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The History of Winning Eleven Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

The History of Winning Eleven Original Soundtrack Album Title: The History of Winning Eleven Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Digital Entertainment
Catalog No.: GFCA-102
Release Date: February 27, 2008
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


It took a long time for Konami to realize soundtracks for the Winning Eleven series were viable. While a compilation for the series was released back in 2002, it wasn't even published by one of Konami's in-house record labels. Fortunately, they saw the light and went on to produce four albums for the series in 2008. While most of these albums focused on licensed music for the latest Winning Eleven titles, The History of Winning Eleven Original Soundtrack picked up where the series' first album release left off. The soundtrack features music from the ten numbered World Soccer Winning Eleven titles as well as samples from the recently released World Soccer Winning Eleven X and World Soccer Winning Eleven 2008. Is this album a joy for experimentalists like its predecessor? How has the series evolved in recent years?


The album actually starts by backtracking to the previously unreleased scores to Winning Eleven and Winning Eleven '97. It's clear from the two tracks provided that the series had humble yet likeable origins; the menu theme of the original game is little more than a few steady beats while the sequel offered a simple but catchy rock tune instead. Akira Yamaoka's themes from Winning Eleven 3 and Winning Eleven 4 fortunately demonstrate more individuality with their use of rock and electronica. Disappointingly, three of the four themes featured are straightforward remasters from the Winning Eleven Original Soundtrack. There is more repetition in Winning Eleven 5 / Pro Evolution Soccer section. It seems that the "Title Movie" was selected above better compositions to maintain the trend of having one title theme and menu theme for each game featured. Fortunately, the menu theme is an exclusive and demonstrates the album's overall focus on electronica.

After a shaky start, the album becomes a little more interesting with the single piece from Winning Eleven 6. While Michiru Yamane's previously released compositions for the series have been dramatic orchestrations, this one is a refreshing trance piece similar to her work on OZ. Norikazu Miura flexes his creative muscles a little more on this title too with the exhilarating electronic opener to Winning Eleven 7 and the youthful rock pieces on the Winning Eleven 8 soundtrack. However, the selection again indicates that Konami wants to define the series' past music as being more consistent than it is. The majority of the pieces selected across the series have an electronic focus with perhaps some rock thrown in. However, the Winning Eleven Original Soundtrack clearly demonstrated that the series was home to wild experiments in jazz, funk, pop, and orchestral music too. By including around two pieces from each soundtrack, it was very easy for Konami to rewrite history and declare the series' musical future.

There was a change in the direction of the series with Winning Eleven 9 / Pro Evolution Soccer 5 towards a eurodance style. Sota Fujimori demonstrates his flair for modern funk by blending wah-wah guitar lines, heavy rock riffs, and electronic beats for the "Title Movie". For this title and its sequel, Naoyuki Sato integrates electronically distorted vocals into menu themes otherwise featuring his catchy and whimsical Elebits style. These styles are built on in Winning Eleven X except the themes carry a bit more emotional intensity. However, the series' music never says the same for long and the soundtrack ends by demonstrating the aspiration for the series to integrate licensed music for Winning Eleven 2008. Though composed by Sota Fujimori, the menu theme takes a contrived pop punk approach and integrates a female vocalist singing about football. The opening theme, on the other hand, features the eurodance artist S.W.N.C. and has a very mainstream-targeted sound. This sound has been developed in the series' last three titles, each of which have been given a soundtrack release.


This album seems more dedicated to promoting the soundtracks to new Winning Eleven titles than celebrating the musical history of past ones. The track selection is insufficient since there tends to be just two pieces taken from each game and extensive repetition of the material featured in the Winning Eleven Original Soundtrack. In addition, the track selection for the older soundtracks tends to distort history by focusing on the rock and electronic elements of the series, when in fact the series has always been very diverse. This makes the transition into the semi-licensed approach of the latest Winning Eleven series seem more natural than it actually was. The new direction is bound to introduce mainstream fans to the series, but feels somewhat contrived and derivative even with Sota Fujimori's creative talents behind it. This soundtrack isn't a bad listen, but is somewhat limited and deceptive nonetheless.

Overall Score: 5/10