Arion: Wind and Wilderness Image Album
International Title
Music By: Joe Hisaishi
Record Label: Tokuma Japan
Running Time: 41:00 Discs: 1
Release: October 1985 CD Number: 32ATC-105
Anthony Romero
First, thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this in for review!

Released under their Animage Records label, this 1985 CD predates the eventual soundtrack for Arion by almost half a year. Its an early example of an image album, a score created based on storyboards and concepts to get a feel for the later product... and something to release early for a little extra cash if your composer is well regarded as Joe Hisaishi is. Sometimes an image album can be only slightly different from the finished product and thoroughly enjoyable, such as the Howl's Moving Castle: Image Symphonic Suite (TKCA-72620), and other times fairly different from the final product and a little lacking, such as the Porco Rosso Image Album (TKCA-72620). This image album walks the line between those two although is probably a little closer to Porco Rosso's, having a shimmer of greatness in a few tracks that made it into the final product, while also having a number of forgettable segments or themes that were wisely not carried over into the animated movie.

In terms of those cues that don't compare favorably to what made it in, the ultra repetitive "Seneca" leads the way, with a synthesized and looping nature that makes it feel like its more related to a video game than a theatrical presentation. Speaking of video games, "Soldiers of the Sea" also has that flavor with a very electronic and simplistic start that takes far too long to get going and sounds right at home from a NES game. Once the track actually gets going, it's clear it's a very early precursor to the battle theme heard in the final film, but a very rough version that went through a lot of refinement.

As for good cues, "Wind and Wilderness", which would later become Arion's theme in the final product, is still great and sweeping tune that never gets old even at this early stage in the scoring. The piano heavy "Resphoina" is another fantastic cue, in fact it's a rare example of a cue that sounds better here than for the final soundtrack. "Shining Land: Earth Festival", another video game sounding track, also has a nice beat to it and one that actually didn't make it into the final product.

Overall, while not bad, most causal listeners are probably better off sticking with the final soundtrack. For those curious enough to explore it, there is enough different here to make it interesting to hear versus how the movie's score ending up turning out, but is something more suited for larger fans of the film or Hisaishi's work in general.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Prelude
  2. Wind and Wilderness (Main Theme)
  3. Seneca
  4. Soldiers of the Sea
  5. Thread of Destiny
  6. Palace of the Demon
  7. Resphoina
  8. Shining Land: Earth Festival
  9. Shining Land: To Olympus
  10. Wind and Wilderness (Ending Theme)