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Atelier Iris -Eternal Mana- Original Soundtrack :: Review by Charles

Atelier Iris -Eternal Mana- Original Soundtrack Album Title: Atelier Iris -Eternal Mana- Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Team Entertainment
Catalog No.: KDSD-10001/2
Release Date: May 19, 2004
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana is one of the later game in the Atelier series and once of the best known games in the series in the West. Not that the series is that well known anywhere, but chances are that, if you've heard of Atelier then you've have heard of Iris, as it was the first game released in English. What do the long-time composers Akira Tsuchiya, Ken Nakagawa, and Daisuke Achiwa have to serve us for this popular edition of Atelier music?


My first impressions of the soundtrack were that it was basically a more refined version of what has been offered in the other soundtracks for the series. While I can't say it's the most ambitious entry in the series, this approach probably makes sense given the game was the first time the series' music would be heard in the West. The bulk of the soundtrack consists of a mix of wind and string instruments, fluttering off in short bursts accompanied by great percussion. The flutes and bagpipes and other windy instruments have always been heavily used in Atelier albums and this one is no exception.

The area themes are certainly among the highlights of the soundtrack. There are upbeat lyrical compositions like "Witch's Forest" and "Undeveloped Region" that seem written in the spirit of a lot of other game soundtracks. In addition, there are slow soothing works like "Rain Drop Waltz" and "Konkon Fountain" that show the Gust team really know how to craft emotional organic pieces. I must say "filler" tracks like the shop tunes have really grown since the beginning. A particular favourite of mine is "Fun Shopping in Kavoc", which is wonderful to relax to. A lot of Westerners may hold this soundtrack dearly, not realizing how much it has developed from the beginning.

The Atelier series certainly has its fair share of unique and uplifting vocal themes. However, the Iris vocal themes are certainly among the finest of the series. The intro, "Midnight Illusion" is a lot like the theme from Viorate, but not as powerful. It still is a great vocal theme and showcases the uniqueness of the soundtrack. "The Path You Walk" is a poignant highlight too thanks to Mami Horie's reserved vocal performance and the magical instrumentals that are somewhat reminiscent of Ar tonelico. "Silent Rhyme" is also quite enjoyable, but in a more superficial way like a typical anime ending theme. Most gamers are likely to find at least one favourite here depending on their specific tastes.

The battle themes are good and plentiful too. You'll probably want to get into a battle just to hear them, and even more the same for boss themes. Hearing how the flutes meld with the percussion has always been a strangely addictive part of the series' music. Tracks such as "Ferocious Drive" and "Horned Enigma" have a retro rock edge to them with their punchy keyboard melodies and cheesy drum kits. They work surprisingly well in the game to fuel the excitement and dynamism of the battlescreens. Others have a much darker sound such as the slow-building and encompassing "Huge Game Table". The more you listen to it, the more you'll like it. The blistering final battle theme "Deceitful Wings" is straightforward, but doesn't disappoint in terms of emotion either.

Although some of the music has always had that touch of Tenpei Sato and Yasunori Mitsuda, there are some abnormally "Yasunori Mitsuda" feeling pieces in this game. "Wind Over Time" has a very Celtic/Japanese hybrid feel to it. I have no problem with this track reminding me of a Yasunori Mitsuda tune though! This is the full soundtrack, so there are a couple unwanted shorter pieces that aren't that enjoyable, mainly because of their short length and annoying tendencies. "Two Funny People" is a particularly disastrous example given its annoying animal samples. However, there is enough here to make it worth a buy!


Though it is a tried and true formula, Akira Tsuchiya, Ken Nakagawa, and Daisuke Achiwa did a great job showcasing the best of what they've done in an original format that fans will not be bored by. It's sure to catch ears and stand out all around the world this time. It's a very catchy and heartwarming RPG soundtrack overall with another diversity to appeal to most. I personally think this soundtrack is the best introduction to the vast amounts of Atelier music and I think the composers thought so too. If you enjoyed this, then don't hesitate to consider other entries in the series, such as Elie, Viorate, and Grand Fantasm.

Overall Score: 8/10