Review Summary: The biggest star in the sky.
So what is a katamari?
A katamari is a mysterious mass that can pick up everyday objects and items just by rolling over them, almost magnetically. It looks like a puppy’s chew toy when naked, but after picking up hundreds of objects and having them stick to it, its aesthetic is simply out of this world. It becomes a spherical collage of things you can call ordinary (and some things not so ordinary), but altogether, the paraphernalia-coated katamari is anything but ordinary.
When in the presence of a katamari, you are most likely pushing it around to create large clumps of garbage to substitute for broken stars (courtesy of your sexually disturbing father, the King of All Cosmos). You are also most likely the Prince of All Cosmos, a meager, rather pathetic-looking curator of the heavenly skies and one hell of a scapegoat. In the world of Katamari Damacy, all there is to do is roll, roll, and roll until no more rolling can be done. To foster your feeble morale are no king’s men, no gallant celestial knights, and no vivacious, Japanese cheerleaders. You only march on with the majestic grandeur of Namco’s wonderfully quirky soundtrack and all the clumps of fun that stick to it.
Now, Katamari Damacy’s soundtrack is filled with many original and surreal songs that are all good in their own ways, but the face of the game’s music is the theme, “Katamari on the Rocks”. What “Katamari on the Rocks” achieves goes beyond simply being an excellent song; its greatest strength is being the nucleus to an expertly cohesive soundtrack, tying everything together, and blowing up the premise of Katamari Damacy to a grand, nirvana-like spiritual experience. It is the face of the video game itself, and the face of every strength the soundtrack wields.
With that said, I would like to let you know now that the video game isn’t needed here. It certainly makes the soundtrack complete, but the soundtrack here still makes a beautiful album all on its own. This is mostly because, save for a few tracks, the soundtrack here isn’t composed of ambient background songs that loop a few times then fade out. These are full songs, written by formal musicians prominently from Japan (and yes, most of the lyrics are Japanese) and a few experts from the video game genre. The songs can stand on their own very well, and there’s a great amount of variety despite the aforementioned cohesiveness.
Musical styles range from minimal electronic compositions, to J-pop, jazz, and a few cross genres that feel completely unique. One such track is “Cherry Blossom Color Season”, one of the best tracks on the album, featuring soaring violins, acoustic guitar strumming, and oddly effective kiddy vocals and chants. It sounds bizarre, and no doubt it is, but if you think that’s a bad thing you’re looking up the wrong album here. Quirkiness, eccentricities, some absurdities (“WANDA WANDA”) and the like are the main appeal here. In the case of the distant “Angel Flavor’s Present” (or “Angel’s Gift”), the sonic soundscape is so out of this world that it could have only been made for this soundtrack. Some songs are more straightforward with their various genres, but that nothing here feels out of place or not an essential piece of the greater puzzle is what gives Katamari Damacy’s soundtrack its powerful punch.
So here’s the complete package: a potpourri of different familiar items, some you may interact with on an everyday basis, some unique aesthetic collages, but no matter how you look at it, it’s something out of this world and ultimately blows your mind. Sounds a bit like a katamari, doesn’t it? Perhaps the ultimate factor that makes this soundtrack stand alone from the game Katamari Damacy is because with it, you already have
a katamari. Was this the composers’ goal from the beginning? Who knows, but with it there’s nothing left to do but keep rolling, rolling, and rolling.