“Subarashiki Kono Sekai” (literally “It’s a Wonderful World,” but localized as “The World Ends With You”) is a Nintendo DS game from Square Enix. If you look at the characters on the cover art, you’ll immediately know who was behind character design: our boy Tetsuya Nomura. What you may not have known is that the composer is a newcomer to the table, though he’s quickly rising in status among Square Enix’s ranks: Takeharu Ishimoto.
Now, for those of you not “in the know” about this title, the game takes place in a near-future, pseudo-realistic Japan. Particularly, it takes place in the well-known “Shibuya” prefecture. In an attempt to reflect this funky-hip pseudo-reality, Ishimoto collaborated with a number of male and female vocalists, hip hop artists, and more, to create what is the most unique soundtrack I’ve heard from Square Enix in ages.
And by unique, I mean awful.
Crappy J-pop and J-hiphop with butchered English lyrics abound on this album. Multiple attempts to pronounce the phrase “the power is yet unknown” all come out muffled and jumbled up. Another song uses the phrase “please explain me,” because the lyricist didn’t know how indirect objects work in English. The worst thing about all this bad English is that it dominates the album. Over half of the 35 tracks feature some sort of vocal performance. It’s enough to make you want to grind your teeth against a brick wall, record it, and play it back to yourself so you don’t have to hear this.
What’s so shocking about this soundtrack’s overall lameness is that Ishimoto is, in my opinion, a decent composer. He just isn’t fit to write this genre of music. This is the lowest common denominator of the pop/funk/hip-hop blend, a genre already despised by many “elitist” audiophiles. That’s no good.
You’ll note in the tracklist that some songs are repeated. “Twister” comes up twice, as does “Someday.” These are the same songs, performed by different vocalists. If you’re wondering, “which is the better version?” The answer is neither. They’re both terrible.
I don’t recommend this album to anyone. What a waste of Ishimoto’s time and talent.