Mairimashita! Iruma-kun OST is too good to stay underappreciated<span class="wtr-time-wrap block after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">9</span> min read</span>

I had no expectations from Mairimashita! Iruma-kun when it first aired. I thought that the characters wouldn’t be all that interesting or the setting all that entertaining. The music didn’t even cross my mind. And the OP? The first time I listened to it (before actually watching the season premiere), I found it repetitive. So, PaperSailor and I hit play and the very first episode proved me wrong on the spot. The script was entertaining, the comedic effects gave the entire show a nice flair and the music shot it head and shoulders above the rest demon-related anime of this sort. The OP turned from repetitive to catchy after the first time I listened to it and the soundtrack made me appreciate the work put into the anime.

As you may have guessed, I really enjoy Mairimashita! Iruma-kun. Perhaps, it’s the first to-watch anime of my Spring 2021 list. Yes, it’s above Boku no Hero Academia. And since I mentioned BNHA, let me give you a nice little fact. Boku no Hero Academia airs at the same time as Mairimashita! Iruma-kun does. And honestly, if it was up to me to decide, I’d watch Iruma-kun first and catch up with BNHA later on. That’s how enjoyable I find it.

Undeniably, there was a lot of thought behind the soundtrack. The character, the emotion and the general sense of the characters interacting within the setting were captured beautifully. I don’t care how childish you may think it is; the music shaped Mairimashita! Iruma-kun into what it is.

Mairimashita! Iruma-kun soundtrack
Mairimashita! Iruma-kun music collection CD cover art (source)

Honma Akimitsu is one of the musicians who outshines others. His proficiency on a wide range of music genres is undeniable. His ability to understand the story gives him insight into what the original creator and director had in mind. And as his insight combines with his musicianship, he is able to create a memorable and good quality soundtrack. As credit should be given to where it’s due, the soundtrack of Mairimashita! Iruma-kun was composed and arranged by two musicians: Honma Akimitsu and Sekimukai Yayoi. Sekimukai Yayoi was responsible for composing and arranging a number of tracks, either on her own or collaboratively. In my humble opinion, Iruma-kun was a good opportunity for Sekimukai Yayoi to gain some exposure and experience and she didn’t waste it. I’m looking forward to listening to more of her compositions being featured in anime.

Sekimukai Yayoi playing the piano
Japanese composer, arranger, pianist Sekimukai Yayoi (source)

In case I wasn’t clear enough already, let me summarize my previous paragraph. I admire Honma Akimitsu. I enjoy his work. All tracks are well thought out, they have a nice progression and most of them catch the viewer’s attention. I generalized what I like about this specific OST into two points. The first point being that each track doesn’t become tiring, as most tracks are divided into three sections, following the ABA form (for more, have a look at the music form page of my Music Glossary; it will increase your appetite, I’m sure of it). However the form isn’t the only reason why the tracks are good; there is a plethora of techniques employed to create a useful and pleasantly entertaining soundtrack. The second point being that the OST features many ‘childish’ elements – meaning (but not limited to) music motifs that are present in nursery rhymes and other songs composed for a younger audience- that amplify the innocence of preteen and early teenage years.

Akimitsu Honma on stage
Music producer, composer, arranger, keyboardist Honma Akimitsu (source)

But that is not all. In my first listen article, I made quite a long point on the use of diabolus in musica. Get it? The anime is about devils and the music featured a little devil of its own. The soundtrack of Iruma-kun was what drove me into creating the Music Glossary in the first place. So back to our musical devilish interval. The devil in music is a certain distance between two notes (that’s actually half an octave), whose ‘colour’ sounds a bit eerie and dark. Its natural habitat is located in the white keys of a piano keyboard. It’s the distance between notes B and F or F and B. This was what actually made musicians create the black keys. The first black key was B flat, in order to be able to avoid that bad, bad devilish sound. What that sound really is, though, is just a dissonant. However, still, we take advantage of this bad reputation and employ its use as a technique.

This technique was used in a number of tracks, specifically on #5, “魔界三傑サリバン [Makai Sanketsu Sullivan]” and #8, “アスモデウス・アリス [Asmodeus Alice]”. My entire blabbing section on my First Listen article was dedicated to Sullivan’s theme. I liked it from the first time I listened to it and I found it brilliant, as it is so simple. We have a total of eight notes; four are going up, four are going down. We are in C minor scale. Minor scales have the ability to sound ominous. We then add diabolus in musica, aka the tritone and we have a really nice eight note melodic motif that we can use as a loop. We then choose a dark and devilish instrument to carry the melody and we’re hooked. On the other hand, Asmodeus’ track is a bit different. We are once again in C minor and the main motif is closely related to Sullivan’s main motif. That’s what shows Alice’s status musically. However, this time the accidental, aka the note that isn’t in C minor is a different one. C minor scales have three flats: B, E and A. So the ‘wow’ note of Asmodeus’ track is A that has been naturalified. I’m not even sure if that’s a word. What I meant to say is that on 00:14, instead of listening to A flat, we listen to A natural. So my point is that the parts that make up the soundtrack are not hard; they are elements of an easy concept that has been beautifully put into practice.

Another detail worth noting is the use of the ‘game music’ concept. Game music isn’t quite like movie soundtracks. There are many things in common between the two but the main difference is the interactivity. Game music needs to be more interactive as the player is responsible for the pacing; the player decides to speed-run or stand still for half an hour. The common ground is the composition of a main theme, character themes, tracks related to specific locations and tracks that accompany moods. I won’t be going into more detail as this is a huge topic that can’t be condensed into a mere paragraph. So what I meant to say is that apart from all the technicalities, the use of game music in Iruma-kun‘s soundtrack is more prominent at times. Prominent as in we have a faster tempo, there are more notes with shorter durations and a single instrument or group of instruments can move around the entire register more freely. Music in games can be more noticeable by the player, whereas in film (as well as in the cut scenes of games) that’s not always the case. Au contraire, music in film (and game cut scenes) tend(s) to have a secondary role and act as a narrator. And even though the general concept of music being the narrator applies to Iruma-kun, there are still some elements that make it stand out. We have intense electronic sounds, we have vigorous vibratos, we have ear-catching rhythms that are written for Iruma-kun‘s target audience, Japanese kids.

Perhaps one of the reasons why I enjoyed this anime so much was because I was reminded of a purer time when I sat in my living room as a toddler, watched anime and smashed my Nintendo SNES playing Super Mario Bros. Good times. Nostalgia hit me.

But let’s go back to Iruma-kun‘s OST, shall we? As far as the characters’ themes are concerned, we have our protagonist, our main characters, our main supporting characters and our tertiary characters. Obviously, Iruma is our protagonist, with Sully-ojiisan being the runner up, as Iruma has four tracks dedicated to him and Sullivan has three. Well, if we think of the first track as the main theme, then they are tied. Next, we go to our main supporting characters who have two tracks each. Then, we have our tertiary characters, who have a single track written for them. And finally we have Clara. She is a category of her own. I’ll explain shortly.

Now, what I find truly entertaining about the soundtrack is this. The characters are presented to us in two ways. Meaning that we have a track that showcases their serious side and we have the track (or tracks) that let(s) us take a peak at their goofier side. As for Clara, it’s quite self-explanatory: she is a goofball, so there was no need to compose two different tracks, as they would actually serve the same purpose. That was a smart detail. Oh, and Sully -who is another one of my favourite characters- is great for two reasons. The voice acting and the soundtrack. I like how “魔界三傑サリバン [Makai Sanketsu Sullivan]” represents his serious side, showcasing the augmented fourth and all. I like how “理事長サリバン [Rijichou Sullivan]”, aka the egg-Sullivan theme (it definitely doesn’t say “Board Chairman Sullivan”, it says “Egg Sullivan”, trust me), changes time signature from 4/4 to 3/4 and then back to 4/4 to mix things up a bit and make it more playful. And I like how “激甘サリバン [Gekiama Sullivan]”, the excited egg-Sullivan theme (this one definitely doesn’t say “Super Sweet Sullivan”, it’s definitely “Egg-sited Sullivan”), has spot on orchestration. All three Sullivan tracks pick me up. Every single time.

It would be a shame not to mention Callego-sensei. That devil isn’t playing. You can tell from the black metal elements that have been combined with the full-bodied orchestral sound and the slow tempo. He means business. But that was before he was summoned as Irumacchi’s pet, *non COVID-19 cough* familiar. All the seriousness Kalego managed to accumulate in #13 “ナベリウス・カルエゴ [Naberius Callego]”, vanished in #14 “モフエゴ [Mofu-ego]”. Nonetheless, the upbeat and comedic elements in Callego’s ‘fluffy’ track do not stand out as much as in the ‘goofy’ tracks of the other characters.

BONUS: “モフモフ”, transliterated as mofumofu is onomatopoeia for something fluffy and soft to touch.

There are two more characters I’d like to talk about a bit, Ami Kirio and Azazel Amelie. I left them out until the end since they are polar opposites. Amelie is tall, tough, strong whereas Kirio is weak and pitiful. Both hide a secret side that’s not so secret if you listen to the soundtrack. It’s as bright as day, really. Amelie, who disciplines whoever disrupts peace by literally kicking them is unexpectedly girly and Kirio, who is being mocked by every single soul -Iruma excluded- is actually the bad guy.

I believe that after reading all this, you may have already guessed what I think of this OST: it is very good. It’s simple but good. The logic put behind it was what it should be, the composers and the director were on the same page and the execution was spot on as well. I can only expect season 2 to give us an exciting soundtrack that features even more aspects of each and every character. Of course, I’m expecting to listen to all the tracks that stood out in season 1. However, what I’m looking forward to the most, is the new track(s) that will be musically defining Iruma-kun’s alter ego. I wanna listen to the sound of bad-ass Iruma not just the push-over, sweat Iruma-kun. I’m getting really excited about this.

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