Nippon Ichi’s first venture into the American market came from the Atlus published Rhapsody, the so called “Musical Adventure.” It stood out very much at the time. In an era where the Final Fantasy inspired epics were becoming the norm, there was Rhapsody, the story of a girl who talks to puppets and has to save her prince charming. I picked it up and it was what I expected, a light, charming, and completely unique game. A good deal of the charm came from the Disney-esque outbreaks of singing, composed by Tenpei Sato. Though never released in America, Rhapsody had two sequels in Japan, Little Princess and Angel’s Present. This CD, recorded August 23rd, 2003, to commemorate Nippon Ichi’s 10th anniversary, is comprised mainly of the vocal tracks from these three games. Though it’s a good CD overall, it suffers a bit because, though I love his compositions, I’m no fan of Tenpei’s singing.
It should be said that perhaps a lot of the impact of this CD is lost on me. The majority of the songs are from Little Princess and Angel’s Present, neither of which I’ve played. My favorites tend to be the ones from Rhapsody, which makes me think if I’d played either of the sequels I’d enjoy it more, but since most people have only played the US releases it’s worth noting.
The first four songs are probably my least favorite, and not surprisingly they’re all Tenpei Sato’s songs. Though not unlistenable by any means, at times his voice gets unpleasant to listen to. I’m not sure how to describe it, it just sounds kind of forced sometimes. All isn’t lost, however. The second song, It’s so quiet! is actually kind of catchy. Very lively and upbeat (and not quiet at all), it’s the kind of song that grows on you the more you listen to it.
Beauty and Groovy is another catchy song. I hated it when I first heard it, but each time after it grew on me a bit. It’s very hard to describe, and that may be the draw. There are a lot of fast talking bridges by Tenpei, some random English like “Please hold me,” and (I swear) “Please kill me.” And, of course, the whole chorus is Tenpei screaming out “Beauty and Groovy” in broken English. The end result is very, very interesting, and most likely something you won’t hear elsewhere.
The next 4 songs are with Maria Kawamura, the voice of Crea on stage, and I think is when things pick up a bit. Let’s Walk is the first song on the CD I really recognized, being the first vocal in Rhapsody. It starts out with the keyboard playing the melody, instantly recognizable to anyone who’s played the game, before Tenpei introduces the song. The song is very soft and gentle, played mainly by a guitar, piano, and bass. I think I like the instrumental better than the singing, but it’s competent and fits in well. Little Bird is another favorite from this section. Very slow, very serious, it has a calming effect and is quite relaxing.
From track 9 Ikue Ohtani, voice of Princess Kururu, joins on stage for a duet, Magnificent World. About half of the track’s running time is a conversation between the two (lost without knowledge of Japanese). The song itself has an epic sound. I’m not sure how it was used in the game, but from the sound I would imagine it was used before the start of the adventure. The only complaint is that Ikue’s voice is a bit nasal, but since she’s supposed to be a young girl it may be fitting.
Included in this section is Marl Kindgom Short Drama. Running at nearly 10 minutes I wouldn’t say it’s short, and like most dramas it won’t mean much without knowledge of the language. It does have background music I’m assuming is from the game, and given the difficulty to find Nippon Ichi OSTs it’s worth listening to at least once for that.
The singing resumes and the next two songs are enjoyable, if a bit unremarkable. Track 13 is the only instrumental song on the CD, Dear Friends from Disgaea. Played almost entirely by bass and guitar, it reminds me a bit of the Eyes on Me Guitar Version from Final Fantasy Potion 2. It’s calm and relaxing, and provides a nice rest for the next song.
Comrade in Arms is another song from Disgaea, this one being a vocal track. It opens with an electric guitar and very 80s sounding synth. The singing is done by Tenpei, and fortunately I don’t have any complaints with his performance. There’s a good bit of cheese to be found in the song, especially when Tenpei calls on the guitar to do a solo, which of course is obliged.
The encore is fittingly Thank You, the ending song to Rhapsody and Angel’s Present. It is a bit like Let’s Walk, the melody played almost entirely by the piano before adding the bass and, later, the electric guitar. All three singers join in for the song, which will be nostalgic for anyone who has played Rhapsody. It was written to be an ending song, and therefore feels a very fitting end to the CD.
When I bought this CD I had no information about it, and it really wasn’t what I expected. To be honest I didn’t like it at when I first played it, but it’s the kind that grows on you the more you listen. It’s not my favorite, but I’m pleased that I got it. It would make a strong addition to any Nippon Ichi fan’s collection, and it makes me think it could be much better for those who have played all the games featured.