Kenji Ito

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Kenji Ito
伊藤 賢治
Born (1968-07-05) July 5, 1968 (age 55)
Tokyo, Japan
Other namesItoken
Occupation(s)Composer, musician
Years active1990–present
Musical career
Instrument(s)Piano, clarinet, alto saxophone

Kenji Ito (伊藤 賢治, Itō Kenji, born July 5, 1968), also known by the nickname Itoken (イトケン),[1][nb 1] is a Japanese video game composer and musician. He is best known for his work on the Mana and SaGa series, though he has worked on over 30 video games throughout his career as well as composed or arranged music for over 15 other albums, concerts, and plays. He learned to play several instruments at a young age, and joined Square directly out of college as a composer in 1990 at the advice of a professor. He worked there for over a decade, composing many of his best-known scores. In 2001, he left Square to become a freelance composer, but has since continued to collaborate with the company.

Since leaving Square, Ito has composed soundtracks to over a dozen games, and has branched out into composition and production of music for plays and albums for other performers. Ito's work has been performed in a concert dedicated to his pieces as well as general video game music events, and he has played the piano in additional concerts. Pieces of his from the SaGa and Mana series have been arranged as piano solos and published in sheet music books.


Early life[edit]

Born in Tokyo, Japan, on July 5, 1968, Ito became interested in music at the age of four.[1] He began to learn to play the piano, becoming interested in it after hearing piano music coming from a classroom he passed by daily with his mother. He was also interested in Electone music, but was discouraged from learning it by a piano teacher.[3] By the time he began composing at the age of ten, he had learned to play alto saxophone, clarinet, and piano, and was interested in becoming a singer/songwriter.[1] When he was close to graduating from college, he decided to pursue a career in composing music; when he asked a professor for advice, the professor recommended becoming a video game music composer, given the recent success in Japan of Dragon Quest III. During March 1990, after applying to several video game companies including HAL Laboratory, Ito began working at Square.[4][5]


His first project was a co-effort that same year between himself and Nobuo Uematsu for the Game Boy title Final Fantasy Legend II (SaGa 2).[6] It led the following year to the first album release of his music, All Sounds of SaGa, which was a combination album of The Final Fantasy Legend, Final Fantasy Legend II, and Final Fantasy Legend III; all of Ito's work on Legend II appeared on the album.[7] Shortly after in 1991, he composed his first solo work, the soundtrack for Final Fantasy Adventure (Seiken Densetsu), another Game Boy title. He then returned to the SaGa series for the next few years, composing the soundtracks to the Super Famicom's Romancing SaGa, Romancing SaGa 2, and Romancing SaGa 3.[6] These soundtracks sparked Ito's first arranged albums; the first game was arranged in a French musical style by Masaaki Mizuguchi, while the other two were arranged by Ryou Fukui and Taro Iwashiro, respectively, into orchestral pieces.[8][9][10] Ito was originally scheduled to continue on with the Mana series and compose the soundtrack to Seiken Densetsu 2 (Secret of Mana), but was forced to hand the project off to Hiroki Kikuta as his first score due to the demand on his time for scoring Romancing SaGa.[11]

1995 marked the first time since he started composing that he worked on a title outside the Mana or SaGa series; he composed the music for Koi wa Balance and was a member of an eight-person team for Tobal No. 1. He returned to the SaGa series in 1997 with SaGa Frontier, and finished out the decade with Chocobo Racing and Chocobo's Dungeon 2; for Chocobo Racing he only arranged previous works from the Chocobo and Final Fantasy series, and contributed only a few tracks to Chocobo's Dungeon 2.[6] He left Square in 2001 to become a freelance composer. He has said that this move was in order to give him the flexibility to work on more than just video game music.[4]

The first work that Ito composed after leaving Square was the soundtrack to Culdcept II, which he regards as his best work. He attributes this feeling both to the fact that it was his first freelance piece and that he handled all aspects of the music production, from composition through arrangement and sound production.[3] From there he returned to working with Square and the Mana series with the remake of his second soundtrack, Final Fantasy Adventure, into the soundtrack of Sword of Mana. It was an act he would repeat two years later for Square, now Square Enix, with the remake of Romancing SaGa, Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song. He has since returned to the Mana series twice, with the soundtracks to Children of Mana and Dawn of Mana. All of the video game soundtracks that he has composed since the third expansion pack for Cross Gate in 2004 have been with the assistance of other composers except for 2007's Hero Must Die, though during those years he has branched out from video games into composing and producing albums and singles for performers as well as composing music for plays and concerts.[6] He has also released an album of piano pieces that he has composed; only two of the eight tracks are from his video game works.[12]


Ito performed piano live during September 22, 2006 Press Start 2006 -Symphony of Games- live concert, at which several of his pieces were performed by an orchestra.[5] This concert followed an concert of August 26, 2006 Manami Kiyota x Kenji Ito Collaboration Live in which he played the piano for songs composed by him for the event and sung by Manami Kiyota; he has also played the piano at concerts given by The Black Mages, a band composed of current or former Square musicians, before they expanded to include a full-time pianist.[13] Music composed by Ito has also been performed at the Extra -Hyper Game Music Event 2007 and Christmas Live 2008 "gentleecho -prelude-" concerts.[12]

Music composed by Ito was performed at a concert devoted to his music on February 21, 2009 titled "gentle echo meeting" at the Uchisaiwaicho Hall in Chiyoda, Tokyo. A group of five musicians performed eight of his songs, interspersed with performances by Ito and discussions about his music between himself and Masahiro Sakurai. The event began as a concert due to Ito's wish to host one based on his music, but after the space the organizing company, Harmonics International, rented turned out to be run by a high school classmate of Ito, at the classmate's insistence the discussions of Ito's music were added to the program.[5]

Music from the original soundtracks of Dawn of Mana and Sword of Mana has been arranged for the piano and published by DOREMI Music Publishing.[14] Two compilation books of music from the series as a whole have also been published as Seiken Densetsu Best Collection Piano Solo Sheet Music first and second editions, with the first edition including tracks by Ito from Final Fantasy Adventure while the second added tracks he composed from Dawn of Mana. All songs in each book have been rewritten by Asako Niwa as beginning to intermediate level piano solos, though they are meant to sound as much like the originals as possible.[15] Additionally, KMP Music Publishing has published a book of the piano music included in the Sword of Mana soundtrack album, which Ito arranged from his original compositions.[16] DOREMI Music Publishing also published music from the original soundtracks of some of the SaGa games that Ito composed as piano sheet music book; music from Romancing SaGa 3, Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song, and SaGa Frontier were written by Asako Niwa for piano solos of beginning to intermediate difficulty.[14][17]

Musical style and influences[edit]

Ito's music is mainly inspired by images from the game rather than outside influences; however, he never played the games themselves. The only video games that he plays are sports games; he has only seen up to the introductory movie for most of the role-playing games that he has written music for.[3][4] While many of his pieces are orchestral, he enjoys working in a recording studio and enjoys composing "normal songs" as much as his orchestral works.[4] His favorite video game music from other composers include the music from Star Fox, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Wizardry and Nobunaga's Ambition. Non-video game music that has inspired him includes Japanese popular music and soundtracks to anime works, as well as easy listening music such as Paul Mauriat or Richard Clayderman, especially string music.[4] These influences have led him to wish to create music "that you can listen to while you relax". He also wishes to expand his compositions outside video game music and into ballads.[5]


Video games[edit]

Video games scores composed by Kenji Ito
Year Game Notes Ref.
1990 Final Fantasy Legend II Music with Nobuo Uematsu [6]
1991 Final Fantasy Adventure Music [4]
Final Fantasy IV Sound effects
1992 Romancing SaGa Music [4]
Final Fantasy V Sound effects
1993 Secret of Mana Sound effects
Romancing SaGa 2 Music [4]
1995 Koi wa Balance: Battle of Lovers Music [6]
Romancing SaGa 3 Music [4]
1996 Tobal No. 1 Music with various others [18]
1997 SaGa Frontier Music [4]
1998 Chocobo's Dungeon 2 Music with Tsuyoshi Sekito, Yasuhiro Kawakami, and Kumi Tanioka [4]
1999 Chocobo Racing Music [4]
2000 Gekikuukan Pro Baseball: The End of the Century 1999 Music [6]
2001 Wild Card Music [6]
Culdcept Second Music [6]
Cross Gate Music [6]
2003 Sword of Mana Music [4]
2004 Shadow Hearts: Covenant Music with Yoshitaka Hirota, Yasunori Mitsuda, and Tomoko Kobayashi [6]
2005 Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song Music with Tsuyoshi Sekito [4]
Hanjuku Hero 4: 7-Jin no Hanjuku Hero Music with many others [4]
2006 Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner Music with many others [6]
Children of Mana Music with Masaharu Iwata and Takayuki Aihara [6]
Pop'n Music 13 Carnival "Battle XIII" [6]
Dawn of Mana Music with Tsuyoshi Sekito, Masayoshi Soken, and Ryuichi Sakamoto [6]
2007 Concerto Gate Music with Hiroki Kikuta [6]
Hero Must Die Music
2008 Mabinogi Arrangements [6]
Super Smash Bros. Brawl Arrangements[a]
Lux-Pain Music with Yasuyuki Suzuki [19]
Pop'n Music 16 Party "Dance to Blue" [19]
Culdcept Saga Music [20]
2009 Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Adventure Team Music with several others
SaGa 2: Hihou Densetsu Arrangements [19]
GuitarFreaks & DrumMania V6 Blazing Music with many others [19]
2011 Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Music with Atlus sound team [19]
Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming "One Winged Hero ~ Theme of Yusha" [19]
2012 Puzzle & Dragons Music with Yukio Nakajima [21]
Culdcept (3DS) Music
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Music with Kenji Kaneko and Nobuo Uematsu [22]
Demons' Score "Requiem from Lilith"
2013 Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas Music with Kalle Ylitalo and Nobuo Uematsu
Getsuei Gakuen Music with Daisuke Ishiwatari [19]
Puzzle & Dragons Z Music with Yukio Nakajima [23]
2014 Rise of Mana "Fear the Messenger"
Puzzle & Dragons Battle Tournament Music [19]
Terra Battle Music with several others
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Arrangements[b]
2015 Chronos Ring Music with Yoko Shimomura and Evan Call [24]
Chunithm: Seelisch Tact "Gustav Battle" [25]
Shinyaku Arcana Slayer Music [26]
2016 Hero Must Die. Again Music [27]
Culdcept Revolt Music [19]
Puzzle & Dragons X Music with Yuzo Koshiro, Akira Yamaoka, and Keigo Ozaki [19]
SaGa: Scarlet Grace Music [28]
Adventures of Mana Music [29]
2018 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Arrangements[c]
2019 Rakugaki Kingdom "Indomitable Soul" [30]
2022 Sin Chronicle "Last Determination" [31]
2024 SaGa: Emerald Beyond Music [32]


  • Kokoro no Takarabako (1999) – single by Hiromi Ōta[6]
  • Seishun no Fu / Midarete Atsuki Wagami niwa (2002) – concert[6]
  • ~Canaria~ (2002) – single by Muneyuki Satoh[6]
  • Touson Dairoku Shishu (2002) – album by Ikuyo Ueda[6]
  • Muneyuki Sato All Songs Collection (2003) – album by Muneyuki Satoh[6]
  • Hajimari no Daichi (2006) – album by Manami Kiyota[6]
  • Our Endless Night -The spring time of life (2006) – concert by Manami Kiyota; with many others[6]
  • Manami Kiyota x Kenji Ito Collaboration Live (2006) – concert by Manami Kiyota[6]
  • Maou Kourin 'Live SIDE & Evil SIDE' (2006) – play with many others[6]
  • Kenji Ito Piano Works Collection ~Everlasting Melodies~ (2006) – includes one piece from Romancing SaGa 2, and one from Chocobo Racing[19]
  • Kono Aozora ni Yakusoku o (2007) – anime[19]
  • Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (2011) – anime ep 5[19]
  • The Girl in Twilight (2018) – anime; main theme[33]
  • Braverthday (2018) – album by Nobuhiko Okamoto; "Tsugi wa Kimi ga Shuyaku no Ban da"[34]
  • Arad Senki: The Wheel of Reversal (2020) – anime
  • "Ai no Sumika"~"Hyouhaku no Toki /Komoro Nikki -Touson no Fuyuko" Stage Music Collection~ (1999) – album by Kyoko Fujimoto
  • Hyouhaku no Toki/ Touson to Fuyuko (2001) – concert
  • Katakoi (2002) – single by Muneyuki Satoh
  • Soredemo Kisetsu wa (2002) – single by Muneyuki Satoh[6]
  • Tougenkyo -Masashi Sada Chromatic Harmonica Music Collection- (2002) – album by Etsuko Kitani
  • Mirai (2003) – album by Yusuke Matsumoto

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Not to be confused with the multi-instrumentalist Itoken of Harpy, zuppa di pesce, Itoken Trio, Kuricorder Pops Orchestra, and others.[2]
  1. ^ "Space Armada", "Attack", and "Title (Kid Icarus)"
  2. ^ "Mute City Ver. 3", "Super Hoop", and "Culdcept"
  3. ^ "Beginning"


  1. ^ a b c "Kenji Ito's Official English Website". Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2008.
  2. ^ Itoken. "itoken_web". Itoken. Archived from the original on April 5, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Ezaki, Kahori; McCawley, James (December 2004). "Interview with CocoeBiz in December 2004". CocoeBiz. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Winkler, Chris (2005). "RPGFan Exclusive Interview #5: Kenji Itou, composer". RPGFan. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d Jeriaska (April 15, 2009). "Interview: Smash Bros' Sakurai, Kenji Ito Talk RPG Musical Repertoire". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on September 15, 2019. Retrieved November 12, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa "Kenji Ito's Official English Website – Discography". Archived from the original on February 26, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2009.
  7. ^ Gann, Patrick (March 23, 2001). "All Sounds of SaGa". RPGFan. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved May 18, 2009.
  8. ^ Gann, Patrick; C., Eve (February 9, 2002). "Romancing SaGa: La Romance". RPGFan. Archived from the original on September 23, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2009.
  9. ^ Gann, Patrick (August 6, 2000). "Romancing SaGa 2: Eternal Romance". RPGFan. Archived from the original on May 13, 2019. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  10. ^ Farand, Eric (October 15, 2000). "Romancing SaGa 3 OSV". RPGFan. Archived from the original on May 13, 2019. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  11. ^ Jeriaska; Kikuta, Hiroki (June 16, 2007). "Hiroki Kikuta: Lost Files Regained". Square Haven. Archived from the original on January 17, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  12. ^ a b Ito, Kenji. "Gentle Echo – Works" (in Japanese). Gentle Echo. Archived from the original on August 29, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  13. ^ "Kenji Ito's Official English Website – News". CocoeBiz. Archived from the original on May 16, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2009.
  14. ^ a b "Doremi Music Web Site" (in Japanese). DOREMI Music Publishing. Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
  15. ^ "Mana Series :: Sheet Music Books". Square Enix Music Online. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
  16. ^ "Sword of Mana Piano Sound Version Sheet Music". Square Enix Music Online. Archived from the original on February 4, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
  17. ^ "SaGa Series :: Sheet Music Books". Square Enix Music Online. Archived from the original on August 15, 2020. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
  18. ^ Greening, Chris (December 30, 2012). "Kenji Ito Profile". Video Game Music Online. Archived from the original on August 8, 2020. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Kenji Ito". Video Game Music Database. January 1, 2020. Archived from the original on June 22, 2019. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  20. ^ Jeriaska (April 15, 2009). "Interview: Smash Bros' Sakurai, Kenji Ito Talk RPG Musical Repertoire". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on July 16, 2020. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  21. ^ Williams, Mike (February 26, 2016). "Nintendo and the Console Depreciation of Japan". US Gamer. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  22. ^ "Hyperdimension Neptunia V (神次元ゲイムネプテューヌV) Credits - YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on April 13, 2016. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  23. ^ Romano, Sal (September 21, 2013). "Tokyo Game Show 2013 live stream schedule". Gematsu. Archived from the original on June 30, 2020. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  24. ^ Greening, Chris (September 27, 2014). "Hamauzu, Shimomura, Ito, and Sakimoto attached to new RPG projects". Game Music Online. Archived from the original on October 2, 2014. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  25. ^ Greening, Chris (June 22, 2016). "CHUNITHM Original Soundtrack -Seelisch Tact-". Video Game Music Online. Archived from the original on June 12, 2020. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  26. ^ "Shinyaku Arcana Slayer". tactics SRPG Database. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  27. ^ Fuller, Alex (February 26, 2020). "Hero Must Die. Again Review". RPGamer. Archived from the original on July 20, 2020. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  28. ^ Greening, Chris (September 16, 2015). "Kenji Ito and Hidenori Iwasaki for SaGa Scarlet Grace". Video Game Music Online. Archived from the original on September 18, 2015. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  29. ^ Osborn, Alex (June 28, 2016). "Final Fantasy Adventure Remake Adventures of Mana Now on PS Vita". IGN. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  30. ^ ""ラクガキ"がコンセプトのRPG『ラクガキ キングダム』正式発表。自分の描いた絵が立体化して動き出す『ラクガキ王国』を進化させた新機軸【先出し週刊ファミ通】". Famitsu (in Japanese). July 11, 2019. Archived from the original on March 23, 2020. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  31. ^ Romano, Sal (October 1, 2021). "Sega announces 'choose your own ending RPG' Sin Chronicle for iOS, Android". Gematsu. Archived from the original on October 3, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  32. ^ Torres, Jason (September 15, 2023). "Square Enix reveals SaGa Emerald Beyond for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mobile". RPG Site. Archived from the original on September 16, 2023. Retrieved September 16, 2023.
  33. ^ Pineda, Rafael Antonio (March 21, 2018). "Animax Reveals 20th Anniversary TV Anime/Game App Akanesasu Shōjo". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on March 22, 2018. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  34. ^ "Braverthday【豪華盤】" (in Japanese). Lantis. Archived from the original on July 18, 2020. Retrieved July 18, 2020.

External links[edit]