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Final Fantasy Vocal Collections I – Pray – “Toki no horousha” (arr. Risa Ohki)

January 7, 2010

The second lyrical track of the week is “Toki no Horousha” or “Wanderer of Time” fromFinal Fantasy Vocal Collections I – Pray (1994), a vocal arrangement by Risa Ohki of “Tina’s Theme” (aka “Terra’s Theme”) from Final Fantasy VI (orig. Nobuo Uematsu). This is one of the more beautiful renditions of the main theme from the game, the leitmotif of the game’s protagonist, Terra, as well as the Overworld (map) theme. This is one of the best songs in the game, and Risa Ohki‘s rendition is one of the best versions of the song.

Final Fantasy Vocal Collections I – Pray – “Toki no Horousha” (arr. Risa Ohki)

Miss Ohki’s voice is simply phenomenal in this song: she sings it with such confidence and force that she perfectly captures the soul and spirit of Terra, one of the strongest and most confident female characters in videogames. This is coupled with the gracefulness and beauty of the melody, which conjures images of intrepid heroes travelling across picturesque landscapes. The lyrics, too, help enhance this image; however, it might be helpful to listen to the track first to get a sense of the sound of the song and then hear it again knowing the lyrics:

Haruka tooku yoru o koete Crossing the distant night,
Sabaku no umi o samayou Wandering the desert sea.
Kami no koe wa shinkirou The gods’ voices are mirages;
Wasurerareta hitobito The forgotten people.
Kage wa shiroku yurameki tatsu Shadows flicker palely, then stand;
Ima hitotabi no maboroshi For one moment, an illusion.
Aoku moeru yuusha no yume A hero’s dream, burning blue,
Towa ni nemuru hitobito The people, sleeping forever.

It seems that a little bit of background might be required for understanding these lyrics. Terra is the daughter of a human woman and an Esper, a magical creature from another dimension. As such, she is gifted with the ability to transform into a creature of immense power. Her magical abilities are hated even more because wizards were blamed for the destruction of the world (which has only just now been able to rebuild itself), and so her family was killed or used in biological experiments.

The song seems a reference to her lost people, or perhaps also of the time before the War of the Magi. She travels the world, a landscape of contradictions, in search of her true meaning. It is a sense of loss and nostalgia and an inability to find the past one is seeking…

Final Fantasy VI is one of those soundtracks that seems to have been fairly forgotten by today’s gamers who were introduced to the series through Final Fantasy VII and later titles. While the Super Nintendo did not have as powerful a sound processor as the PlayStation, one surprising fact is that the PlayStation’s sound chip is a modified version of the SNES; couple with with the same composer, and VII in fact uses a lot of similar instrument libraries to VI (adding most significantly recorded and sequenced orchestral music). Still, Final Fantasy VI remains one of the masterpieces of the SNES and is one of Uematsu’s finest.

It is wonderful that so many remixes and arrangements of his music from this game exist beyond Pray, including Final Fantasy VI: The Grand Finale, a lovely orchestral suite with a phenomenal remix of “Terra”, “The War of the Magi”,  Distant Worlds from the Final Fantasy concert (one album that was available in the US and that recently toured the country), and the first album of The Black Mages, which contains a fantastic selection of rock remixes from the series, and is actually my pick for the best album of the series.

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