Kowloon Treasure Juvenile 1st. Relic Yoh-Ma Gakuen Ki

[back cover]
Catalog Number: FCCT-0027
Released On: February 25, 2005
Composed By: Takashi Nitta
Arranged By: Takashi Nitta
Published By: Frontier Works
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 2 CDs

Disc One
01 - Kowloon theme
02 - Azimuth angle
03 - Operation Pylon
04 - Iron sight
05 - Lying-up
06 - Human intelligence
07 - Foxhole
08 - Night stalker
09 - Day and night fever
10 - Night observation
11 - Beyond visual range
12 - Search and rescue
13 - Active radar homing
14 - Operation medley
15 - Cross quarter battle
16 - Spiral bullet
17 - Medal of honor
18 - Irene
19 - Brew
20 - Demilitarized zone
21 - Rendezvous point
22 - Briefing room
23 - Shadow of JADE
24 - Glorious Rosetta
25 - Operation Juliet
26 - Coin
27 - Killed in action
28 - Madame Butterfly
29 - Stealth piecing
30 - Twin trajectory
31 - Love affair
32 - Operation Alpha
33 - Operation Masterpiece
34 - Fire Brigade
Total Time:

Disc Two
01 - Aoki Blues (Short Version)
02 - Aoki Blues (Long Version)
03 - Aoki Blues (Inst. Version)
Total Time:

My friends, it is as the front cover suggests. This is one jazzy album. Sometimes it's funky, sometimes it's smooth, sometimes it's crazy atonal stuff, and other times it's "espionage jazz" (you know, James Bond music). But the soundtrack to the Kowloon Youma Gakuen Ki ("Chronicle of the Kowloon Ghost School") manages to work all these jazz styles into an adventure/RPG hybrid that you would expect to have a quite different soundscape assigned to it.

For those who need the geography lesson, "Kowloon" is an urban area that makes up a certain portion of Hong Kong, China. Obviously, the game is set in Kowloon, and you play as a high school student that also likes to go treasure hunting. And you interact with ghosts. Maybe. I don't really know that part. What I do know is that Takashi Nitta, the composer of the other Shoutworks-developed Gakuen games (i.e. "Tokyo Majin Gakuen"), wrote one incredible set of music for the game.

Seriously, every track is a winner. There's a seamless blend of real and synth instruments. No one song is too much like the other, but there is no jarring dissonance going from one track to the next, either. In-your-face bebop jazz, similar to "TANK!" from Cowboy Bebop, opens up this soundtrack. The "Kowloon theme" is used again in track 15, "Cross quarter battle." Another track that rivals the almighty "TANK!" is the last track, "Fire Brigade." The percussion alone is amazing, but you might just miss all the amazing percussion from the complex, blaring horn section that takes your eardrums hostage.

But there's plenty of slow, creepy/funky jazz in here, such as track 6, "Human Intelligence." Then there's calm, elevator-music-like, Persona-shopping-theme-like, tracks such as "Briefing room" or the deep and moody "Love affair." Every song on this album is a winner.

Included on a second disc is a three-version set of the game's vocal theme. This theme is more of an alt-rock piece than jazz, though the guitar soloist seems to be channeling the almighty Carlos Santana.

Of all the various "Gakuen" albums I've reviewed from this company, there's no question that Kowloon Youma Gakuen Ki is the most accessible. You don't have to like VGM at all to enjoy it. But, if you're a hardcore VGM fanatic, that won't bar you from enjoying this album either. It's not crappy, radio-friendly smooth jazz. There's plenty of great musicianship found here. Be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann


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