01 - Where the Stars Are
02 - Silver Will, Golden Wings Game Opening Version
03 - I swear...
04 - Cry for me, cry for you Opening version
05 - Looking Up at the Sky Ending version
06 - Sora no Kiseki Drama CD ~Connected Bonds~ Cast Commentary
Falcom's "Sora no Kiseki" trilogy has seen a fair amount of success in Japan, both on PC and PSP. Falcom continues to milk their franchises for all they're worth with these PSP ports, and with exclusive bonus CDs like this one to tempt fans and collectors.
Fortunately, for this particular promotional album, released in 2009, the only original content is an audio recording of a cast party for the trilogy's drama CDs, which recount events from the game, and add some new scenarios. For 18 minutes, the cast go around and introduce themselves, and their characters, and talk about their favorite memories of the project. Everyone laughs and claps a lot. It's a big happy Japanese cast party.
The first five tracks are opening and ending vocal themes. The first chapter of the Sora no Kiseki trilogy only has "Where the Stars Are," performed by vocalist u-mi. This is a favorite track of mine from Jindo-era Falcom. The song has a nice moderate tempo and a good beat.
From Second Chapter, we have what is without question the catchiest vocal track from the entire Legend of Heroes series, not to mention the Sora no Kiseki trilogy. "Silver Will, Golden Wings" is a vocal arrangement of the original instrumental "Silver Will" (from the trilogy's first chapter). The vocalist, Hiroko Yamawaki, has a solid grasp of the syncopated melodic line, and the instrumental backing (arranged by Yukihiro Jindo) is some of the best Falcom music of the last decade.
"I swear..." is the ending theme for the second chapter. Kanako Kotera, who covers the rest of the vocals from here on out, has a very strong tone, atypical of most female J-pop stars. But "I swear..." is, I swear, one of the most annoying vocal tracks from Falcom in the last few years. The "Engrish" is painful to listen to, the harmonic structure is over-the-top cheese-ballad (yes, that's a new genre, "cheese-ballad"). Even the guitar solo is irritating. That's when you know there's a problem.
Kotera gets a much better shot at showing off her talent in the opening and ending for the third and final chapter of the Sora no Kiseki trilogy. Though the game's OST is weak, these theme songs are relatively strong. Particularly, the ending piece "Looking Up at the Sky" sounds absolutely beautiful. In a surprising moment of clarity and strength, Kotera uses a breathy voice to hit the higher notes of the song's chorus; the results are phenomenal. The melody, as written, is also a very stunning one, and the harmonic structure (which regularly features suspensions) works very well with Kotera-san's voice.
I've talked about each of these songs in the reviews of the OSTs and Super Arrange Versions where the songs originally appear. But I thought it was worth talking about them again in this review. I enjoyed getting my hands on this little treat, though it really doesn't have much value for a collector who already has all the other Sora no Kiseki albums.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann