February 28, 2013
Buy at CDJapan
Ys Zanmai is a collection of arrangements from Falcom’s best-known series, Ys. Noriyuki Kamikura, Toshiharu Okajima, and Yukihiro Jindo return once again to put their spin on a variety of tunes throughout the series’ history. How does the album turn out and does it manage to be as successful as Falcom Boss Zanmai?
The album opens up with “The Depth Napishtim” from Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. It is a fantastic way to open up the album with its stunning violin lines and cinematic flair. The translation from the synth led original to this more orchestral focused arrangement is one that manages to satisfy. Jindo tackles another arrangement from the same game, “The Ruined City ‘Kishgal.’” It’s a faithful upgrade from the original, keeping intact the pounding electronic accompaniment and violin lead, , although upgrading it for the better, Jindo also arranges “Feena,” one of the franchise’s most iconic themes. It keeps the same atmosphere as the original, featuring a very soft soundscape; however, the lead instrumentation choice of the harmonica gives it a bit of a rustic and backwater touch. It closes out the album nicely.
Kamikura offers two solo arrangements of his own, both originally from Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys, but also featured in the remake. “Casnan, the Frontier Town,” is an interesting tune, and in my opinion, the stronger of the two arrangements. It is an interesting blend of jazz, rock, and an almost carnival-like sound, which, compared to the rest of the arrangement is definitely a bit out of place. However, I find that the jazz section far outweighs the quirky choice of the opening of the arrangement. His other arrangement, “Last Decisive Battle,” is more phoned in. It features a darker, ominous tone with its rock focus. It doesn’t do anything out of the box so it might be boring to some. Another issue with this track is how it seems to cut-off rather suddenly, as if a portion of the mix didn’t make it onto the album for some reason, compared to the rest of the album.
Toshiharu Okajima offers up three arrangements. The first, “A Premonition =Styx=,” from Ys: Oath in Felghana takes the piano tune and turns it into a soft, easy listening tune. The piano is still the dominant force in the arrangement, but there are some soft electronic touches, some added jazz influence, and a steady beat. Overall, I’d say it’s a satisfying arrangement, but nothing particularly special. Okajima’s other arrangements both come from the original Ys IV. “The Dawn of Ys” is a fantastic adaptation of the game’s main theme, featuring a violin and guitar lead, with a sound that sounds right out of the 80s with a killer guitar solo to boot. “Crimson Wings” is an electronic rock tune that gives it a dance vibe. The lead is mostly synth, although the guitar does appear from time to time. Overall, it’s an enjoyable arrangement.
The album also features a collaboration between Yukihiro Jindo and Noriyuki Kamikura, incorporating fan favourite “The Last Moment of Dark”. It is quite clear how this arrangement was tackled. The sweeping and ominous orchestral opening is clearly Jindo’s hand at the helm, whereas Kamikura tackles the remainder of the track with its powerful rock lead. Overall, it’s another great arrangement where each composer is playing towards their strength.
Ys Zanmai is a tune that features both hits and misses. Each composer has arrangements that manage to satisfy on the whole, but there are others where it seems like a phoned in effort or a faithful upgrade rather than any unique interpretation. On the whole, for fans of Ys, this may satisfy; however, the lack of the original tunes from Ys Origin, as well as tunes specific to Ys II, Ys V, and Ys Seven are noticeable absences, especially the latter given it never got a super arrange album of its own. There is a plethora of styles of what is present; however, I wouldn’t call this the definitive Ys arrange album either and there are better arranged albums out there dedicated to specific games.
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Posted on September 8, 2014 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on September 8, 2014.