Tales of Graces OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: AVCD-38050~3
Released On: February 10, 2010
Composed By: Motoi Sakuraba, Hibiki Aoyama, Hiroo Yamaguchi
Arranged By: Motoi Sakuraba, Hibiki Aoyama, JUNKOO
Published By: Avex Trax
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 4 CDs
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Disc One
01 - Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ (Tales of Graces Version)
02 - Tales of Graces
03 - Beyond the Sunlit Trees
04 - Grasp it With All Your Might
05 - Raise the Song of Victory!
06 - Requiem of Decay
07 - Is filled with flowers
08 - Innocent eyes
09 - Sophie
10 - Refreshing Atmosphere
11 - Progress with the Same Number of Dreams
12 - A Town of Dancing Wind
13 - The Children's Adventure
14 - Heart Separation
15 - Imminent Crisis
16 - Oath
17 - Invitation to a Voyage
18 - Blown by the Sea Breeze
19 - Royal Capital ~Majestic Grandeur~
20 - Lying in the Darkness
21 - Unrest
22 - Unlucky Star
23 - Different conflict
24 - First benefited
25 - Protects the hazard
26 - Unspoken Feelings
Total Time:

Disc Two
01 - Sword-Drawing! Grind!
02 - A Village Vanished Beyond the Woodlands
03 - Those Standing in the Way
04 - Reminiscence
05 - Conflict
06 - Over the Waterdrops
07 - Arrival!
08 - Perplexed Sword
09 - Pascal's Theme
10 - From the Faraway Distance Towards Here
11 - Seeking Wisdom
12 - Lively Lake Shore
13 - Guidance to Victory
14 - Fort of Breath
15 - A Mansion of Stagnant Malice
16 - Decisive Battle! Cheer Up
17 - New king of the wind
18 - The Mad King's Invasion
19 - Second coming of that day
20 - Moment of parting
21 - Furious storm
22 - Warm Feelings
23 - A Wharf Mixed with Men, Things and Sand
24 - Hot Sand and Heat Haze Myriad
25 - Scorching Brawl
26 - The Depths of Magic Science
27 - Cavern of the Giant Beast
28 - Dance of the Unified Water
29 - The Land of a Single Sigh is Thirsty
Total Time:

Disc Three
01 - To the Fascinating Oceans
02 - Look! The Sky is Crimson
03 - To a Sea of Dancing Snow
04 - Frozen Heel
05 - Cold Wind Flash!
06 - Drifting Town
07 - A Fortress of Hundred Blacks
08 - The Ends of the Faraway Memories
09 - Taboo Heritage
10 - A Crevasse Where Winter Has Started
11 - Rejection cage
12 - Countdown begins
13 - Put the feelings into the sky
14 - Endless Silence
15 - What Appeared at Eternity's End
16 - About the Sleep Stopping Progress
17 - What Was Born Inside That Door
18 - Lambda
19 - Crush that Steel!
20 - Struggle to regain
21 - Tales Writing Club Start
22 - Everybody's Playing Cat!
23 - Adventure in the Shore
24 - Kamenin Chief's Relaxation Diary
25 - The Supreme King's Cage
26 - Soul Evangelist
Total Time:

Disc Four
01 - Muddiness Confined in a Chest
02 - The Corroder
03 - Promised Battle
04 - Twisted Smile
05 - The Stage's Opening
06 - Mad Dance
07 - Pour in the debris
08 - Earth-Piercing Sword
09 - Impatient Sword
10 - Connected Feelings
11 - Shaking Heavens
12 - Life's Cry
13 - Towards Tomorrow
14 - Dancing in the Wind
15 - When the promised
16 - Ride the wishes
17 - Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ (Ending Version)
18 - Forever forever
Total Time:

I've long held the belief that Motoi Sakuraba has had diminishing returns in terms of his musical output due to being tapped for nearly every entry of the Tales series. Considering that the Tales series has been known to push out at least two or three games per year, it's expected that at some point Sakuraba would have reached his zenith and continues on a downward slope. Where his pinnacle lies is certainly debatable but it seems that it has long passed and now his work is consistently in a slump.

None of this is more evident than in his more recent works in the Tales series, which have gotten more stagnant and generic with each new iteration of the franchise. In the past, Sakuraba's music has offered well-composed and memorable battle themes, at the very least. With Tales of Graces, however, this is no longer the case. Hibiki Aoyama's name has been added to the mix this time around, and it's anybody's guess as to whether Aoyama or Sakuraba had more influence over the musical direction. As far as I'm concerned, though, regardless of who had more creative control over the soundtrack, the quality of the music suffered, and is a pedestrian offering at best and an insult to my ears at worst.

What might contribute to the declining quality and stagnation of the music of the Tales series (and, by proxy, Sakuraba's musical talent) is the fact that nearly the same tunes are used between each game, with only minor changes made to the composition; I honestly cannot differentiate between this soundtrack from any of the previous soundtracks of the series, barring the battle theme, and even then it's only because a good chunk of every RPG is spent in battles. This isn't something that can be said of all JRPGs either; each entry of, say, the Suikoden or Final Fantasy series offers thematically varied musical scores that are dependent on anything from the inspiration of the setting to the art and story direction. That's not to say that the Tales of Graces soundtrack is totally unsalvageable, though. There are a few passable, if not well-composed songs that save the soundtrack from being a total trainwreck.

Chief among these is the song I Want to Protect You, which is a remix of the game's original theme, which coincidentally, wasn't even composed by Sakuraba. Sakuraba and Aoyama offer a few decent battle pieces, as well. However, buying the soundtrack for these tracks is comparable to digging through manure to find a few dollar bills. It's not worth the effort. Music is a huge part of the experience for any game, and having a substandard soundtrack hurts the overall quality of the game itself regardless of the quality of gameplay or graphics.

Though they are unlikely to do so, Tales Studio needs to give Sakuraba a sabbatical to refresh his talents and rope in some new blood for the music in their games; Go Shiina's tracks in Tales of Legendia were excellent and a breath of fresh air – why not give him another shot? As it stands, the music in the Tales series is in serious danger of being deemed inadequate by anyone not enamored with the series.

Reviewed by: Ashton Liu