Released over a decade after its original counterpart, this two disc reprint of the old one-disc Manjimaru OST takes things a step further: well, at least half of it.
The first disc is the orchestrated section, and it is ported entirely from NEC Avenue’s original release and stuck here. As you can see, the disc doesn’t even break 30 minutes, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for tenfold in quality. Hisaishi’s score is enchanting, which is something any anime fan should already know, considering his tireless efforts to produce fantastic scores for Hayao Miyazaki’s classic films.
The real treat of this reprint was the second disc. The album was actually released because the game itself was remade and hence needed updated synth music. Shigeki Hayashi, who has also upgraded synth for the Riviera Full Arranged Album since this project, took on the task of taking very simple and even irritating sounds and making them much more appealing to the average listener.
The jump in quality is truly huge: much bigger than what we saw from Final Fantasy I and II to the PlayStation remake OST. A quick listen to any one of the tracks from disc two will make my point abundantly clear, and I believe the samples I have chosen will speak volumes more than any of my writing could. Start from the beginning with track 8, “Miracle-working,” a soft and sensible piece. I promise, this song hardly even resembles its original counterpart at this point, and I also promise that this is a very good thing.
The real shame about this album was its being disregarded by the public. Published by DigiCube, who soon after went bankrupt, one would expect this album to become a quick rarity, as several other DigiCube albums have (especially those that aren’t under Square Enix’s domain). However, this album is still for sale at Gamemusic.com, almost four years after its release. This seems to say that the album didn’t even make a splash among VGM collectors, and I have to say that this is the biggest tragedy of all.
I suspect the problem here is a lack of exposure; many RPG fans know little about the Tengai Makyou series, particularly because none of the games have come to America (yet). Even so, Red’s other well-known series “Sakura Taisen” is a moderately popular import, particularly in comparison to the Tengai Makyou series. Whatever the case, all VGM fans are doing themselves a disservice if they have chosen to remain ignorant of the Tengai Makyou series, specifically its music, and more specifically the music from TM2: Manjimaru. This reprint presents an excellent opportunity for self-education, so get to it!