Motoi Sakuraba

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Motoi Sakuraba
Born (1965-08-05) August 5, 1965 (age 49)
Akita Prefecture, Japan
Genres Progressive rock, new-age, jazz, symphonic
Occupations Musician, keyboardist, composer, arranger
Instruments Keyboard, piano, synthesizer, organ, mellotron, drum kit
Years active 1985–present[1]
Labels TEAM Entertainment
Namco Bandai Games

Motoi Sakuraba (桜庭 統 Sakuraba Motoi?, born August 5, 1965) is a prolific Japanese composer of video games, anime series, and television dramas as well as independent progressive rock albums.[2]


Motoi Sakuraba was born in Akita Prefecture, Japan. He is married to Yuko Sakuraba and has a daughter, Mio Sakuraba. Sakuraba broke into the music scene as composer and keyboard player of the progressive rock band Deja-Vu, which he formed in 1985.[3] They later released an album called Baroque in the Future, in 1988. The band later disbanded, and Sakuraba went on to release a solo progressive rock album, Gikyokuonsou, in 1991.

In late 1989, Sakuraba began working as a composer for Wolf Team, joining Masaaki Uno and Yasunori Shiono. The professional friendships formed here in Sakuraba's early years have resulted in a great demand for his composing and arranging abilities. In 1994, former Wolf Team director and composer Masaaki Uno started working at Camelot Software Planning as coordinator and sound director, developing games for Sony, Sega and Nintendo. Sakuraba was called upon as a composer for various Camelot games, including the Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, and Golden Sun series.

In 1995, Wolf Team developed the breakthrough game Tales of Phantasia for Namco. This and other games in the Tales series primarily feature Sakuraba and fellow Wolf Team composer Shinji Tamura as composers (the main exception so far has been Tales of Legendia, composed by Go Shiina). Eventually the remnants of Wolf Team morphed into the Namco Telenet joint subsidiary Namco Tales Studio in 2003. Also in 1995, former Wolf Team director and producer Jun Asanuma, as well as Tales of Phantasia writer and programmer Yoshiharu Gotanda, founded tri-Ace with financial backing from Enix. The Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile games have been their keystone productions. Again, Sakuraba has been the composer for all their games, with the exception of the Noriyuki Iwadare-scored Radiata Stories (which included arrangements of a few choice Sakuraba tracks).

In 1999, long-time Sakuraba sound designer and programmer Hiroya Hatsushiba, a former member of Wolf Team and tri-Ace, founded tri-Crescendo. While initially continuing to contribute sound work to tri-Ace games, tri-Crescendo began game development in 2001. Together with Monolith Soft, tri-Crescendo started working on Baten Kaitos; Namco provided the financial backing. Hatsushiba, as director and main programmer of the project, again called upon Sakuraba's composing services. This has extended to the sequel (Baten Kaitos Origins) and Eternal Sonata.

In 2007, Sakuraba was selected to join a long list of video-game composers to contribute music to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He was selected to arrange the famous "Menu Theme" from the game's predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Melee. He also arranged "Gourmet Race" from Kirby Super Star, "Jungle Level Ver.2" from Donkey Kong Country, "Mario Tennis / Mario Golf" from Mario Tennis / Mario Golf, "Victory Road" from Pokémon Ruby / Pokémon Sapphire, "Airship Theme" from Super Mario Bros. 3, the "Battlefield Theme" and "Final Destination". In addition, the track "Battle Scene / Final Boss (Golden Sun)" was based on his music from Golden Sun: The Lost Age.

In more recent years, Sakuraba has continued to write music for games in franchises he has worked on in the past, including Star Ocean: The Last Hope, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Mario Tennis Open, Mario Golf: World Tour, and many Tales of games including Hearts, Graces, Xillia, Xillia 2, and Zestiria. He has also contributed to other well known games such as Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and the Valhalla Knights series (Valhalla Knights 2, Eldar Saga, and Valhalla Knights 3). Sakuraba has also continued to create solo albums, such as Forest of Glass, What's Up?, and Passage.

Live performances[edit]

During July 2003, Sakuraba held a live concert in Tokyo, Japan. He performed progressive rock interpretations of his music from games Star Ocean: The Second Story and Valkyrie Profile. His bandmates for this concert were bassist Atsushi Hasegawa (a member of the band Gerard) and drummer Toshihiko Nakamura. As noted, this concert was released on DVD and CD. At the same time as they were rehearsing for the concert, Hasegawa and Nakamura assisted in recording new material for the Director's Cut of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time.

The following year, the trio performed another concert. The venue was smaller, but included music from Baten Kaitos and a couple of new, non-game-related pieces. This concert was not officially recorded and released, however. However, in 2006, a new concert was given in celebration of tri-Ace's new Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria title. This concert has been released on CD.

On September 17 and 18, 2011 at Club Citta in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Sakuraba and his band joined up with the Earthbound Papas, led by famous video game composer Nobuo Uematsu, to perform at Fantasy Rock Fest 2011. This event featured video game music performance along with new progressive rock pieces from both composers. The first six tracks that Sakuraba and his band played are confirmed to be new pieces and were sold at the event as a preview CD for his then upcoming solo album After all... which was officially released by Strange Days Records on October 19, 2011. It is unknown, however, whether or not there is a recording of these performances.

Musical style[edit]

Motoi Sakuraba takes the baroque and melodic Japanese progressive rock of the 1980s and expands it with his own trademark complex rhythms, emotional flutes, use of male choir, and heavy reverb. The lighter side of his style is a crossover between symphonic progressive rock, cinematic orchestra and new age. Sakuraba is also known for introducing many jazz-like improvisations to his music style. In recent years he has made a serious effort toward expanding his style even further.[4]


Video games
Year Title Role Co-composer
1989 Zan: Kagerou no Toki Composition/arrangement Masaaki Uno
Arcus II: Silent Symphony Composition/arrangement Masaaki Uno and Yasunori Shiono
Arcusyu Composition/arrangement Masaaki Uno and Yasunori Shiono
1990 Granada Composition/arrangement Masaaki Uno
D: European Mirage Composition/arrangement Masaaki Uno and Yasunori Shiono
Zan: Yasha Enbukyoku Composition/arrangement
Ryu: Koku Ki no Ryuu Yori Composition/arrangement Masaaki Uno and Yasunori Shiono
Final Zone Composition/arrangement Masaaki Uno
Zan Gear Composition Masaaki Uno
Sol-Feace Composition/arrangement
1991 Daitoua Mokujiroku Goh Composition/arrangement
Arcus Odyssey Composition/arrangement
Crystal Chaser Composition/arrangement Masaaki Uno and Ryota Furuya
El Viento Composition/arrangement
Zan: Kagerou no Jidai Composition/arrangement Masaaki Uno
Arcus III Composition/arrangement Ryota Furuya
Shinsengumi: Bakumatsu Genshi Gyou Composition/arrangement Ryota Furuya
Niko² Composition/arrangement
Earnest Evans Composition/arrangement
Tenbu: Sangokushi Seishi Composition/arrangement Ryota Furuya
1992 Sol-Deace Composition/arrangement
Seirei Shinseiki Fhey Area Composition/arrangement
Suzaku Composition/arrangement Ryota Furuya
Zan II: Towns Special Composition/arrangement
Tenbu Limited Composition/arrangement Ryota Furuya
Aisle Lord Composition/arrangement
Zan II Spirits Composition/arrangement
Hiouden Composition/arrangement Ryota Furuya
Diamond Players Composition/arrangement
Cobra Command Composition/arrangement
Tenbu: Mankan Zenseki Composition/arrangement
Time Gal Composition/arrangement
Shinji Tamura ("Opening")
Earnest Evans (Mega Drive) Composition/arrangement
Road Avenger Composition/arrangement
Apros Composition/arrangement Ryota Furuya
1993 Annet Futatabi Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura ("Opening")
Devastator Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Ryota Furuya
Arcus Spirits Composition/arrangement
Hiouden II Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura, Ryota Furuya, and Hiroya Hatsushiba
Zan III: Tenun Ware ni Ari Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Ace wo Nerae! Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
1994 Hiouden: Mamono-tachi to no Chikai Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura, Ryota Furuya, and Hiroya Hatsushiba
Zan III Spirits Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Cosmic Fantasy 4 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura, Shingo Murakami, and Jun Hasebe
Tenshi no Uta: Shiroki Tsubasa no Inori Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Hiroya Hatsushiba
Hiouden II' HD Composition/arrangement Ryota Furuya
Sankyo Fever! Fever! Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
The Grail Hunter Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura, Ryota Furuya, and Hiroya Hatsushiba
1995 Kyoraku Sanyo Toyomaru Parlor Parlor! Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Tokyo Twilight Busters Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura, Ryota Furuya, and Hiroya Hatsushiba
Kyoraku Sanyo Toyomaru Daiichi Maruhon Parlor Parlor! 2 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Beyond the Beyond Composition/arrangement
Tales of Phantasia Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Kyoraku Sanyo Toyomaru Okumura Daiichi Maruhon Parlor Parlor! 4 CR Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
1996 Kyoraku Sanyo Toyomaru Okumura Taiyou Parlor Parlor! 3 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Kyoraku Sanyo Maruhon Parlor Parlor! 5 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Parlor! Mini Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Parlor! Mini 2 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Star Ocean Composition/arrangement
Parlor! Mini 3 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Parlor! Mini 4 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Shining the Holy Ark Composition/arrangement
1997 Parlor! Mini 5 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Parlor! Mini 6 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Hot Shots Golf Composition/arrangement
Parlor! Mini 7 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Shining Force III Composition/arrangement
Tales of Destiny Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
1998 Heiwa Parlor! Mini 8 Pachinko Jikki Simulation Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Star Ocean: The Second Story Composition/arrangement
1999 Mario Golf Composition/arrangement
Cybernetic Empire Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Atsushi Horiguchi
Mario Golf GB Composition/arrangement
Valkyrie Profile Composition/arrangement
2000 Mario Tennis Composition/arrangement
Mario Tennis GB Composition/arrangement
Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon Composition (Reused) Shinji Tamura and Toshiki Aida
Tales of Eternia Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
2001 Mobile Golf Composition/arrangement
Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Composition/arrangement
Golden Sun Composition/arrangement
2002 Tales of Fandom Vol.1 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Golden Sun: The Lost Age Composition/arrangement
Tales of Destiny 2 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
2003 Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Composition/arrangement
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour Composition/arrangement
Tales of Symphonia Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Takeshi Arai
Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean Composition/arrangement
2004 Mario Golf: Advance Tour Composition/arrangement
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time: Director's Cut Composition/arrangement
Mario Power Tennis Composition/arrangement
Tales of Rebirth Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
2005 Duel Masters: Birth of Super Dragon Composition/arrangement
Mario Tennis: Power Tour Composition/arrangement
Tales of the Abyss Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
2006 Baten Kaitos Origins Composition/arrangement
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth Composition/arrangement
Tales of Eternia Online Composition/arrangement
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria Composition/arrangement
Tales of the Tempest Composition/arrangement
Tenshou Gakuen Gekkouroku Composition/arrangement
Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology Composition/arrangement Takuya Yasuda and Go Shiina
2007 Eternal Sonata Composition/arrangement
Drone Tactics Composition/arrangement
We Love Golf! Composition/arrangement
Star Ocean: First Departure Composition/arrangement
2008 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Arrangement Various others
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Tales of Vesperia Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Infinite Undiscovery Composition/arrangement
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume Composition/arrangement
Otomedius G Composition/arrangement Various others
Tales of Hearts Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Hiroshi Tamura
2009 Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2 Composition/arrangement Various others
Star Ocean: The Last Hope Composition/arrangement
Half-Minute Hero Composition/arrangement Various others
Tales of VS. Composition/arrangement Various others
Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga Composition/arrangement
Tales of Graces Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
2010 Resonance of Fate Composition/arrangement Kohei Tanaka
Deathsmiles IIX: Makai no Merry Christmas Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others
Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon X Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Composition/arrangement
Tales of Graces f Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
2011 Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 3 Composition/arrangement Various others
Otomedius Excellent Composition/arrangement Various others
Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming Composition/arrangement Various others
Tales of Xillia Composition/arrangement
Dark Souls Composition/arrangement
Shinra Bansho Frontier Composition/arrangement
2012 Beyond the Labyrinth Composition/arrangement
Tales of the Heroes: Twin Brave Composition/arrangement Go Shiina
Kid Icarus: Uprising Composition/arrangement Yuzo Koshiro, Masafumi Takada, Noriyuki Iwadare, Takahiro Nishi, and Yasunori Mitsuda
GuitarFreaksXG3 & DrumManiaXG3 Composition/arrangement
("Hard distance")
Various others
Mario Tennis Open Composition/arrangement
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor Composition/arrangement
("Main Theme")
Yoshikazu Takayama
Samurai Empire Composition/arrangement
Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition Composition/arrangement
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy Piano & Electronic Organ Various others
Tales of Xillia 2 Composition/arrangement
2013 Valkyrie Crusade Composition/arrangement
Tales of Hearts R Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Gitadora Composition/arrangement
("Crazy blooms")
Various others
Valhalla Knights 3 Composition/arrangement
Tales of Symphonia Chronicles Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Takeshi Arai
2014 Dark Souls II Composition/arrangement Yuka Kitamura
Mario Golf: World Tour Composition/arrangement
Date A Live: Ars Install Composition/arrangement
("Ending Theme")
Shigeki Hayashi
Mirror War: Reincarnation of Holiness Composition/arrangement Maki Kirioka and Manabu Namiki
Phantasy Star Nova Composition/arrangement
2015 Tales of Zestiria Composition/arrangement Go Shiina
Year Title Role Co-composer
1998 Cyber Bishoujo Telomere Composition/arrangement
1999 Vanny Knights Composition/arrangement
2000 Gensomaden Saiyuki Composition/arrangement Kenichi Kurosawa
2001 Star Ocean EX Composition/arrangement
2002 Atashin'chi Composition/arrangement
Weiß Kreuz Glühen Composition/arrangement
2003 Pluster World Composition/arrangement
2004 Umigame to Shonen Composition/arrangement
2008 Tales of the Abyss Composition/arrangement
Year Title Role Co-composer
2001 Blue Remains Composition/arrangement Yuko Fukushima
Saiyuki: Requiem Composition/arrangement
Solo works
Year Title Role Co-composer
1988 Progressive's Battle 1988 Composition/arrangement
Deja-Vu: resurraction "LAST LIVE" Composition/arrangement
1989 Baroque in the Future Composition/arrangement
Crime Syndicate Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others
Pazzo Fanfano di Musica Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others
1990 Kings' Boards Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others
1991 Gikyokuonsou Composition/arrangement
1996 @MIDI's summer Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others
1998 @MIDI's dance Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others
1999 @MIDI's battle Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others
2000 @MIDI's freedom Composition/arrangement
(4 songs)
Various others
2006 FM Sound Module Maniax Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others
2008 Forest of Glass Composition/arrangement
Message Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others
2011 After all... Composition/arrangement
2013 What's Up? Composition/arrangement
Passage Composition/arrangement
Game Music Prayer Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others
2014 Game Music Prayer II Composition/arrangement
(1 song)
Various others


External links[edit]