Super Robot Taisen Z Original Soundtrack
|Release type||Game Soundtrack - Official Release|
|Release date||December 10, 2008|
Super Robot Taisen Z is the latest title in the ongoing Super Robot Taisen series. Like other soundtracks in the series, there is a bunch of anime theme song arrangements at the start of the album, which are rather diverse in style and mood. The meat of the album are the original compositions, however, composed by Takuya Hanaoka's Salamander Factory and a variety of others. How does it fare compared to earlier entries in the series?
In the tradition of Super Robot Taisen soundtracks, the first two discs of the album are dedicated to anime theme songs. There are quite a few anime staples here, but not all of them are particularly enjoyable for me. In particular, the more jazzy selections such as "Mazinger Z" and "Now Go! Robot Army" seem a little lacking in terms of overall direction. Space Emperor God Sigma's "Sigma Breast," although jazz influenced at times, is a bit more engaging, due to the menacing nature of the arrangement; the orchestral accents and the piano help define the piece. "Hurricane Xabungle", a rock theme, is pretty fun. There is definitely a hint of playfulness and the brass accompaniment is pretty decent. It's not as good as some of the rock themes on Super Robot Taisen OG though.
In addition to the typical theme song arrangements, there are some softer additions. Super Dimension Century Orguss' "Adrift ~ Sky Hurricane" has a very balladic atmosphere to it. I think the melody is pretty decent, and the rock elements are nice, even if the drum pad sounds very simplistic. The classically-oriented section in the middle comes out of nowhere and is a pleasant surprise. "Marin - The Journey of My Life" by the late Kentaro Haneda is also one of the truly enjoyable additions to the soundtrack. The accompaniment is marvelously harmonized with the melody to give a smoky atmosphere. The final result is just a very touching theme. Yoko Kanno's "Lunar Cocoon" from Turn A Gundam is an especially ethereal theme and a change of pace for a lot of the soundtrack. The vocal work is just so beautiful, as is the woodwind work, and the percussion accompaniment adds a bit of "epic" flavor to the mix.
Rounding off the theme song arrangements are some more orchestral themes. "Main Title" from Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack demonstrates how anime composers back in the day were great melodists. The melody is pretty engaging and adds a bit of heroism, despite the sorely lacking accompaniment. "The Great" meanwhile reminds me a lot like those found in Super Robot Taisen OG. There is definitely a sense of menace here, but the orchestral work, in particular the melody, is rather forgettable. To finish off the second disc, "Heaven's Gate" is a very dark orchestral theme that manages to impress. The angelic choral work, the sinister organ work, and the sweeping orchestral accompaniment creates a very intriguing atmosphere and one that manages to work in the long run.
Moving to the original compositions, "Into a World of Chaos" is definitely an intriguing theme. When it starts, it's a very dark, orchestral theme that really doesn't manage to grab my attention; however, as it progresses, if you can make it that far, it turns into an upbeat orchestral theme with some electronic beat accompaniment. It's still not the best theme, but still quite surprising. "Code SRW" is another orchestral theme with a great melody, contrasting the overall militaristic focus with some more poignant and sweeping moments. Quite heroic! "As If the Grace of the War God" is another action-oriented orchestral theme. The melody is pretty decent and the accompaniment carries a militaristic nature with it. Overall, it's a theme that has its ups and downs but it's definitely a great improvement over those heard in Super Robot Taisen OG.
Moving on to some mainstream-targeted selections, "Battle Choir" is a synth rock piece that has a pretty nice melody. While short, it manages to maintain a strong presence throughout its duration. "Warped Puzzle" is a fusion theme combines some electronic, rock, and orchestral elements for an overall positive outcome. The rock is extremely powerful and the electronic elements really help give it a "warped" sound, but the orchestral sections could have been taken out. Among the more climactic entries, "Black Stranger" is definitely a highlight of the album for it. It's another speed metal accompanied theme, but the synth melody is both heroic and a ton of fun. It just features such a great energy! Another stand out theme is "The Allure of Wickedness." I love how it combines rock, some nice electronic beats, with some funky brass. The melody has this smokiness about it and overall, it's a great combination. It makes me want to dance in my chair!
Several compositions on the soundtrack are composed by Koji Hayama. I wasn't aware of his involvement on this soundtrack on first listen, but when I first heard "Land Crasher", he was the first person that came to mind and, indeed, the song was later commemorated in his theme song album. Those who have followed his works in the past know what to expect: a great rockin' theme with an awesome melody. The vocal additions seem to reflect his attitude and the synth elements are a particularly nice touch as well. Also by Hayama, "Pain" focuses a lot on synth and has a touch of sadness to it, but at the same time, a bit of exuberance. It's an interesting blend, but one that doesn't really live up to its full potential. Note that there are also two theme song performances by JAM Project, but they're shortened from the full versions featured in the single.
Capturing the more personal element of the game, "Rain & Tear" is an extremely touching theme. The focus on piano, combined with the ethereal synth accompaniment is a pleasant one and really manages to create a beautiful atmosphere. "Dance of the Clowns" manages to stand out for being interesting, but that's about it. It combines some quirky elements with a dark and foreboding orchestral theme with some ethnic flourishes. "Man Will Carry On Living" is a bouncy strings and woodwind-led piece with a pretty nice melody. Finally, to end the soundtrack, "And Still Man Will Carry On Living," a slower, more peaceful rendition of the earlier theme with a similar name, features an absolutely stunning melody. I love how the strings and piano convey such a touching atmosphere. Overall, it is a fabulous way to end the soundtrack.
Although the album gets off to a slow start with its stereotypical theme song renditions, those who wait will be rewarded with the orgiinal compositions and a few exceptional arrangements. Although not as good as Super Robot Taisen OG Original Generations soundtrack, it manages to create its own set of sounds. At times, the brass is more jazz oriented and overall, the orchestral themes are an improvement over the original. If you are a fan of the series' music and have played this game, why not pick up the original soundtrack? You'll probably enjoy it. As for me, I had mixed feelings, but did leave satisfied.