This is one of the rare times where I have to put a “trigger warning: images of self-harm/cutting” for a Hatsune Miku video. The song does not spare a graphic violence in the lyrics, and the PV looks a bit Mirai Nikki style. That said, the song isn’t actually any more horrifying than that either. Manga-style art and animation mixed with a fast, electronic beat makes the song entertaining rather than scary. I mean, yanderes are popular for whatever reason, right? Deus ex Machina will help give you that creepy kick.
BuriruP is a pretty well known producer, and while Deus ex Machina doesn’t have the same exciting sound as Secret Police (Himitsu Keisatsu), it has its own appeal. This song has actually been out since March, and still occasionally makes the rankings but surprisingly hasn’t broken 100k views yet, a disappointing feat. That said, it does have an interesting mix of elements that make a good Vocaloid song.
One of the stronger points of the song is obviously the PV and lyrics, which revel in the gore they discuss. Deus ex Machina already is a title that pleas the hopelessness of the scenario – only God’s miraculous intervention could save the protagonist, the black-haired, red-eyed twin-tail female. The girl in question has kind of a Loli look to her: black dress and stockings, with a red bow to attest to her innocent appearance so that the yandere effect is clear.
With a blood-splattered frame, blur, glitches and other visual effects to shake up the PV, Deus ex Machina heightens the art’s already chilling mood. It matches the lyrics panel for panel as well, to lend it some story-like plot. The girl starts out holding a struggling body wrapped up in burlap sack, and is constantly seen hugging it. She already pleads for the deus ex machina to save her somehow. There doesn’t seem to be any remorse in her next lines, however, as she talks about chopping up a corpse even as she slits her own wrist and takes white pills. A word, “compassion” seems to label the screen whenever the song slips into moments where it quotes often repeated, hopeful phrases like “It’ll be alright” and then ends the section with “You god damn hypocrite!” Then for whatever reason, it switches back to calling for help from God, even as she wields a baseball bat in true yandere fashion.
Still, there isn’t really a full story or explanation for the events. She references Thanatos the god of death, which likely seems to be the “God” she is praying to, as opposed to the conventional one. And then she yells “screw it!” before reverting to the usual chorus. So, not really much of a development or conclusion. Although one might contest the claim that she’s fully a yandere with no love interest, the PV at least hints where the lyrics might not be so explicit. Along with the wriggling, soon-to-be-dead body she hugs and the fact that she is committing suicide as well, there are more creepy moments in the lyrics. Miku sings “Those who seek are refused, those who run are chased”, and “Acknowledge what your desires, what would you do for someone else’s sake?” before she ominously closes a garbage lid over a censored pile of human remains.
In the end, she is more or less victim to her own madness and fear as death closes into her. Even as she realizes it is her own fault, she only wishes to be spared her life. Not a huge change of heart.
To be honest, when I talk about having more “variation” in songs, I mean what this song has managed to add. The slow, mysterious intro instrumental contrasts with the rest of the song, and makes its appearance again in the bridge. It manages to lull you into a false sense of peace before it breaks and reintroduces the insanity. Those kind of pauses in the song help break up the monotony of the chorus. In the last verse, Miku sings a raspy high note to punctuate the “Please forgive me” line’s desperation, and then another vibrato’d high note at the end.
What I think lessens the appeal to the otherwise not badly written song is the unimaginative tuning of Miku. To Miku fans, Miku’s voice probably still sounds pretty flat in a song that is supposed to be this creepy. Even the climatic highlights feel weak. Unlike the haunting tones of other similar ones like Alice Human Sacrifice, Trick or Treat, etc, Deus ex Machina really doesn’t render Miku’s voice to match. Not to mention, it doesn’t have something that really sells the scare factor – a character crazily delighted in her work, and a story that adds suspense to the dark doings.
In the end, I can understand that despite all the pros, this song doesn’t have the strength to be one of BuriruP’s major sellers.
-Nice PV and lyrics.
-Story not really plotted out or unique.
-Lackluster tuning of Miku.