Much like purchasing blind boxes, I sometimes buy soundtracks hoping I get something pleasing that I can add to my collection. Sadly, some of the OSTs I pick up this way leave me either disappointed or a little regretful of my purchase. Because of this, I only make 1-2 blind purchases a year. With the turn of 2016 and Alice Order’s soundtrack page popping up on CDJapan, I decided to preorder it and see how my luck played out.
Alice Order was a really dicey shot for me because it was from a composer I’ve never heard of until I looked him up on VGMdb.net. Even then, Yuki Hayashi was a mysterious name to pop up for a video game soundtrack; as you can see, the majority of his work is from anime. However, in staying true to the excitement of a blind soundtrack purchase, I sat through the whole soundtrack without listening to any of Hayashi’s other music. The results were good!
Right off the bat, Hayashi delivers a strong start with the self-titled track, “ALICE ORDER,” generously filled with string music and energizing percussion. I mean it when I say generous in regards to the strings, as they dominate the track, almost eclipsing the accompanying guitar playing the melody around 0:31. It’s okay though, because everything still sounds great, especially when the drum kit and guitar pull back at 0:57, only for the guitar to return with rhythmically pleasing strumming at 1:04!
I love this kind of buildup and energy in music, especially in battle tracks like “Valkyrie Dance,” which Hayashi provides even more string usage and other instruments to pepper the track here and there (such as flutes, horns, piano, and harp). Thankfully, there are softer tracks like “Return” and “What is lost” tossed to us like ring buoys so as not to drown in Hayashi’s lovely string ocean. In fact, I found the latter track a very nice change of pace, capturing the beauty of the main theme of Alice Order through the piano, as well as sobering melancholy.
It’s actually a little amusing, because I sometimes anxiously wait for faster-paced tracks, like battle themes, to come on when I doing beginning-to-end listening, but it was a little different this time around. I was caught in a deluge of wonderful, strong tracks right at the beginning, so I was eager to hear the others, whether they were atmospheric like “Wave of mystery” or softer pieces like the two mentioned above.
After some careful thought, I realized what I liked most about Alice Order OST is Yuki Hayashi’s compositional signature: powerful and beautifully flowing string writing. It tickles the senses without overwhelming the ears. Strangely enough, while I do enjoy Alice Order as a blind box purchase, I don’t know if could recommend it at the same level I would one of Hayashi’s anime scores. If you’ve heard of Hayashi’s other works, then you might find this album a little lacking. Alice Order OST might be a nice addition for a soundtrack/Yuki Hayashi music collector, but won’t provide enough diversity if you’re looking for something new. However, for those who haven’t heard of any of Hayashi’s previous work (like myself when I first heard this), then I say yes, buy the soundtrack. Use Alice Order as a springboard like I did to explore the musical world of Yuki Hayashi.