Following the success of the original Mana-Khemia, Gust decided to produce a sequel. Reprising their roles, Daisuke Achiwa and Ken Nakagawa once again create a soundtrack that features both quite a few rockin' themes as well as playful, upbeat themes. Does the Mana-Khemia 2 Original Soundtrack stray much from the previous soundtrack or is it more of the same?
The soundtrack opens up with a vocal performance by Marie, featured in the soundtrack to the first game, with the song "My Silly Days". An upbeat rock piece composed by Achiwa, it also seems to have a semi-surfer rock sound to it. Marie's voice is fitting for the composition. The electric guitar solo isn't too bad either; I've heard better from him, but it's still a great addition to the song. The other vocal theme, "Sail," is also composed by Achiwa. Sung by Mami Yanagi, it's a beautiful pop rock ballad featuring some soft piano sections and an excellent guitar solo. It's not flashy at all, but it fits with the overall mood of the piece — somber, yet solemn. The ending is the best part of the song as it elaborates on all the elements heard prior in the piece. It's also a fitting end to the soundtrack.
If the Gust Sound Team is known for anything, it's most definitely the battle themes and this soundtrack has them in the bucket loads. The normal battle theme, "Chaotic Moon," is a riff heavy battle theme featuring dual electric guitars. The melody is superb and helps craft an excellent atmosphere suitable for battle. Most interesting is the inclusion of piano at times, which helps to add a nice contrast to the battle theme. Like "Chaotic Moon," the boss battle theme, "Roar of Delirium," is also a very riff heavy and features dual electric guitars. The melody is electrifying and the distortion of the electric guitars and the solo helps give a nice sense of terror. "Wyvern" is another battle theme that is quite riff heavy, but at the same time, it also features a bit of synthesizer work. The melody, as before, is quite jolting and it features a nice electric guitar solo as well.
As you might tell from above, many of the battle themes are extremely riff heavy. "Sacred Saber" is another fantastic battle theme that features a superb melody and guitar solo, probably my favorite on the soundtrack. In addition, the percussion really helps pump this piece up as well. The final battle theme, "Namenloses Licht" is probably the most riff-intensive piece on here. Featuring vocals by Yuto Izumi, the riffs really define this piece. While the melody by the singer helps provide a melody, I find myself most attracted by the riffs. They provide a frenetic atmosphere and so much energy to the piece. My only gripe is that there is really little development until the end when an electric guitar solo is featured.
The rest of the soundtrack is a nice mixture of themes heard throughout the game. "The Wind That Reveals Hope" is a playful piano and whistle composition. There is also a chorus version featuring the Gust staff, but I find that to be a bit more obnoxious. "The Ally of Justice Has Arrived 2" is a playful theme featuring a nice brass melody and some superb accompanying instrumentation, such as the xylophone, that helps give it such a fun and bouncy atmosphere. "To the Journey" is a dramatic yet peaceful piece featuring a string-led melody that builds into a soft woodwind interlude with some choral backing. It's probably one of the better pieces on the soundtrack. "Wind Festival" is one of the more playful pieces on the soundtrack as well. Featuring accordion and woodwinds, it offers a fantastic melody while the exotic percussion samples help to give it a nice contrasting texture.
One of the most beautiful themes on the soundtrack, "Azure," is a very ethereal composition that features some haunting vocal tones and a focus on subtle electronica cues and piano. It helps to craft a beautiful atmosphere. "Poem of Silver Forest" is another ethereal composition that relies heavily on piano. While it's less ambient than "Azure," the melody is probably stronger. There is a nice balance between the piano, woodwinds, and the choral backing in this piece as well. "Ride the Wind that Emerges from the Valley" is a nice playful piece in a calypso / jig style. The use of engaging percussion in the accompaniment and the crazy combination of steel drums and violins makes for an entertaining melody. "A Precious Place" is in the style of a pop ballad. The piano and woodwinds provide a beautiful melody while the acoustic guitar helps add a nice sense of endearment to the composition. It's a bit saccharine, but overall, it's enjoyable. "Autumn's Call" is probably my favorite non-battle theme on the album. It's a somber, melancholy piano composition that portrays a very powerful melody that might bring a tear to one's eye.
Overall, the Mana-Khemia 2 Original Soundtrack is very much more of the same. While the battle themes are quite engaging, they rely a bit too heavily on guitar riffs. The vocal themes are pretty nice and help open and close the soundtracks. The area themes feature a nice mixture of styles, but also display that trademark Gust sound. There are some stinkers in the bunch, but there are also many excellent pieces. On the whole, this album makes less of an impact than its predecessor, but only because it doesn't branch much from the previous soundtrack.