This was the first Bespinben arrangement I've done, and I'm quite sure it'll be the first of many more. It's amazing, and that's not enough to full express myself. So I wrote some notes. Yeah. Pretty much.
I found this arrangement immediately when Bespinben released it, and it was a beautiful presentation...but it was only after a PMD2 run that re-visiting it truly captivated me.
We'll talk about the arrangement itself first:
Scale-wise, it was perfect for a commonly accessible work, being structurally similar to the original but fresh in every other aspect. The opening two sections took the original sounds and re-interpreted them in a fashion that was perfect for a piano song to be played ("sung") to yourself in a small room. The middle section, with its wavering dynamics and sensitive writing, scrapped the all-encompassing string textures in the original entirely for a vulnerable stage-whisper. The climax was passionate and powerful, yet in an almost Chopin-esque style, small. The whole piece came together as a vulnerable lament in a microcosmic world, which was a brilliant re-interpretation of the expressive cry-out-to-the-world PMD style.
But aside of its musical dimension, Bespinben tied his release to a significant (PMD-moral) plot point. It was a simple in-game quote accompanied with a simple message as a tribute to a certain Virizion's character. At first it was deep and cool, but when I revisited it, I realised how awesome that quote was and I dived head-first into the plot. And that became a core part of my release, while also supplementing my performance delivery and hitting me with a good ol' dose of PMD feels.
So based on the way Bespinben presented it, I thought Virizion was the moral heroine of the PMD3 plot, bashful yet firm with her values. I searched up "virizion gates to infinity", spoilt the only good part of the game (i.e. the plot) for myself in Marriland's fantastic voice acting, and it turned out that she was a diva who didn't believe in friends and protected herself from the world by icing out everyone. Including poor Dunsparce.
Oh, and the quote he quoted was from the protagonist's partner, who, based on the PMD formula, is always the moral hero/heroine of the world. Welp.
The funny thing was that I didn't hear the soundtrack being played. And if Bespinben tied the release to Virizion's character and "thanked her for the life lessons", I was pretty sure he wasn't making a joke out of it. So, being the perfect PMD fan, I spoilt the whole plot for myself on the wiki to find Virizion's nice-guy appearance.
Something directed me to the final episode when Keldeo makes his appearance (and Virizion expresses her feelings for Emolga, come on Chunsoft seriously?? twas cute though). The secret is revealed, Virizion breaks down and weeps like a baby after a whole game of being cool, and I don't cry. At all. I'm a grown-ass man and cartoons don't make me cry.
(haha who am i kidding every pokemon fan cries at some point when playing pmd. i was dying everywhere.)
Everything came full-circle as a beautiful plot arc. In the world of moral nihilism, Virizion lost her best friend to a really cheesy misunderstanding ("that horrible letter", oh!), and grew to distrust everyone. When she finally broke down, the human-protagonist and moral-hero partner were on the way to crush the essence of negativity from the world, and the effect was just bone-chilling. I cried a lot. ;(
And so Bespinben's Sympathy and Sincerity delivered itself as Virizion's vulnerable plot arc. From insecure distrust to the extreme of nihilism, a painful loneliness in moments of silence, and finally, the heroic dissolution of all negativity, tailing off with Virizion's broken weeping in the sight of her best friend. That's the way I read it, and needless to say, it was a beautifully fulfilling experience that only the PMD series, along with Bespinben's thoughtful writing, could deliver.
I think this is the way VGM arrangements can truly find beauty. The PMD games happen to be plot-heavy and sensitive, so a good arrangement that finds itself tied in with the plot can really hit home. On a vulnerable piece like this, emphasizing small-ness and emptiness can crystallise the classic PMD feels, rewarding performers for studying their context (bwahahahaha) and doing their fair share of musical reflection.
Now, it's not that this piece would be boring as a standalone work - on the contrary, this is brilliant writing: technically sound, well-balanced, and complete with pianistic flourishes that, when performed, are tantamount to giving pianists happy-drugs. But take a well-written piece, weave it in to a plot that needs no exposition on the composer's part, deliver a message that no one expects, and you've got something beautiful.
Thanks for the journey, man. Really enjoyed it, and more than that I hope I'll get many more of such experiences as I delve into your collection