To Heart Original Soundtrack (1997)


Review by · December 31, 2006

To Heart’s soundtrack brings to mind a rather unexpected game to me. In my mind, the compositions of Kazuhide Nakagami, Shinya Ishikawa, and Naoya Shimokawa are what I think a Persona game would sound like if it were a bright, cheerful game and not the darkly twisted demonic enitity it really is; “The Witch’s Secret Power,” “Strain,” and “Sebastian,” for example, would not be out of place in a Persona game. The synthesized compositions feature varied instrumentation with a variety of moods befitting a modern day adventure. Some songs, like “What’s Your Name?” even have subtle use of sound effects. In a nutshell, I would say the music in this game has both a pop sensibility and depth. The layering of instruments in the songs was impeccable; each and every part got to breathe and I would often be able to pick out something new during repeated listens of songs.

The opening theme is short and very good. The vocalist has a strong voice that I really liked. In fact, all the tracks are really short. I don’t know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, none of the tracks dragged on so long as to hamper my enjoyment. On the other hand, all the tracks were so good that just as I was getting into a song, it would end. 33 tracks were fit onto one CD.

There was nothing here that was overly saccharine or overly cartoony. There was subtlety in the music, but not so much that the music just faded into the background. It always kept my ears at attention. Even the whimsical tracks like Dreaming Robot “HMX-12 Multi” had an airiness to them (the exceptions being “Slapstick” and “How Uncool” which were too goofy grin inducing for words).

Synthesized woodwinds are used often in the soundtrack. I know many of you cringe at the thought of synthesized flute due to the distaste of Motoi Sakuraba’s music, but rest assured, the synthesized flute sounds are used very well in this soundtrack. It sounds sweet and airy and not annoyingly loud, as in Sakuraba’s compositions (particularly those of Star Ocean: The Second Story).

I also really like that despite there being three composers, none of the tracks stick out like a sore thumb. There are distinctive stamps from each composer, but those stamps are subtle. Everything flows together really nicely. It is as if these three have really good chemistry and crafted a very cohesive soundtrack. Since the game is highly character driven, it is no surprise that there are many character themes, all of which are very distinct and fit myriad archetypes. All were good, though Smiling “Remmy Miyauchi,” while catchy and poppy, seemed to lack the depth and airiness of other tracks.

Of course, given that this game is a love adventure, there are a couple of requisite love themes with names like “Eternal Love” and “French Kiss.” Don’t worry, despite the uninspired titles, the songs are good. I’ve never been a fan of love songs with vocals because despite the complexities of love, love song lyrics are always really cheesy and unoriginal. I much prefer instrumental love themes. And these two themes are quite good; beautifully composed and a pleasure to listen to. The love themes were handled with wonderful finesse. This is good, because non-finessed love themes that are too saccharine often make me want to wretch.

All in all, this is a soundtrack I thoroughly enjoyed listening to. With its pop sensibility, depth, and a few tracks that bring the almighty Persona to mind (I love that RPG series,) I would say this is one of the better love adventure soundtracks out there.

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Neal Chandran

Neal Chandran

Neal is the PR manager at RPGFan but also finds time to write occasional game or music reviews and do other assorted tasks for the site. When he isn't networking with industry folks on behalf of RPGFan or booking/scheduling appointments for press events, Neal is an educator, musician, cyclist, gym rat, and bookworm who has also dabbled in voiceover work and motivational speaking.