Magic School Lunar! Magical Island Vol.1

 

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Review by · May 13, 2005

After printing six (seven including Eternal Blue Prelude) of these half-music half-drama albums, it is determined that two more would be printed for the side-series game “Magic School Lunar!”, the Sega Saturn remake of the original “Walking School Lunar” for Sega’s hand-held Game Gear. The game would never see an “Original Soundtrack” release, so instead, we get six high-quality songs written by Iwadare himself (spread over the two releases), as well as a vocal song that gets milked into four versions! Why not just write a new vocal song? I don’t know.

Of course, there is also some music placed within the drama tracks, so it’s more music than it sounds; of course, having to fast-forward through a nine minute track of people speaking a language one doesn’t understand just to hear 15 seconds of a good song isn’t exactly an appealing idea. Also, many of these songs are remakes of songs from other Lunar games. So, let’s not bother talking about the audio found in there. It suits the drama tracks well; that’s all you need to know.

“Wonderful Fantasy”, the theme vocal for the game, is a happy and catchy song. The “first version” is the version used for the game’s opening sequence, and the “full version” contains a second verse/chorus and is hence longer, or “full”-er. I enjoy listening to the full version, though the opening track’s short length makes for a fitting opening for this fun-filled cutesy-sweet CD. I don’t mind hearing it twice.

“Strolling School” is a familiar melody, one that I believe is found in other Lunar games. This song is of the sort of style and quality you would expect from Iwadare in a Lunar game, and it is not “lesser” due to it being in a game that is generally not as well-known or epic as the two main-series titles. I do not think I need to describe what this style is: a quick listen to the audio sample can give you and idea as to what I mean. Also, note that this track is roughly four minutes long, so it’s a pretty size-able contribution to the CD.

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“Beach Vacation”, while being my least favorite music track on the CD, is still a relaxing bossa-nova-jazz-groove piece, and it features some brass solos that top anything you’ll hear on your local smooth jazz radio station. Some of the synths are clearly “synthy”, whereas others sound much more life-like. This piece is also four minutes long, so it is again a good tune to sit back and listen to; there is very little repetition, everything that happens melodically is a slight variation from what is played before it. Simply stated, it’s another solid piece from Iwadare.

Track 7, “Combat ~ Elly Flies Through the Sky” is wildly good. It was so good that the first time I heard it, I searched through all the other Lunar battle tracks, because I thought to myself “this HAS to be a remake from another great Lunar battle theme.” However, after all my searching, I’m certain that this theme is unique to the game. And friends, this is a remarkable battle theme. It may be one of my favorite battle themes of all time. It makes me want to import this obscure Sega Saturn game and play it! Take a listen to this sample: isn’t it everything you’d expect from an Iwadare battle theme? Yes, yes it is! I don’t know how to describe it: it’s just some solid Lunar-esque battle music! I’ve listened to this song on loop while playing other RPGs just to hear a good battle theme in the place of some bland crap that I didn’t want to hear. That’s how good this song is.

And then there are the drama tracks. These three “chapters” are almost ten minutes each, and hence take up the majority of the album. I have listened through them twice in my whole life. Obviously, the more Japanese you know, the more enjoyable these tracks will be. Of course, these stories are fun and silly and girly tales about the Magic School in Vane a few hundred years before the events of Silver Star Story. The characters seem charming enough, and from what I can understand, “Sorceress Balua” is a strict teacher that is thus presented as the closest thing to an antagonist in the plot of this happy-go-lucky tale of fun and adventure!

The bonus track is…weird. “Don McCow” is a pseudonym for one of the members of the Lunar development team…I believe he is Isao Mizoguchi, but I haven’t taken the time to really research that to any extent. The bonus track exists for some sort of insider perspective of the story, and it’s the sort of quirky Japanese humor that even a fluent Japanese-speaking Gaijin would not get because of the cultural quirks that exist in Japan. Take a listen to hear what I mean.

So, three instrumentals, one vocal, and some stuff that most Americans wouldn’t care about. Worth the import? Only if you’re a very serious collector and you have some serious money. I’d estimate that both “Magical Island” Volumes run for about $30 each…that’s a lot to pay for 12 minutes of Iwadare music. I did it, but that’s because I am really truly in love with the Lunar series. Perhaps this review is all the exposure you’ll want to this soundtrack, and that’s fine. But, whatever tickles your fancy, right?

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.