The vast majority of the Japanese Lunar soundtracks are long out of print, and hence, they usually come with quite the price tag. If you were to say to yourself, “man, I really like Lunar, but I don’t have $500, so maybe I should only pick out one or two soundtracks on Yahoo! Japan Auctions”, this might be one of the ones you’d want to pick out. If you’re a fan of vocal tracks, especially character/image tracks, then Lunar Songs 1 would be a good choice.
Of the two “Lunar Songs” collections, this one seems to be somewhat easier to find on the net. However, it’s also the smaller of the two collections. Lunar Songs 2 comes with nine tracks, whereas 1 only comes with eight tracks. When you’re only getting 35 minutes worth of music, it feels painful to shell out $40 or more, meaning you’re paying over one dollar for each minute of music.
These songs each have differing sources; none are unique to this album. Most are found on the “Lunatic Parades/Festas”, and then some are found on original soundtracks. Note that the vocal track from the “Magical School LUNAR!” game is not featured on this collection, as that is not really part of the main series, and this CD was released before the MS Lunar soundtracks.
With all of this information in mind, I feel it is fair to review this album track-by-track; there is a lot of information regarding each song. Before I do that, let me say that overall, I do very much enjoy listening to this set of songs as they are chosen, and in the order they have been placed. Generally, I like this album a lot.
Tsu Ba Sa (or simply, “Tsubasa”) translates to “Wings”, and is the opening song from Lunar: Silver Star Story. Fans of Working Designs’ PlayStation remake of the game will recognize this tune immediately, though the lyrics are now in their original Japanese. This is an extended version of the song, more than twice the length of the opening movie version from the game. This allows for a second verse and a pretty sweet bridge/instrumental near the end. The nostalgia factor alone makes this song a great listen, but I think that on its own, it is a beautiful piece. The Japanese vocalist has a bit of a nasal voice that takes some getting used to; it makes one appreciate the English version for being more appealing to the Western ear.
Rondo of Light and Shadow is definitely my favorite vocal track from the Lunar series. Both the English and Japanese versions are good, but I am especially fond of the Japanese version. This song is, of course, the opening vocal track for Lunar: Eternal Blue, and it sets a tone for the entire game that is just perfect. The chorus is light and happy, but my favorite things about this track are the use of the sitar and the melody used in the verses. Also, Iwadare throws in the obligatory castanets in the verses, and when you hear it, you need to get up and dance. This song is slightly enigmatic, but is still generally an uplifting piece. This is one of those songs that I like enough to make brash statements about for shock value: statements such as, “anyone who does not like this song has no soul.” Right. Moving on!
Killy is No.1! Killy, known to Americans as “Kyle”, is a slovenly drunkard who is somehow quite popular with the ladies. Translating these lyrics reveals that the song is nothing more than Killy bragging about his good looks and charm in an attempt to show Jessica how stupid she would be if she were to try and leave him. At one point he even says that Luna, no, even Althena, wants a guy as hot as he is! This song is humorous through and through, even if you can’t understand what is being said. It’s also a loud and energetic piece, and probably my favorite character theme not found within the games.
Love Love Funny is a song about Ruby (from Eternal Blue) trying to sort out her own desires for men. While it is never explicitly stated, it seems that the song would be directed to Nall, though it could also be about Hiro…or both? That’s why love is just so strange, or funny, for poor Ruby. The vocals are performed in such a way that you recognize a statement is trying to be made: one would not call it “beautiful”, just “fitting” would be right. The music on this one is also very catchy, again showing Iwadare’s genius.
Fairy Rain is the character track for Mia Ausa, and is the softest song on the album. Again, this is “fitting” for the character. My only critique of this song is that it is so slow and so soft that it can be boring after having two upbeat tracks before it. However, as a stand-alone piece, it is certainly enjoyable. I’ve heard it called second-rate compared to Luna’s boat song, but I actually think that this piece could rival the boat song, if only it had an in-game presentation to go with it.
Les Misérables is another lament about how silly love can be. This time, we’re hearing from Nall, even though he sounds much like a girl in the Japanese. I am a big fan of the instruments on this one; the chord progression and background music is all very good! This is a peppy song with a real drive to it, and the first few seconds of the track help the listener to get into the groove. The voice itself, however, is hard for me to take. To me, it is a step below Ruby’s track in “character expression”; the character’s voice is so expressive that it robs the song of musicality. That’s my opinion on the issue anyway.
Okay, Japanese male vocals are definitely a big “hit or miss” in my book. Most of the time, they miss. Adventure Road is a miss. Performed by the Japanese voice actor (seiyuu) for Hiro, Adventure Road is easily my least favorite song on Lunar Songs. In fact, it’s probably my least favorite Lunar vocal track ever. I know I’m not alone in having this sentiment. A lot of people agree that this song is really subpar. However, again, Iwadare’s composition on its own shines through as another fun and enjoyable piece. I’d much rather have this song as an instrumental.
We round out the album with “Sensitive Dream”, the end track from the old Sega CD version of Lunar: The Silver Star. This is a ballad, and it’s meant to be epic, as it is an ending vocal track. It was written in the early 90s, and definitely reeks of early 90s cliché sentimentality. I am not the world’s biggest fan of this song; the instrumentation is nothing to be impressed by, and the vocals are a tad over the top for my taste. It’s a good song, but not the best.
Again, if you’re into these sort of character vocals, and you’re a big Lunar fanatic, I would encourage you to search hard on Y!J, because this album isn’t *too* rare; one finds it every few months or so from a seller who’s looking to make money. However, if you’re going to be buying all of the other Lunar albums, the Songs CDs are almost a waste of money. It’s a shame they didn’t have a few original vocals to make these albums worth hunting down for more than the sake of being an über-Lunar collector.
Well, enjoy the samples, because it is likely this is all you’ll ever hear of most of these songs. If you’re looking to get them, good luck!