The soundtrack to an almost unreasonably fun video game, Katamari Fortissimo Damacy is one of the most varied soundtracks I’ve ever heard to any multimedia entity, and it’s also one of the few soundtracks consisting of the works of multiple artists that I’ve ever heard rise to this level.
To give just a little bit of background on the game itself, Katamari Damacy is a Japanese import from Namco, the folks who brought us Pac-Man, Dig Dug and other almost illegally addictive video games down through the ages. You control a diminutive Prince, whose father, the King of All Cosmos, has apparently obliterated all the stars in the sky. You’re sent on a mission to create “katamari” – balls of objects all rolled up into a big clump. In the early stages of the game, you pick up pencils and paper clips and other small objects, but if you’re good enough you can eventually roll your katamari over entire oceans, picking up giant squids and islands. Nothing is safe. Everything can be accumulated. But if you try to pick up something that your katamari simply doesn’t have the mass and momentum to accumulate, you’ll either dislodge a few precious items from it – or lose it altogether. The object is to grow the katamari big enough to launch it into the night sky as a new star.
This zany, cartoony fun takes place against the backdrop of some simply wonderful music, making the package even better. (I highly recommend the game too – unsure of whether or not anyone outside of the Far East would “get it,” Namco dumped this game in the U.S. at a budget price of $20 and it promptly sold out its first print run just on word of mouth alone.) The music is whimsical, light-hearted, and has a great energy to it. Few CDs have made me smile as much while listening as this one does on a regular basis.
Yu Miyake’s “Katamari On The Rock” serves as a recurring motif throughout the various songs, and it’s as versatile a tune as you could ask for. Not every song features that element, though. Highlights range from the J-pop stylings of “Lonely Rolling Star”, “You Are Smart” and “The Moon And The Prince”, to the almost Sinatra-esque “Que Sera Sera”, to the New York jazz-flavored “A Crimson Rose And A Gin & Tonic”, to the meandering remixed guitar of “Angel Flavor’s Present”, to a Michael Bolton-style power ballad called “Katamari Love”, to “Last Samba”, which sounds a bit like someone’s been listening to John Williams’ Naboo celebration from the end of Star Wars Episode I. That every syllable of every lyric on the album is sung in Japanese doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of it one bit. Frankly, if anything, this CD gives me a nice, long list of artists whose other works I’ll be keeping an eye out for, if their work here is any indication of their usual output.
It’s a wildly infectious listening experience and, like the game itself, it has the almost inexplicable effect of brightening my day every time I come into contact with it. It’s almost hard to explain. Even harder to explain is how Namco might possibly top this collection of music for the upcoming sequel, Everybody Loves Katamari Damacy. My first Damn Near Perfect Album List addition in a long, long time. Katamari Fortissimo Damacy is that good.
- Nananan Katamari performed by Yu Miyake & Yuusama (1:21)
- Katamari On The Rock: Main Theme performed by Yu Miyake & Masayuki Tanaka (5:57)
- Overture performed by Yu Miyake & Asuka Sakai (0:49)
- The Moon And The Prince performed by Kenji Ninuma & Akitaka Tohyama (5:30)
- Fugue #7777 performed by Asuka Sakai (1:22)
- Lonely Rolling Star performed by Yohihito Yano & Saki Kabata (5:44)
- The Wonderful Star’s Walk Is Wonderful performed by Yuri Misumi (3:12)
- Katamari Mambo (Katamari Syndrome mix) performed by Nobue Matsubara, Yuri Misumi & Sakamoto-chan (5:35)
- You Are Smart performed by Akitaka Tohyama (3:32)
- A Crimson Rose And A Gin & Tonic performed by Ado Mizumori & Asuka Sakai (4:29)
- Wanda Wanda performed by Yu Miyake (3:23)
- Que Sera Sera performed by Charlie Kosei & Asuka Sakai (5:31)
- Angel Flavor’s Present performed by Yu Miyake (5:08)
- Katamaritaino performed by Yui Asaka & Hideki Tobeta (5:54)
- Katamari Stars performed by Hideki Tobeta (2:28)
- Cherry Blossom Color Season performed by Yu Miyake & Katamari Company Jr. (6:14)
- Lovely Angel performed by Yu Miyake (1:27)
- Stardust Fanfare performed by Akitaka Tohyama (0:08)
- Last Samba performed by Yu Miyake, Asuka Sakai & Katamari Samba Company (1:00)
- Katamari Love (Ending Theme) performed by Shigeru Matsuzaki & Yohihito Yano (4:09)
- Katamari March Damacy performed by Yu Miyake (2:21)
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