Rurouni Kenshin, like most other well-recognized anime, had an RPG released as a related installment on PlayStation. This is the soundtrack for said game.
In its advertisement, from many years past, it seemed that the game's opening and ending themes were the "attractions" used to sell the album. There's a good reason for that: the in-game BGM is pretty bland. No, wait: it's really super-bland.
The mediocre synth is used in two prominent ways on this album. One is to create a traditional orchestral sound, with a particular emphasis on strings. The other is found whenever you hear any instrument that is classified as a traditional Asian instrument. Certain wind instruments (particular types of flutes) and string instruments (sitar and all its relatives) appear frequently in a synthesized format.
But there is a bright spot: the last ten tracks get continually better. There is a stronger emphasis on melody, and the production quality increases as well. The happy-Western-ending music of track 34 brought a smile to my face, as did its slower counterpart (the following track). It was definitely reminiscent of the great Michiko Naruke's work in Wild Arms.
The ending theme makes use of a higher quality synth module, and also includes some live instruments, such as an electric guitar solo. This song isn't half-bad.
The vocal tracks are good, for what they attempt to be. They don't seek to place the bar too high, so they are "average" songs, but there is plenty of good stuff to get from them. I was particularly impressed by Eri Kawai's performance of the ending vocal piece.
So, up until around...track 30, I'd say that the album is a waste of space. We're looking mostly at filler music. But then, in the last few songs, things start to get better. If only they had been able to uphold the music quality from beginning to end.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann