Virtua Fighter 2 Dancing Shadows is a vocal album inspired by the characters of Virtua Fighter 2. Takenobu Mitsuyoshi returns as the vocalist of the album, but did not have a direct hand in writing the songs this time. Instead Sega outsourced the composition, arrangement, lyrics, and even some of the vocals for this album to J-Pop producers. The result is mostly uninspiring.
The album's title track certainly will disappoint those expecting more like Virtua Fighter Image Album Neo Rising. This track isn't composed, arranged, or even sung by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi; instead it's a light J-Rock sung by a female vocalist. While the gender of the vocalist fits the character of Sarah, her vocals lack energy and suffer intonation problems. The instrumental sections fail to salvage the song, mainly comprising generic guitar riffs and the occasional music-by-numbers solo. It's not completely awful, but certainly not special or worthwhile in any way.
Despite the use of two other vocalists, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi's vocals do appear in the majority of the pieces on the album. His vocals quite charismatic as usual, whether he's interpreting anthems such as "Believe in Love", or ballads such as "Go Beyond That Wave"; he brings emotion and courage to every note, while retaining his characteristic Engrish pronunciation. Nevertheless, the compositions he interprets usually lack the memorable melodies or novel stylings to appeal. They just feel like tacky subpar 90s pop songs interpreted by an unusual vocalist.
That said, there are a couple of songs that I enjoy on the album. "Golden Rain" provides a multifaceted portrayal of Lau, featuring a mixture of more upbeat and sensitive sections; it's refreshing that at least some of the compositions have a degree of depth to them. Akira's "Summer Tempest" has also been a long favourite of my mine, if only for its sheer catchiness. The rocking chorus passage from 0:54 is especially enjoyable and tempts me to sing along every time. All those wild synth arpeggios nicely top off the composition.
Whereas Virtua Fighter's vocal album was controversial yet spectacular, this album is simply conventional yet mundane. With the exception of two or three songs, everything else here resembles a manufactured type of J-Pop that grew unpopular quite a while. Besides, anything remotely worthwhile on here has since been recycled on the From Low 2 Low Too album, making this a redundant purchase anyway.