What do you do for the tenth anniversary of a game that looks like an anime version of The Nightmare Before Christmas, except starring pre-teen demons, pop idols, and Power Rangers? Nippon Ichi’s answer to that query was to make a new Disgaea strategy RPG, Disgaea Dimension 2. Disgaea D2 is a direct sequel to the first Disgaea title instead of a game starring a new cast; the Disgaea series will again see some new blood in 2015, when Disgaea 5 launches in Japan. Disgaea Dimension 2 was released outside Japan as Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness.
Disgaea D2’s soundtrack is a Tenpei Sato joint, as are the other Disgaea OST’s. Sato’s quirky musical choices are an essential part of the Disgaea experience, and the Disgaea D2 OST fits right into his body of work. Sato’s orchestral soundscape occasionally crosses into the realms of rock and pop, but almost always with interesting results.
Included with the 27-track OST is a second CD with 13 tracks from the first four games. It’s impossible to satisfy every Disgaea fan with just 13 tracks, but it’s a solid selection. “Pandora Ignition” (Axel’s Disgaea 4 theme music) and “Elegant Darksters” (the default Item World music in the first Disgaea) were two of my favorites on the bonus CD. However, in my case it might be Stockholm Syndrome for “Elegant Darksters.” I spent a lot of time in Item World.
The Disgaea D2 soundtrack proper, like the game itself, has frequent callbacks and references to the original Disgaea. “Whisper of Hell ~Darkness” is a new arrangement of the Disgaea opening menu music “Whisper of Hell,” and “Red Moon Dance” is an up-tempo interpretation of the melody from “Red Moon” from the original Disgaea. Sure, “Red Moon Dance” is used in a combat map and “Red Moon” is a melancholy ballad, but the notes are there.
Sato has a few signature voices that are found in each Disgaea soundtrack, and Disgaea D2 is no exception. The eerie synth chorus in “Heaven’s Blossom,” “Devil Rock Hero,” and “The Sad Angel” is a Disgaea staple. Sato uses a lot of guitar sounds in Disgaea D2, but the most familiar one is a low-reverb, medium-distortion electric guitar that takes center stage on “Prince of Darkness.” That guitar sounds a little like a buzzing insect when it’s in the upper register, but it’s a neat vehicle for the melody.
But that’s not to say that Sato uses the same instrumentation for all of his songs. Sato’s natural Disgaea instrumentation is a full orchestra, but playful and weird. I heard flute, violin, and clarinet solos multiple times listening to the album. “Rosen Queen Co. — Netherworld Branch” has a funky opening hook with timpani, violin, clarinet, oboe, tuba, trumpet, harp, glockenspiel, triangle (!?), and a variety of other voices climbing up and down in the first twenty seconds before settling into the melody. It’s an offbeat and whimsical tune (sorry for saying the W-word, but if the shoe fits…), and it helps to set the tone for the whole series, being the shop music in the original Disgaea.
Predictably, Disgaea D2 has a dramatic opening number with an anime music video. “CRADLE OVER” isn’t my favorite opening in the series (that would be Disgaea 2’s “Sinful Rose”), but I love its strings and electric guitar accompaniment. The four on the floor had me grooving with every listen. In contrast, the ending song “Next Story” is a lovely ballad that begins pleasant and understated, and grows increasingly complex with more instruments in each verse, ending with a rich wall of sound. “Next Story” is lengthy at eight minutes, but builds nicely and is a satisfying credits song.
If there’s a single thing that differentiates Disgaea D2’s soundtrack from its predecessors, it’s a little more idol girl pop. “Yokubarikko-Ring♪,” “Tasty✩Magic,” and “Rockin’ Princess” wouldn’t be out of place in a Hatsune Miku game. This isn’t new for Disgaea music, but Disgaea D2 has an entire chapter concerning a demon pop idol concert, so there’s a little more than usual.
In Japan, where this soundtrack was initially released, copies of the soundtrack came with the LE version of Disgaea D2. In North America, all copies of Disgaea D2 bought from NIS America’s website included these two CDs. The same soundtrack was available at GameStop as a pre-order bonus, but this OST was never made individually available by NISA. It’s a good value as a pack-in with the game, but probably not worth seeking out re-sellers for an official version. Disgaea D2 is a tasty audio meal for Tenpei Sato fans, but if you’re a Disgaea newcomer I’d recommend checking out the other Disgaea OST’s before breaking the internet searching for this one.