Rozen Maiden Piano Sound Album
by Rachael Carothers,
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Rozen Maiden tells the story of a boy, his sister and a series of dolls that come to life. While the soundtrack to the original series contains 44 songs, the soundtrack for the sequel contains only half that. On January 9, 2009, a CD titled Rozen Maiden Piano Sound Album was released. This album contains 13 tracks of previously released songs re-arranged by UbiQuinta to become piano solos.
Instead of opening with one of the series’ theme songs, the album opens with “Tanjou ~Ketakaki Dolls~” (“Birth ~Noble Dolls~”). It's possible that this was intended to be a mixture of “Tanjou,” a rather slow song, and “Noble Dolls,” one that is a little more upbeat. However, there doesn't seem to be anything from “Noble Dolls” in the mix. Whether it was intended as a mash-up of the two songs or someone just thought the title sounded cool, the softness and beauty of the piano version is a lovely way to open the album.
The opening theme for the first season of the show, “Kinjirareta Asobi” (“Forbidden Game”), is the second track. Originally a frantically fast-paced song by Ali Project, the piano version has very slightly slowed the pace to make it sound a lot like a classical piece from Bach with an edge to it. Considering how many Ali Project songs sound the same, this just might be the change that the duo needs. Lay off the epic-sounding orchestrations and go back to the simpler sounds. Nothing is simpler than a single piano with a single voice.
In the beginning, “Bara Otome” (“Rose Maiden”) focused on stringed instruments with a somewhat dark sound. As a piano piece, the music is so lively that it actually sounds like a completely different song. Actually, I'm pretty sure these are two different songs with the same title. If this is supposed to be the same song, there was an amazing amount of leeway given to UbiQuinta. At least both versions of the song are easy on the ears.
Attempting to thwart my struggle to dive into the world of Rozen Maiden, the album throws a completely new song into the fray. The fourth track, “Odayakana Nichijou” (“Calm Every Day”), doesn't seem to appear on any previous album related to the series. (If someone has found an original version of the song, speak up!) To be honest, it's difficult to imagine a different version of this. After a rather slow start, the song picks up into a sort of jaunty-walk-type ditty. The first half sounds like something you'd listen to as simple background music, but then it moves into a ‘Isn't this a lovely spring day’ type of song. So this thing doesn't only have a mysterious origin, it also has a strange arrangement. You will not defeat me, weird song! I will find out more about you, I swear it!
Of course, they decide to add yet another mysterious song to challenge me. This time it's “Chiisana Otome” (“Small Maiden”). It's not much of a challenge though since it's just some wordplay on the tune “Cute Girl.” A harpsichord and a piccolo dominate the original version of the song. Somehow the piano manages to keep the song sounding almost exactly the same. The higher tinkling notes on the piano match the high piccolo sounds as the lower piano sounds pair up with the harpsichord. Considering how much fun the song it, everyone should have a smile on their face by the time the final notes roll around.
Another play on words, “Kashimashii Otome-tachi” (“Noisy Maidens”) comes in to replace “Kashimashii Kanojo-tachi” (“Noisy Girls”). Both versions mimic the sounds of noisy, gossiping girls babbling a mile a minute. However, the original version uses a piccolo to make the song a little more flighty where the piano version tends to come off a little more circus- or party-like. It really is interesting how one song can sound so different with just a few minor changes.
Halfway through the album, “Yuukei” (“A Quiet Scene”) is the second song that I can't seem to find anywhere else. Most likely these mystery songs have made slight changes to the titles of other songs, making them difficult to track down their inspiration. “Yuukei” is the slowest song on the album. We all know that slow doesn't necessarily mean bad. As a matter of fact, the laid-back feel makes the tune a welcome change after the pace of everything that came earlier.
“Tantei Kunkun” (“Detective Kunkun”) is not only a great jazz song; it was also a special 7-minute omake that came with the one of the PS2 Rozen Maiden games. While the song isn't of the fast-paced, complicated jazz pieces, it is just enough to give you that 1950s detective/spy feel. Let images of an early James Bond wooing the woman of the day flow through your mind. Then realize that Kunkun is a dog and let the laughter wash over you.
Coming in at track 9 on the album, “Otome no Ishi” (“A Maiden's Will”) is yet another song that I cannot place. Most likely this is a case of wordplay that has gone way over my head. The song itself is interesting. It's almost as if there are two songs that have merged to become one. There are fast-paced notes in places where the verses would be, but then the pace slows where the chorus would chime in and, of course, the bridge is completely different from the rest. Most songs don't have this sort of variety contained within. They should though, if they could pull it off. This is the variety that is necessary to keep someone's interest. Too much of the same sound and it gets boring.
Once again, I am stumped. “Bara Otome no Unmei” (“A Rose Maiden's Destiny”) could possibly be a remake of “Shukumei” (“Destiny”). However, they don't sound anything alike. “Shukumei” has a renaissance sound to it while “Unmei” has a slightly more complex sound to it. After a slow opening, both hands get down to business in the piano version. The two sides of the piano have their own pace, giving the song a bit of a schizophrenic feel. Yet they manage to combine to create a beautiful tapestry of sound.
The original version of “Alice Game” runs at a mere 1:38; the piano version takes that out to 3:42. Of course, this means that there are large chucks of the remake that just doesn't exist in the original. (Here is where you can complain about remakes not being as good.) Unfortunately, that sentiment is correct here. That's not to say that the piano version isn't amazing, because it is. However, the original had a bit of a mystic feel to it, where the newer one is a lot more frantic. It's that mystic feel that matches the series so well. Feel free to adore the new version as much as you want. It is a lovely piece of music; it's just not quite the same with the new pacing.
“Tatakai no Hate” (“The Battle's End”) is the final song that I am having trouble matching up to its original. Knowing that this is supposed to be a ‘final’ song, it is very, very slow. At the end of every episode of the 1978 television series, The Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner walked down a road as “The Lonely Man Theme” played. (Yes, this was also referenced in the 2008 movie and in an episode of Family Guy.) That is what this reminds me of. Unfortunately, this song is an agonizing six minutes long. Again, this is a very pretty song, but it would be just as pretty at three minutes.
As is appropriate, the last song on the album is “Toumei Shelter” (“Transparent Shelter”), the ending theme for the series. While the original vocal version of the song is fairly laid-back, the piano version takes it one step further. The pacing is slowed slightly and the tones coming from the piano are very delicate. I can almost envision this version actually being used as the ending theme song.This album is absolutely gorgeous and, as a bonus, the piano scores to every song is included as liner notes. Despite the fact that very few of the songs actually sound like their counterparts and many of them are difficult to match up to the original versions to begin with, those are minor inconveniences when it comes to the sound coming out of your speakers. I also have to admit that, while I have never seen a single episode of Rozen Maiden, this version of the music makes me want to marathon it as soon as possible. Just in case piano music isn't really your thing, there's a strings version coming out on February 25. I'm sure that will be just as beautiful.
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