Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Premium Arrange

Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Premium Arrange Album Title:
Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Premium Arrange
Record Label:
Team Entertainment
Catalog No.:
Release Date:
June 23, 2004
Buy at CDJapan


Collaborative arranged albums have been very popular in recent years, with Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Premium Arrange following the precedent set by the Mahou Shoujou Ai 2 “transformation” Full Arrange Album, Street Fighter Tribute Album, and Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange. Though this album contains much stylistic diversity, it does this primarily by focusing on the electronica genre throughout, unlike Dark Chronicle‘s album, which relied on the integration of an array of different genres. However, this does not grow repetitive for the most part, as each of the twelve tracks is dealt with by a different composer. The arrangers who feature on this album are Basiscape’s Masaharu Iwata and Manabu Namiki, Super Sweep’s Shinji Hosoe and collaborators Nobuyoshi Sano and Takayuki Aihara, Enix favourites Noriyuki Iwadare and Motoi Sakuraba, and ex-Square employees Kenji Ito and Yoko Shimomura. This results in a wide variety of approaches to the electronica genre being featured, with some tracks demonstrating electro-acousticism, others being sometimes techno-based, and the rest being totally different once again.


Motoi Sakuraba opens the album with this orchestral arrangement of the Phantasy Star Online opening theme. The arrangement blends aspect of the electro-orchestral original with classic science-fiction bombast reminiscent of his Star Ocean scores. The orchestration is much more grand the original and elevates the boundless spacey feel. The choice to replace the mature vocalist with his young daughter was a dubious mood, but the childish cries brings a unique aura to the sound. It is also relieving that the clichéd lyrics are replaced with ‘la’s. Another track that defines the science-fiction sound of the series is Yoko Shimomura’s “A Longest to the Ancient Times”. This track is principally a work of timbral coloring and, in particular, the use of solo string instruments brings an abstract yet personal touch. That said, some may find it a little too unfocused and ambient to compare with the most robust additions to the album. It is one of the more faithful to the original compositions, however.

Takayuki Aihara’s “The Silent Palace” is an electro-orchestral addition that fits the original quite well too. The beginning may throw you off with the female ‘ahhs’, which make the track sound very popish, but once the synthesizers and horns debut, all is redeemed and forgotten. The orchestration is quite near perfect, balanced by the contrasts of the overall simple aim and the more complex segments duringn the development. Aihara chose the right type of electronic sounds to portray the mysterious silence of the palace, with the spacey noises and semi-echoing drum patterns creating a sense of large room, and a piano conveying a feeling of isolation. Staying very true to his own personal addictive style, Nobuyoshi Sano arranges and radically transforms Fumie Kumatani’s “Jungle” into an addictive hardcore electronica amazement. He utilises unique and effective electronic noises, as well as techno synthesizers to perform the melody; however, it’s the musical construction that strikes my mind as being the ‘pulling force’ and also, oddly enough, the ‘repelling factor.’ In other words, the track has the ability to attract the listener’s deserving attention, but might be too monotonous to sit through given its length.

Motoaki Furukawa transforms the original “Chaotic Bar” into a very laid-back jazz fusion track. The texture of the track is quite thin and, characteristically, Furukawa’s semi-acoustic guitar takes the lead throughout. You can fade out of the piece and then focus back into the tune without feeling like you missed a lot of it. This isn’t desirable for those expecting something creative or stimulating, but certainly allows listeners to chill out. Makoto Asai’s arrangement “Leavin Flow” is an ambient guitar arrangement that will set anyone’s heart soaring high into the sky. The track is very similar to “Chaotic Bar” in the way that it starts off with a single guitar riff, only to be overlapped ten seconds later by another memorable guitar line. Even still, it isn’t quite as powerful, as those electric guitars have now been swapped for an unplugged acoustic one and that wild drum kit is now replaced by a pair of tom-toms. This track takes a very minimalist stance, but the initial ideas are inspired enough for it to still be enjoyable.

Yuri Hiranuma’s arrangement of “Abysmal Ball” also gives an opportunity for relaxation on the album. Her primitive, almost prehistoric, approach fits the piece well. Hiranuma finds apposite use for sound effects, mixing and intertwining them within the vacant parts of the arrangement. Her tactic of using a repetitive woman vocalizing something inaudible was rather anomalous, but still successful. But this is certainly one of the weakest tracks on the album, not because of the arranging style, but for the lack of interesting plans and thought. Later Shinji Hosoe transforms “Versus2 -A longing to ancient times-” using his accomplished techno skills and some rock too. The track design and construction is simple, gradually building up from a strong start into an even stronger climax, before dying back down to a passage similar to the beginning. However, the arranging and use of the instruments is somewhat convoluted, especially when Hosoe tries to fuse together two completely different genres. The more interesting parts, however, are when the heavy synth parts enter at 1:33 and 3:34, as the melody the instruments perform is catchy and fun. These sections can be found at 1:33 and 3:34.

With “The Frenzy Wilds”, Manabu Namiki puts plenty of thought into the development of the piece’s structure. It begins very slowly with choral passages, before converting into something incredibly fast with plenty of beat and rhythm to keep electronica fans happy. The entire piece has definitely adopted a wild attitude in all different respects, from the wildness of an open plain shown with the chorals, to the wildness of a battle in the electronica parts. Coming from another Basiscape member, Masaharu Iwata’s “‘IDOLA’ have the immortal feather” is the only track on the album that is fully orchestrated without any signs of electronica or techno spread across it. Iwata goes for the epic approach with grand orchestral strings and bombastic Americana brass. There isn’t much of melody, but it isn’t the tune that entices, but the orchestration itself like the original. It’s a fine addition to the soundtrack that provides an action-packed climax of the experience.

After listening to a selection of hit-or-miss tracks, the album approaches its conclusion with a jazzy rendition of “Can You See the Light” by Noriyuki Iwadare. Iwadare evidently felt inspired by the original melody of the track but, rather than present it on vocals, he reincarnates it on a synthesizer and some other instruments. This transition won’t be appreciated by everyone, but it brings plenty of originality too. The jazzy improvisations that follow are also inspired and nicely cool down the album after Iwata’s track. The final track is just as emotional as the original, but quite a creative departure too. Kenji Ito’s approach to Phantasy Star Online Episode 2 ending theme is extremely different. A clear-cut synth line plays the melody for the majority of the track whereas a fire wire synth sound complements the melody. The track attempts to be a minimalist recital of the original melody, but it drags on far too long and lacks development. It ends the album on a murmur rather than in a captivating way.


Overall, the album is a mixed bag. A lot of the tracks transform the sound of the originals in a manner that is usually interesting, but not always appropriate. As a result, the intense imagery and lush timbres associated with the Phantasy Star series are lost. In addition, there is a great amount of inconsistency in the styles and depth of the featured themes. Nevertheless, tracks such as Sakuraba’s, Sano’s, Iwata’s, and Namiki’s are all potentially fulfilling for the way they blend the original ideas with their personal musicality. Only buy this one after listening to samples and knowing you don’t dislike the genre, as it could well be one of the most inspiring additions to your collection, but is also likely to be a dire addition if you don’t have the right tastes for this sort of album.

Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Premium Arrange Harry Simons

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!


Posted on August 1, 2012 by Harry Simons. Last modified on August 1, 2012.

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