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Way of the Samurai 2 Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Way of the Samurai 2 Original Soundtrack Album Title: Way of the Samurai 2 Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Aniplex
Catalog No.: SVWC-7179
Release Date: October 22, 2003
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Way of the Samurai 2 built on the foundations of its predecessor in a number of ways. For the score, composer Noriyuki Asakura offered a greater quantity of music, all created in an intense pan-Asian style. The exuberantly presented soundtrack release is a worthwhile listen for fans of his music and even more recommended than its predecessor.


Asakura improves on the original Way of the Samurai soundtrack in a number of ways on the sequel. This is instantly evident from the arrangement of the opening theme on "This Life -Land of Chance Meetings-". Like the original, there are major contrasts between uplifting scenic passages featuring Tomoko Shibata's gorgeous soprano voice and action-packed segments dominated by gritty guitar work. However, this time the effect is striking without being alienating, in part because there are several recurring elements to unite the theme. Furthermore, Asakura builds upon each of the elements he introduces here, ensuring the track comes together as a rich and cohesive whole. It's a stunning work both in the context of the visuals or, better still, as a stand-alone listen.

It is the action themes that are the most impacting on the soundtrack. On "Conflicting Emotions", Asakura goes all out to offer something giant and brutal. Expect loud and distorted riffs and solos from an electric guitar, the unrestrained cries of chanting vocals and overblown flutes, heavy relentless polyrhythms from drum kit and traditional percussion alike, and so much more... The final result is simple rhythmical and timbral bliss — there's a good chance it will blow listeners away, especially when heard at full volume on a surround sound system. The other great jam of the soundtrack, "Desire and No Desire, Escape and No Escape", is spectacular for a somewhat different reason — the way it builds up, rather than sustains, so much conflicted emotion.

There are a few tracks on Way of the Samurai 2 that stand out as particularly unusual. "Walking About" is actually composed by Asakura's assistant at Mega-Alpha, Kentaro!, and asserts a subtly different flavour with its groovy rhythms and Indian instrumentation. Other new flavours are introduced in tracks like "From the Abyss" and "The Scheme", which are somewhat reminiscent of the dark cinematic underscoring of Hollywood movies. Never one to be derivative, however, Asakura ensures these tracks are still dense and individualistic. The latter is especially awe-inspiring with its aleatoric interjections, leading to one earth-shattering boom.

The soundtrack for Way of the Samurai 2 definitely seems to take listeners on a greater journey than the original. This is largely because there are more links between individual pieces, for instance with the "Between Heaven and Earth" pieces, and there is a little more focus than last time. The soundtrack still retains its wild and unpredictable edge, as anyone listening to themes such as "Reality and Illusions" and "Quiet Agony" will testify. However, everything seems to fit into place to create a collective whole. By the end of the experience, with the gorgeous ending theme "Connected Soul, Separated Soul", listeners will have came out of the other side of the intense experience feeling somehow enlightened and elated.


The soundtrack release for Way of the Samurai 2 is more expansive than its predecessor, yet also more focused. As a result, it is a much more fulfilling overall listen, while still featuring numerous breathtaking individual tracks. The soundtrack is one of Noriyuki Asakura's finest works and is highly recommended for fans of his pan-Asian style. Let's hope that Way of the Samurai 3 will also receive the soundtrack release it deserves in the near future.

Overall Score: 9/10