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.
Dragon Quest V spans three generations of heroes; as a result, the lines of separation between the three-volume CD Theater set for DQV generally go from one generation to the next. In Volume 1, the protagonist is still a child, and his father is the “hero.” In track 3, alongside an excellent arrangement of DQV’s dungeon music, you hear the hero and his eventual bride-to-be braving their first dungeon, meeting a slime, and trying to be strong like the hero’s dad.
From that early adventure onward, there is a lot that happens in the rest of Volume 1. What happens to the father? What’s up with that pet tiger that little girl is holding? Who is it that enslaves an entire town of people, and how will the young hero free them? Across this early part of the adventure, Koichi Sugiyama penned a lot of great music, and Matsuo’s synth-orchestra versions are especially good, particularly for battle themes. Try to listen for it, even with all the talking going on over it.
If you think you’d like this album, trust that there’s more to follow. The rest of DQV’s CD Theater trilogy is equally enjoyable.