(Note: Discussion of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. No major story spoilers. Vague reference to some side quests.)
Today, we’re talking waltzes! Specifically, we’re talking about waltzes in 21st century Japanese soundtracks, the kind of waltzes that manage to be moving and heart-stirring while still staying true to the melancholy of the greater works they embody.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo, 2017) sets the player adrift in a vast and often lonely world. The kingdom of Hyrule has fallen; the countryside is scattered with the ruins of garrisons and towns.
As you wander from snowy peak to storm-swept marsh, you may hear the distant strains of an accordion. Follow the music to its source, and you meet Kass, a wandering minstrel. It’s rare to see another face out here in the wilderness, and the two of you strike up a conversation. He misses his wife and children, back home in Rito Village. He fondly remembers his late teacher, who taught him ancient songs. Perhaps you’d like to hear one?
When you finally part ways, he resumes playing the same forlorn tune that led you to him:
At first, I couldn’t figure out why this theme felt so familiar. It was stuck in my head until a few days later, when, staring out a window, I figured out what I’d been missing. Kass’s theme borrows strongly from the main theme to Howl’s Moving Castle (Studio Ghibli, 2004).
Continue reading Musical allusions to Studio Ghibli in Zelda: Breath of the Wild TL;DR they exist.