True Love Story 3 Original Soundtrack
True Love Story 3 Original Soundtrack
Scitron Digital Contents
May 23, 2001
Buy Used Copy
Enterbrain’s True Love Story 3 took a niche audience of Japanese gamers back to the days of junior high school as teenagers experience romance for the first time. Of course, Iwadare was asked back to create a variety of background music and vocal music in the style of past True Love Story soundtracks. Having exhausted himself with impressive efforts on Grandia II, Iwadare wrote this soundtrack in arguably the least inspired period of his career. Rather than take the time to really get to know the characters and refine his musical ideas like in True Love Story soundtracks, he mainly approached the background music as a routine job and churned out piece after piece with little exuberance. Perhaps his effort was more focused on the vocal themes, some of which are featured in the official soundtrack for the first time, but this probably isn’t enough to compensate for the starved instrumental pieces…
Whereas past main themes for the series have gone down the sentimental route, True Love Story 3‘s offers a light-hearted jazz jam straightaway. It’s as if to say “we’re back where we left off” and “you know what to expect”. That said, the melody is probably the weakest of all main themes from the series and the piano accompaniment focuses on clumsily repeated note. This isn’t even close to fulfilling musical and emotional expectations for a main theme. Delving a little deeper into the soundtrack, it is clear that most of the pieces are short and underdeveloped, not helped by the way Scitron Digital Contents shoves 46 pieces into one disc. Themes like “In the Beginning”, “Amusement Park”, “Evening”, and even many of the seasonal “High School Life” themes suffice as transient background music, but aren’t worth revisiting; they lack the melodic substance and harmonic intricacies found in Iwadare’s most appealing love themes and have a remarkable tendency to be repetitive even with their short playtimes. It’s all too clear that Iwadare wrote the soundtrack to a tight deadline and wasn’t able to produce music with much substance.
Dispersed across the soundtrack, the character themes largely follow series’ tradition with their light jazz focus. However, “Takane Aotsuki’s Theme” provides a poor prelude for what is to come with its generic melody and vapid electronic beats. It’d be acceptable as a secondary theme on other True Love Story soundtracks, but not as a primary one. There is a big lack of variation here and most themes just vary the same punchy jazz approach with different instruments, for instance jubilant flute for Rika Yanase, big band brass for Yuki Konno, or overblown saxophone for Minoru Kubota. Some transcend from mediocrity thanks to their catchy hooks, such as Kozue Saeki, Tokiko Nikaidou, and Tsubasako Kudo, but even these have a short lifespan. The occasional diversions are quite welcome, but they still feel like clichéd imitations, such as Emi Honjou’s aquatic ambience or Chizuru Mayumi’s reflective ballad. It all feels like creating character themes by numbers rather than to carefully portray the personalities and diversify the soundtrack. There’s still no substance.
Despite the disappointing nature of much of the soundtrack, there are a few other gems to be found. Soothing themes such as the flute-based “Photo Album”, tropical-flavoured “Aquarium”, or smoothly mixed “Episode Gently” are enjoyable enough. There are some nice playful themes too, such as “Conversation” with its lyrical harpsichord section, “Episode Good Spirits” with its power rock influences, and “Tanabata Festival” with its bustling big band influences. Towards the end of the soundtrack, Iwadare also provides a typical yet appealing “Confession” for guitar and bells as well as a subtle reprise of the series’ main theme in the “Epilogue”. Scitron actually included a few of the vocal themes from the game in the stand-alone soundtrack release rather than bundling them into the vocal collection. The album opens with two rocking anthems featuring female vocalists, “My Hometown” and “Lonely Highway”. Moving to the end of the soundtrack, the soft ensemble number “Misora Junior High Song” is especially enjoyable with its piano backing and extended trumpet solo. Though the youthful vocalist is a select taste, “School Book” is a decent ballad to close things up.
Overall, the True Love Story 3 Original Soundtrack is perhaps the weakest of Iwadare’s love works. It mostly sounds like a clichéd jingle collection rather than a balanced soundtrack. Iwadare’s characteristic personality is still present and there is a decent blend of sentimental and upbeat tunes as always. However, the sheer number of underdeveloped or uninspired tunes really spoils the disc and there are too few definitive compositions to redeem it. The far stronger vocal themes are a start, but their inclusion feels gimmicky given it diverts from series’ tradition and there is an incomplete vocal collection for the game nonetheless. This soundtrack is still a decent purchase for those who really like Iwadare’s love works, but the other True Love Story episodes, KimiKiss, Amagami, and True Fortune are all more recommended.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.