Chapter 3: Torneko the Merchant
01 - Leiknaba
02 - Bonmaur
03 - The Letter
04 - Silver Statue of a Goddess
05 - The Tunnel
Chapter 4: The Sisters of Monbarbara
06 - Monbarbara
07 - Khomiz
08 - Havalia
09 - Oracle
10 - Attemtoh
11 - Kingleo
12 - Underground Prison
13 - The Sailing
Mara and Nara (Meena and Maya in the English localization) set sail toward the unknown...
It was over 15 years ago that I got my hands on the CD Theater albums for Dragon Quest I and Dragon Quest II. I knew precious little about drama CDs back then, so I don't think I totally understood that what I had in my hands was special. Not only did these "CD Theater" albums come with beautiful artbooks, but they included newly-arranged music by Koichi Sugiyama's de facto protégé, Hayato Matsuo. Sadly, you will never find this music isolated outside of the dialogue and sound effects of these drama CDs, though some tracks on these albums do offer unmitigated sections of music, particularly in the first and last tracks of each album. Nonetheless, as a poor monolingual English-speaker, I almost wish someone would "fansub" these drama albums so I could read in English what I'm hearing in Japanese.
Enix continued their Dragon Quest IV trilogy by rounding out the chapters prior to the one that puts you in control of the hero/ine (in the case of this story, they stick with a male hero). Chapter 3 is all about Torneko, the lovable merchant who ultimately gets his own side game in the "Mysterious Dungeon" franchise (and a CD Theater album for that, as well!). I love the ending section of Torneko's chapter in this CD Theater album: as a tunnel is built to connect continents, everyone is happy, the "happy town/casino" music is playing, and the narrator is left to explain how Torneko's currently pleasant and successful situation will eventually change when he meets with the fated hero.
Then we get to the part everyone really cares about: Meena and Maya. Well, in Japanese, they are "Minea and Manya," at least in this recording (other versions of DQIV name them Mara and Nara). In their adventures, the traveling sisters of Monbarbara do all manner of crazy things, from fighting against seemingly-impossible odds with their unique skills, to using the infamous "puff-puff" erotic massage technique on Kingleo to get information they need, to finally setting sail for their date with destiny: meeting the hero who will bring peace to the land (see the artbook sample to your left).
The music set prepared by Hayato Matsuo for the Monbarbara chapter is especially good, and especially varied. It ends on the ocean/sailing theme for Dragon Quest IV, and as you can hear in the audio sample, it's only overlaid by the narrator and cast reading the end credits, and the occasional sound of seagulls. It's a perfect ending to one of the strongest entries in the entire CD Theater series.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann