Ni~dzuma wa Sailor Fuku Original Soundtrack
Ni~dzuma wa Sailor Fuku Original Soundtrack
December 2, 2005
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Released in the same year as the more widely recognised Sakura Relaxation,Niizuma wa Sailor Fuku (roughly translated as My Darling is the Teacher in Charge) is the second soundtrack by Hiroki Kikuta in what I like to refer to as the “return of Kikuta” period, where after 5 years of inactivity he came back to the music composing business. Upon his return, Hiroki Kikuta disappointed Western fans, due to his new works being for hentai or eroge games, a popular market in Japan, but a notion generally met with disdain outside of the country.
Niizuma wa Sailor Fuku pertains to this category, and thus it was expected most of the music would be light-hearted, bouncy, and difficult to digest. But seeing as the man behind the music is none other than the mastermind behind the music of Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3, and Soukaigi, even his judgmental Western fans were sure to be at least satisfied with the work here… right?
Note that, similar to the Sakura Relaxation and Sora no Iro, Mizu no Iro soundtracks, the Niizuma wa Sailor Fuku Original Soundtrack was released as a promotional item alongside the release of the game, and as such it is very difficult to come across. However, it has since been reprinted with a few changes on Nice Life As Wife by Hiroki Kikuta’s record label. This release is reviewed here.
The soundtrack opens with the full version of the vocal theme “1/2 of Fate”. The captivating piano line at the start of the track prepares a nice mood for the rest of the piece. The vocals by Mami Nakayama are sweet, if a bit underwhelming. The melody fluctuates nicely, sprinkling a cheerful vibe over the entire piece, though it doesn’t take a particularly intriguing path. It’s a decent song, but not particularly musically appealing. The short and karaoke variations of this song were not carried over from the bonus soundtrack, but this is probably a blessing given their redundancy. In their place, listeners are given “Festival Festival”, a short but sweet instrumental exclusive capturing Kikuta’s signature sound. The contents of the soundtrack are otherwise identical to the original.
Mellow and laidback right from the very start, “United, You and I” contains a soothingly humble melody, comforted by hints of melodic sentimentality (as suggested by the track’s title). Unfortunately, the melody is lackluster and meanders for much longer than it should, but conveys a very nice atmosphere of friendship and togetherness, an atmosphere that makes you think of a place where you can spend your days doing what you want without any troubles or obligations. The melodic variation is limited, but is tolerable considering that if there were an intricate development here, the lackadaisical mood would most certainly be ruined. “Long Afternoon at the First Day Back at School” is an extremely long title. The piano delivers a satisfying melody and portrays a nice sense of quietude and amicability; what really puts this track a cut above the others is the tasteful, well-sampled mandolin. The mandolin makes a return in “Real Feeling” to welcome effect. An acoustic guitar acts as an accompaniment, and eventually takes control of the melody at the climax, consequently making this track bear one of the most memorable melodies on the entire score. Additionally, the flow of this track is perfect; I could listen to it for a long time without getting bored of it.
Similar in mood to the previous tracks, “For the Sake of an Unfulfilled Day” also comes across as smooth and relaxing. The percussion, comprised of some very liberal drum whacking, is unpleasantly grating on the ears and proves to be the worst part of the entire track. The primary melody adds a light, airy mood, although becomes monotonous fairly quickly. “Even if Somebody Smashes the Window”, despite its interesting title, is a completely boring and monotonous attempt at relaxing music . The light instrumentation flutters back and forth, introducing little to no additional melodic components save the comparatively upbeat tempo at the end of one loop (a single loop seems to go forever in this track, too).
“Start Start” is cheesy J-rock at its worst. Beginning with some noisy drum samples, the aforementioned J-rock aspect is shown by the eventual obnoxious and cheery guitar samples (yes, I am actually offended by them and their cheeriness!). The predictable cohesion of the drums and guitar is outright awful, making the melodic development barely noticeable and the entire track hideously unbearable in nature. As for in-game context, I don’t even think it’s suitable there, even for a simple opening screen menu; this track is basically just a cheesy, clichéd mess. It is rather catchy, but that just makes me hate it much, much more! The tone of “Depression” also irks me significantly. How does this fast-paced tempo and erratic pacing represent a state of depression? It’s always very difficult for me to enjoy a track when I simply can’t connect the title to the melody at all. But this track bears no impressive melody to begin with; it’s repetitious and highly irksome. “Depression” is on the same level as “Start Start”, and is definitely a contender for the dubious honour of worst track on the score. Skip it and save your ears from the inescapable displeasure.
Finally, an interesting track: “Jump” is the innovative marvel of Nice Life as Wife, and as such is one of my very favourites. Essentially, this track showcases a peculiar keyboard pattern across a deep, synthesized beat. Also evident is some occasional synthesized vocals (0:24), accompanying bells, and some unique twangs (0:33), which sound like some abnormal electric guitar distortions. Surprisingly, there’s a solid amount of development, which helps maintain the listener’s interest; the intriguing melodic features ultimately make this one of the more memorable tracks. When I first listened to this soundtrack, “Jump” was one of the few tracks that jumped out at me, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. But be aware, this track is definitely defined as a “love or hate” one, but for me it’s just abstract enough to work.
One of the shorter pieces on the soundtrack, “Straight Descent” proves to be one of the more worthwhile ones. The marimba acts as the key instrumental feature, and with other exciting and effervescent facets, such as the intense piano line at the end of each loop, a very satisfying (and admittedly enjoyable) experience is had by all who listen to this piece. Obviously, percussion is the driving force in “Beat of Promise” too. The beat keeps the melody nicely in order and comes across as very fun due to its happy-go-lucky tribal feel. The melody develops interestingly, with layers of intrigue being added by additional instruments such as a bizarre, twirling woodwind line and some weirdly placed brass. However in spite of this, I can’t help but think that the melody is a bit uninspired and predictable, even with its seductively exotic flair; at least the loop culminates in an obscure but curiously interesting way (at around the two minute mark). But still, this track is particularly boring. It’s worth a listen, though.
Huh, I didn’t know that eroge game scores had ambient tracks. “In a Room of Only Two People” is the first time I’ve encountered such music in such a score, at least). Given I’m quite partial to ambient music when it’s done well, I was interested to hear how this track would progress, as it’s sadly too common for an ambient piece to fall flat due to an imperfect or out-of-place melody, whether it be too varying or too tedious. The mood here is obviously soothing and calming, but I can’t help but think of the circus or an amusement park when I hear the melodic progression at 0:44 (you’ll think it to; I’m not crazy). That isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, since the ambience is still delicately maintained despite an increase in melodic intricacy. “In a Room of Only Two People” isn’t a widely accessible piece, nor is it one that you’ll come back to time and time again, but it is nice to listen to nonetheless.
It’s about time that this soundtrack became solid! I was beginning to worry that Kikuta-san had lost his sublime ability to create exciting, upbeat music. But “Plan” has reignited my faith in this respect, at least as far as this score is concerned. I can’t help but knock my head to the percussive electric guitar (strange, no?). The ineffable introduction to each loop is also extremely appealing. The melody isn’t anything to write home about, but I still manage to find this track highly enjoyable. “Mischief” is another one of my favourites on the soundtrack (it’s not too difficult for a track here to achieve such accolades, considering the competition). The naughtiness and frivolity conveyed by the instrumentation is infectiously merry as is the melody, eventually showcased by a woodwind instrument that adds an even more accessible, wacky vibe. In addition, the glockenspiel percussion adds an even more playful rhythmic undertone. Unashamedly, I can confidently say this track is one of the most enjoyable tracks on the score!
The dreamy instrumentation of “Final Night” emanates a nice sense of melancholia here, as well as appropriate tones of somberness and sleepiness. But that’s about all the good I can say about it. The burdensome — seemingly omnipresent — pattern that plagues the score is apparent again here: an unvarying and uninteresting melody with minimal development. Once again, the glockenspiel provides the (catchy if frustrating) percussive aspect of “Pardon Me, I’m Home” too; meanwhile, the (unimpressive) melody is driven predominantly by the clarinet, particularly towards the end of each loop. Not much else to say here, but it does leave a nasty, sour taste in my mouth. Needless to say that if this track knocked on my front door, I’d grab my pitchfork and chase it out of town! “We don’t take kindly to such crap music here!”
The same percussion instrument is featured in this track in “Regret” layered on top of a clean piano and a really intense beat introduced at around the one-minute mark. Angst, apprehension, and regret are all exceptionally encapsulated in this track (through the piano particularly), and the eventual electronic addition to the melody adds an equally appropriate feeling of disarray and chaos. However mediocre the melody may be, it’s presented uniquely enough to give this track a relatively high score, and to save the last end of the score from utter mediocrit . Finally, I became rather excited when I heard the tasteful piano at the start of “And I Will Embrace Your Shoulders While Sleeping”. I was hoping for a piano solo, which I think this soundtrack definitely needs to add some maturity to its image and some musical sophistication to its limited palette. Once again, the instrumentation is the same as most of the other tracks, and the melody is just… there. A very unmemorable track, but I can’t help but think it’s very good when used in game, as it comes across as particularly atmospheric. I also get the feeling that it tells a story, however boring that story may be.
I was immensely displeased with this soundtrack. The instrumentation used on the whole is very similar, and many of the tracks’ melodies seem uncharacteristically uninspired for Kikuta-san. Of the twenty tracks here, less than half of them are what I would consider “good” tracks. The remainder are either “tolerable” or, to put it bluntly, awful. It’s a shame that a score with awesome tracks such as the energetic, innovative “Jump” and the tastefully memorable “Real Feeling” had to be hindered and outnumbered by much more mediocre tracks, such as the abominable “Start Start”, which I hope was Mr. Kikuta’s idea of a joke (a failed attempt, by the way), and the cumbersome and depressing “Depression” (I guess there is a correlation that track title bears after all!) Almost every composer has a “let-down” release of sorts, and I guess (and hope) that this is Hiroki Kikuta’s first and last. The reprint version is the one to go for, since it is better presented and more available, though it is better to consider Kikuta’s other soundtracks first.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Murray Dixon. Last modified on August 1, 2012.