Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 13 ~Celestial Tower~ (Pokemon Black and White)

Origin: Pokémon Black and White
Plays In: Celestial Tower, Dragonspiral Tower, Giant Chasm
Status: Composition
Composer/s: Shota Kageyama

More Pokémon music? More Pokémon music.

Believe it or not, I actually still play Pokémon White! I'm the sort of the gamer who likes to set up my gaming schedule, see, and every Wednesday I switch between it and Pokemon X while I'm munching on popcorn and watching subbed Dragon Ball Z straight from my precious, precious Dragon Boxes (and believe me, with the Goku vs. Freeza fight being as long as it is, you better believe I'm taking advantage of it). I've been taking my sweet time collecting every last one of those Pokémon to fill up my Pokedex, and I'm still blown away by just how incredible the land of Unova is to explore. I'd like to think Unova doesn't hold a candle to Hoenn's sheer sense of adventure, but boy does it come close.

Of course, said exploring wouldn't be nearly as fun without some great tunes. I could dive into stuff like Pinwheel Forest and Route 10, but tonight I'd like to discuss what I feel is the top song for the game: Celestial Tower. As most Pokémon songs are named after the locations they play in, it may come as a surprise to know it was originally titled Tower of Heaven in the Japanese release. While censored for the American release to avoid religious reference, it's a surprisingly poignant name given the area's purpose: a resting ground for deceased Pokémon.

Whenever I listen to this song, I'm reminded of how heartwarming the storytelling in Pokémon White was. I knew I was in for something special when I took my first step with Bianca and Cheren into Route 1. We meet the brainwashed, yet innocent child leader of an organization set on "freeing" Pokémon from their trainers, learn of the deeper meaning behind Bianca's father's desire to prevent her from travelling, and hear the tragic loss of the Champion's beloved partner Pokémon. For whatever clumsy moments it had, it's an adventure I look back upon with great fondness.

The other week, I was actually climbing up the Celestial Tower to comb for hidden items and came across the champion, Alder, mourning at the top. Paying respects for the soul of his deceased Pokémon. He reveals that he once held the narrow-minded beliefs of Cheren, searching only for power until his partner passed away. His travels enlightened him to meeting many fellow trainers, and he encouraged my player avatar to do the same.

As he bid farewell, I went over to the tower's bell and gave it a rang.

In my younger days, this song would have sent me further into my despair. I'd keep running and running, chasing the regret and loss it baits. As the stairs would continue to circle, I'd claw desperately at the ghosts of the broken, childhood dreams shattered by growing up. The reveries I cherished in my youth. The secret dreams I clutched so hard to myself were shattered, never to return, never to resonate with anyone else.

I'd chase the loved ones I lost. Friends who left me over the years. My cat Dexter. My former best friend. All the results of societal pressure, illnesses born from negligence, and toxic ignorance. Their ghostly forms evade my reach, and our respective gaps on the stairs grow ever wider. I keep running, and I see him.

I chase him, screaming all the while, "Why did you do it?" He doesn't answer, just like how he'll never say anything about my college graduation and his cousin's son and my future career. He closes his eyes and vanishes. I keep running.

But my future is not about running. I continue to mold myself for the bright future waiting for me, and it's enlightening beyond belief.

Final Thoughts: Some game music fans have pointed out similarities between this and Chrono Trigger's Secret of the Forest. I can kinda hear it, but Celestial Tower's faster pace throws me off.

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