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.
Here we reach the final entry in the 12-album-long “CD Theater” series for Dragon Quest I-VI (and Torneko). Released at the end of 1996, this album is its own historic marker for being the end of a product series that is unique in its scope and size: music arranged exclusively for drama albums and packaged in ultra-wide digipaks that include 20 pages (or more) of beautiful artwork.
There’s a lot to love on this album. I am especially fond of the finale, “Eternal Lullaby.” If you recognize the characters by voice, and you’ve played the game, you can pretty much understand what’s being communicated, even if you don’t know Japanese. And the music is so perfect, from beginning all the way to the end credits. It’s a real highlight.
Among all of the CD Theaters, my favorite is probably the DQIV trilogy, or the double-disc DQIII album. But objectively, like I said in the Vol.1 review, DQVI was reaching new heights in quality. It is kind of a shame that it ended here. I would love to have seen where this CD Theater series could have gone with VII and VIII, and especially with the nameless-heroes party of Dragon Quest IX (maybe they would have focused on Stella?). Alas, we will never know.