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Onimusha 2 Orchestra Album - Taro Iwashiro Selection :: Review by Chris

Onimusha 2 Orchestra Album - Taro Iwashiro Selection Album Title: Onimusha 2 Orchestra Album - Taro Iwashiro Selection
Record Label: Suleputer
Catalog No.: CPCA-1059
Release Date: March 20, 2002
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The score for Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny lacked the ambition or refinement of other instalments in the series. Thankfully, however, Taro Iwashiro was given a second chance to really focus and create something exceptional. On the Onimusha 2 Orchestra Album, he arranges a selection of the themes from the original score into thirteen chapters for orchestral performance. The result, while imperfect, is more satisfying on every level.


Once again, the main theme and opening theme for Onimusha 2 flank this release, though this time in reverse order. The main theme is far more evocative here than it was in its adequate, yet somewhat clichéd and aseptic, original version. The use of a full orchestra makes a big difference and the string players are able to bring so many more nuances to the melody. Furthermore, the arrangement itself is more elaborate this time and features much richer timbres and even some intricate counterpoint. The closing arrangement is much more cohesive and emotive than the disappointing original. Its artistry is limited somewhat by the overactive militaristic strings, but the beautiful soaring strings make up for it. The game's cinematics would have been even more captivating if these versions, rather than merely serviceable background underscore, were used.

Several pieces on the album portray the colourful scenery of traditional Japan. Perhaps most notable of these is the fifth chapter, "Ekei Ankojuki's Theme", which uses sakura scales artfully and integrates some authentic instruments. It's certainly no hybridised symphony comparable to Samuragouchi's work, but it remains a beautiful creation nevertheless. "Truth of Guile" is also a refreshing deviation from the rest of the soundtrack and has a free-spirited anime-inspired feel to it. In complete contrast are the orchestrations used for the warlord Nobunaga Oda and the Genma Lord. The former creates exceptionally eerie and foreboding sounds using a mixture of orchestra performances and sampled elements. The latter meanwhile creates constant uncertainty with its endless string runs and ferocious percussion, though could have been more elaborate.

While most of the album is accomplished, there are some tracks that are bound to be select tastes. Much of "Truth of Resolution" seems to be heavily inspired by Lisa Gerrard's new age work on the Gladiator soundtrack. While the melody is beautiful, its treatment is so derivative that it is uncomfortable. Similarly dubious is the choice to arrange Kotarou's once orchestral theme into an easy listening mix. It doesn't fit the original at all and, while the Asian flute performance is gorgeous, it would have been preferable that it was featured within a more authentic overall arrangement. Still, these criticisms are not severe ones and many will still find these tracks welcome interludes on the soundtrack.


At last the music for Onimusha 2 attains the quality one would expect from such a pioneering series. While not perfect, the album generally features high quality arrangements and recordings, including plenty of beautiful melodies and traditional Japanese touches. It's best to skip the Onimusha 2 Original Soundtrack altogether (and pretend it was some prototype score) in favour of this far superior release.

Overall Score: 8/10