Norn9 Vocal Collection
NORN9 ノルン＋ノネット Vocal Collection (Norn9 Norn + Nonette Vocal Collection)
This 2-CD set collects the Norn9 game themes with image songs sung by the love interests of the otome game series.
I was surprised to learn Norn9 had character songs, and I stumbled across this CD by accident. Character songs (which aren’t as popular as much anymore outside of idol series) are often released as singles, and they often don’t get released as a full album. Especially as an international fan, it can be hard and/or expensive trying to collect them all.
I learned Norn9‘s image songs were originally released on three separate singles/mini-albums (Cantare Vol. 1-3) with a vocal drama for each. I didn’t know that when I ordered, because a full album of character songs? Sign me up! The openings and endings were just a bonus to me. And even if I had known about the mini-albums, I still would have picked this up for convenience.
But have to start out with the theme songs, as it’s the first disc of the collection. Yanagi Nagi (who seems to favor the stylized yanaginagi for her name, which is what I’m going to go with hereafter), sings all but two tracks and also voices the character Aion in Norn9. While this set came out in 2017, almost a year after the anime, neither of the anime themes are included. Then the second disc features the character songs, starting off Koharu’s group and kicked off by her main love interest before moving onto the other two, then the order is repeated for Mikoto’s men and then Nanami’s. If you know a little Japanese and have played Norn9, you can immediately see the song titles are rather fitting for most.
But a last note: the CD album comes with lyrics but no pictures while the CDs have the feathery circle icon. So no special art or images to speak of to make it worth importing over, say, streaming on Spotify or Apple Music. Wish at least the Cantare covers were reproduced on the back of the booklet or something. And unfortunately, while the heroines are voiced in Norn9, they aren’t given an image song. I know it’s an otome game series so the young men are the focus, but yeah, it would have been nice to give them a track.
“melee” – yanaginagi
The game opening song. An easygoing song. It actually sounds like a song perfect for some kind of performance like dancing or skating with the slowish beginning and the more elaborate chorus.
“Sunadokei wa Sora no Sora” – yanaginagi
The insert song, which kind of doubles as Aion’s image song. It works better as an image song, as it reminds me of something Chii from Chobits would sing. Kind of a similar voice to boot. Otherwise, it has a background song feel.
“many universes” – yanaginagi
The ending song. Picks up the pace. This is the song I bet if you had never played Norn9 before you’d assume is the opening. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some edits out there with this as Norn9 music video or fanmade opening .
“foe” – yanaginagi
The opening theme to the Last Era sequel game, which is finally getting a Western release. Follows in the footsteps of “melee”, but I don’t think it’s quite as good. But lyric-wise, I think it represents the three heroines quite well.
“skyscape” – yanaginagi
The ending theme of Last Era. Unlike “many universes”, this is not an uptempo song and clearly has ending theme vibes. It is probably a good song if you want some background music playing while you work, but otherwise, this is a rather boring, unremarkable song.
“Onaji Sora o” – Oda Kaori
The theme song of the app version of Norn9 and the first to feature a different singer. And because of that, it loses a lot the Norn9 atmosphere that has been established. It’s not a bad song, but it’s like when an anime replaces an iconic opening song with one that ends up being forgotten because it can’t escape its predecessor’s shadow.
“play of color” – yanaginagi
Whether you consider Act Tune to be a sequel or a fandisk, it obviously is on the low end of priorities for Otomate since it hasn’t even been ported to Switch yet. But this is almost exactly what I meant in my above comment — this is full of the Norn9 spirit, especially with the bright, clear vocals versus how Oda has a more sultry tone.
“Hoshi o Tsunaide” – Oda Kaori
Act Tune‘s ending theme. I think both the song and vocals fit the game world better than “Onaji Sora o” since this one is one of those slightly sad, slightly hopeful tunes. But the worst thing about the song is its length — it’s just shy of 6 minutes long. It’s just unnecessarily long, and even moreso if you want the song to finish so you can swap CDs.
“Kimi o Zutto” – Yuiga Kakeru (CV: Kaji Yuuki)
I don’t like the opening, and the dragged out notes are… well, a drag. This song is actually tied for the shortest on the CD at 3:34, but with all the held notes, it seems to be significantly longer. The verses are better, but once it gets into the bridges and chorus, it’s just bizarre.
“Jiyuu na Sora e” – Ichinose Senri (CV: Shimono Hiro)
Since Senri is the quiet type, of course his song is a more peaceful ballad. No mumbling if you’re worried. I’m most familiar with Shimono’s singing due to Uta no Prince-sama, but Syo is a very different type of character. Fortunately, Shimono puts a lighter tone so it sounds more like Senri and not Shimono, Syo, etc.
“Arata na Chikai” – Toya Masamune (CV: Satou Takuya)
It’s little surprise Toya’s song, with his deep voice, turns out to be one of the most enchanting. A blend of mysteriousness, confusion, and longing combines with a steady rhythm and its music box-like opening. My favorite of the character songs with its slight seductiveness.
“Michibiki no Hoshi” – Azuma Natsuhiko (CV: Ono Daisuke)
This one I had the highest hopes for due to Ono, the stars theme, and because Natsuhiko’s route is the most different since he’s not on the ship. (Recommend doing him last if you haven’t played Norn9 yet.) Came out slightly disappointed, but I think it’s a combination of my hopes + coming right after Toya’s song. I’d still rank it #2.
“Junpaku no Mirai” – Nijo Sakuya (CV: Saiga Mitsuki)
When this song first started playing, I was like, “This is supposed to be Sakuya, right? Cause it can’t be anyone else, right?” Sakuya’s normal speaking voice is rather feminine (well, he is voiced by a woman), and I expected his (well, her) singing voice to be at that pitch or higher. Putting on headphones makes Sakuya’s voice more obvious, but this was the biggest surprise for me. It’s a ballad fitting Sakuya, but a more powerful one than I would have pictured for him. This stretch of songs is a good one though.
“Mugen no Ori Kara” – Kagami Itsuki (CV: Yusa Kouji)
Speaking of expectations, I also predicted a more seductive song for Itsuki, along the lines of Toya’s perhaps. Instead, it sounds more more like a song of encouragement and friendship, although the lyrics seem to be about the happy dreams he’d bring if you/Mikoto chose him. Still, Mikoto’s group ends up having the best trio of songs despite standouts from Koharu’s and Nanami’s groups.
“Mienai Kusari” – Shukuri Akito (CV: Sugiyama Noriaki)
With the heavy guitar influence and rock feel, this could be an anime theme. It makes me want to search for AMVs/MADs of his route. On karaoke nights on the ship, you’d think he wouldn’t participate, but then he drops this number to stun the crowd.
“Ningyou wa Chou no Yume o Miru no ka” – Muroboshi Ron (CV: Sugita Tomokazu)
Out of all the character tracks, this was the one I was most curious about. Not the one I was most looking forward to, to be clear. But out of all the love interests, Ron is not the one you’d expect to show up at karaoke night on the Norn. Maybe if he knew he could torture someone? Anyway, I thought maybe the twist for the song would be Ron being too cool and carefree to sing. Well, he actually does sing, and the track is very faithful to his character… And it’s a Sugita song, what do you expect it to sound like?!
“Egao no Akashi” – Otomaru Heishi (CV: Yoshino Hiroyuki)
Talk about a happy song. Too happy. It comes across as incredibly childish, like the theme song of a kid’s show. Good if you want the musical version of stuffing candy in your mouth.
I think the anime themes could have included, but I give kudos for this being a rather comprehensive album otherwise, which is often hard to find in Japanese music. Like with some other game series, the main themes can get a bit repetitive, but hey, at least that’s not all this is thanks to the character image songs. If you like Norn9, they’re all worth a listen to at least once. But I have a feeling there will a couple of tracks worth hitting repeat.
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