Yakuza: Karaoke Best Selection
Yakuza: Karaoke Best Selection (Ryu Uta: Ryu ga Gotoku 5 The Best Songs Selection
June 9, 2011
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Yakuza: Karaoke Best Selection (aka. Ryu Uta Ryu ga Gotoku Karaoke Best Selection in Japan) is a bonus disc of music that comes as a pre-order bonus for Japanese editions ofYakuza: Dead Souls (or Ryu ga Gotoku of The End in Japan). It amasses various karaoke tracks from the series and presents most of them in fuller versions than those that appeared in the games and on the OSTs. A few karaoke versions (with only backing vocals) are also included.
The album begins with the full version of “Otome-iro My Life” sung by Rie Kugimiya (Haruka’s voice actress). The vocals are a bit clearer than on Yakuza 4’s OST, though they are still in the same overly cute style that may be a turn off for some listeners. It is otherwise a serviceable bright J-pop song, and despite the new verse, it doesn’t do anything too different from the original. Kugimiya also sings on the full version of “GET TO THE TOP!” in the same nasal style, but it is worse here because it doesn’t fit the Euro style of the song well. It is also a weaker composition, with the disparity between the chorus and verses a bit jarring. The full version of “rain drops” sung by Aya Hirano (Hana’s voice actress) is much better, having a more mature sounding vocal and a better chorus melody. It’s a bit more serious in tone though still clearly in upbeat J-pop territory. Again no surprises in the extended arrangement, but it’s at least a solid track.
For the male tracks, we have the full version of “Machine Gun Kiss” sung by Takaya Kuroda (Kiryu’s voce actor), again a bit more polished in sound though more or less identical in arrangement. It’s as excellent of a track as ever, with an energetic rock arrangement and a full-commitment of Kuroda to the cheesiness of the track. I do wish the pitch was a higher to give the vocal more intensity, but I still enjoy the track very much nonetheless. The only non-extended track is “Kamuro Setsugekka” also sung by Kuroda. This one is a slower ballad emulating an earlier era of J-Pop. It’s a very different style than the other tracks, and it might take a bit longer to catch on for listeners. Again nothing too special within the genre, but perfectly fine.
The only duet included is “Kamurochou Junrenka”, in two versions. The first, more serious version is sung by Koichi Yamadera (Akiyama’s voce actor) with Hirano. Yamadera and Hirano’s seductive voices are perfect for this slower ballad track, and they sound very good in their harmonies at the chorus. It is also much easier to get into than “Setsugekka”, having a better composition and groove. A later version pits Hirano against Masami Iwasaki (Ryuji Goda’s voice actor), who takes things less seriously and goes over-the-top with exaggerations. The arrangement is otherwise identical, and though the humour doesn’t quite hold itself throughout the duration of the track, Iwasaki’s voice isn’t unlistenable either.
A few remixes are also included, two of which are from Dead Souls. “rain drops” is turned into a more trance-oriented dance track. Still sung by Hirano, it is not a significant improvement on the original arrangement by any means, but fans of the original track should like this one as well. Then there is the “GET TO THE TOP!” remix, also not changing up the style significantly, merely increasing the electronic elements and reducing the rock ones, though it is notable for bringing in Hidenari Ugaki (Majima) on the main vocal, who takes things even less seriously than Iwasaki did, frequently singing-off pitch and adding in several extra interjections. It works much better as a comedy track, though Japanese listeners will get more out of the extra lines he is adding. One-upping this is the alternate version of “GET TO THE TOP!”, set to the original arrangement with Kugiyama singing, but now also with interjections and cheers from all four male singers throughout. It’s pretty fun and ridiculous; it’s just a shame that they didn’t have a better song to give this treatment too.
The album closes off with karaoke version of all of the original tracks (not including the remixes), with identical arrangements but without the lead vocals, retaining only backing vocals. None of the tracks really stands well on their own since the arrangements are so safe and typical, so they really only are good for karaoke purposes.
Yakuza: Karaoke Best Selection is an acceptable bonus disc for fans of the series who have been longing for full versions of the karaoke songs included in the games. There isn’t anything really special about the songs themselves, each falling neatly in their J-Pop or J-Rock category, but some memorable tunes are present, and it is great that the character voice actors do the singing. Some of the bonus humour remixes should also please fans as well. Not all songs are there, and not all singers are the best choice for the track, but it is still a decent selection showcasing part of the wacky side of the Yakuza series.
Posted on August 10, 2016 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on August 10, 2016.