Atelier Elkrone ~Dear for Otomate~ OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: KDSD-00547
Released On: April 18, 2012
Composed By: Haruka Shimotsuki, Daisuke Achiwa, JUN2, Teisena, Ikuko Ebata, Kaori Tsutsui, Yoh Ohyama, Yoshihiro Kawagoe, Yoichiro Tanaka, Yosuke Kurokawa, Masayuki Adaniya
Arranged By: MANYO, Daisuke Achiwa, Toshimichi Isoe
Published By: Team Entertainment
Recorded at: Arca Studio, ZIZZ Studio, D-Sound
Format: 1 CD
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01 - At the City Where Flowers Bloom
02 - The Gentle Breeze of Elkrone
03 - Popotte's Overture
04 - Within the Morning Mist
05 - A Seaside Street
06 - Black Tea and Tart
07 - Beside a Small Window
08 - Synthesis Race
09 - An Small Adventure
10 - A Hero Visits!
11 - Battle of Destiny
12 - La Festa
13 - A Cocktail With You
14 - Tower of Intellect
15 - Baton Dance
16 - Garden Balsam
17 - The Men's Weapon Shop
18 - Heretic Studies
19 - Resolution and Decision
20 - A New Era
21 - Requiem
22 - To You, My Beloved
23 - First Feelings
24 - Whispers of Love
25 - The Darkness of the Heart
26 - A Moonless Night
27 - The Song of the Siren
28 - Dance for Setting Sail
29 - The Prince and Me
30 - Song of a Faraway Prayer
31 - Lore Elkrone
32 - Song of a Faraway Prayer (Instrumental)
33 - Dreaming With You
Total Time:

For some, it may be an unholy marriage, but in my mind, this game (and its soundtrack) come from a match-made-in-heaven among developers.

Atelier Elkrone is one of many side-story spin-off games in the Atelier series, but this one is different in that it's a visual novel. Not only that, it's an "otome" visual novel (you play a girl and select one of many guys as your mate through dialogue options). The game was developed by Idea Factory, specifically "Design Factory," the team behind the Otomate Label. To date, only one of their many games has been localized, and that game was "Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom" for PSP.

So, while Idea Factory doesn't exactly have a spotless reputation (accusations of shovelware among their strategy RPGs are well-founded, in my opinion), they do actually put together decent visual novels. And while I love Gust and the Atelier series primarily for the "gotta synth 'em all" item creation systems, the Atelier series was just begging to have an otome game in its roster.

To top it all off, the Atelier Elkrone soundtrack is scored, with the exception of two tracks, by the wonderful amalgam-group "ZIZZ Studio," which includes the likes of Toshimichi Isoe, Syntaro Jimbo, and many others. ZIZZ Studio is probably best recognized in North America for their work on the two "ClaDun" games by System Prisma (localized by NIS America). Because there are so many members on the ZIZZ team, it's tough to say that 100% of what they've worked on is solid gold. But for my money, they tend to do great work. And considering the Gust Sound Team has been so quickly changing members (apparently Kazuki Yanagawa has gone freelance!), it's probably a good thing there was another team to handle the music for Elkrone.

(Quick aside: the two tracks that are not from ZIZZ are the opening track, composed and sung by Haruka Shimotsuki, and track 31, composed by Daisuke Achiwa, a veteran with Gust.)

The BGM for Atelier Elkrone is mostly synthesized, sequenced music, though there are recorded instrumental performances as well (most prominently, the violin and string ensemble tracks in the latter half). The violin tracks, performed by Teisena (impressive repertoire found here), really stood out to me -- in a good way. I don't find myself particularly attached to much of the music, but I do find it catchy and pleasant enough to listen to it as background music. Which, of course, is ideal for most parts of a visual novel. Among the songs that do stand out in my mind, check out the six we've sampled here. These tracks maintain the high quality, and to some extent the provincial and ethnic styles, of the Atelier series. But they do so loosely. This is certainly something different. And for an Atelier junkie like me, that in itself is like a breath of fresh air.

But I wouldn't quickly recommend it to either casual VGM listeners or hardcore fans of VGM and/or the Atelier series. A nice change of pace? Yes. Some stellar tracks scattered throughout the OST? Definitely. But, for most people, it's probably something you can do without. As for me, I live Zizz and I love Atelier, so I'm just tickled pink. But I cannot, and do not, expect my peers to match my enthusiasm.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann