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-speaking people! This is the first of four in the “Lunatic Festa” series, which recaps, in audio drama format, the events of Lunar: Silver Star Story.
The format for all four of these CDs is this: an opening vocal track, a drama track, an instrumental, repeat drama and instrumental four of five times, and end with another vocal track. I will review this album in three parts. First, the drama, then the vocals, then the instrumentals.
Of the 19 chapters laid out in this version of the story-telling, Vol.1 contains five chapters, which start from the beginning up until the trip to Meribia. For American Lunar fans, it is worthwhile to get a feel for the Japanese character voices to learn how these characters did “originally” sound before Working Designs did their work. This gives American gamers a chance to discern whether or not the American version “holds true” to the original in matching character expression, tone, etc. Personally, I always prefer Japanese to English. Since these tracks are following the game’s story and not side-stories (like those found on the Lunatic Parades), they are much easier for non-Japanese-speaking fans of the game to follow. I actually enjoyed listening through these tracks. I’ve probably listened through a good twelve to fifteen hours of videogame drama albums in my life, and these were all my favorites, because I could generally know what was happening in them.
The two vocals on this album are the most well-known, as they are both found within the game. The CD opens with “Tsu Ba Sa” (or “Wings”), though this is an extended version that is much longer than what is found in the game. The Japanese vocal is fairly different from the English, but it is still a wonderful song. The Japanese voice is even more distinct in “Wind’s Nocturne”, which is generally known to American audiences by the name “The Boat Song.” Honestly, I prefer the English version to the Japanese on this song because the Japanese voice is intensely nasal to the point of being whiny (at least, from my narrow-minded Gaijin perspective). Of course, this is a good song no matter who is singing it, because Iwadare writes such spectacular melodies.
Speaking of Iwadare, there are four beautiful instrumental pieces on this album. Of the four, my favorite is “Thieves Market”, simply because it is the most bouncy and catchy song from Silver Star Story. The melody, played on a xylophone, is spectacular. The syncopation is also the kind that makes you want to stand up and dance while playing the game. This version is a slightly higher quality version than what is heard in-game; I’m assuming these are just unfettered synthesized songs, as I do not detect any live instruments.
The other songs are also good, and I could rave about how much I like them, but I’m not going to. Instead, I will let the samples speak for themselves. Take a listen and remember some of those classic Lunar melodies that you haven’t heard in a long while. You will be quite pleased to remember what it is that made them so special.
This album, like all Japanese Lunar albums, is fairly difficult to locate. If you do, you should probably get it. In fact, I would recommend that Lunar fans hunt down all four, despite their “half-drama” nautre. Unlike the Lunatic Parades and the Magical Island CDs, the Lunatic Festas have a lot more instrumentals and have a story that one can recall easily, and thus not necessarily need to understand the language fluently. If you know Japanese, that’s just one more reason to get these CDs.