Review: Seiken Densetsu RISE of MANA Original Soundtrack

New titles in the Mana series typically don’t garner as much excitement as they once did. Rise of Mana in particular, as a free-to-play title, had people worried about the quality of the game, although I was personally excited to hear that series composers Hiroki Kikuta, Yoko Shimomura, and Kenji Ito were each contributing a song along with a main theme by ethereal vocalist Kokia.

Does the soundtrack live up to the musical legacy of the franchise? Read our review below.

As it turns out, the soundtrack is mainly handled by Tsuyoshi Sekito, who most of us probably associate with his rock-oriented soundtrack from the past. I was surprised to hear that he was able to maintain the magical, mysterious, and atmospheric sound that former artists have done with the franchise

Starting from the top, “Believe in the Spirit,” featuring Kokia, is absolutely perfect with its dreamy and healing soundscape, making it perfect for a Seiken Densetsu title. As to the guest tracks, Shimomura’s “Where the Heart Beats Free,” was previewed on last year’s Christmas album, and is very Legend of Mana-esque with its upbeat and playful approach. Kikuta’s track, “The Drip Drip of Memory,” is classic Kikuta and Secret of Mana with its constantly moving guitar backing, woodwind melody, and choral elements. “Fear The Messenger,” Kenji Ito’s battle theme, features wailing electric guitars paired to beautiful strings, much like the SaGa rock arrange albums. The last guest, Yasuhiro Yamanaka, delivers “This Way To Another Dimension,” a very spacey track with repetitive atmospheres underneath twinkling electronics. There’s also a lovely piano arrangement of “Rising Sun” from original Seiken Densetsu, which is a nice treat.

Sekito’s tracks are equally wonderful, as mentioned, including “Sunlight Through the Trees,” a reflective track with bells and harp, “Luck of the Draw,” a playful march with fluttering flute reminiscent of Kikuta’s work, “Ode to the Workshop,” with its repetitive honky bass and cheery high pitched melody line, and “The Enemy Appears,” an almost flight-like theme that comes as a decisive and almost triumphant march. “Those Who Delve Into The Darkness” features cool rhythmic work and an exotic melody progression, “Breath of the Goddess” is swelling and dreamy with lots of reverb, “A Worthy Light” sports the rock sound that we know Sekito for with wailing guitars and rock percussion, “One Bard’s Tune” gets beautiful guitar joined by woodwinds and strings, and “Back to Mana’s Embrace” closes out with a bombastic orchestral battle theme.

I didn’t really have expectations going into this soundtrack, so I can say that I’m pleasantly by surprised by what’s on offer. Sekito does a great job adhering to the Seiken Densetsu sound, while we get tracks from all the composers from the franchise’s past, plus a vocal theme by Kokia. I highly recommend picking this up at CD Japan if you’re a fan of Seiken Densetsu music of the past.

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