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Himiko-den ~Renge~ Character Song Collection

[back cover]
Catalog Number: AYCM-649
Released On: April 21, 1999
Composed By: Tetsuji Hayashi
Arranged By: Tadashi Shirakawa
Published By: Ayers
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 1 CD
Tracklist:

01 - Imperial Princess of Flame (Kagiroi no Himemiko)
02 - The End of the Journey ~ Shino
03 - Merchant Spirit (Akindo Tamashii) ~ Tadami
04 - I Wonder If It Can Change ~ Imari
05 - My Star ~ Seika
06 - To the Changing Seasons ~ Fujina
07 - Love is Chaos ~ Kouran
08 - Never Forget (Remastering)
09 - Imperial Princess of Flame (Reprise)
Total Time:
38'03"

This is the vocal album corresponding to the Himiko-den ~Renge~ OST. It contains eight vocal tracks and one instrumental. The eight tracks are broken up as the extended opening, extended ending, and six character tracks. The opening and ending tracks incorporate all six female characters, so the album is very reminiscent of, say, the Sakura Taisen vocal albums (though the formula is common among game vocal albums).

Considering the opening theme "Kagiroi no Himemiko" was merely a preview of the real thing on the OST (under a minute!), this five minute version comes as a wonderful addition. Not only is it one of the best tracks on the album, it's a great vocal piece overall. Though Kouhei Tanaka isn't a part of the sound team, I must again reference back to Sakura Taisen (which are excellent examples of good game vocals) as a comparison. And, when comparing the albums, this opening is of a very similar quality found in the Sakura Taisen openings, though the styles are very different.

The six character tracks vary in style, but the overall quality and production value do not waver. This is definitely a solid vocal album, better than many I've owned and reviewed in the past (yes, I am thinking of Growlanser, if you were wondering!). Ethnic-specific instruments show up at times to spice up pieces, usually to add a traditional Asian sound to what is otherwise a good pop album. If I had to play favorites, I'd give the gold medal to Shino's song, though her vocal performance is not the strongest (it's the music that carries the victory). None of the vocalists are particularly impressive, which is typical of character song albums, since the vocalists are better trained as actors than singers. However, Imari's theme displays some decent vocal range and rhythm for a pop song.

The ending theme, "Never Forget," isn't very different from the OST version. The song is extended from three minutes to five, mostly through some additional verses and repeats of the chorus. It's a nice song, but not nearly as memorable as the opening.

Which brings me to the final track, an instrumental reprise of the opening. It's slow, it's beautiful, and it uses a reverb-effect-filled piano to hold the melody. It makes me wish the album had seen a decent instrumental arranged album, because someone with enough experience could have done marvelous things with Hayashi's songs, which were less than spectacular on the OST.

If you're bothering to learn about the music for this under-appreciated PlayStation RPG, and you want the OST, you can't go wrong including this album in the collection. It's a shame that it's less than 40 minutes long, and it's even a bigger shame that bootleg versions (SM/EA) have more tracks (including the anime opening "Pure Snow" which I love with all my heart), but that ought not stop a hardcore fan from getting this album.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann



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