Bard Banter is a series which highlights an RPG composer’s work by listening to, and discussing some of their greatest pieces throughout the years.
So far, this series has covered industry heavy-hitters in the form of Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito – both having decades of experience in composing video game soundtracks. But what about newcomers, or perhaps those that have crossed over from other mediums? A prime example of the latter would be Joe Hisaishi – a highly seasoned Japanese composer that is well known for his works in many films by Studio Ghibli, and has been active since the ’70s. Outside of that, he is likely most recognized as the musical brains behind the Ni No Kuni series.
While I’ve never been much for watching anime, Hisaishi has captivated me with his masterful work in both Ni No Kuni and Ni No Kuni 2, and today we’re going to look at some of my favorite tracks from each game.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
World map themes play one of the most vital roles in a soundtrack – if it fails to hone in on a strong sense of adventure, it could really dampen the “awe” factor which should accompany the initial dive into any world map. Hisaishi manages to nail this though, perhaps even more so in the follow-up title, Ni No Kuni II – but more on that later.
Imperial March, huh? Could this track have been inspired in any way by a certain “star” franchise? The answer is, unequivocally, “yes.” Inspiration isn’t a bad thing, as this track holds its own either way. Responsible for the background noise of a technologically advanced city ruled faux-pig people, it exudes a militaristic feel with every note.
Out of all the wacky places you can visit in the fairy-filled parallel world in Ni No Kuni, the appropriately named “Fairyground” is easily among my favorites. This fun little track pairs nicely with the quirky personality of the Lord High Lord of the Fairies, Mr. Drippy. Take a visit to the Fairyground and I can assure you that you won’t regret it.
This epic forest theme is played far too infrequently for how majestic it is. It is easily my favorite track in the game, so I’ll let it speak for itself.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Many people believe that Revenant Kingdom is inferior to Wrath of the White Witch – including musically – and I’d have to agree. That said, it still features some great tracks, but maybe not as many that will completely “wow” you.
The seaside town of Hydropolis has a long, painful history. A real sight to behold, its past forever haunts its denizens through this well-constructed, aquatic-based theme.
Hisaishi nails the world map theme again, and I’m not sure whether I prefer this one, or that which came before it. Either way, both tracks aim to excite, inspire, and perhaps warn you of things yet to come in the adventure.
Remember that bit I mentioned earlier about world map themes being important? Well, the same principle applies to flying, and Hisaishi’s take on taking to the skies is powerful enough to bring tears to your eyes. I cried the first time I heard it in-game, but I promise I won’t today – you might though.
I’m usually not that big on techno tracks, but this one fits its environment so well, it is hard not to appreciate. That pounding bass almost demands that you follow suit, tapping your foot right alongside it.
That sums it up for this Bard Banter, but there will be more to come soon! What are your thoughts on Joe Hisaishi? What are some of your favorites from his portfolio? What did you think about mine? Let me know!