Of the many Lunar CDs released in Japan, the majority of them were released in the dreaded “half-drama” format: pleasant for Japanese listeners, and torturous for all us non-Japanese-fluent VGM lovers.
This disc contains four drama tracks, which dominate the disc (using up about half of the disc’s 60 minutes). The remaining tracks are all instrumental, except for track 6, which is a (bad) vocal track. Yes, let’s just start on the bad vocal track. “Money is Best” is a song sung by the Japanese “Borgan”, and the voice just isn’t very appealing. It’s meant to be humorous, but considering the non-Japanese-speaker is going to miss the humor, the fun is drained out of the experience. I usually skip this track.
The drama tracks are strangely enjoyable, if you’re familiar with the characters from the game. I have a basic knowledge of Japanese (…very, very basic…): and I was able to determine which characters were speaking and what they were talking about. For example, track 5 revolves around Lemina, Borgan, and the Magic Guild. I believe this drama track might be based on a manga released in Japan. The bonus track, “Ghaleon’s Last Moments”, is another scene that Lunar-fans will be familiar with, and it’s good to hear what the Japanese version sounds like. It’s a very different experience than what Working Designs gave us Americans, but I see merit in each.
The real meat of this soundtrack for me (and all us other poor Gaijin) is the instrumental arrangements. They do not vary widely from the original versions: I believe it is just an upgrade in synth quality, with maybe a new part added here or there. The “Lunatic Parade” is a medley, but is somehow my least favorite track. I was also disappointed with “Martial Arts Tournament”, and I have never particularly liked Ronfar’s theme. However, the battle theme, Leo’s theme, and The Four Heroes are all outstanding. Of those, “The Four Heroes” is one of my alltime favorite Lunar pieces ever written. Listen to the way Iwadare arranged this version! It is so beautiful, so outstanding, so…so…LUNAR! If you’re not excited about this track, you’re crazy.
The battle music is also a great trip down memory lane. You’ll be singing right along in no time: “Bumbumbum: DAA dum da da!! (doodoo, doo!) Bumbumbum! DAAAA da dum daaaa!!” At least, that’s how I sing it.
Indeed, Iwadare’s work on here is less than I wanted it to be in quantity; but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality! It is a shame that I generally have to skip through half of the tracks to hear what I want to hear, but such is the burden of Lunatic Parade Vol.1.
This soundtrack, along with all other Lunar soundtracks, is quite the rare find. If you like Lunar, you need to own this soundtrack. I was especially fond of Eternal Blue, and I think my fondness for the game is what brought me to purchase this soundtrack. If you know Japanese and like Lunar, you really ought to own this, as you can fully appreciate it when others can’t.
As a final note, the “Lunatic Parade” only has two volumes, whereas Silver Star Story’s “Lunatic Festa” has four volumes. Go figure!