Monday, December 13, 2004

Final Fantasy X-2: International + Last Mission

Credits: 2002 Nobuo Uematsu, Shiro Hamaguchi, Squaresoft, Sony Classical.


FFX2: International + Last Mission
Final Fantasy Games
Strategy Guides and Artbooks
Toys and Figures
Original Soundtrack
Everything Final Fantasy

Track Listing:
  1. Real Emotion/ SWEETBOX
  2. 1,000 WORDS(FF X-2 MIX)/ SWEETBOX
  3. Fumon - Mittsu no Kiseki
  4. Last Mission No.1
  5. Last Mission No.2
  6. Last MissionNo.1
  7. Creature Create
  8. Flash Over
  10. Kimi e/ Yuna (Mayuko Aoki)

Absolutely Divine >>> by skysenshi
You got me. I bought this for the vocal tracks. Though I know that Nobuo Uematsu isn't responsible for the sounds of Final Fantasy X-2, I fell in love with the music anyway. Thank you, Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi. To date, I do believe that 1,000 Words and Real Emotion are among the top of my favorite Final Fantasy theme songs, if not the very first on the list. It's been a year since I've finished FFX-2 and yet I still get last-song syndromes from both Sen no Kotoba (Japanese version) and 1,000 Words.

I know getting Jade of Sweetbox to do the English versions of Real Emotion and 1,000 Words caused quite a stir among fanboys and fangirls, especially to those who would prefer that a J-Pop artist perform them. Koda Kumi, who did the original Japanese versions, did quite an excellent job indeed. I was awed by her vocal prowess, the passion and sentiment she was able to invoke with her performance. Unfortunately, I heard her English versions and the first thing that came to mind was that she must have swum in a pool of sake. (I was silently begging that she stick to singing in Japanese as I listened to her croon, "But you fight your ballals far from me...When I tarn back the pagers." )

I truly believe that Jade's vocals got Yuna's personality down pat in English the way Koda Kumi captured it in Japanese. In Final Fantasy X-2, we have seen Yuna transform from being a goody-two-shoes, who carried the weight of the world on her shoulders, to a woman who is cheerful and fun, while still carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. The emotions all came out in 1,000 Words, this hauntingly beautiful ballad that stays in your head for all time. What struck me most about this English rendition was that it was remarkably translated. I mean, "Suspended on silver wings!" sounds so much better than, "Suspended on shiny wings!" And you can hear none of those "whenever sang my songs...who pinches you softly, but sure" (Eyes on Me, Final Fantasy VIII) nonsense. I mean, really. Imagine yourself getting teary-eyed at some emotionally charged FMV sequence, only to burst into sudden peals of laughter because of a badly translated line. Rest assured, 1,000 Words delivers and Jade delivers it on silver (not shiny) platter.

The difference between the second track and the orchestra version of 1,000 Words is that the second track features a duet between Lenne and Yuna. If you've played the game, you would know this came from a full-motion video sequence where Yuna held a concert to let people hear what the ghost Lenne had been dying to say for over a thousand years. Of course, this is to hear Jade do a vocal duel (of sorts) with herself, which has no less than impressive results. The orchestra version, on the other hand is the final theme. It's longer, more dramatic, and well, characterized by slow, drawn-out accompaniments. You just have to love what they did with the piano and the strings here. Basically, it would be like listening to a Broadway presentation.

The first track, Real Emotion, is an upbeat dance tune that never fails to make you want to gyrate in giddiness. I must admit, this is the first time I heard something this upbeat from any of the Final Fantasy sound collections. Real Emotion is an apt intro, meant to draw you into the game at first glance.

Kimi e, performed by Mayuko Aoki, Yuna's seiyuu, is the only Japanese song in the entire CD. This is Yuna's image song. It's also one of the most haunting songs I have ever heard, and it doesn't sound typical of the ballads released for the Final Fantasy series. Although, whenever I find myself reflecting on the lyrics, I only get frustrated that I didn't achieve the good ending in the game. It's all about Yuna's adventures and her hopes in finding her beloved Tidus someday. Well, my ending dashed all sense of hope found in this song. Heh.

Tracks 3 to 8 are all instrumentals. Of all these instrumental tracks, I'm only fond of Fumon - Mittsu no Kiseki. I don't know why but I find myself imagining that mysterious Macalania Woods. Hearing this would sometimes make you feel melancholy, as if you were walking along the banks of a magical river while contemplating the disappearance of your lover.

The other tracks are a mix of jazz, techno and maybe even blues. You'll be reminded of their ship (Last Mission 1 and 2 and Creature Create) and sometimes even battles with bosses and timed mountain hikes (Last Mission 3 and Flash Over). Think Cowboy Bebop. The only thing I didn't like about some of the instrumental tracks is that many of them get repetitive after quite some time.

Overall, I could say I'm very happy with this album. Not only am I satisfied with the vocal selections, but the bonus artworks that come with the cover are a must-see. You'll also see pictures of the three girls in their not-so-flattering outfits (of all the available dresspheres in the game, why use the White Mage for Paine???) and stunning shots of Lenne and Yuna.

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