Dragalia Lost: What’s That Sound? It’s Daoko

If you’ve been playing Nintendo and Cygames’ new mobile release Dragalia Lost, you’ve probably noticed it has a rather distinctive soundtrack.

The reason for this is not what you might expect: rather than being composed specifically for the game, with the composer making use of a deliberately stylised approach to the overall audio aesthetic, the game instead uses an almost entirely licensed soundtrack, courtesy of Japanese singer and rapper Daoko.

If you haven’t come across Daoko before, well, what better time than the present to have a look over her previous work, including that which appears in Dragalia Lost?

Daoko (not her real name, obviously) got her start uploading videos to popular Japanese video-sharing site Nico Nico Douga as a teenager in the early 2010s. She worked on her family’s iMac using the popular GarageBand software and the internal microphone to record her voice — and her characteristically “breathy” delivery supposedly originally came about because she didn’t want to disturb her family while she was recording. Apparently satisfied with this distinctive sound, she maintained it even when she graduated to having her own computer in her room.

She was still in school when she was posting her own rap recordings on Nico Nico Douga, and her “discovery” is credited to an artist named Jinmenusagi who was signed to the indie label LOWHIGHWHO? at the time. Jinmenusagi was so impressed with her work that he introduced her to the president of the label, and she scored herself a recording contract by the time she enrolled in high school. Her first activity on the label was as a backup singer for her labelmates Fukashigi/wonderboy on their 2012 song Sekai Seifuku Yameta (above).

The school Daoko was attending officially forbade its students from being part of the entertainment industry, so she had to hide her face for the first few years of her career.

This explains why many of her early music videos, many of which can still be found on LOWHIGHWHO?’s YouTube channel, do not feature her at all, instead either having someone else starring in the video or else stylised, hand-drawn characters atop a video background as. An example of the latter can be seen in this video for the song “Fog”.

One of Daoko’s most well-known early appearances was as the vocalist for the 2014 track “Me!Me!Me!” by Teddyloid, which became famous for both its catchy melody, thumping beats and its impressive, suggestive and provocative animated music video.

Interpretations of the video and song vary somewhat; some suggest it’s about a young man losing his grip on reality and the relationships that are important to him as a result of an addiction (possibly to hentai), but the official description for the video claims it’s about a young man being “attacked and ravished by many girls”. Either way, it’s pretty friggin’ bleak — but still great.

“Me!Me!Me!” played a significant role in Daoko getting noticed by larger, more mainstream labels. She stuck with LOWHIGHWHO? until early 2015, releasing one final album with them before moving on to the new label she remains with to this day: Toy’s Factory.

Daoko’s first album with Toy’s Factory followed shortly after her last album with LOWHIGHWHO? — but she was still in high school during the recording and production of the record and thus was still unable to reveal her face. As such, the album covers for her self-titled album either feature her facing away from the camera, or just part of her face.

It’s here that the Dragalia Lost players might start hearing something familiar. A snippet of this track, “ShibuyaK”, is used frequently throughout Dragalia Lost to highlight dramatic scenes — but it’s noteworthy for another reason too: it marked the first time fans would ever see Daoko’s face.

In October of 2015, Toy’s Factory released ShibuyaK as a double A-side single alongside “Samishii Kamisama” (“Lonely God”), and it was on the inlay for the various releases of this record that Daoko revealed her face to the public for the first time. She had graduated from high school by this point, and was finally free to show herself.

Daoko’s second single with Toy’s Factory dropped in September of 2016. This was a triple A-side affair featuring the songs “Moshimo Bokura ga GAME no Shuyaku de”, “Daisuki with TeddyLoid” and “BANG!”.

Both “Moshimo Bokura ga GAME no Shuyaku de” and “BANG!” are featured in Dragalia Lost, with a clip from the former being used on the Quest Select screen, while the latter is the theme for summoning new units through the game’s gacha system.

In 2017, Daoko collaborated with the studio MAPPA on the second season of the Shingeki no Bahamut (Rage of Bahamut) anime, Virgin Soul. As part of this collaboration, she provided two ending themes for the series, one of which (known as “Cinderella Step”) is used in a few different forms throughout Dragalia Lost.

Astute readers will note that Rage of Bahamut was an early Cygames release that enjoyed considerable popularity and transmedia success despite really not being a very good game at all, so with that in mind it’s perhaps not all that surprising that Daoko ended up providing her music for a later Cygames title.

Dragalia Lost doesn’t just call upon Daoko’s back catalogue for its soundtrack, however. Its main theme “Owaranai Sekai de” (literally “in a world that does not end”, an apt choice for an online game), heard on the main data download/patch screen while the introductory animation from ufotable is playing, was composed specifically for the game, and indeed will be forming a centrepiece of Daoko’s third album, due out in November of 2018.

It’ll be interesting to see quite how many new fans Daoko gets as a result of Dragalia Lost. She can certainly count me among them.

More about Dragalia Lost

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