Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Original Soundtrack

Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Original Soundtrack. . Click to zoom.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Original Soundtrack
Composed by hitomi / Kenichi Tsuchiya / Masaki Kurokawa / Shoji Meguro / Toshiko Tasaki
Arranged by Atsushi Kitajoh / Ryota Koduka / Toshiki Konishi
Published by King Records
Catalog number KICA-1507~12
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Format 6 CD
Release date April 27, 2011
Genres
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Overview

Persona 2 actually comprises two chapters, the Japan-only game Persona 2: Innocent Sin and the worldwide sequel Persona 2: Eternal Punishmment. Innocent Sin made quite a few changes to ensure that the series appealed to a wider audience and some of these affected the music. The soundtrack features a rather different cast; heavyweights Hidehito Aoki and Shoji Meguro are nowhere to be found, leaving Toshiko Tasaki, Masaki Kurokawa, and Kenichi Tsuchiya to create a 104 track score. The result is diverse, accessible, and effective in the game, though doesn't quite have the same character or refinement as its predecessor.

Body

"Opening" is a multi-tiered composition that instantly establishes the moody feel of the game. Opened with a short piano and chorus introduction, most of the work is dominated by the piano transcription of Schubert's Schwanengesang Der Doppelganger. While it's dubious that the team weren't able to compose an original melody, the well-selected composition creates so much atmosphere with its solemn romantic chords. After a short rendition, the composition takes an unexpected transformation into a pumping orchestral-rock anthem reminiscent of those of Persona. Although it's a shame the composition doesn't expand beyond the three minute mark, the individual selections are all well done. Much of the rest of the soundtrack reflects the relatively youthful feel of the game. "Main Theme A" and "Main Theme B" are melodically continuous themes that seem ideal for representing simple and uplifting high school days. "Seven Sisters High School A" is a softer theme featuring soothing piano melodies and acoustic guitar arpeggios, setting the precedent for similar themes in the anime adaptation. The B version is considerably darker, with warped synth and minimalistic piano, to reflect the change in context. Other themes such as "Kusogaayama High School" reemphasise the high school feel and could easily fit in a dating simulator.

The stylistic influences for the soundtrack generally seem different from Persona's. For example, even interestingly titled setting themes like "Time Castle" sound like generic RPG town themes; the core of the theme features light-hearted flute melodies against plodding accompaniment, though there are at times some jazzy and abstract piano improvisation later in the piece. Ambient contributions such as "Tension", "Big Trouble", and "Premonition" lack the individual character of those of Persona; though these tracks are tolerable in cinematic sequences, they are very sparse and repetitive assemblies of motifs on a stand-alone level. There are also an abundance of catchy and gimmicky jingles such as "Comical Line", "Jolly Roger", "Riding a Vehicle", and "Peace Diner" that are potentially overwhelming in bulk. Nonetheless, there are a few surprising stylistic threads too. For example, "Crazy Party" raises spirits high with club beats and chanting, the Giga Macho themes introduce some hip-hop to the soundtrack, and "Ramen Shiraishi" is one of several themes with a cartoony samurai feel. The latter influence culminates in "Persona Ondo", a marching song featuring a ridiculous male lead. Though I am anything but a fan, some will find it an enjoyable way to lead out the soundtrack.

Despite the youthful direction, there will be some familiar styles and themes for fans of earlier Megaten games. "Gold" is especially welcome since, like Persona's futuristic themes, it hybridises electronic and other stylistic threads to create a breathtaking sound. "Underground Shelter" seems to homage Hidehito Aoki with its blend of faint instrumentation and sound effects, whereas "Sumaru City" is a very relaxing and catchy with its blend of organic and electronic elements. Other favourites include the impressionistic "Iwado Mountain", bubbly "London House", daydreamy "Aoba Park", and climactic "Abandoned Factory". Some of the jazzy themes are pretty well done too, such as "Casino - Mu Continent" with its blaring trumpets, "Rosa Candida - Rengedai Store" with its laidback approach, or the short reprise of the hyper-catchy "Kuzunoha Detective Office" from the Devil Summoner series. "Velvet Room" makes a return from Persona, but is a considerable regression; it focuses on just piano and voice, lacks the development of the original, and has a slightly cheesy pop flavour. At least the rendition in "Shrine of Taurus" is more interesting. Satomi Tadashi's light-hearted pharmacy theme also returns in numerous incarnations, whether in anime-inspired, piano-based, chiptune, bossa-nova, or hip-hop styles. They're a select taste, but add some quirk to the soundtrack regardless.

Some of the biggest highlights of the soundtrack are the various character themes. "Hero's Theme" is certainly exciting with its overdriven guitar improvisations and rocking rhythms, though suffers from harmonic sterility and balance issues. Others are stereotyped but more effective. "Kurosu's Theme", for example, wins listeners hearts with its wistful melodies and acoustic guitar backing before adding more depth with some choral chants. Returnee Philemon is portrayed with a suitably mysterious theme with a fine melody. "Yukino's Theme" seems inferior to its Persona predecessor, but at least continuous with the high school theme. Other enjoyable entries include the sugary "Maya's Theme" and oriental "Ginko's Theme". There are also sad variations on most of the character themes that will be simplistic to some, emotional to others. Most effectively, Eikichi is portrayed in both present day extroverted and retrospective introverted arrangements. The antagonist, the Joker, is given one of the few two-dimensional representations on the album. The synth vocal focus is naturally haunting while a range of fluid forces such as harps give a sense of sneekiness and deception. It's hardly spectacular on a stand-alone basis, but works very well in the game.

There are naturally a range of action themes to round off the soundtrack. The main battle theme is a little better than its predecessor. It's quite heavy-handed with a blend of orch hit melodies, electronic overtones, and guitar riffs, but at least has a few hooks. In series' tradition, the "Boss Theme" opens with clamorous orch hits before entering an electronic section with rave qualities. It is complemented by a few other boss battle themes, such as the much lighter funk-based "Foolish Boss". "Time Count" is a hurry theme with driving electronic pulses and extravagant piano improvisation — it's far more successful than most RPG themes both in context and for stand-alone context. "Holy Spear Knights" is perhaps the most enjoyable, however, since it's a very tongue-in-cheek take on the typical bombastic orchestra and battle themes. The soundtrack once again ends on a fairly derivative note. The "Final Boss Theme" seems to hybridise influences from the final battle themes to Resident Evil 2 and Final Fantasy VIII, but the superficial warped beats and occasional chants aren't really enough to give it an identity of its own. The soundtrack is rounded off decently with another Schubert reprise on "Death Scene", a techno-orchestral action theme "Last Battalion", and the ending pop theme "Joker".

Summary

Persona 2: Innocent Sin is an impressive soundtrack if it is approached like a stereotypical RPG score. The cyberpunk electronica or romantic orchestrations of Persona are mostly gone in favour of numerous stylistic derivations and a lighter youthful approach. This is a pity, but possibly fits the game more or appeals to a wider audience. Nonetheless, the Persona feel is kept alive with the characteristic instrumentation use or stylistic and thematic references of many themes. The soundtrack crams 104 themes into two discs, many of which are sloppy or superficial, though there are fortunately relatively few short cinematic tracks in the release. Given it is so expansive and diverse, there is bound to be plenty for people to like, though it is a potentially bumpy ride.



Album
7/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Chris Greening

Overview

In 2011, Atlus decided to remake Persona 2: Innocent Sin for the PSP following the solid reception of its predecessor. The developers nevertheless felt concerned by the savage reception to Persona's PSP soundtrack in Japan, which transformed a once deep electro-acoustic experience into a modern pop-flavoured one. As a result, Atlus' sound team were asked to largely take an orthodox approach when adapting the music for Persona 2: Innocent Sin — they offered new samples, thicker harmonies, and elaborate developments, but few unrecognisable transformations. What's more, the more nostalgic listeners had the option of selecting the PlayStation soundtrack, rather than the remixed soundtrack, play during gameplay. The game was given a lavish six disc soundtrack release, featuring a reprint of the two disc soundtrack for the PlayStation version and four discs dedicated to the PSP version.

Body

In the PlayStation version, "Opening" is a multi-tiered composition that instantly establishes the moody feel of the game. Most of the work is peculiarly dominated by the piano transcription of Schubert's Schwanengesang Der Doppelganger, which creates so much atmosphere with its solemn romantic chords. After a short rendition, the composition takes an unexpected transformation into a pumping orchestral-rock anthem reminiscent of those of Persona. The PSP version completely replaces this muddled track with two new pieces. "unbreakable tie" is a contemporary pop song created by series composer and game director Shoji Meguro. The track seems to incorporate just about all the stylistic features from Persona's latest songs at some point: hard rock riffs and electronic riffs, motivating choruses featuring an angelic vocalist, fast-paced rap sections full of ridiculous bravado, and even a balladic piano-based outro. While it's all over the place, it's certain to be a hit with the series' modern listeners. In contrast, the title theme is an instrumental composition by Ryota Kozuka filled with brooding piano lines and dark ambient overtones. It's much closer to the established style of the Megami Tensei series.

Much of the rest of the soundtrack reflects the relatively youthful feel of the game. Courtesy of hitomi, "Main Theme A" and "Main Theme B" are melodically continuous themes that seem ideal for representing simple and uplifting high school days. The PSP versions stick closely to their originals, but incorporate enhanced samples and thicker harmonies to inspire the desired emotions. In that sense, they provide the ideal mix of old and new that so many updated soundtracks get wrong. "Seven Sisters High School A" is a softer theme featuring soothing piano melodies and acoustic guitar arpeggios, setting the precedent for similar themes in the anime adaptation. Ryota Kozuka's interpretation puts the emphasis in all the right places and the way the piano lines are overlaid at 0:23 is especially beautiful. To reflect the change in context, the B version is considerably darker and the warped synth parts are particularly fascinating in the updated score. The remake score also includes a few brand new compositions, such as "Karukosaka High School" and "Saint Hermelin High", that combine the youthful flavour of the rest of the score with modern jazz and techno stylings. The climax of the former is especially impressive.

The stylistic influences for the PlayStation soundtrack generally seem different from Persona's. For example, even interestingly titled setting themes like "Time Castle" sound like generic RPG town themes; the core of the theme features light-hearted flute melodies against plodding accompaniment, though there are at times some jazzy and abstract piano improvisation later in the piece. The PSP version goes some way to redeeming this, with Atsushi Kitajoh making the track more stylish with its bold saxophone parts and lounge-inspired backing. Ambient contributions such as "Tension", "Big Trouble", and "Premonition" lack the individual character of those of Persona; though these tracks are tolerable in cinematic sequences, they are very sparse and repetitive assemblies of motifs on a stand-alone level. The big difference in the PSP version are that the samples are enhanced, though the arrangers otherwise felt limited in their options and failed to create anything as remarkable as the original title theme. There are also an abundance of catchy and gimmicky jingles such as "Comical Line", "Jolly Roger", "Riding a Vehicle", and "Peace Diner" that are potentially overwhelming in bulk on both versions.

Despite the youthful direction, there will be some familiar styles and themes for fans of earlier Megaten games. "Gold" is especially welcome since, like Persona's futuristic themes, it hybridises electronic and other stylistic threads to create a breathtaking sound. "Underground Shelter" seems to homage Hidehito Aoki with its blend of faint instrumentation and sound effects, whereas "Sumaru City" is a very relaxing and catchy with its blend of organic and electronic elements. The PSP versions are certainly the definitive versions of such tracks, given it's exactly this type of groovy electro-acoustic soundscaping that Atlus' current sound team specialise in. They don't transform the originals in any way, but simply flesh out the pieces with new parts and samples. Other favourites such as the impressionistic "Iwado Mountain", bubbly "London House", and daydreamy "Aoba Park sound even better than ever. Relieved of a two disc presentation, finally receive the loops they deserve on the four disc PSP soundtrack. Unfortunately, "Abandoned Factory" is omitted from the remake soundtrack and is exclusive to the promotional album, but the cool techno loops in the exclusive "Quest Make" partly make up for it.

Some of the jazzy themes are pretty well done too. For example, "Casino - Mu Continent" delights with its blaring trumpets, "Rosa Candida - Rengedai Store" sounds particularly laidback with its new samples, and the hyper-catchy "Kuzunoha Detective Office" from the Devil Summoner series makes a welcome couple of appearances. "Velvet Room" makes a return from Persona, but it is a considerable regression in the original version; it focuses on just piano and voice, lacks the development of the original, and has a slightly cheesy pop flavour. The PSP version, on the other hand, rehashes the familiar but excellent arrangement from Persona 3. At least the rendition in "Shrine of Taurus" is more interesting. Satomi Tadashi's light-hearted pharmacy theme also returns in numerous incarnations, whether in anime-inspired, piano-based, chiptune, bossa-nova, or hip-hop styles. They're a select taste, but add some quirk to the soundtrack regardless. Among other more quirky additions, "Ramen Shiraishi" is one of several themes with a cartoony samurai feel and the Giga Macho themes introduce some hip-hop to the soundtrack. Kozuka put particular effort into ensuring the latter arrangements worked on the PSP.

Some of the biggest highlights of the soundtrack are the various character themes. "Hero's Theme" is certainly exciting with its overdriven guitar improvisations and rocking rhythms in the remake, though suffers from harmonic sterility and balance issues in the original release. Others are stereotyped but more effective. Both versions of "Kurosu's Theme", for example, win listeners' hearts with their wistful melodies and acoustic guitar backing before adding more depth with some choral chants. Among other highlights, returnee Philemon is portrayed with a suitably mysterious theme with a fine melody, while "Ginko's Theme" blends traditional Japanese instruments with pop beats to wonderful effect. There are also sad variations on most of the character themes that will be simplistic to some, emotional to others. Most effectively, Eikichi is portrayed in both present day extroverted and retrospective introverted arrangements. The antagonist, the Joker, is given one of the few two-dimensional representations on the album. A range of fluid forces such as harps give a sense of sneekiness and deception, while the synth chorus is even more haunting than before on the PSP.

There are naturally a range of action themes to round off the soundtrack. The main battle theme is quite heavy-handed with a blend of orch hit melodies, electronic overtones, and guitar riffs, but at least has a few hooks. The PSP version is certainly an improvement with its wailing guitar parts and more pronounced development, though Toshiki Konishi probably should have gone even further. The arranger enhances the once clamorous "Boss Theme", changing a one minute disappointment into a four minute standout filled with modern electronic beats and extended guitar solos. There are also a couple of new action tracks added for the Climax Theater mode, a rock-flavoured battle theme and a electrifying boss theme, both of which are stunning texturally and rhythmically. "Final Boss Theme" aspires to be an epic orchestra and chorus theme, though only the PSP version has the balanced orchestration and stunning samples needed to nail it. The soundtrack is rounded off decently with another Schubert reprise on "Death Scene" and two vocal themes by hitomi, the upbeat children's song "Joker" and surprisingly impressive ballad "Next to You". The PSP version also features an emotional orchestration of the main theme by Shoji Meguro.

Summary

Atlus took the right approach when handling the soundtrack for Persona 2: Innocent Sin. They gave listeners the opportunity to choose which soundtrack they wanted — the original PlayStation version or the remixed PSP version — in both the game and the album release. The PlayStation soundtrack is a solid conventional RPG score, but lacks the creativity or consistency of its predecessor. The PSP version somewhat redeems this with more contemporary touches and enhanced samples, while ensuring the melodies are intact and the emotions still flow. Occasionally some themes aren't remixed enough, but this is better than divisive transformations. Though its interesting to hear the origins of Persona 2: Innocent Sin's music, the highlight of the set is the four disc presentation of the musically and technically superior PSP score. Bring on a similar treatment for Persona 2: Eternal Punishment!



Album
8/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Chris Greening

30.04.12
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