Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch from Bandai Namco, Level-5, and Studio Ghibili has been one of the most hyped Japanese role-playing North American and European releases of the season, and anyone lucky enough to get their hands on a copy can attest to how exciting the visually impeccable game has been. The story, which follows the adventures of Oliver, a thirteen year-old boy who enters into an alternate universe on a quest to save his mother, is true to the trademark Studio Ghibli style and is a must-play for fans of the JRPG genre.
One of the most exciting aspects of Ni no Kuni is the return of master composer Joe Hisaishi, a long time collaborator in the projects of Studio Ghibli. Hisaishi's work has appeared in almost every film Hayao Miyazaki has directed to date, from Nauiscaa of the Valley of the Wind to Ponyo. Studio Ghibli fans are most likely well-aware of his work, and will be pleased with how he has continued to carry on the strong Studio Ghibili legacy in Ni no Kuni. Here are five of the outstanding tracks from the score:
As with most games, the primary piece of music fans will be exposed to and associate with the game is the overall theme, and Hisaishi delivers a solid unifying main theme for Ni no Kuni with this adventurous and fantastical track. With reviewers calling the game's OST Hisaishi's best work since Spirited Away, it's no wonder the composition has already earned a solid reputation since its release. Hisaishi doesn't keep things on the small scale for the console medium, but delivers the exact same emotionally sweeping work that would leave a whole theater of people moved at the conclusion of a film.
Quality world map themes are essential to video games, since most players will spend a high percentage of their time listening to it repeatedly as they work their way through the game. Luckily, the track “Field” holds up for several listens, and has enough variety in its structure and instrumentation to keep it from becoming monotonous to players who will end up spending an extended amount of time on the world map.
To get a taste for the game's more moving moments, try the gorgeous and haunting “Arie ~Recollection~,” an emotionally laden track meant to convey Oliver's shattered heart following the loss of his mother. More sentimental gamers might find themselves shedding a tear or two, and those with sturdier tear ducts can simply enjoy to masterful work put into the atmosphere of this track.
Battle themes are another staple of gaming, especially since it's hard to get into the spirit of fighting when something not suited to the intensity of the skirmish is playing in the background. Ni no Kuni's theme blends hard-driving violins to increase the sense of danger alongside majestic winds that are evocative of the noble desire for victory. No bad guys will stand a chance against a player swept up in the sentiment of this piece!
Though most gamers love OSTs simply for their score and orchestration, many still enjoy the inclusion of a vocal track into the soundtrack. Ni no Kuni delivers this with ending theme “Kokoro no Kakera,” sung by Hisaishi's daughter Mai. Though North American and European audiences will instead hear the English-language track sung by Archie Buchanan, I would recommend checking out the original from the Japanese OST, where Mai showcases exactly how musical talent is all in the family. That being said, Archie's version is nothing to scoff at, and is a strong addition to the overseas OST.
Article Thumbnail and image copyright Bandai-Namco, Level-5, and Studio Ghibili
Julie is an avid fan of Asian music, anime, and anything else otaku. In her spare time, she enjoys writing fanfiction, devouring CLAMP manga, and watching K-pop boys boogie. She blogs at Quickand2thePointless. Follow her @Qa2thePointless!