Arcadia no Aoki Miko Original Soundtrack
Arcadia no Aoki Miko Original Soundtrack
April 22, 2015
Buy at CDJapan
Between his prominent roles on the Final Fantasy XI and XIII franchises, Naoshi Mizuta has scored a range of mobile titles in recent years, among them Guardian Cross, Glorious Blades, and Deadman’s Cross. His latest work in this sector, Arcadia no Aoki Miko, actually received a physical soundtrack release. Roughly translated as The Blue Maiden of Arcadia, the game is a puzzle RPG featuring twelve girls on an adventure to save the world from evil. The 17 track score also featured substantial guest contributions from pop songwriter KOKIA and fantasy rock artist YOHKA.
Mizuta’s contributions to Arcadia no Aoki Miko resemble those of his work on Blood of Bahamut for the most part. The entire score is competent and fitting, but is too generic to really stand out among better RPG soundtracks. His offerings range from gallant orchestral marches (“The Courage Leading to Tomorrow”), to pretty piano and strings contemplations (“Komorebi Moments”), to exotic new age fusions (“Those Sealed Away”). All of them boast charming melodies, balanced arrangements, and decent synthesis, but follow RPG convention so closely that they prove predictable. What’s more, they only manage to leave a fleeting impression since they last a mere 90 seconds each despite there being plenty of room to elaborate on the material. Some pieces such as “Miko’s Prayer” and “Miko Does Not Run Out of Trouble” are even more sparing. They almost certainly fit their context in the game, but have nothing to offer on a stand-alone basis.
It is evident that Mizuta has matured as a composer since Blood of Bahamut. Throughout Arcadia no Aoki Miko, he puts aside his stale ostinato-based approaches that characterised his Final Fantasy XI works in favour of more fluid approaches. For example, “The Courage Leading to Tomorrow” features a balanced orchestral arrangement blending classically-inspired melodies, march-style harmonisations, and all sorts of vibrant decorations. Also quite impressive is “Word of the King”, which takes numerous subtle emotional turns during its short playtime, or “Awakening of Disaster”, with its powerful brass writing. But only one piece here comes close to matching his richly styled work on the Final Fantasy XIII-2, namely “Journeying Together”, an Irish jig featuring standout fiddle writing. It’s also by far Mizuta’s most extensive composition here, clocking in at a still-modest three minutes.
Moving on to the guest contributions, YOHKA’s first two tracks capture the sense of journeying through the lands with their vibrant march-like orchestrations. He also captures the sense of transcending evil in “Beyond the Darkness” and takes a more spiritual direction in “Sacred Tree of Forest”. While these four tracks are little more developed than Mizuta’s compositions, they are let down by typical stylings and thin arrangements. More enjoyable is his final battle theme, an obligatory orchestra and rock mashup featuring some powerful melodies. Moving to KOKIA’s work, she opens the soundtrack with a short but beautiful instrumental. The ending vocal theme “Spirits” is a ballad blending soothing vocals with ethereal orchestration. While not as memorable as her theme song for Rise of Mana, it is still a surprisingly impressive theme song for a smartphone game.
With a good number of tracks, robust production values, and notable guest contributions, Arcadia no Aoki Miko is a pretty good soundtrack for a mobile game. But while the score works fine in the game, it’s very difficult to justify spending 2500 JPY on the stand-alone album. The vast majority of the tracks are simply too brief and predictable to leave a lasting impression. This title would have been better suited for a digital-only soundtrack released at a third of the price.
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Posted on January 16, 2016 by Chris Greening. Last modified on January 17, 2016.