In the summer of 2003, Square released three singles through Avex, corresponding to the three main characters of Final Fantasy X-2: Yuna, Rikku, and Paine. The YuRiPa (or YRP in America) trio went “solo” for these three singles: the Japanese voice actors for the characters got a shot at performing two songs. Each song is actually a vocal rendition from an OST track, with a lot of arrangement packed into them. In fact, this is the closest thing to a full-fledged arrangement of the X-2 OST, and I personally like the instrumental tracks quite a bit.
Anyway, each single came with a 4-track CD and a 3-track DVD, packaged in a double-wide fluorescent case with an insert that unfolds to reveal lyrics and a CG picture of the character from the opening FMV sequence of the game. The CDs (like all Avex CDs now) are “copy-protected,” which apparently means trying to copy it won’t work…though I had no trouble making mp3s out of the tracks for my own personal use.
The DVD includes a music video (using scenes from the game and shots of the vocalist singing), then a lengthy interview (in Japanese), and finally a special bit of montage-work: more sequences from the game, but the music in the background is a battle theme. Honestly, it’s nothing special, especially if you don’t know Japanese.
Rikku’s singles are “Hadashi no Kiseki” (which roughly translates to “Barefoot Miracle”) and “Without You”, which are characteristically fast-paced and happy. Of the three vocalists (and hence the three singles), these songs are light-hearted, sometimes crossing the “cheesy” line.
Matsumoto does a fast-talk rap-esque section in the bridge of Hadashi no Kiseki, which is featured in the sample provided. The song is arranged from one of the happiest, peppiest songs from X-2, so peppy that it is absolutely uncharted water for Final Fantasy music. Without You sounds a little more serious, and is also my favorite of the two tracks. This song also shows, in my opinion, that Matsumoto is no professional vocalist; she struggles with hitting some of the notes with a good sense of musicality, especially in the chorus. This is characteristic of songs where the voice actor does the singing…it reminds me very much of the Langrisser III Song Album.
Marika Matsumoto’s music video on the DVD portrays her as a veritable real-life Rikku; wild hair, happy, outgoing, and very much light-hearted. Being unfamiliar with the Japanese talent behind Rikku, I do not know how this revealing of the voice behind the voice impacts the usual Japanese X-2 fan. I was a Tara Strong fan myself; she did a very good job with Rikku’s voice in X-2, but that’s not really relevant to this CD.
On the whole, you have to be a Final Fantasy X-2 fanatic to purchase these singles. You simply cannot find them for cheaper than $15 each, and even then you’re facing exorbitant shipping and handling prices. I purchased all three at the same time from Otaku.com, and my total bill came to about $65. I don’t know anyone in their right mind who pays more than $30 for six vocal songs and some DVDs with minimal amounts of material on them. I guess I’m not in my right mind then…
Anyway, if you get a chance to purchase these singles for a low price, I would recommend you do so. If you’re interested in only purchasing one, and you want the odd-man-out single with the happiest music in the world and the “little-girl style” vocals, this one is for you. Of the three, this one is my least favorite, but you can make your own decisions with the samples provided.