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Perfect Collection Ys I & II: Complete Works of Ryo Yonemitsu :: Review by Chris

Perfect Collection Ys I & II: Complete Works of Ryo Yonemitsu Album Title: Perfect Collection Ys I & II: Complete Works of Ryo Yonemitsu
Record Label: Nihon Falcom
Catalog No.: NW10102460
Release Date: September 13, 2001
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


In 2001, Falcom reprinted the contents of two of their most popular albums, Perfect Collection Ys and Perfect Collection Ys II. whereas Perfect Collection Ys I & II: Complete Works of Ryo Yonemitsu features Ryo Yonemitsu's arrangements from the first discs, whereas Perfect Collection Ys I & II: Super Arrange Version compiles the second discs of these albums together. Of these, 'Complete Works of Ryo Yonemitsu' is more sought-after. After all, not only does it feature legendary arrangements, but it also features adaptations of all music from the Ys I and Ys II altogether in one place.


Surprisingly given Yonemitsu's reputation, most of the early tracks in the Ys arranged version have an acoustic focus. This is very appropriate given the nature of Yuzo Koshiro's originals and ensures that the compositions aren't transformed beyond recognition. For example, "Feena" stays faithful to the original intentions with its soft woodwind melodies and synthy backing, although Yonemitsu still spruces up the composition with some soulful semi-acoustic guitar work. Looking further into the collection, Yonemitsu's guitar improvisation takes an even bigger role on "The Syonin", while the likes of "Palace" seamlessly blend acoustic and electric elements to chilling effect. The arranger also doesn't hesitate to bring out the fun of "Fountain of Love" in his jazz-pop arrangement here and emphasises the sorrow of "Tears of Sylph" with new age soundscapes and synth chorus. They're so appropriate given the original material yet also more appealing and accessible than ever.

That said, rock is definitely the focus here. The album transforms into a rockfest right from the extravagant interpretation of the overworld theme "First Step Towards Wars". Yonemitsu's dazzling electric guitars and synth backing also take the focus in the dungeon theme "Palace of Destruction" and the medley of "Tower of the Shadow of Death" and "The Last Moment of the Dark", each time to mesmerising effect. He also interprets the game's two battle themes, "Holders of Powers" and "Final Battle", in a very energetic hard rock style that still won't be too abrasive for soundtrack listeners. The latter is particular a classic in my opinion. The interpretations of the ending themes "The Morning Grow" and "See You Again" are also spot on and the credits theme, in particular, stands out for the way it blends rock elements with an upbeat pop vibe. It's probably a select taste, but suits the original so well and also nicely conveys those youthful emotions lying behind the series.

Ryo Yonemitsu shows he still knows how to rock right from the opener of the Ys II arranged score on the second disc. "To Make the End of Battle" is always enjoyable, thanks to Yuzo Koshiro's punchy melodies, but this interpretation is one of my absolute favourites. The slightly warped keyboard lead and hard drum beats create an especially fulfilling soundscape. Plenty of other tracks on the disc also exhibit Yonemitsu's rock prowess, such as the more urgent "Protecters" or elating "Palace of Salmon", while "Ruins of Moondoria" is also an obvious highlight with its wah-wah solos. Yet probably the finest track of all is the final boss theme "Termination", both due to the strength of Yuzo Koshiro's original and Ryo Yonemitsu's arrangement. It's wonderful how the keyboard synth briskly interprets the melodies against thrashing rhythm guitars. The lead electric guitar solo at the climax is full of the intensity and aggression of a final battle. It's a pity it fades out so soon...

Unfortunately, much of the rest of the second disc comes across as a less ambitious effort than its predecessor. Arrangements such as "Lilia", "Apathetic Story", and "May I Feel Blue?" all adhere strongly to their originals. As a result, they sound quite low quality in terms of synth and also don't manage to exceed the minute mark. Where are the soulful guitar solos or warm synth elaborations that enriched acoustic pieces from the original Perfect Collection? Fortunately, there are still plenty of strong arrangements, such as "Cavern of Rasteenie" with its new age synth and vocal support, "Subterranean Canal" with its soft synthpop flavour, and "Ice Ridge of Nolita" with its bouncy rhythmical impetus. The disc also ends on a solid note with the ecstatic interpretation of "Stay With Me Forever", akin to "See You Again" from the first Perfect Collection, and the reflective "So Much For Today".


Ryo Yonemitsu's Ys arrangements will be a treat for many fans of the series' music. The arranger took considerable stylistic departures from Yuzo Koshiro's originals in his arrangements, making them much more rock- and pop-oriented. However, it appears the risk paid off since the reception towards his arranged version has been incredibly good. As for Ys II, much of Yonemitsu's arranged version is more like a mediocre resynthing of the original music, but the originals are thankfully good enough for this to usually suffice. There are nevertheless some excellent rock and new age arrangements by him. What's so good about this album is that it compiles both of his complete arranged scores together in one place and, to many, these represent the definitive versions of Ys I & II music. I am not one of these people, preferring the original and Chronicles versions, yet I still feel Ryo Yonemitsu's arrangements are a must-have for Ys fans.

Overall Score: 8/10