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Game Music

Live Music by Piano and Strings: Sekaiju no MeiQ I & II Super Arrange Version (Review)

Live Music by Piano and Strings: Sekaiju no MeiQ I & II Super Arrange Version (Review)

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I think the title says it all.

It’s great to see the music in a game getting as much love as the music in Etrian Odyssey has. Not only do the official soundtracks contain both DS and PC-88 versions of the music, but there have been Super Arrange Version albums for each title, a Piano sketch version, and even a drama album in Japan. I hope this sets a precedent for Yuzo Koshiro, and hopefully we’ll see that Actraiser album that Hibino mentioned he’s interested in pursuing last month.

Aside from having a long title, Live Music by Piano and Strings: Sekaiju no MeiQ I & II Super Arrange Version is the first Etrian Odyssey arrange album to feature music from both titles in the series, and hopefully it’s not the last. Arranged entirely be Norihiko Hibino and performed by a small group of talented session artists, this album visits many of Koshiro’s memorable melodies in a soothing instrumental style with a bit of bossa nova.

Hit the jump to find out of this approach does justice to the music in the series, and for pictures of the recording session.

“Spinning the Tale” is an appropriate opener, with an ascending melody that slowly builds up into a powerful piano ballad. Subdued side sticks take the place of what would be snare drums, giving the piece a punch while not overpowering the acoustic instruments with harsh percussion. The next piece, “Town – The Roadside Trees Outside the Window” starts with a solo violin melody before acoustic guitars and piano come in, keeping things simple and creating a comforting ambiance.

A fan favorite, “Labyrinth I – The Green Green Woodlands / Labyrinth I – Woodland Ruins” comes next, with the memorable melody voiced by a clean acoustic guitar as the rest of the instruments take up backup roles. The piece takes a jazzy turn towards the end with elegant guitar and piano solos. “Labyrinth III – The Thousand Year Old Blue Woodlands” plods along at a walking pace, and the sprase guitar melody lends the piece a nebulous atmosphere, as if one was lost in the ancient labyrinth.

Another favorite, “Battle – Initial Strike / Battle – The First Campaign,” happens to be one of my favorite tracks on the album, taking on a distinctly bossa nova sound with a gentle swing that’s given weight through a prominent bass, rhythmic percussion, and guitar chords on the upbeats. I think this is what Hibino has in mind for his “relaxing bossa nova” Actraiser arrange album. Taking a similar approach, “Labyrinth IV – The Withered Forest” is one of the most energetic tracks on the album, complete with rousing acoustic guitar and piano solos.

When we first got in touch with Hibino for the “Ask Hibino” feature and started talking about this album, I begged him to include an arrangement of my favorite track from the Etrian Odyssey series, “Scene – Blue and White,” and thankfully it appears here.  I’m going to pretend that it was a special gift just for me. The arrangement offers a soothing approach that is similar to the Sekaiju no MeiQ Super Arrange Version. I like the addition of the bell trees and light percussion that give the piece a somewhat spiritual sound. “Come On, Start the Adventure!” is a fun piece that is retooled to sound somewhat contemplative as opposed to energetic and inspiring as it sounded on the original soundtrack.

The 3/4 time signature in “Labyrinth III – Woodlands of Frozen Forest” gives the piece a waltz-like quality that makes it feel as though there is constant movement throughout the piece. The heartfelt violin and guitar performances really stand out. Finally, the beautiful melody of “Labyrinth IV – Cherry Tree Bridge” makes an entrance, sounding almost like a lullaby at first with gentle piano before picking up momentum and climaxing as the album comes to a close.

Live Music by Piano and Strings: Sekaiju no MeiQ I & II Super Arrange Version definitely offers something completely different than the Sekaiju no MeiQ² *shoou no seihai* Super Arrange Version that we heard earlier this year. It’s more in line with the first Super Arrange Version album, and I enjoyed it a lot. With all the concerts going around these days, we often look to full orchestral arrangements when we think of instrumental performances, but this album demonstrates that a smaller ensemble of musicians (photos below) can create a full and rich sound without a big budget. I highly recommend this album, and I hope that Koshiro and Hibino consider a similar approach to an Actraiser album and others in the future. You can pick it up at CD Japan or Play Asia.

Are you a fan of this kind of soothing instrumental music? Would you like to hear something like this performed live in concert?


Shuju Narikawa on guitar. Photo courtesy of 5pb.


Yuchiro Oonuki on piano. Photo courtesy of 5pb.


Chieko Amano on violin and Minori Yamazaki on cello. Photo courtesy of 5pb.


Norihiko Hibino, arranger and conductor. Photo courtesy of 5pb.


Naoko Sato on percussion. Photo courtesy of 5pb.

[Special thanks to Masatoshi Nakamura at 5pb for providing these photographs]

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