Shadow Hearts II Original Soundtracks Liner Notes


Commentary

Hirotomi Imoto - Sound Director

Finally, Shadow Hearts II has been released. Have all of you played it yet? The sound on this album is even more polished than that in the game, providing a higher quality of sound for everyone to enjoy. Please, once while listening, recall the scenes that you have forgotten and the words that even now you cannot forget. The main plot of Shadow Hearts was oppressive and chaotic, without any sense of redemption. But Shadow Hearts II's music is rich with vivid emotion, like a getsuku drama, including a wealth of colors not present in the previous game, such as elegies played on weeping guitar. But beyond any doubt, it is all within the realm of Shadow Hearts.

When I pose the question of what happiness — the game's primary theme — means to the protagonist and the other characters, I believe that the music can provide more of an answer than the words ever could. Shadow Hearts lies in the feelings that the game leaves in everyone's minds. The music was composed rather more freely, and is an excellent collection of pieces, each serving to expand the scope of the now familiar Shadow Hearts world. So much wonderful music, begging for repeated listening apart from the game.

I would like to once again extend my gratitude to the three composers, Mr. Hirota, Mr. Mitsuda, and Mr. Ito, Nautilus's Kobayashi, who wrote some short event themes, all of the staff who practically lived together, sleeping and eating, and everyone who had a hand in the creation of this album. Looking back, the production had its ups and downs, with ideas flying left and right and sudden changes in schedule. The majority of the music used in the thrilling scenes was produced under this truly thrilling schedule, so one could truly say it is like the cries of the composers' souls. But at the same time, for a composer, such moments provide an opportunity to prove one's ability — so that the cries of these moments will reach all of those who sincerely love this work.

Yoshitaka Hirota - Lead Composer

June, 2002 AD. Composition for Shadow Hearts II began in this oppressively overcast season. One after another, the materials I would use for composition arrived, numerous elements comprising an adventure directed by fate, a tragic tale. They were magical, mysterious, warm, cheerful, solemn, and sad. They were all a great inspiration to me.

Just as each of these elements had its own independent, personal nature, I had to allow the music its own independent, personal nature as music. I would say that my method of creation is oriented towards placement of tone colors, but I felt that with this project, I had to create something more dramatic and dynamic, while still following in the footsteps of the original. If this independent sound gives form to the world of Shadow Hearts II, then it can be called successful, and it will be able to leave a lasting impression.

The parts which were improvised were as crucial as those which were written out in score down to the most minute details. From the performers to the engineers, all of those who took part in recording were wonderful alchemists. Truly a powerful display of sorcery.

"Evil Gate Opener" was an acrobatic recording that formed the heart of a jam session, while "Deep in Coma" was written to stimulate the release of adrenaline in the brain. For "Transience" and its scene of utter despair, each and every sound was woven in with care. "The Fate" was inspired by the same idea as its title. I composed these pieces without hesitation, pulled by some magic in the characters' appearances, their spoken words and movements, and their relationships. "The 3 Karma" was a collaboration with my friends, composers for whom I have nothing but respect. Finally, I am fully satisfied with the music for the last scene. Truly, "Getsurenka" was written for this ending, and no other.

All of the music collected here was written in the period from mid-2002 through the end of 2003. In that time, I tried many experiments, and had to bear the weight of many failures. These CDs collect the numerous notes born of this daily struggle which took all of my effort.

The path was twisted, but I am glad that at last this soundtrack can reach you. Please, give yourself over to this music to reunite with the characters of Shadow Hearts II that you love. I am grateful to my friends running alongside me on this untrodden path, and to all of the staff who worked on this project. And to all of you who now hold this soundtrack in your hands, thank you.

Yasunori Mitsuda - Composer

Continuing in my role from the previous Shadow Hearts, I participated as a guest in Shadow Hearts II, composing a total of six pieces. This time, I felt I had to consider to a greater degree how to achieve a balance between Mr. Hirota's intense sound and my own sound. In regards to this question, this is extremely personal, but at the time I had fallen into a slump (as a composer) for over a year, and during that time I felt that I lost my understanding of what music is. I didn't know what kind of music I wanted to write, and my contact with music became overwhelmingly negative. Although I was still in this state as production began, listening to this music by Hirota, who forges his own path confidently, memories of our time together as students came rushing back — the trying and the fun — awakening something in me that I had forgotten. Awakening the refreshing sensation that just like back then, creating music is enjoyable no matter what.

So, as I saw it, before I could think about a balance between our sounds, I had to fight against this slump I was in. I would try to fan this tiny flame inside myself, so that I could find music enjoyable again. This process of throwing away what I've created and re-creating what I had thrown away. The music that I created in this way somehow turned out to be rather simple. I don't know the reason for it myself.

Although I had thought about arranging to suit the Shadow Hearts II worldview that Hirota had drawn up, they told me "we want you to bring out your own flavor in the music." We discussed it, and instead of working towards a unified sound throughout, we decided to create a work that would retain the flavor of each of its composers. Remove the lid and everything here is interesting in its own right, and it's a mystery how the world of Shadow Hearts II managed to remain intact.

Also, it was an inspiration to work with Mr. Ito. I enjoy creating something different with someone new (even though this time I was creating music with friends I know well), so it helped to release me from some of these doubts. It was very important for me to have had the chance to work on this project, and I will be sure to never forget it.

Kenji Ito - Composer

This project was a collection of "firsts" for me. For one, it was my first work on the PlayStation 2. It was my first time collaborating with Mr. Hirota and Mr. Mitsuda. Finally, the music that plays at the game's climax, "The 3 Karma," is my first time composing a piece with two other people. The production was filled with happiness, sadness, and it was always a stimulating environment.

My friends Yoshitaka Hirota and Yasunori Mitsuda composed the music for the first Shadow Hearts, and I remember playing it — the first time I had picked a game up in a while. I was struck by the freshness of its occult worldview and music, and I felt as if I were inside the game's world. I never thought that, years later, I would participate in the sequel. Even though I was happy, I worried that my music wouldn't fit such a worldview. How do you feel it turned out?

Thanks to this project, I have again found my path as a composer. I am grateful to all of the staff at Nautilus, who granted me such an opportunity. And Mr. Hirota, Mr. Mitsuda, it was a pleasure working with you; you both did a great job. Let's make something interesting together again sometime.

Kumiko Hasegawa - Lyricist

She is like the moon. I had been entrusted with the lyrics for the ending, for Karin's theme. When I first heard about Shadow Hearts II's grand scale and story and about this single woman who was at the center of it all, the image of the moon came to me. I am a singer with a unit, Hands two Hands, that plays piano four hands. I use the songs I sing as a member of Hands two Hands to give shape to my own feelings, so this is my first time writing a poem for someone else.

"How can I express Karin's feelings?"

It was my first time trying it out, and I really liked it! Of course, in order to understand Yuri and Alice, I started playing the first Shadow Hearts. So now, I'm good enough at the judgment ring to get perfects quite often (laughs)!

The moon, lighting up the night. Turn around and you will see it quietly looking on. And the same moon is connected with the birth of life [in Japanese culture]. "Because we will meet again." What feelings are hidden by the dark side of the moon? Prayers for a beloved's happiness, a desire to be with Yuki, no matter how long or how far it takes. No, no one could make such a choice!

However quietly, I wanted to put these emotions of an eternally unchanging heart, powerful, deep, and painful, into a song. Because Karin would never go so far as to let these feelings, these words, come from her mouth. So the "ka" in Getsurenka means "flower", but it also means "song". If one were to ask Karin if eternity truly exists, I am sure she would say "yes."

On the night I received the music, a near-full moon rose in the sky. It was beautiful. The letter producer Oikawa sent with the music explaining Karin's feelings was an inspiration to me. I turned off the lights in my room, lit a candle, opened the curtains, and wrote the lyrics while basking in the moonlight. To those who have finished the game and listened to the song, this time you should listen to it in moonlight, shining quietly.

Mio Isayama - Singer

The song I sang, "Getsurenka," is sung by the character Karin. Yet when I first received the music and read the lyrics, I felt something in my chest, thinking "true love isn't when you wish for something from another person, it's when you give through your embrace." Wanting everyone to be moved along with me, I sang from my heart. I will be happy if you listen to this song and remember how moved you were by Shadow Hearts II.

Kunio Iwai - Coordinator

Words are words. Sounds are sounds. Compositions are compositions. And music is music. In Japanese, the word music means "to enjoy sound." You can't deny that. It is entirely correct. "Sound" is comprised of many elements: tone color, pitch, mode, timing of articulation and so forth. It is infinite. And its enjoyment is inexhaustible.

As soon as a sound is released, it dissipates and becomes nothing. The enjoyment comes from an impression that somehow touches the listener. The moment something reaches the listener, it begins to exist as "music." Then it remains in the memory. There is absolutely no force involved. It becomes a part of one's own self. Engaging their imaginations, composers conjure up their own individual worlds. The images a composer paints and those a listener receives are not necessarily the same.

Well then, what about Shadow Hearts II's music? Shadow Hearts has a unique worldview and also a message that we want to convey. At times there were detailed instructions for the music, and at times the composers were free to do what they wanted. This way, we could bring out the nuances that words are unable to convey.

During recording, the performers each found their own points of connection with the material. These times could truly be called blissful. It was exciting for me as a mere bystander, so I am sure that it was even more so for the composers. That the ending song, "Getsurenka," came together so perfectly in its music, lyrics, and singing was truly miraculous. In the midst of our own internal circumstances, in the midst of the limitations that bound us, we resolved never to regret and never to compromise, and that we have seen it through to the end gives me the greatest joy. I am grateful from the bottom of my heart to all of the staff who were involved with this soundtrack's production. They all gave the gift of their efforts to make it something we wouldn't regret. And to all of you who now have this soundtrack, thank you for believing in us.

Asako Oikawa - Producer

People are born into this world to be happy.

Since I was a child I have thought, why are people born? Although I have not really found the answer, I have come, over time, to think that it is "to be happy." After all, people feel differently and think differently, and they value different things, but I don't think that there is anyone who desires to be unhappy.

When production began on Shadow Hearts II, I would never have thought that I would become its producer. During the first game, I was (mainly) doing debugging. Just because I love games so much, I would take the disc home and night after night do debugging. From the stage when the random battle rate was high and just moving Yuri a tiny bit would make the judgment ring appear, I would lose track of time and work until four or five in the morning. At times, I would drift off clutching the controller tightly, and upon waking up, see that the game was frozen in the middle of a cutscene. Wanting to see it, I would return to my last save, and begrudgingly do everything over again. I would give in and do it because Shadow Hearts was just that interesting.

During the production of Shadow Hearts II, I had discussions with the director regarding the ending. It had been decided from a relatively early stage that the game would continue from the first game's bad ending, but the director was unsure of what to do with this game's ending. To me, the only one of Shadow Hearts II's characters who didn't stand out was the heroine, Karin. One day, the director came to ask what I thought of an idea for the ending, and at that moment, Karin began to feel alive to me. From that moment, Karin began to speak to my own feelings.

Kumiko Hasegawa used her own artistic sense to create words: these are the lyrics of "Getsurenka." And these words are Karin's own, those which she could not say to Yuri.

In Shadow Hearts II, we have given expression to one of the things that is necessary for a person's happiness. At the end of the story, all of the characters, even Yuri and Karin, are returning to the place that they want to go. A person's happiness must be decided by that person, and no other. There would be no greater joy for me than for people to receive that message.

It was a stormy production. Even though so often it seemed like these seas would swallow us whole, through force of will the crew of the Nautilus made it through to the end, without giving up. Even when it seemed like the judgment ring would beat us, the staff continued to love and support Shadow Hearts. Your courage and diligence were magnificent. Watching you, I feel that it's too early to give up on this world. You all did wonderfully. This work, which everyone has put their souls into, has become the pride of my life. Thank you.

I would like to take this time at the end to extend my thanks to everyone who helped out on the production of Shadow Hearts II. And to all of the fans who have supported Shadow Hearts, with my gratitude, to accompany your memories of Yuri, Alice, and Karin, I present you with this soundtrack.

Matsuzo Machida - Director

Happiness?

When I was young, I would run around with two of my friends who lived nearby and play with RC cars.
But there were only two of them.

As the poor one, I was the only one without the toy.

My role was to go and fetch the ones that had gotten too far away,
and bring them back within the range of the signal.

I enjoyed going to fetch the cars.
For that brief moment, I could touch the RC car I wanted so badly.

That is the kind of happiness that has stayed with me.

Liner Notes Translated by Ben Schweitzer. Do not republish without written permission.






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