Mushihimesama Original Soundtrack
Mushihimesama Original Soundtrack
April 19, 2005
Buy Used Copy
When I first played Raizing’s classic shooter Battle Garegga a few years ago, the one thing that struck me immediately was the music. The gritty, warlike atmosphere of the game was conveyed perfectly with the range of industrial beats and angular, sometimes dissonant harmonies. There was more to it, as well; the music had many complex layers that really opened up when you listened to it outside of the game. I soon learned that the music was composed mostly by one Manabu Namiki, and upon listening to more of his work, I quickly became a big fan. He has written many soundtracks for shooters, such as Armed Police Batrider, DoDonPachi Dai-Ou-Jou, and ESPGaluda II, and in each case he accomplished exactly what the game called for, and did it with style. So when I heard that he was writing the music to Cave’s recently-released fantasy-themed shooter Mushihimesama, I was very excited to hear what he would cook up. As it turns out, my expectations were met and then some. It should be noted that composing credit is shared with Masaharu Iwata, though my suspicion is that he was the sound designer, composing only a few tracks, as most of them have a distinctly Namiki-esque sound.
The album opens with the short, yet bouncy, “Mushihimesama, Age 15”, the track that plays as you select the difficulty and weapons. Though it is basically a four-measure loop, it serves as a great introduction into the world and atmosphere of the soundtrack. From there, it bounds straight into the first stage theme, “Shinju Heading Into The Forest”. This is quite a great tune, with a happy, exhilarating atmosphere and many diverse sections, ending with the beautiful main theme of the game before transitioning back to the beginning. The level themes are more diverse than I have ever heard from Namiki, ranging from straight trance, as in this case, to the triple-time rock of “Walking On The Land Of Flame”. Each of them, however, has much to listen to, and it remains cohesive throughout.
One track that absolutely blows me away each and every time I hear it is the final level theme, “The One Who Is Always In The Forest”. Beginning with a very exciting trance intro, it goes through a winding flute melody with a maze of suspended harmonies. This tension continues through most of the piece, never resolving until the last 30 seconds of the track, when it suddenly shifts into an incredible rock section that makes the entire tune complete. I wasn’t too fond of this one on first listen, but it’s grown on me to the point where I can easily say it’s one of Namiki’s best efforts ever, and definitely worthy of playing on repeat (a rare honor for my ADD self).
My one major gripe with the original portion of the album is with the boss themes, “Levi=Sense” and “Is This How You Are?”. Namiki seems to have this difficulty, writing beautiful, flowing progressions for the level themes and leaving the repetitive, grating tracks for the boss battles. Not that it matters in-game, since most of the time you’re hearing these tracks when you’re too busy dodging hundreds of bullets at a time to really notice, but listened to on their own, they lack a lot, in my opinion. This is made up for somewhat by the choral “Requiem of the Sky”, a homage to the final battle theme from Radiant Silvergun. It’s a very well arranged version of the main theme, and has quite an epic feel to it (and if you’ve ever seen the part of the game where this track plays, you can understand why. Close to 2,000 bullets on the screen at once!) The original section is concluded with the staff roll track, “I Have A Favor To Ask”, which is quite a lovely way to end it up, despite sounding a little forced in places.
Then there are the extra tracks, which are a mixed bag. Hitoshi Sakimoto’s version of the first stage theme is here, and despite a really cool rendition of the main theme, doesn’t really do it for me. It sounds nice, but is just underdeveloped, which is odd for Sakimoto who has proven himself to be a master at that sort of thing. Ah well, they can’t all be gems. The next track is from Mushihimesama Gaiden, a cell phone game(!), and is presumably an arranged since the sound quality is more or less perfect. It is a very energetic track with voice samples from Reko, the main character. This is actually a cool arrangement, with an infectious beat and catchy melody, and is definitely an unexpected highlight of the album.
The remixes are a bit of a disappointment, taking “Shinju Heading Into The Forest” and the originally beautiful Masaharu Iwata (I think…) track, “Like The Night Of The Falling Stars”, and turning them into bland electronic arrangements. Only Ayako Saso’s remix of “Walking On The Land Of Flame” keeps with the spirit of the original, beginning with an orchestral interlude, but eventually going into the bouncy synth rock that defined the original track.
Though the album has its high and low points, it’s definitely one to check out if you are a fan of Namiki, or want an introduction to his work. The good tracks are easily some of his best work ever, and are well worth tracking the album down for.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Toma. Last modified on August 1, 2012.