What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said? It’s a phenomenal piece that invokes a feeling of childish playfulness with a subtle touch of sorrow. It’s a song that feels open and free, but also lonely and confused. It’s perhaps the most representative of Maeda’s instrumental tracks, yet it also stands out from AIR’s memorable soundtrack. I love it as much as nearly everyone else does.
CLANNAD: To the Same Heights
This was a difficult choice, as CLANNAD’s OST is packed with memorable songs, but I chose this one because of its placement in the story, as well as its applicability outside of the game. It’s a light piano piece like most of Maeda’s pieces, but it captures a sort of heavenly feeling, a feeling of peace and relief after so long. It’s one of the few Maeda pieces that tries to convey a sense of spirituality and satisfaction rather than sorrow or yearning. Its exceptional placement at the end of Kotomi’s route really drives this feeling home for me… ;;
Tomoyo After: Hope
Although this piece acts as the game’s title screen theme, its placement within the main story gives the feeling that this song is meant to be the main theme of the entire game. Hope is a calming, if a tad melancholy piece that is both soul-stirring and heartwarming, if not also just as sorrowful as many of Maeda’s pieces. This may be Maeda’s instrumental masterpiece for perfectly conveying the feel of Tomoyo After’s story on its own merits, as well as being a really nice new age piece that would define Maeda’s style in modern Key titles.
Planetarian: Gentle Jena
Perhaps the most memorable song in the entire novel (which is saying quite a bit because Planetarian’s soundtrack on the whole is largely forgettable), Gentle Jena captures the majesty of the stars and sucks us into the starry world Yumemi is desperate to show us. On its own merits, it feels like the kind of song you can close your eyes to and imagine the stars shining through them, your heart warming as they twinkle. It feels comfortable and peaceful, a large contrast from Maeda’s usual style. This piece is, in my opinion, Magome Togoshi’s magnum opus. It’s such a shame that he left Key after Little Busters… ._.
Little Busters: Approaching Light
Little Busters siphons a newfound energy into Key’s usual formula, which is not only apparent in the story and characters, but the music as well. Not every track is great, but quite a few stood out to me as I read the VN. Maeda in particular pulled a lot of weight in the music department, but my favorite track in the entire OST belongs to Shinji Orito’s “Approaching Light”. This song represents a strength I didn’t know Orito had as a composer; usually, his schtick is writing bouncy ‘daily life’ tracks, formulaic character themes and dramatic remixes of the game’s opening and closing themes. Approaching Light is none of those. It’s a slow, melodic piano aria that gives the impression of a distant beauty, lonely but trying to smile despite the pain. It fits Mio’s character almost perfectly, and as the first track of Little Busters I ever heard, it was a pleasant surprise to my ears.
Kud Wafter: Hoshimori Uta
Yeah, there are some people who don’t really like Kud’s singing voice. I, however, find it rather endearing, and Hoshimori Uta is perhaps my favorite song in the OST because of it. The majority of Kud Wafter’s music is fine for what it is, but nothing really stands out save for a few tracks. Hoshimori Uta sounds like a cross between a school anthem and a lullaby (the latter of which is especially apparent if you read the lyrics). I do wish there was an instrumental version of the song present in the soundtrack, because I think the melody would fare a lot better with other people without Kud’s singing, but for what it is, I really like it. Just as much as I like One’s Future~
Rewrite: Scene Shifts There
This is perhaps the hardest to pick, because Rewrite’s OST is simply amazing. Many of the tracks are easy and pleasurable to listen to outside of the game, and each piece fits the situation given perfectly. I tend to go for emotional impact when it comes to music, so I sought out the background piece that left the greatest emotional effect on me even after the credits started rolling. For me, that song is Scene Shifts There. Ryou Mizutsuki is a witch of simple melodies that stir the soul and manipulate the emotions, and the placement of her songs in the game makes the scenes they feature in all the more memorable. Also, this song works pretty well in the rain. :3
Angel Beats: Memory
Simple piano melodies seem to be something of a trend in my likes, and Memory is no exception. Angel Beats is kind of the oddball of Key’s usual fare, being the first anime-exclusive Key project for a long while before the VN was announced. I haven’t heard any of the new BGM introduced in 1st Beat, but Angel Beats’ OST wasn’t really developed with the same kind of sound as previous visual novels in mind. The tracks range from shallow to complex, memorable to forgettable, and Memory kind of strikes a middleground. The melody definitely isn’t complex, but I wouldn’t say it isn’t forgettable. I couldn’t tell you where in the anime it plays, but it feels like the same deal as Hoshimori Uta. It’s simple, soft and sweet, kind of like a lullaby. I like quiet, unambitious pieces like this. It feels like a humble and honest expression of the feelings within the heart of the composer, and I listen to this often when trying to express myself through writing. Simply put, it’s a nice song.
Although Harmonia’s OST is good, I’m a little torn about the usage of certain songs within the game. That being said, both Ryou Mizutsuki and Shinji Orito did a pretty good job painting the world of Harmonia with their music. The one I end up listening to the most often is Vitae, which ironically is another bouncy ‘daily life’ track. I don’t know for sure what exactly separates this track from the others of its kind. Perhaps put bluntly, it feels like a fresh start to the day. In the midst of trying to find one’s emotions, as is the case for our protagonist Rei, this song feels like he’s on the right track to discovering what those emotions are, whether positive or negative. It works really well outside of the game as well, and I think it’s the kind of music that works best on pleasant morning walks. :3
Can’t wait for whatever awaits us next when it comes to Key music! ^^