Beloved Tomboyish Girl: Not so much for the original, even though it is still pretty good. But where Cirno’s theme scores is in how it clearly seems to lend itself well to remixes. Even in series it has great remixes in PoFV and Soku, and it’s one of the few songs which I seem to find good remixes in fanworks on a consistent basis. That’s got to count for something.
Shanghai Teahouse ~ Chinese Tea: In the context of the game it’s put in (and even Touhou on the whole), this is one epic song. It’s the sign that the game is really, really kicking off and fits the approach to the Scarlet Devil Mansion perfectly. The opening notes, also the main section of the song, are just brilliant.
Septette for the Dead Princess: Yes, this will be a more cliche choice than others here. But it isn’t one of the most popular songs in the series by mistake. It’s one of the most iconic themes because it does a little bit of everything right; it’s a damn good song from start to finish, feels perfect for a final boss of Remilia’s calibre, and it sticks in the mind well. This is perhaps the quintessential Touhou song.
The Centennial Festival for Magical Girls: Extra themes are always tricky to judge, since the boss overshadows them in many cases (certainly in this one), but this is a fine start to the Windows era. It feels bouncy, and a little bit epic once it gets going, and it keeps on going to rise to a hell of a crescendo. This is a top-class song.
U.N. Owen Was Her?: I’ve heard this thing to death, and yet it’s still worthy of a place here. Because this is a song that has gotten people into Touhou. Lots, and lots, and lots, of people. This is one of the most prominent things in Touhou outside of Touhou itself, and it’s because the song is a near note-perfect tune which encaptures what Flandre is all about to perfection. I don’t think it’s the best song in Touhou, but by acclamation, it is probably the greatest.
The capital city of flowers in the sky: This is to PCB what Shanghai Teahouse was to EoSD: the bit where it gets epic. Except here it’s turned up even further because it’s Stage 4 and it deserves it. This is a marathon of a song to match the marathon length of PCB’s Stage 4, yet all the way through it seems to be just so magnificent.
Mystic Oriental Dream ~ Ancient Temple: Now this one feels cool. The opening really sets the tone for this whole song, even as it picks up constantly. Really, it’s the mood of the whole song that sells this one. All the way through it just sounds so easy, so right, to the ears. It helps that it’s well worth its place as a Stage 5 song, too.
Ultimate Truth: Stage 6 songs are often too short to impress me, but this one has caught my ear lately. When the main melody drops, it’s fantastic. ZUN does a damn good job to cram something this good into under a minute of the final stage. And the great thing is, it doesn’t even feel like it needs to be any longer. Which speaks volumes of its composer’s ability.
Necrofantasia: This song means an awful lot in so many ways. It’s a perfect fit for a character of Yukari’s nature, a dramatic song, an epic one, a damn good sounding one, and a track I’m pretty close to. I started with PCB because of the Phantasm stage and everything, so this track is one I associate with my early days as a Touhou fan. And it’s stuck with me ever since.
Sakura, Sakura ~ Japanize Dream: I’m not really supposed to put down credits themes here, but I feel this one has to get some mention. Because, whilst you have to go far to hear it, it sounds like a theme that I think is befitting of the Touhou series as a whole. Almost a main theme, if you’d like. Granted, the theme that goes with the menu songs is technically that (and PCB’s would be a good candidate as well, though again that’s probably a personal thing), but this is just a plain melodic song incorporating all the elements of Touhou songs you know and love.
Song of the Night Sparrow ~ Night Bird: A seriously underrated song. IN isn’t like the past two games in terms of how its songs go at all, and certainly their Stage 2 songs weren’t as action-packed as this. That main melody just sounds really cool, and the whole song really improves the entire stage noticeably.
Deaf to All but the Song: IN has some truly great combos in stages of both stage and boss music, and Stage 2 gets one of the best of all. Mystia’s theme is another catchy, action-filled piece, right from the moment those dramatic opening notes hit you. The song’s main chorus is the other highlight, the catchiest bit of the whole song. This feels so much more than a humble Stage 2 song.
Cinderella Cage ~ Kagome-Kagome: I said in my IN review that this song was a bit of a miss compared to the rest of the soundtrack. Please disregard that because I’ve given myself the chance to listen to the song properly and I have to say…it’s amazing. It’s so epic it’s almost as if the legendary ZUNpets – applied to perfection here – are almost bursting at the seams from the sheer drama of it all. And it even happens to fit its faintly terrifying Stage 5 so well! This song is one of the masterclasses of the classic Windows era, and the second best from the first three games. The first comes right after it…
Lunatic Eyes ~ Invisible Full Moon: Who could have imagined Stage 5 would get both the best songs of the entire era? Needless to say, the combination is bettered by only one combo in all Touhou history, and that’s for the era coming up. What’s so perfect about Invisible Full Moon, though, is not just the fact that it’s a terrific song on all fronts. What I think seems to speak the most volumes about it is the fact that, way more than any other song, I seem to find amazing remixes for it everywhere. SWR did it great, IOSYS has done the thing brilliantly before, and it’s even my favourite song in two of my favourite Touhou fangames. Needless to say, this song sums up ZUN’s composition skills better than any other song in the series. That’s why it’s the best of the era.
P.S. Some people I talk to seem to think this song sounds like Zero Stage 2 from Mega Man X5. If it did, I would have made damn sure I noticed it. But I’ve heard both songs to death and they really aren’t similar. The thing it has most in common with anything to do with Reisen is the background of its stage.
Eternal Dream ~ Mystic Maple: Again, naughty of me to sneak credits themes in. But remember Maple Dream from PoDD? Yes, it’s back here. A reference to PC-98 is already good enough in most books, but this just happens to be a very well done one as well. The good thing is, getting to the end of IN is not even that hard. So you’ll know all about it if you play IN well enough yourself.
Spring Lane ~ Colourful Path: The Phantasmagoria games call for non-stop action in their songs, just like the gameplay itself, but Reimu’s theme puts a good twist on this by having some proper buildup. Right from the start this song feels pretty special, and once it devolves into the action of the song it feels right at home within the game it’s made for.
Oriental Dark Flight: This song strikes an odd, yet good tone, and uses the strange drum sound seemingly exclusive to PoFV better than any song in the game. It’s a song that mixes both cheer and drama together to make something really rather good sounding, even when the song changes tack and breaks away from its main beat. Either way, it too fits the action really well.
Flowering Night: Now this song really does drama well. Its melancholy tone is clear for all to hear, and yet it’s also one of the most fitting songs for PoFV and its style of play. Oh yeah, and it fits its character, in this case Sakuya, just as well as most of PoFV’s songs do. Sakuya’s damn good to play as in PoFV. I had a go with her just yesterday. Even though you don’t hear her own theme when you play as her.
Poison Body ~ Forsaken Doll: This is the dramatic highlight of all PoFV’s songs, in my opinion. It’s not even just the feel of the song itself, but the fact that it sounds really damn good outright. Just wait till the ZUNpets drop and listen to the magnificence. And to think this is left with a character as simple as Medicine…
The Mound where the Flowers Reflect: PoDD got some of its little themes so right I had to include them in my post, and PoFV has another – the pre-battle music. It’s merely a remix of the menu theme, but whereas that sounds very plain, this sounds quite something else. You probably haven’t ever heard it long enough, but there’s just something about those booming, heartbeat-like drums…