Last year, Konami released the first Genso Suikoden Vocal Collection ~ La passione commuove la storia ~ and it was, frankly, pretty bad. You can take a look at my review to see just what I thought about it, but here’s a brief synopsis: the vocalists were, for the most part, simply awful with one exception, yet the arrangements of the pieces were actually pretty good. Not a great soundtrack, but salvageable.
Konami’s second Genso Suikoden Vocal Collection ~ Faraway Star Echoes of Love ~ does everything the first did, except even to a greater extreme. That is to say, the arrangements are even better, but the vocals are actually worse, thanks to a brand new vocalist Konami must have pulled in beaten and drunk from a brothel, namely Sanae Shintani. If any of you out there enjoy her singing, just kill yourselves now and do us all a favor.
I may be harsh in my criticism of this album and its vocalists, but I back up my claims via experience and reasoned argument. Let’s start with the title track, Echoes of Love, which is a beautiful rendition of “Their Star” from the Genso Suikoden II OST, despite the vocalist’s total inability to sustain any high notes at all. Sanae Shintani has absolutely no support or range, making her frankly odious and actually makes me look forward to the songs sung by Yuko Imai, the vocalist from the first album. Unfortunately more than just this well-composed track suffers from Ms. Shintani. Her performance of “Dandy Richmond” from Genso Suikoden II is just poor, as the woman has such terrible elocution. Konami needs to face the fact that spewing random sounds out of your mouth does not constitute singing English lyrics. This thing might pass in the Land of the Rising Sun, but it falls flat here. The same thing goes for “Narcy’s Theme” which had so much potential if sung right. Thank goodness this is the third and last track she is allowed to sing on the album.
Fortunately, Yuko Imai has apparently taken voice lessons as well as English lessons, giving a surprisingly good performance on this album in “Beautiful Morning”, “The Wind and the Earth” from GS III, and the excellent rendition of Genso Suikogaiden’s ending theme, “The Boundless Dream”, entitled “Seeing does not End the Dream”. Ms. Imai also does an excellent job with the jazzed-up “Currents”, although I enjoyed the a capella version in Orrizonte more, and she’s DEFINITELY the best choice for the expansive, touching final track, “Moonlit Night Theme”. Once again, she saved a vocal album.
Interestingly enough, newcomer to the album, Tomoko, seems to be halfway between the now-lovely Ms. Imai and the caterwauling Shintani, making her tolerable in her performance of Genso Suikoden I’s “The Dancing Girl” and GS II’s “Withered Earth”. She has a lovely voice but needs to work on her elocution.
Overall, this album manages to improve upon the previous vocal album with better vocals by Yuko Imai and even better compositions of classic Suikoden themes put to passable lyrics. Just make sure you skip over every track sung by Sanae Shintani, as they are frankly painful to listen to. Hopefully by the time Konami releases the third Vocal Collection they’ll have made some major improvements on all fronts and make sure to keep Ms. Imai on board.