I was surfing around on Yahoo Japan, checking out some of the game soundtracks up for auction when I stumbled across this CD. It wasn’t so much the name that caught my attention as the picture. It was To Heart, and in my mind, I already knew it had to be good. Despite never having played it, the game that spawned a delightful anime had grown to be one of my favorites of the genre. Like many others who’d become taken by this enchanting series, I was snatching up everything I could find with its name on it. In Your Heart would be mine! I was lucky enough to actually win the auction, and find myself the owner of yet another To Heart treasure.
In Your Heart is subtitled “To Heart Image & Arrange CD,” but what exactly does the “image” mean in that title? Well, there are five tracks that are brand new compositions written by different composers, but are done in the same style as what you would hear from the game itself. I was at first skeptical of these, especially since the original soundtrack was among my most cherished possessions. I was happily surprised, however.
To Heart’s music has a jazzier, cooler feel to it than most other dating sims, and these image tracks incorporate that sound very well; the pieces sound like they could have literally been taken straight out of the game. The production quality is also top-notch for what I believe to be a very official fan-made CD. “Sending My Feelings to You” and “Stairway to Memory” are excellent examples of the composer’s talent and excellent sound quality. But, it was the album’s title track that took me by surprise. “In Your Heart,” a sweetly melancholic piano piece, despite sounding a bit out of place on this mostly upbeat album, is amazing. It’s hard for me to believe that such a touching and well-executed piece has came from a fan album.
As for the six arrangements, they are incredibly good. It’s nice to hear some newly-arranged tracks (as with most games, certain “popular” pieces tend to get arranged more often than others). And not only do the arrangers keep each melody intact and recognizable, but do a great job of changing things up a bit, adding different textures and styles to make this truly sound like an arranged album; too often do arrangements sound like the original songs, only with better synth. “Smiling” best portrays this with its jazzy, “Jerry Lee Lewis” piano and fun brass accompaniment. If only all arranged albums were this good.
In Your Heart is probably one of the best CD’s I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in quite some time. Even if you aren’t familiar with the To Heart melodies, the music and arrangements themselves on this CD are good enough to warrant notice. Sadly, the odds of finding it are extremely low. Yahoo Japan may be your only chance, and even then I’m not too sure how often, or if it will even show up. But, if you’re interested, keep an eye out. The effort is more than worth it.