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Katamari Damacy – “Katamari on the Rock” (Yu Miyake & Masayuki Tanaka)

May 20, 2010

Here’s an all-time classic vgm piece from a wonderfully quirky (and fun!) game, Katamari Damacy. You may be familiar with the game through the craze it spawned in 2004, but if you’re not, you need to pick it up and play it! (I’d recommend the original two, as Keita Takahashi did not design any of the later titles as he is averse to sequels). The object of the game is to roll a ball around and collect objects smaller than the ball; the more items the ball picks up, the larger it becomes and the larger the items you can pick up. Excellent music and wonderful cartoon graphics make this entertaining mechanic even better. The soundtrack to the original was published in Katamari Damacy Soundtrack “Katamari Fortissimo Damacy” (2004). “Katamari on the Rocks” is by far the most famous piece from the game, and is the “main theme” that plays in multiple places.

Katamari Damacy – “Katamari on the Rock” (Yu Miyake & Masayuki Tanaka)

“Katamari on the Rock” is an excellent fast-paced, uplifting song with great taiko drums and trumpets. The rising and falling full notes match the upward and downward movement of the ball as it is pushed by the Prince through uneven terrain while the quick, rolling beat fits the pattering of his feet. The track is also very inspiring (Don’t worry, do your best!) which both reassures and invigorates – especially with the enthusiastic yelling of vocalist Masayuki Tanaka. The ‘chu-chu-chu’ that makes up the female vocal support is Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound made when kissing, too. Yu Miyake composed a clear winner when he did “Katamari on the Rock” – each note is so full of joy that you can’t help but smile.

The lyrics have also been translated here, so you can follow them along as you go. They reflect a love for the beauty of the world and the significant other – joy of life and living, which is exactly Keita Takahashi’s philosophy. I believe the title refers to the Earth. Of course, the song also mixes English with Japanese (which seems to be fairly common), but there is enough here that a translation is required! A shortened instrumental version of the theme plays in the intro, which is one of the best and funniest (and most ridiculous) in game history:

The album still sells quite well, and you can buy the whole thing from places like CD Japan (just watch out for the crazy import fees on top of the overpriced costs of the albums themselves! The album will set you back about $35, should you choose to import; used copies go for considerably less. With prices so outrageous, there’s little wonder why so few people buy vgm! (Though I WILL say this is one album I did purchase)). There are plenty of excellent songs in the soundtrack aside from “Katamari on the Rock”, too!

“Katamari on the Rock” (along with several other songs) has been arranged several times in the various games. I am not as familiar with these except for “Katamari on the Funk”, which is a kind of New Orleans funk mix. I’ll stick with the original, please!

The Katamari Damacy soundtrack arranges the music into full songs; the in-game versions are designed to loop to match the endless play modes of the game, and as a result, the lyrics fade out to be replaced with instrumental versions.

“Katamari on the Rock” was composed by Yu Miyake, composer for the later Tekken and Ridge Racer games. He helped pen the lyrics with the game’s designer, Keita Takahashi (who by the way is a really cool guy).

The vocals are sung by Masayuki Tanaka, the famous vocalist from the band Crystal King, which did the opening music to many anime such as Fist of the North Star. He’s produced several solo albums, but was hit in the throat by a baseball and so he can’t sing as well as he did in the 80s and early 90s. However, he is still quite famous, made even more so by the memorable “Katamari on the Rocks”.

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