon – 2.58
22. N/A – 0.32
23. Fly Me To The Moon – 3.50
The first of three Evangelion soundtracks remains the favourite amongst fans of the series mainly due to, in my opinion, the sheer diversity of the tracks present. The Evangelion soundtrack has everything really from well-crafted opening and ending themes to beautiful, tear-jerking character themes. The problem remains that not everyone is going to like every track but with the high-quality of the composition and the good use of a full orchestra, Shiroh Sagisu has created the most intense, thought-provoking, high-quality anime soundtrack of all time, one that should be experienced by not just fans of the anime, but music lovers in general.
Track 1 – Opening (Zankoku No Tenshi Na Thesis)
Starts off with a few beautiful vocal lines and then gets pumping with the percussion and brass sounding off. I shouldn’t really have to write too much about the musical composition of this piece, as I’m sure everyone’s heard it at least once but hey. The vocalist does a brilliant job throughout, exuding energy and enthusiasm and a very sound singing voice to boot. The song is wonderfully written, going through a number of stages with growing intensity, in truth reflecting the actual themes of the series very well. Lyrically, it’s perfect as well…relevant to the series and showing some thought has gone into its construction. Other honourable mentions go to the great performance of the brass section and the high quality of the choral odes throughout. A very competent opening theme all in all.
Track 2 – Fly Me To The Moon
And can I say, what a choice for an ending theme! A truly wonderful track with all the feelings of an orchestra and singer playing at a high-class dinner party, it is truly amazing how well the piece works and the amazing quality of those performing it. The vocalist is fantastic, Megumi Hayashibara performs this version of the ending and it is the best version by far, special significance being that she is the voice of Rei Ayanami and the idea of Rei singing such a song has special meaning for me personally. Needless to say that all the musicians play to their best in this track, the pianist is on top-form and the strings are as good as any anywhere else in the soundtrack. The slight bossa-nova feel really adds to the emotion in the track adding wonderfully well to the vocals of Hayashibara. An amazing ending theme, one that can only be summed up as beautiful.
Track 3 – Angel Attack
The title of the track tells you what you’re going to get really. It’s functional if nothing else and works very well in the series as the theme for when the angels are attacking. The use of piano is haunting; string and brass also play amazingly well into this tension-filled piece. It’s very well written also with excessive use of repetition to a great effect. The piece, I feel does actually evoke fear into the listener and the intensity of the track has to be felt to be believed. I wouldn’t overplay this one too much but it’s certainly a very capable track.
Track 4 – Rei I
In my view, only second to “Hedgehog’s Dilemma” as the standout track on the album. This is Rei’s original theme (there are many alternative versions played in the series and across the soundtracks) and is probably the best of these. The ultimate in tear-jerking music in this series, it completely brings to life the personality and feelings of Rei but for some amazing musical genius on the part of Sagisu, I am unable to listen to this track very well. It is that disturbing. It’s an excess of all the emotion present in the series I feel. The first run-through has only piano playing that works an absolute treat merely focusing on the disturbed aspects of Rei’s personality but it is so simple, so beautiful that it can’t be criticised on any level. The second time that the melody runs through, it is accompanied by a great string arrangement that really enhances the overall mood, adding a depth of beauty to the character of Rei that becomes more evident as the series moves on in all truth. Of course, this is just a glimmer and the track reverts back to it’s simple, piano-only roots to draw the piece to a close, reiterating that any of the beautiful side of Rei’s character that comes to surface is merely fleeting and will once again be suppressed. In short, a beautiful, well-crafted piece that would rank up with any other as thought-provoking and emotionally-provoking music and a great accomplishment as a character theme.
Track 5 – Hedgehog’s Dilemma
The highlight of the soundtrack, an extremely well thought-out and well executed piece of music. The piece itself is used as a secondary character theme for both Rei and Shinji and it used to symbolise their respective problems in forming relationships. It starts off with a light stroke of a guitar combined with some well-placed piano notes giving an almost drawn-out feel to it, a lot of pain in evident but there’s also a lot of beauty with it. Once the string instrument kicks in along with a bossa-nova style percussion, we are treated to a piece guaranteed to make the eyes water, every long string note is timed perfectly, hence where the predominant beauty in the piece is found. As the track progresses, the piano becomes more erratic but the guitar and percussion keep perfect time, giving the feeling that the problems in the characters that the track tries to highlight lie underneath an otherwise calm outer-appearance. As a functional character theme “Hedgehog’s dilemma” works more for Rei than Shinji as the track has a hidden depth more in keeping with her character and it also plays in one of the most memorable moments of the series (When Rei slaps Shinji). This track is truly an amazing accomplishment.
Track 6 – Barefoot In The Park
To be perfectly honest, I cannot remember exactly where this piece is taken from in the series! It is very similar to ‘Hedgehog’s Dilemma’ in terms of the selection of instruments but differs completely in mood and structure. This track follows a set pattern, simple yet it works to create a functional piece. From a listening point of view it’s very easy to get into, so much that you’ll click your fingers along with the beat as you listen to it and the Latino feel to it makes it interesting to listen to many times after the first. The piano is used to great effect to merely compliment the overriding brass instrument and this basically constitutes the entire piece apart from a beautiful little bridge where the brass gives way to strings which breaks up the overly-confining, regular predictability of the piece. A nice track by all means however.
Track 7 – Ritsuko’s Theme
My favourite character theme without a doubt, for one of my favourite characters too! The over-riding theme of this track is that of innocence and hope (Ironic when it is considered that within the series, Gendo Ikari robbed Ritsuko of both). Which is why it’s important that this theme is used in Ritsuko’s flashback. The track is not complex, using a variety of piano chords and occasionally diving into a few quick scales whilst being accompanied by a regular three or four notes on the guitar. It’s very repetitive however, so I suppose if one did not enjoy the first ten seconds of the track that it should maybe just be skipped. I personally feel that this track works very well for Ritsuko’s character theme and as a piece of music to be listened to. Due to its simplicity however, it’s never going to be considered as one of the OST’s finer tracks.
Track 8 – Misato’s Theme
A track that’s never going to be considered a ‘classic’ piece of music, that’s for sure. It’s very upbeat and in keeping with Misato’s character earlier in the series (however having seen the entire series, it is very difficult to associate this piece with her character any longer). The percussion is lively and the bass-line is simple but adds to this mood and for Sagisu to use strings in such an upbeat way is almost unheard of! The word ‘upbeat’ might appear to be overused a bit here, but there are really not many other words that do the job sufficiently. As a character theme it’s fine really, Misato not being the greatest character of all time and what not. As a piece of music, I find it leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t know what it is but I can’t listen to this track with any seriousness and I believed Sagisu probably sat there with a big
smile on his face whilst he composed it too. It’s not my cup of tea but certainly offers a rest from the emotionally draining pieces of music that preceded it.
Track 9 – Asuka Strikes
Before I begin, I really need to point out that I hate this piece of music and especially hate the character to whose theme it is. However on the plus side, it works very well as a functional piece of music in the series, depicting the comic situation very well and supplementing it. I just find the track so obnoxious from its electro-banjo opening into a nauseating string arrangement that gives me the mental image of sheep strolling around the hills, this is hillbilly music at it’s worst! I can only give it the benefit of the doubt that it’s intended as tongue-in-cheek and not to be taken seriously at all. Saying that, the electro-banjo parts are played very well! This is definitely a track that should’ve been left out.
Track 10 – Nerv
This is a weird one for me for despite the track sounding recognisable to me; I can’t place exactly where in the series this is from! Nevertheless, it’s a very interesting one. Sounding like it came out of the classic “Godzilla” movies, it’s very thought provoking and deliberately over-the-top in its grandeur. Beginning with a combination of string scales into a melee of brass, it immediately invokes the senses and demands to be taken notice of. Once the percussion hits in however, the brass becomes a lot less grand sounding and more like something out of an 80’s American drama series (thinking “Dallas” or “Dynasty”-esque here). This isn’t a criticism at all! The brass instruments are played very well and the accompaniments are also of a high standard. Unfortunately I still can’t place it, so I can only assume that it works a treat in the series as well!
Track 11 – Tokyo-3
Or alternatively, “Geofront”. Taken from the part of the series where Shinji first sees Tokyo-3 whilst travelling down to Headquarters. It starts with very nice choral odes combined with singular blasts from the brass section once more. Also present is the familiar over-the-top feelings of Grandeur that Sagisu has got down to an art. To be perfectly honest however, this piece is nothing more than background music that is unable to stand up as a piece in it’s own right. If curiosity gets the better of you and you wish to listen to this track, make sure it’s the only time that you do.
Track 12 – Shinji’s Theme
A highly under-rated piece of music. The main reason for this I believe is that most Evangelion fans do not associate this piece with Shinji and definitely not as his theme. To some extent I agree with them, it doesn’t seem to be a poignant enough piece to describe the entirety of Shinij’s complex Psyche. The first time we encounter it in the series is when Shinji makes the decision to pilot Eva Unit One and as such it is a very important piece. It starts off simply with slight plucks of string in the background overshadowed by a harrowing piano melody. It’s one of the better melodies on the soundtrack in my opinion. Second time through, the piano melody is played with a brass instrument with the piano now acting as accompaniment. The pinnacle of the track occurs around the 1:18 mark when finally string, brass and piano come together in a bombastic mixture to play the melody with the grandeur it deserves to finish. A wonderful piece of music that maybe just couldn’t live up to the hype of being “Shinji’s theme”.
Track 13 – Eva 01
Although the weakest of the three Eva themes, this piece is very listenable and though it may not be instantly recognisable is important within the series. 2:48 is a bit too long however for this particular piece and Sagisu should have been content with playing it through once. This is another piece that gets the full orchestra treatment as many others do but “Eva 01” shows this off more so than other tracks. The real highlight of this is the string section throughout, probably the best piece by this standard on the soundtrack. Listening to it repeatedly makes you realise how good a track this is on a technical musical level but another problem it encounters is that the actual sound quality is not great. The brass in particular is completely drowned out by the admittedly brilliant string arrangement. I definitely recommend this track to be listened to, although not one of my personal favourites.
Track 14 – A Step Forward Into Terror
This piece normally plays when Nerv are preparing for an Angel battle with the scenes of hustle and bustle, of people shouting and typing away at computers. The brass at the beginning is once again horribly obnoxious in sound and is a painful 20 seconds of introduction. When the brass is accompanied by the string and takes over the melody, it is a much better piece and when coupled with simplistic percussion, it works rather well. It’s once again a very functional piece of music but I wouldn’t recommend listening to it too long for it does seem very repetitive on the ear. It’s important to realise the very effective use of harp in this piece however, a bit of a random observation but it needs to be noted because it is done particularly well. All in all, this piece is mediocre at best and I see no reason why someone should spend too much time over it.
Track 15 – Eva 02
I really like this track! Everything comes together perfectly. It’s well constructed and composition is of a high standard. All the different sections of the orchestra play to their best with string once again being particularly magnificent and it has Harp! Also thrown into the mix is an extravagant use of electric guitar. Once again, I can’t remember when in the series one would hear this track, as I can’t for the life of me associate it with unit 02. Nevertheless, the result of some excellent work by all involved makes this one of the true great tracks of the soundtrack.
Track 16 – Decisive Battle
The alternative “going to battle” track offered for Nerv’s preparation. Once again, there is no reason to give this piece too much time or listens. The effort is all there on behalf of the orchestra but there’s something about these nervy, edge-of-your-seat battle tracks that makes them difficult to listen to outside of the series as stand-alone tracks. It’s painfully over-the-top again in the scale and attempt to make the track sound as epic as possible using bombastic brass where something a little more subtle was called for. It is however, one of the better examples of good percussion on the soundtrack with a top-class, heart-racing drumbeat. I personally don’t like it but I suppose if this is the type of track you’re into, it’s a very good example of such.
Track 17 – Eva 00
This piece is pure gold in terms of arrangement and composition. The execution is also flawless. One of the most memorable tracks of all Evangelion, the Unit 00 theme is famously used in the recalling of how Gendo burned his hands in the Unit 00 activation trials. The suspense built up by the repetitive strings combined with repetitive piano chords is very hard to describe. It is done that well. When added to this firstly is haunting brass blasts and even further by an increase in tempo and an extra couple of beats into the percussion pattern. It all fades away into an intense string and percussion section beaten out with the help of an electric guitar. Slowly it degenerates back into its former state before fading out in typical bombastic style. It’s unusual to find a track that is works amazingly well as both a standout piece and as a functional soundtrack piece but “Eva 00” does this to an incredible standard. The best Eva theme by a long way and a real treat (or should that be threat), to the senses.
Track 18 – The Beast
What can you say really? It’s an upbeat, more intense version of the previous track so why not refer there for more details? I can’t decide between the two, this track has more of an effect on me where as “Eva 00”; I appreciate the composition and style more. It’s an excellent piece once more and should be listened to a few times before you decide that the previous track was better.
Track 19 – Marking Time, Waiting For Death
Sagisu once again intends to distil a feeling of nervousness in the listener through the use of simple piano to open, two key chords repeating over and over with the occasional scale of a glockenspiel (?) to break it up. This lasts for about a minute until some intense percussion and brass comes into play to offer a much-more disturbed, angsty atmosphere. The track is a little too drawn out, coming to nearly three minutes in length and takes way too long to really get going. When it does however, it’s a very evoking piece that serves its purpose well in the series and could possibly stand out as a piece of music on it’s own, although not really one to be listened to for enjoyment purposes.
Track 20 – Rei II
An amazing piece of music, associated with one of the greatest moments in the series when Shinji makes Rei smile at the end of episode six. Weeping strings at their best are guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of the listener combined with simple piano in the background. It’s a remarkably simple track but one that holds so much emotion within it, summing up all of the hopeful feelings that Rei begins to have as the series progresses and a true reflection of her relationship with Shinji. The melody is delightful for as stated, it is simple but every note is perfect and there’s not one place in the entire track where a better job could’ve been done. This piece is a favourite amongst Evangelion fans for a reason and musically, it is perfection.
Track 21 – Fly Me To The Moon (Instrumental)
Relying heavily on the better string musical influences from the 70’s, a very accomplished version of Evangelion theme “Fly me to the moon”. No vocals this time but that doesn’t really matter for as far as instrumental versions go (and there are a lot of them across the three Evangelion soundtracks) this happens to be one of the best. The intro is probably the best part of the entire track with the bossa nova sounding percussion with the high-quality string arrangement creating a dreamy feeling not contained in any other track that springs to mind. When the actual melody of “Fly me to the moon” kicks in, it’s played on a woodwind instrument in a very easy-going, frivolous kind of a way which works to a high standard. It’s a very enjoyable track and one that I would recommend gets a listen for sure!
Track 22 – Jikaiyokoku
It’s nothing more than a filler but it’s a really good 32-second job. It doesn’t really fit in place with an Evangelion soundtrack however and would be more in place with maybe Gundam Wing, which uses fillers to a much greater extent and the quality matches also. The track itself is very good with the entire orchestra performing at the top of their game and a chirpy melody. It’s not a classic but it’s very listenable and shouldn’t be skipped, as it’s probably the least offensive 32 seconds you’ll ever spend.
Track 23 – Fly Me To The Moon (Bossa Nova Remix)
This isn’t one of my favourites and there are a number of reasons for this. It’s Bossa Nova so I assumed I would like it but it didn’t materialise as such. The composition is way too simple for a vocal theme of this magnitude and although pleasant doesn’t really inspire the listener to feel anything. Despite this musically it’s a good track, with nice percussion and guitar playing a very pleasant melody that is quite easy to jive along to (!!). After 1:38, there is a beautiful intermission where the vocals are replaced by a bridge from a woodwind instrument which is just heaven. The main problem with the track however is the vocalist, who must’ve been instructed to sing very softly on the track but unfortunately this just did not work. Being kind to the vocalist, you could say that she shouldn’t be singing in a bossa-nova track and that holding notes is not her speciality but hey, her voice does ruin a perfectly good piece of music. However, all in all this is a very weak way to end the soundtrack and thinking about it maybe just pressing the stop button after track 21 maybe the way to go.