Is there anything better than listening to video game music? How about listening to a live orchestra play the songs in front of your own eyes? Unfortunately, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. That makes it difficult to go out and see live orchestra performances! Luckily, Monster Hunter Orchestra Concert 2021 streamed online. And like past concerts, the event also featured plenty of interviews with the singers and artists including those involved in the making of Monster Hunter Rise‘s soundtrack.
The program was a standard Monster Hunter orchestra concert, with 14 different tracks from various Monster Hunter titles. The event focused largely on the latest iteration, Monster Hunter Rise. The setlist also featured choice songs from Monster Hunter World and Monster Hunter Stories 2. The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra performed all the songs, with Hirofumi Kurita conducting for the eighth year since 2014. Between each performance was a short introduction by the main speaker. Brief talks with artists like Izumi Kato, who provided Hinoa’s singing voice, sometimes followed.
A refreshing element of the concert was seeing some of the traditional Japanese instruments played by professionals in a live setting. There’s something truly special about seeing a single biwa musician playing the Magnamalo theme alongside a full orchestra. While Capcom did upload a short “Making Of” video showcasing some of the instruments used in Monster Hunter Rise, the concert really gives those instruments and musicians the spotlight they deserve. The string sections also had a larger presence than in the original tracks.
It was also entertaining to see artists talk about their own backgrounds. Hinoa’s vocalist provided an amusing account of how she thought she was singing gibberish until she found out she was working on Monster Hunter Rise. She then learned that she was singing in Monster Hunter language. Series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto also spoke about how the team chose to use the biwa in the Magnamalo theme. It’s an instrument that Tsujimoto described as rarely used in the video game industry. That attention to detail was especially apparent in the Rampage and Kamura Village theme performances, which had the shakuhachi flute and shamisen playing front and center. I particularly enjoyed the Mizutsune and Rampage themes. The Zinogre theme was by far the most energetic, though, with Daisuke Miyazaki returning to play the electric guitar.
It was a bit of a missed opportunity not to have biwa musician and narrator Kakushin Tomoyoshi at the concert. He was a large part of the Monster Hunter Rise live event at this year’s Tokyo Game Show! Looking back on the TGS live performance, I’m surprised at how high the production quality was in comparison to the orchestra concert. As it stands, the concert as a whole would have been better had it focused more on the aspects that made Rise so unique. It was still a worthwhile experience that delivered on its promises, but if you’ve seen past years’ concert performances? You’re essentially getting the same thing.
The Monster Hunter Orchestra Concert 2021 streamed online on September 28, 2021. A recorded album release has not yet been confirmed.