Kinuyo Yamashita

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Kinuyo Yamashita
Also known asYamako
James Banana
Kinuyo Ueda
BornAmagasaki, Hyōgo, Japan
GenresElectronic, jazz
Occupation(s)Composer, sound producer
InstrumentsElectronic keyboard, piano, saxophone
Years active1986–Present

Kinuyo Yamashita (山下 絹代, Yamashita Kinuyo) is a Japanese video game music composer and sound producer. Her best known soundtrack is Konami's Castlevania,[1] which was also her debut work. She was credited under the pseudonym James Banana for her work on the Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game. This pseudonym was a pun of the name James Bernard, the film composer of the 1958 film Dracula.[2][3]


Yamashita was born in Amagasaki, Hyōgo, Japan. She began playing the piano at the age of four and took piano lessons as a child. After studying electronic engineering at the two-year college Osaka Electro-Communication University, she graduated in 1986 and went to work for Konami.[4] After leaving Konami, Yamashita established a career as an independent composer. She moved to the United States in 2010, and currently resides in Montague, New Jersey.[5]


In 1986, Yamashita composed her first soundtrack to the video game Castlevania under strict hardware constraints.[6] After her success in composing the Castlevania soundtrack, Yamashita composed for other games with Konami, including Esper Dream, Arumana no Kiseki, Stinger, Maze of Galious, Knightmare III: Shalom, and Parodius.[7] She was part of the original Konami Kukeiha Club in-house band. In 1989, she left Konami to become a freelance composer.[4]

As an independent composer, Yamashita continued to score soundtracks for video games, including Mega Man X3, but she also worked on various Natsume games, including Power Blade, the Medabot series, Zen-Nippon Pro Wrestling series, Bass Masters Classic (Game Boy Color), Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue (GBC), WWF WrestleMania 2000 (GBC), among others. Yamashita continued to compose independently in the new millennium, working on titles such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Game Boy Advance), Croc 2 (GBC), Monsters, Inc. (GBA), WWF Road to WrestleMania (GBA), Power Rangers: Dino Thunder (GBA), Keitai Denjū Telefang (GBC), and other games in the Medabot series.[4]

From 1991 to 1995, Yamashita formed a duo ensemble called "Honey Honey" which performed live covers of American Pop and Jazz music. She played the piano, alto saxophone and sang background vocals. Yamashita also composes J-Pop songs for Japanese artists under the independent label Rocketeers and R&B songs independently for American artists.[4]

In 2009, Yamashita completed the arrangement for "Stage 4" on the Dodonpachi Dai-Ō-Jō remix CD released in Japan.[8] She also composed a song for the Wii game Walk It Out. In September 2009, Yamashita was invited as a special guest to Video Games Live at their concert event in Tokyo, where she appeared on stage after a performance of Castlevania produced by Tommy Tallarico.[7][9] In 2010 and 2011, she continued to make appearances with Video Games Live performing "Castlevania Rock" with orchestras at venues including NJPAC in New Jersey, the Tilles Center in New York City and the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.


Video games
Year Title Role Co-worker(s)
1986 Castlevania Composition Satoe Terashima[10][11]
King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch Composition Shinya Sakamoto, Satoe Terashima, and Kiyohiro Sada
1987 Hi no Tori Hououhen: Gaou no Bouken Composition Iku Mizutani and Hidenori Maezawa
Esper Dream Composition/sound effects/sound programming
Arumana no Kiseki Composition/sound effects/sound programming
Maze of Galious Composition Hidenori Maezawa, Shinya Sakamoto, Atsushi Fujio and Kiyohiro Sada
Nemesis 2 Composition/arrangement Motoaki Furukawa and Masahiro Ikariko
Uşas Composition
1988 King's Valley II Composition/arrangement Kazuhiko Uehara, Masahiro Ikariko, Michiru Yamane, and Motoaki Furukawa
Parodius (MSX) Composition
Konami no Uranai Sensation Composition
Snatcher (MSX) Sound effects/editing with many others
1991 Power Blade Composition
Hana Taaka Daka!? Composition
1992 Power Blade 2 Composition
1993 Ghost Sweeper Mikami: Joreishi ha Nice Body Composition
Zen-Nippon Pro Wrestling Composition Iku Mizutani and Hiroyuki Iwatsuki
1994 Pocky & Rocky 2 Composition Hiroyuki Iwatsuki, Haruo Ohashi and Asuka Yamao
Zen-Nippon Pro Wrestling: Fight da Pon! Composition Iku Mizutani and Shinya Kurahashi
Natsume Championship Wrestling Composition Iku Mizutani and Hiroyuki Iwatsuki
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (SNES) Composition Iku Mizutani
Fishing to Bassing Composition Iku Mizutani
Mega Man: The Wily Wars Composition/arrangement
1995 Mark Davis' The Fishing Master Composition Iku Mizutani
Zen-Nippon Pro Wrestling 2 Composition Iku Mizutani, Hiroyuki Iwatsuki, and Haruo Ohashi
Heian Fuuunden Composition Iku Mizutani
Mega Man X3 Composition/arrangement
1997 Casper (SFC Japanese version) Composition Iku Mizutani
Medarot Composition
1998 Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbou: Jigoku Yuuen Satsujin Jiken Composition
Digital Figure Iina Composition Iku Mizutani
Dragon Dance Composition Iku Mizutani
Big Mountain 2000 Composition
1999 Medarot 2 Composition Iku Mizutani
Bass Masters Classic (GBC) Composition
2000 Medarot 3 Composition
Keitai Denjuu Telefang Composition
Sylvania Melodies: Mori no Nakama to Odori Mashi! Composition
2001 Croc 2 (GBC) Composition Iku Mizutani
Medarot 4 Composition
Medarot 5 Composition
Disney/Pixar Monsters, Inc. Composition Iku Mizutani and Tetsuari Watanabe
2002 Medarot G Composition
2003 Medabots (GBA) Composition
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King Composition Iku Mizutani and Tetsuari Watanabe
Medabots Infinity Composition
2004 Cinnamon: Yume no Daibouken Composition
Shingata Medarot Composition
2007 Hello Kitty no Gotouchi Collection: Koi no DokiDoki Trouble Composition
Cinnamon Ball: Kurukuru Sweets Paradise Composition
Kikansha Thomas: Kokugo Sansuu Eigo Composition
Osumitsuki Series: Shokusai Roman Katei de Dekiru! Choumeijin
- Yumei Ryourinin no Original Recipe
Katei no Igaku: DS de Kitaeru Shokuzai Kenkou Training Composition
2008 Akagawa Jirou Mystery: Yasoukyoku Composition
Shugo Chara! Mittsu no Tamagoto Koisuru Joker Composition
Yokojiku de Manabu Sekai no Rekishi: Yoko-Gaku DS Composition
Kikansha Thomas DS 2: Asonde Manabu DS Youchien Composition
2009 Armored Hunter Gunhound Composition[12]
2010 Walk It Out Composition
Mr. Balloon's Wonderful Trip Sound effects/voice acting


  1. ^ Browning, John Edgar; Picart, Caroline Joan; Stoker, Dacre (2010). Dracula in Visual Media: Film, Television, Comic Book and Electronic Game. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-3365-0.
  2. ^ "Castlevania (1986) NES credits - MobyGames". MobyGames. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  3. ^ Collins, Karen (2008). Game sound: an introduction to the history, theory, and practice. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-03378-7.
  4. ^ a b c d Yamako. "Ciao". Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  5. ^ "Episode 36: Kinuyo Yamashita". Archived from the original on 2018-08-13. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  6. ^ Anthony Broadman (April 16, 2004). "Nintendo is music to the Minibosses". Arizona Daily Star. p. F.
  7. ^ a b Danny Russell (November 29, 2009). "Video Games Live Tokyo 2009". Ready-Up. Archived from the original on December 23, 2010. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  8. ^ "Remix Albums 2009". Game Developer. 16 (9): 4. October 1, 2009.
  9. ^ Parish, Jeremy (September 28, 2009). "Tokyo Game Show's Retro Highlight: Video Games Live in Japan". Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  10. ^ "Akumajou Dracula". Message Board. Kinuyo Yamashita (via WebCite). 22 April 2008. Archived from the original on 27 September 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  11. ^ Konami Industry Co., Ltd. (30 October 1986). Vampire Killer. Konami Industry Co., Ltd. Scene: staff credits.
  12. ^ Inc, Aetas. "「機装猟兵ガンハウンド」の全素材とプログラム,ライブラリ「gxLib」が無償公開。ガルルソフトウェア研究所「夏休み,大人の自由研究に」". (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2019-04-21.

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