Dragon Ball Z -Budokai 3- Original Soundtrack
Dragon Ball Z -Budokai 3- Original Soundtrack
March 2, 2005
Buy at CDJapan
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 continued the successful musical formula previously established by its predecessors. Once again, Kenji Yamamoto returned to compose the soundtrack, ensuring that the style and spirit of the previous scores would be maintained. In fact, the Dragon Ball Z -Budokai 3- Original Soundtrack could have very well been packaged together with the Dragon Ball Z -Budokai 1 & 2- Original Soundtrack, resulting in a much more complete and fulfilling listening experience.
Basically, it’s a continuation of the elements introduced in the first Budokai games, consisting mostly in the mix of the Modern Jazz and Rock genres, furthered by stylizations ranging from Rock & Roll to Big Band, and even Funk and Ska. This ensures that the soundtrack is diverse, fun and colorful, merging influences from older music along with newer contemporary elements, emphasized even more by the phenomenal arrangements and performances. In fact, the performance might be the main exceeding point of Yamamoto’s scores, since it relies on the collaboration of professional Japanese and American musicians, being one of the rare examples of its kind, especially for the time of its release. Notable highlights include guitarist Steve Lukather from the famed 80’s rock band Toto, and the R&B band and horn section Tower of Power. Not only this raises the quality bar substantially, but also helps in mixing the distinct musical styles and influences from both cultural sides, resulting in quite a unique and enjoyable final product.
The album starts strongly with a typical Dragon Ball Z vocal theme, but unlike the previous games’ effort, this one ranges from one of the best in the entire series. “Ore wa Tokoton Tomaranai!!” opens with a simple yet strong guitar riff, later to be followed by the much-beloved Hironobu Kageyama’s singing, backed up by anthemic trumpet melodies and gospel-like female chorus. Simply put, the song hits all the right spots, managing to be fun and invigorating, and as well one of the best performances by Kageyama himself.
One of the best aspects of the score is how subtly familiar it feels at times. Clearly, Yamamoto has a vast library of influences ranging from old to new music, and he hints and implements them with versatility. But as I previously noted, it’s perhaps the American influenced side of the soundtrack that really gives it the right edge and punch. “Hurricane Challenger” proves what can happen when Western and Eastern forces join. Starting with fast electronic sounds, it’s soon followed by memorable synth melodies backed by a rock accompaniment. It’s halfway through that it stops sounding “Japanese” and the melodies are replaced by guitar jams with a very vintage sound, and later — perhaps the most memorable moment of the entire soundtrack — a blazing and awesome solo blasts off and kicks all possible amounts of ass. I’m surprised how my speakers don’t melt each time I listen to this part, it actually is that intense. Although it’s slightly short with its 2 minute playtime, it’s sheer amount of power and layered sound make up for it.
“Hand-in-Hand Fight” is the Jazz equivalent of the rocking “Hurricane Challenger”, exceeding with its memorable and catchy horn motifs. Fans of Cowboy Bebop won’t have any problems in recognizing the nods to a certain memorable theme from that anime, who in itself was a tribute to the magic of Jazz and Blues. Although I hate the abrupt ending of the track, it’s nevertheless an incredible and memorable piece. Other highlights include “Impulse to Victory” and “Under the Gibbous Moon”. The former mixes the raw energy of rock music with catchy sax hooks, while the latter mixes bluesy guitars and phenomenal sax melodies to create a highly addictive and entertaining theme.
“We Go Nuts! ~ Restless Night” is a frantic, ambiguous, snarky and fun blast of Jazzy goodness, capturing the essence of the genre and as well the idea of going crazy perfectly, whereas “12:AM Shuffle” is the polar opposite with its charming, laid-back and relaxing nocturnal and urban vibe. On the other hand, “24-7 Crazy” and “Can You Heart My Heartbeat?” venture into Funk territory, with the former boasting an irresistible groove and a tropical feel, while the latter being much more seducing and laid-back. “ouT oF CoNTRoL” stands out on the rest of the album, being a totally electronic theme, full of breakbeats and techno sounds that result in a catchy and highly addictive track.
“Sky Battle” and “Night of Tempest” are balls-out-rock jams, with prominent and sophisticated guitar solos that accompany the mid-tempo pace kept by the powerful percussion. The latter is the most memorable and impressive, having also vintage and bluesy in its storming solos. “Over the Galaxy” is similar in style, but is faster and energetic, mixing upbeat and catchy horn and synth melodies to create a truly fun and good-spirited theme that inspires feelings of ecstatic moods and victory. On the other hand, “Fortitude ~ Indomitable Spirit” mixes the bluesy guitars with rocking percussion and Jazzy horn motifs, resulting in a slightly predictable track in the beginning until the real show begins later with the fantastic and tasteful solos.
Unfortunately, the Dragon Ball Z -Budokai 3- Original Soundtrack shares many problems with its parent album. While there are a lot of awesome and memorable tracks to be found, there are a bunch, particularly during the end, that simply don’t have anything special to offer. These seem to rely too much on the “amazing performance” aspect of the album, as seeing that they are of high quality but nevertheless don’t have much to offer to the listening experience. This is quite a counter-balance to the rest of the album, seeing as most of the best material is heard on the beginning, whereas the rest starts becoming tiresome and predictable. Having also mostly brief playtimes don’t help much either, as the 28 tracks all together become to much to endure.
Ultimately, Dragon Ball Z -Budokai 3- Original Soundtrack is a fantastic game music album, continuing the successful musical formula established in the two previous games. Not only the production values are amazing, but the top-notch arrangements and performance result in a phenomenal and varied aural experience that manages in entertaining to no end. Although it could have benefited from a few cuts and improvements, it still manages to be a strong album, entertaining and memorable for both game music enthusiasts and more mainstream listeners too. Also, the American/Japanese collaboration bears its fruits, seeing as some of the material to be found here mixes the best from both cultures, resulting in a unique final product that stands out not only as a game soundtrack. Simply put, if you liked the previous effort from Kenji Yamamoto, you will absolutely love this one. Otherwise, if you totally despise Rock and Jazz, keep away from this. Although I don’t think that you are that much of a soul-less human being for not being able to even marginally enjoy two of the best and most defining musical genres of the last century.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by George Capi. Last modified on August 1, 2012.