Released around the same time as Sakura Taisen 2, Red and Konami brought “Mitsumete Knight” to Japan. The game had elements of gameplay similar to the Sakura Taisen series and dating sims such as Tokimeki Memorial. It also had music from three relatively unknown composers who took a courageous move in attempting to create this two disc set.
Now, I’ve owned this soundtrack for a long time. When I first bought it, I thought very little of it. I eventually came to re-visit it after hearing the game’s arranged album, “Concerto.” After listening to it a few more times through, I can still say that the album is mediocre, but I can recognize a few good tunes in the mix of bland ones.
Before I start talking about particular songs, let’s start with some basic points of interest about this soundtrack. First of all, the album is prone to including sound effects in songs. It is not uncommon to hear seagulls, waves crashing on a beach, murmurs of people in a crowded theater, and other such noises. This means that they were intentionally put into the track as part of the song, and were not done separately from the music composition. This is interesting, and is rarely seen in soundtracks after the Super Famicom era.
Second, the reader should notice the disparity in disc times. Disc one is packed with over 70 minutes of music in 56 tracks. Disc two has only 31 tracks, many of them being six second fanfares and one minute “blip-blip” minigame tunes (that are generally bad). Hence, disc two doesn’t even make 50 minutes. To even out these discs, I would have put the “Season” tracks on disc two. But, it’s too late for those sort of decisions now.
Third, I always appreciate when tracklists are laid out in some sort of order. Generally, tracks are put in order of when they are introduced in-game. The other conventional route is to classify and categorize songs; I have found myself liking this method because of its organizational benefits, though it does tend to make the music more repetitive and irritating in one straight listen-through.
Fourth, and finally, there is only one vocal track on this album. Now, there is also an entire vocal collection for this game, so for those of you expecting lots of vocals to accompany a game of this style, there they are. For those interested in hearing the short solitary vocal on this album, it’s the last track of disc one. It is beautiful, but simply too short to really grasp hold of and enjoy.
Those things out of the way, let’s talk about the songs themselves. Starting with the opening theme, we are treated to a beautiful synthesized cello holding together the background for the first half of the piece as bells and winds add decoration and strings take the melody. Then, abruptly, we are swept into a fast march tempo and an uplifting bit of music, which then slows down and ends on a swelling chord. That’s one decent opening.
The other two tracks of the “opening” section are also beautiful, though they are short. Then we reach the best part of disc one, the “character theme” section. The first thing one ought to say is, “wow, Mitsumete Knight has a heaping load of significant characters.” The front cover of the album is already a testament to this fact, but it seems there are even more characters than the cover allowed us to anticipate. My favorite character themes were the anonymous “protagonist” theme (that is, the theme of “you” the player), and the soft and charming melody that is Ann’s Theme (track 18). The former is a vibrant song with bouncy percussion and a pleasant though predictable melody: somewhat reminiscent of older “Atelier” style songs. The latter is filled with lots of pitched percussion, ambient reverb synth chords, and a clarinet/oboe sound carrying a counter-melody that’s hard to detect at first but is clearly one of the best parts of the composition.
The other character themes are, for the most part, light and happy, with typical chord progressions and melodies. They are more charming and less bland than many character themes from other games within this genre, so kudos to these three unknown composers for getting the job done right with character themes.
The “Season” songs are, well, the opposite of the character themes. I didn’t enjoy them at all. They are bland, and I have no idea what context they are used for in-game. If there’s one section worth skipping when listening through the album, this is the one.
Then we reach “Event 1.” These songs probably incorporate various town and (obviously) event themes. These are hit and miss: some are good, some are bad, and some are downright annoying. In this batch, my favorite was track 53, “When Reason Gave Way to Desire.” It’s a catchy jazz song, and (not so coincidentally) a song that was chosen to be arranged on the Concerto album. While I obviously prefer the arranged version, even this original version sounds quite good; at the very least, it sounds better than most of the other tracks on this album.
Disc two begins with “Event 2.” No surprises there. As I mentioned earlier, disc two contains a number of short jingles and fanfares, and here they are. To join the internet phenomenon, I will describe much of the Event 2 tracks as “meh”, “blah”, and “bleh.” I think you understand what that means, probably better than I do.
Almost out of nowhere, catching me by surprise, was the best composition of disc two, the Solstice Festival (track 13). Wow! This song sounds like the Qu Marsh theme of FFIX, except not annoying, musically complex (containing a fast 5/4 rhythm), and using a whole truckload of traditional Asian instrument sounds to celebrate the Solstice. I only wish the song were looped: one minute isn’t long enough!
Tracks 14 through 18 are as “blah” as the beginning of disc two, and then, starting from track 19 on, the soundtrack attains a new level of greatness. The near-end tense/epic battle themes are all great, such as “Saliswan the Spy.” If I created a dictionary with audio samples, I would have this song as an example by the slang word “catchy.” Yeah, that’s right.
Then, all of the ending tracks are great, as are the bonus tracks. The soundtrack really just ends on a bang. The two tracks I sampled take a strange turn from this mostly soft and acoustically-styled soundtrack to include sampled beats and high-spirited sounds. All of the sudden, it sounds like the Kukeiha club jumped in and took over for the ending! The sound is brilliant: check it out for yourself.
However, even with the good tracks, the overwhelming number of subpar songs weigh down this two disc set. I recommend the “Vocalize” and “Concerto” albums very much over the Original Game Soundtrack; it’s for completionists and collectors, as well as people who have actually played the game and want to re-live the memories. That is, of course, if you can even find it anymore. It was printed in 1998, so it is quite hard to find these days.