The Final Fantasy XII soundtrack is notable for being the first entry in the main series to not be composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Uematsu did compose the game’s vocal theme, “Kiss Me Good-Bye,” but was otherwise uninvolved with the game’s music, as he left Square in 2004 during the game’s development.
Instead, Final Fantasy XII’s music was helmed by Hitoshi Sakimoto. This was an incredibly fitting choice, as Sakimoto had composed the music for Final Fantasy Tactics, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance — in other words, the previously released games in the Ivalice Alliance. As a result, FFXII’s sound is very muh in line with the rest of Matsuno’s games. (Sakimoto also worked on Matsuno’s non-FF titles, such as Ogre Battle, Tactics Ogre, and Vagrant Story. In other words, it makes sense that he did the music for FFXII.)
Final Fantasy XII OST
Composers: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Nobuo Uematsu, Masaharu Iwata, Hayato Matsuo, Taro Hakase & Yuji Toriyama
Arrangers: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Hayato Matsuo, Masaharu Iwata, Kenichiro Fukui, Yuji Toriyama & Robin Smith
Catalog #: SVWC-7351~4 (reprint SQEX-10343~6)
Tracks: 100, on 4 discs
Release Date: 31 May 2006 (reprint 7 November 2012)
As noted above, Sakimoto was the main composer, with Iwata and Matsuo composing and arranging various tracks throughout. (The vgmdb page has a breakdown of who worked on which track.) A limited edition of the OST was released; it apparently contained much more information about the soundtrack. Unfortunately I don’t own it, so there’s not much I can say about it.
Both singles released for the game, “Kiss Me Good-Bye” and “Symphonic Poem ‘Hope’” appear on the OST itself, but I’ll discuss them more in their entries below.
I personally like FFXII’s music a lot, but I have a hard time listening to the OST. It’s a weird thing to say, but I actually enjoy the music more as it’s playing in the game than I do on the OST. I genuinely love the music and think it’s wonderfully atmospheric — a necessary requirement for a game without the traditional Final Fantasy battle system — but that makes it hard for me to enjoy it in album form. I’d rather load up the game and listen to it as I’m running around than passively put it on in the background. I can and do listen to the OST, but not as often as I listen to other Final Fantasy OSTs, and I don’t find myself picking out individual tracks as well as I do with others.
As with all Final Fantasy OSTs the track names can be quite different between translations; I’ve used the names from the English iTunes release here. If you’d like to see alternate names and the original Japanese, check out the vgmdb listing. As mentioned, the music is available internationally on iTunes; I know for sure it’s on the US store, but I’m unable to check other regions. Check if it’s in your country; I hope it is!
|Disc One||Disc Two|
|Disc Three||Disc Four|
Kiss Me Good-Bye
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Vocals/Lyrics: Angela Aki
Catalog #: ESCL-2810 (Japanese release)
Tracks: 4, on 1 disc
Release Date: 15 March 2006
Ever since Final Fantasy VIII’s “Eyes on Me,” the Final Fantasy series has used a vocal theme song in the endings or at significant moments in many of the main series titles. For Final Fantasy XII this song was “Kiss Me Good-Bye,” sung by Angela Aki. (Technically FFVII’s “One-Winged Angel” is the first vocal theme in the series, but “Eyes on Me” is the first in the line I’m talking about here, which is typically though not always sung by a female vocalist and used at a significant moment in the plot.)
While a Japanese version of the song does exist (and was sold as a single), the song was in English for both the Japanese and English releases of the game. This is notable mostly because the songs for both Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy X-2 were changed to English versions, something that would happen again with Final Fantasy XIII. It seems to happen intermittently with the series.
Anyway, the song. While I’m not much for analyzing lyrics, I do think the song is gorgeous, and Angela Aki’s voice is absolutely lovely. I’m reminded a lot of “Eyes on Me” when listening to it, and fittingly when “Kiss Me Good-Bye” was released in the US it came with a cover of “Eyes on Me.”
There’s an interesting interview with Aki about the song’s creation here.
|Japanese Version||English Version|
Symphonic Poem “Hope”
Composers: Taro Hakase, Yuji Toriyama
Arrangers: Yuji Toriyama
Catalog #: HUCD-10015 (HUCD-10014/B - limited edition)
Tracks: 5, on 1 disc
Release Date: 1 March 2006
There’s no getting around that this is a weird release. It’s basically just the ending theme (the one played over the credits), except they put it out as a single and split it up into five tracks, or movements. For years I actually had no idea what it was until I finally figured out that oh, it’s the ending theme. Then it made sense.
There was even a limited edition released for it — again I don’t own it, but apparently it just contained a DVD with some of the FMVs from the game and other miscellanea.
Like, don’t get me wrong, the music is good and all, it’s a lovely extension of the ending theme and the performance is great, but I don’t see the point of releasing this other than for pure promotional reasons. And I’m the kind of person who has 2000+ Final Fantasy songs in her iTunes library and gets excited when OST PLUS albums come out. When you go too far for someone like me, you should probably rethink something.
Then again, Wikipedia tells me that this release somehow reached #15 on the Oricon charts and stayed on the chart for 16 weeks. I have no idea how this happened. I guess Final Fantasy fans will pay for anything. That or nothing else was going on in March 2006. Actually, now that I look at the dates, it actually came out before the game itself did, and was the first piece of music released for the game. Maybe that had something to do with it.
|Symphonic Poem "Hope"|
Selections from Final Fantasy XII OST
Composers: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Nobuo Uematsu
Arrangers: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Kenichiro Fukui
Catalog #: TOF-033
Tracks: 31, on 1 disc
Release Date: 31 October 2006
Essentially this is a “best of” album for the FFXII OST, and it does seem to have been released in the US around the same time the game came out in North America. I presume, then, that the entire point was to provide an option to fans that allowed them to purchase music from the game without the heavy costs of importing — something I do appreciate, as a fan who has paid those extremely heavy costs many, many times.
The thing is... why is only a third of the soundtrack? It’s a good third and the songs chosen aren’t bad, but if you didn’t happen to see this in your local store in North America in 2006 or 2007 I can’t think of any reason why you would look for this album today. It’s not the whole soundtrack, it’s missing a lot, and unless you’re a die-hard collector it’s hardly worth the money.
I do appreciate the effort to try and bring these things to overseas fans, I honestly do, but this seems like a half measure to me (or really a third measure given the content). I suppose not everything had moved to iTunes by 2006, but I certainly remember buying Final Fantasy soundtracks online in 2007. It’s probably not surprising, then, that this is the last release I can find for the record label that published this album before the label closed. It’s an interesting look at history of Japanese music in the west, if nothing else.
|Selections from Final Fantasy XII OST|
Piano Collections: Final Fantasy XII
Composers: Hitoshi Sakimoto
Arrangers: Casey Ormond
Catalog #: SQEX-10347
Tracks: 13, on 1 disc
Release Date: 7 November 2012
Released quite a long while after the original game, this is the obligatory piano album for the game. Nearly every game in the main series has had a piano album; this one is performed by Casey Ormond.
What’s interesting about this album is that the arranger was actually a fan who had posted a piano arrangement online, and that Sakimoto not only heard it but ended up reaching out to Ormond to keep in touch. There’s a full interview with Ormond here about how this album came to be, and it’s absolutely fascinating.
I’m really terrible at listening to the piano albums; I enjoy them, I just never remember to put any of them on. (This goes for all of the piano albums in the series.) Considering how distinctive Sakimoto’s sound is, though, I think it’s remarkable how good the arrangements are. I definitely recommend checking the album out; it’s available on iTunes in the US and hopefully in your country as well.
Theatrhythm: Curtain Call
Technically this is not an album (although one was released) but a rhythm game for the Nintendo 3DS. Have you ever wanted to tap along to Final Fantasy music? Now you can — and you can play as Vaan, Ashe, Fran, and Balthier in the process.
Curtain Call is actually the sequel to 2012’s Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, but given that Curtain Call includes all of the content from the first game, we’re going to ignore the original.
As mentioned above you can play as four of the six playable characters from Final Fantasy XII, and you can tap along to a number of songs. The songs included in Curtain Call are as follows:
|Field Music||Battle Music|
If you enjoy Final Fantasy music at all, by the way, I highly, highly recommend Curtain Call if you haven’t already picked it up. It’s a love letter to the entire series and super fun.