Released as a bonus item in Japan alongside the game itself, Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~ Soundtrack Book is a 20 page artbook with a CD attached to the back. This CD can be viewed in two parts, much like its sequel (the AI~EM2~ Book). First is a “best of Atelier Iris” section, and then second is arrangements of older Atelier music.
The first ten tracks come directly from the Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~ OST. As a “best of”, Gust certainly did a good job in picking some of the best themes from the game. There is, of course, the opening theme song, as well as the standard field, town, and battle themes. These should all be familiar to fans of the game, and hearing them in contrast to the upcoming tracks reminds us just how far Gust has come over the years.
The second half (tracks 11 to 22) are the “arranged” tracks, but by that I mean they’re really more “B-side, unreleased, remixed, and more best of” tracks. The album takes us further and further back in time, though it skips over Lilie and Marie, giving us first Viorate, then Judie, then more Judie, and finally Elie.
The three Viorate tracks are all outstanding: they’re my favorite on the album. Starting with the “Harbor” track, I believe this is an original version taken directly from the album. There may be some change in synth quality, but I couldn’t detect any real arrangement. Next is a medley of two battle themes that have the same melody, but the first is a Nintendo-quality song that quickly transitions (with a nice 4 count click) into the amazing battle theme “A Gale.” This transition is about all the arrangement that happens, but it is certainly an awesome track.
Then we reach our first fully arranged song: a techno remix of Viorate’s ending theme “Beneath This Blue Sky.” This remix is absolutely outstanding: technically, it’s just a standard techno remix, but the addition of a uilleann pipe solo (think “bagpipe” without the bag) and the effect put on the vocalists voice create an amazing atmosphere for a good dance party.
Next up are three tracks all found on the Atelier Judie OST. Nice song selection, but nothing new. The last track is one of two versions of the ending vocal theme. Hooray.
The next two tracks were pulled off of any of the three Atelier Judie Original Drama Albums. As someone who generally does not purchase drama albums, the addition of these vocal tracks was a great idea on Gust’s part. The first song is only a minute long and is a vocal arrangement of “Country of Bonfires.” “Under This Tree”, however, is six minutes long, and is a beautiful vocal work; I was so glad to have finally heard it!
Three tracks more come directly off of Atelier Elie Unknown Origin, which at the time of this CD release was harder to find as Team Entertainment had not yet reprinted it. I’ve always loved Tsuchiya’s work in Atelier Elie, and these songs demonstrate some of that finer work.
The final track, a “bonus” track, is a remixed version of Mami Horie’s performance(s) on disc 2 of Unknown Origin. The mix is only 3 minutes long, and it includes Horie’s vocal performance, saxophone solos, and a few other sounds added here and there (likely by Tsuchiya). It’s a good way to end the album, as it is soft, short, and sweet.
The book is surprisingly common in Japan: one can come across it on many online auctions these days, and I believe Otaku.com keeps it in stock from time to time. Not only is the music good, but the artbook (which contains conceptual art, character bios, and a fun comic extra on the last few pages) makes it even more worth it. And, again, the remixed Viorate ending song alone makes it a worthwhile purchase. Atelier fans should definitely hunt down this book/album, no questions asked.