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Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collections :: Review by Dave

These are three vocal collections suffixed the name of a main female character on the Final Fantasy X-2 game. The albums are only short, but it is really the DVD that most fans purchase the album for. Nonetheless, this review will explore the content of the four track disc rather than that of the DVD. The Final Fantasy X-2 Original Soundtrack was an advancement in a number of musical directions for the Final Fantasy series — it wasn't traditional and it certainly wasn't Uematsu-esque. However, it is great music, authentically composed by Eguchi and Matsueda, who are consequently the arrangers of these albums, too.

These three albums each have four tracks each, with the first being an arrangement of their main theme, the second being an original melody, and the last tracks being karaoke versions of them. It has become a custom in video game music for such karaoke tracks to be held on the album, and this really works in bringing in a new genre of video game music lovers. Similarly, variation is a true key for the success of these albums, as it also brings in a lot of different fans who may have not heard video game music before, yet may be compelled to by the jazz styles of the albums here. Despite this though, more effort wouldn't have gone a miss, as four tracks really isn't enough, especially for a mainstream company like Final Fantasy. Nonetheless, the albums are a joy to listen to, with the variations from the original melodies being quite astonishing.

Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Paine

Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Paine Album Title: Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Paine
Record Label: Avex
Catalog No.: AVCD-30485/6 (Copy Protected)
Release Date: July 16, 2003
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan

The Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Paine album contains the tracks "Sleeping Thoughts" and "Misty Eyed," sung by Megumi Toyoguchi as Paine. "Sleeping Thoughts" takes upon a similar style to the Original Soundtrack version, but this time the instrumentation is so much more enhanced, especially with the vocal line replacing the misplaced xylophone line. This gives the original a lot more enrichment, with the extravagance of the rhythm becoming a key feature to the track success. Instrumentation is always important when it comes to a creation of character, and in this case it is even more important, considering that it is meant to represent Paine. The melodies are put forward on a piano in such an original way that it becomes almost mysterious; it isn't the actual melody that does this, but rather the way that it is played. When one listens to the instrumental version, the erratic piano melody can be heard distinctly, with its frequent shock chords and glissandos becoming extremely prominent. Paine's mysterious character is amplified even further in the track through the lyrics — Paine (Megumi Toyoguchi) sings of how her thoughts cannot be told, and how she hopes that the feelings she shuts in will be washed away by time. Paine has a turmoil filled mind, hence the unpredictable melodies used to represent it.

"Misty Eyed" beings with some accidentally 'M rated' lyrics through a poor Japanese to English translation, but apart from that, the rest of the track flows smoothly. This new composition features a completely different atmosphere to "Sleeping Thoughts" — it is so much more ambient and careful. The rhythm is slow and steady, yet without any major development, too, it begins to bore, despite the atmosphere it creates. The track isn't as developed as the likes of "Sleeping Thoughts," and although it does eventually bore, the minimalist approach to the track is extremely effective. The track is similar to Mitsuda's "Radical Dreamers" from the Chrono Cross Original Soundtrack in that sense, as it too is a bare track that puts all of its emphasis on the melody. This type of composition is always heavily criticised, yet most people just don't consider the passion that is created through a simplistic rhythm and gently swaying melody. In comparison to "Sleeping Thoughts" it pales in melodic development, yet it excels in creating an atmosphere. No matter which way you look at each track, they both have their ups and downs, nonetheless though, the flaws of one track are covered by the other one. This makes this album an effective one, providing for the vocally gifted fans, too, with the addition of two karaoke versions as well.

Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Rikku

Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Rikku Album Title: Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Rikku
Record Label: Avex
Catalog No.: AVCD-30483/4 (Copy Protected)
Release Date: July 16, 2003
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan

As with the Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Paine album and Paine's main theme, an arrangement of Rikku's main theme, "Barefoot Miracle," features as the first track on the album. It is no match however; Marika Matsumoto has the least appealing voice I have heard, with it sounding quite cute, but horrible out of tune and annoying. Her harsh voice destroys the track straight off, but I have to admit, I really can imagine her as Rikku. The most inappropriate part of the track is that Rikku starts to rap, and although this is cultural, the lyrics that make it totally unbecoming — "You run off quickly, barefoot, let's fly to the destination on the map!" After listening to the wonderful arrangement of "Paine's Theme" this track was extremely dissapointing. The instrumentation is the same as in the original, but this proves to be the only selection possible that can provide such flair. The brass part is very Ska-like, with its short inputs joking with the drum beat line. After all, this is a jolly track, with the lyrics showing Rikku's cheeky yet immature side; at one point she says "That's right; you're too dense, aren't you. You haven't noticed, right?" which adds a bit of life into the failing track. All in all, this is a bad track, and perhaps it should have been thought out a bit more. The instrumental version is slightly better though, with the absence of the singer being a true blessing.

The next track is a lot more emotional than "Barefoot Miracle," and it proves to be a good new composition, too. The start of "Without You" is gentle and innocent, with Rikku talking of a past love. However, the track comes to life pretty soon through means of a guitar and piano section. From here, the track takes a more synthesised approach, and with this being Matsueda and Eguchi's preferred styles, they let it ring to precision. The best bit of the track comes towards at 3:45, where a dramatic electric guitar solo leads out the track with all it has, but this though is the fatal flaw of the track, as it comes too late. The track takes far long to throw in any inspirational usage of the instrumentation, so it just seems like a cheesy pop song throughout. Nonetheless, a fatal flaw isn't always album threatening, as although disappointingly undeveloped in the timbre, the track certainly stands tall against its counterpart on the album. In comparing the two, the most notable difference is the sophistication of "Without You" and the simplicity of "Barefoot Miracle." Immediately, one can deduce that the album therefore provides for two types of fans — ones who adore minimalism, and ones who yearn for action — thus making it an effective and well planned out one, too. Overall, the first track is disappointingly awful but it is made up for with the inclusion of "Without You." This is the worst of the three vocal albums.

Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Yuna

Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Yuna Album Title: Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Yuna
Record Label: Avex
Catalog No.: AVCD-30481/2 (Copy Protected)
Release Date: July 16, 2003
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan

Yuna's vocal collection is the best and last album. An exquisitely passionate piano part brings us to the gorgeous voice of Mayuko Aoki. "To You" is the only original track from the Original Soundtrack that is completely transformed — with the Original Soundtrack version being a jazz masterpiece, and this one being a passionate epic. The best thing about this arrangement is that Matsueda and Eguchi only take the melody from the original track, and hence, they put a full emphasis on it here. The melody is sung in a beautifully melancholic way towards the start, and this, along with the piano and echoing 'cello part, creates such a heavenly atmosphere. Not only does this reflect upon the angelic nature of Yuna, but it provides the album with an impressive start. This track contains so much development; the melody is extended past the limits of the Original Soundtrack version through use of the Misumi choir. Misumi sing along with Aoki to enhance the depth of feeling in the track on the most passionate part of the lyrics, which give an impression of love and support. With no discredit to "Sleeping Thoughts" or "Barefoot Miracle," this track is the only one of the main themes that sounds better than its accompanying instrumental version. Aoki is definitely the best singer of the three, as she is the only one who truly reaches each note perfectly. En masse, this is a great track; the instrumentation, the vocalist, and the development are just perfect.

The second track, "Morning Glow," is an arrangement of "Eternity ~Memory of the Lightwaves~" from the Original Soundtrack. With the original melody being a piano solo, this track is a complete make over that lasts twice as long; the instrumentation is completely changed, as the piano is removed and a guitar is put in its place. This new instrumentation adds variety, but it also adds a more pop-orientated feel to the track as well, which is really ideal for the track. Mayuko Aoki comes in with the main melody at the 1:02 mark, and strangely enough she sings it with such delicacy that it is almost surprising. She keeps the vocal line as a quaint melody rather than a passionate roaring of notes, and this, amongst other things (such as her note decorations) adds to the beauty of the track. "To You" is preferred by most, with few realising that this track is completely transformed from its original, just as much. However, when one actually does realise this, everything just becomes so much more magical and profound. The new, enhanced timbre is even more pleasing than in the original, so, effectively this track moves from just being any old piano track to live as a passionate epic, instead. On the whole, both tracks are absolutely brilliant, and they really do the character of Yuna justice. There isn't a single flaw on this album, and it is the most worthwhile purchase of the three.


Each album flawlessly represents its character — Paine is as mysterious as in the game, Yuna seems to be as emotional as ever, and Rikku is just as childish as expected — so in this respect, the albums are a success. However, as always, there is a lot more to consider, and in this case, the main fundamental here is how these representations come about. Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Paine takes a steadier, more lateral approach to creating Paine as a mysterious character. Although this doesn't seem at first effective, listening to the lyrics can instantly change any presumptuous opinions. Matsueda and Eguchi take a different approach with Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Rikku, as this time, they show Rikku's playful character through the rhythm and pace of the track. Erratic melodies and seemingly random beats accurately portray her as being a loose cannon, and then there is the vocalist, who is seemingly immature at heart, too. Finally, Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Yuna's depiction of Yuna is just as accurate as the game itself. It takes a sophisticated approach through its instrumentation, and with delicate piano runs and thrilling ambience, this proves to be the best technique.

However, as good as that may seem, there are flaws along the way. The most problematic album is Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Rikku, which features the most annoying singer possible, and as cute as she may sound, she isn't appropriate at all. The album is spoiled through her wailing, and honestly, this might not have been her fault, either. A guess to why somebody would sing like this is that the composers wanted her to place that effect upon the album. Either way, it was a bad decision, as Rikku's album becomes unbearable due to it. Nonetheless, this is the collections' only major flaw, and on a wider perspective, one can just see how worthwhile the albums are. The most rewarding part are the DVD's (something I suggest watching) which are an added bonus to the wonderful themes. I suggest you buy these albums, with Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection Yuna certainly being a priority.

Overall Score: 6/10