Dragon Ball Z Game Music Rebirth Chapter
Dragon Ball Z Game Music Rebirth Chapter
April 20, 1996
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The Dragon Ball Z Game Music series is a collection of albums with arranged music from the various Dragon Ball video games of the early 90’s, all of which were composed and produced by Kenji Yamamoto. Most games received respective album releases that featured interesting fusions of musical genres and styles that were characterized by a unique wall of sound, offering something cool and fresh with each entry. Most of these albums were pretty varied, resulting in quite a mishmash of a listening experience, and most of them barely resembled the source material from the games. Nevertheless, they featured certain central themes from each respective game score, resulting in a more coherent flow of the music. Still, there were two exclusive albums that represented several Dragon Ball games of the mid ’90s that didn’t receive individual album releases. The second album to be released, Dragon Ball Z Game Music Rebirth Chapter features arranged music from the Action RPG Dragon Ball Z: Super Gokuden 2 released for the Super Famicom, and the fighting games Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension and Dragon Ball Z: Shin Butouden, released for the Super Famicom and Sega Saturn respectively.
Out of the two albums, Rebirth Chapter is slightly more entertaining. It has less filler, a better presentation, and as well better arrangement choices, making it a much more full-fledged album. Also, the source material is quite varied and interesting. For example, both albums share the same arrangements from Super Gokuden 2. Unlike Awakening Chapter though, the arrangements on this album are coherent and not abrasive, maintaining the form of a single theme rather than just a bothersome mix of tracks. Despite being almost identical with its parent album’s counterparts, the individual themes receive substantial improvements. “Battle Elegy” is one of the best examples of Yamamoto’s signature DB wall of sound: catchy tribal percussion, ethnic musical elements, and “synthy” or futuristic sounds. It’s minimalistic at best, but the overall atmosphere it creates is fresh and genuinely enjoyable. Similarly, “Vegeta’s Theme” features the same kind of elements on top of an ominous main motif and a more excessive use of electronic sounds. “Decisive Battle” is the catchiest of the three, featuring quite memorable synth melodies and a decently upbeat vibe.
The second source for arrangements is Hyper Dimension. Perhaps, the best track is the main theme which combines tribal, exotic and electronic elements with simple synth melodies. The quiet and atmospheric intro is at first deceiving, but when the main part blasts off it’s difficult to take out of your head. “Battle Edition” is a hit-and-miss medley of themes, and despite having some really good parts, it might be difficult to completely enjoy it. On the other hand, “Dear” is a simple musical piece, featuring relaxing and enjoyable string melodies and an overall “fairy tale” feel. But perhaps the most interesting arrangement from HD is “Danger Signal”, a trippy, addictive and entertaining electronic track. It features an abundance of catchy samples, despite being mostly percussion-heavy and pretty repetitive. Still, it’s one of those tracks that most VGM lovers will enjoy right away.
The absolutely best additions to the album are the arrangements from Shin Butouden. The game itself is a revised version of Ultimate Battle 22 and contains a mostly identical soundtrack, sourcing some music from the second and third Super Butouden games. More specifically, “Get Angry, Gohan!!” is a beautiful but tragic piano sonata that fits well as Gohan’s theme. It was first introduced in Super Butouden 2 while the UB22/SB version has a faster tempo and is less defined. The piece featured in this album is an extended version of the latter, and while it’s still very impressive, it features many overdone and repetitive choices that lessen the impact.
More impressively, “Evil Warrior Vegeta (Hyper Dub Mix)” is taken straightly from the Super Butouden 3 album, but features substantial implementation of electronic sound effects. While I think the original is left better intact and that these added layers aren’t that necessary, the theme is still pretty memorable and epic. The simple but bombastic nature of the percussion — which is incredibly reminiscent of The Terminator’s theme — combined with wailing string sections and awe-inspiring motifs, mark this as a musical force to behold. Unlike the two previous tracks, Goku’s theme “Confrontation with Destiny” receives a cinematic makeover. The theme is a combination of wander, might and heroism, complementing rather well the legendary character. The overall orchestral interpretation is great, although I feel that at certain parts it could have fared better. Nevertheless, this film-score mix is an enjoyable listen that fans should definitely enjoy.
The album closes with a few decent vocal tracks sung by Hironobu Kageyama and Shinichi Ishihara. “Darkness in Daytime” mixes calm vocals with techno beats and pop elements, resulting in quite an enjoyable and interesting experience. “Red Hot Fighting” is much more rocking and features the characterized “DB Song” style. Quite frankly, it’s pretty forgettable compared to what the rest of the franchise has to offer. Perhaps, the most interesting addition is the karaoke version of “Willpower of Light” from the Awakening Chapter album. Seeing as the instrumentation was part of what made that song brilliant, the instrumental “karaoke” version is awesomely entertaining in its own way, with the only letdown being certain vocal segments that remain from the original mix that fortunately are as muffled and with a low volume as possible.
Dragon Ball Z Game Music Rebirth Chapter is a slightly better than its predecessor. There is a better choice in arrangements and material, and an overall better presentation too, with a more coherent and non-abrasive listening experience. With that said, both “Chapter” albums don’t offer that much to the table, with the best arrangements sticking way too much to the originals. Rebirth Chapter is a good listen, but most people not familiar with the source material are advised to not bother with this. I highly recommend getting familiar with the series music by starting with the second and third Super Butouden albums to get a better grasp of what the varied and unique Dragon Ball Z game music legacy has to offer.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by George Capi. Last modified on August 1, 2012.