Motoi Sakuraba

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Motoi Sakuraba
Native name 桜庭 統
Born (1965-08-05) August 5, 1965 (age 52)
Akita Prefecture, Japan
  • Musician
  • composer
  • arranger
Years active 1984–present[1]
Labels TEAM Entertainment
Associated acts Shinji Tamura
Masaaki Uno

Motoi Sakuraba (桜庭 統, Sakuraba Motoi, born August 5, 1965) is a Japanese music composer, arranger, and keyboardist known for his numerous musical contributions in video games, anime series, television dramas, and progressive rock solo works.[2][3]


Sakuraba was born in Akita Prefecture, Japan. While attending Meiji University, Sakuraba began to take music composition seriously, and eventually formed the progressive rock band "Clashed Ice" in 1984, consisting of him on keyboards and Genta Kudo on drums and vocals.[1] After the duo had graduated the following year, they were noticed by music producer Shingo Ueno, and ending up signing with Made in Japan Records. The band had then added bassist Tetsuya Nagatsuma, and was renamed as "Deja Vu".[1][4] In 1988, the band would release their only studio album, Baroque in the Future, composed entirely by Sakuraba.[1] Although the band disbanded in 1989, Sakuraba would later go on to release a similar-sounding solo 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 a coordinator and sound director, developing games for Sony, Sega and Nintendo. Sakuraba has been called upon as a composer for many Camelot games, including all of the games in 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 early games in the Tales series primarily featured Sakuraba and fellow Wolf Team composer Shinji Tamura as composers. 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. Sakuraba has been the composer for nearly all of their games, with only a few exceptions.

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: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean; 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. The remnants of Wolf Team later morphed into the Namco Telenet joint subsidiary Namco Tales Studio in 2003.

In 2007, Sakuraba was selected to join a long list of video game composers to arrange music for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He chose 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 and Mario Golf, "Victory Road" from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the "Airship Theme" from Super Mario Bros. 3, the "Battlefield Theme", "Final Destination", and "Battle Scene / Final Boss (Golden Sun)" from Golden Sun: The Lost Age.

In more recent years, Sakuraba has continued to write music for games in franchises he has worked with before, including Star Ocean: The Last Hope,[5] Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Mario Tennis Open, Mario Golf: World Tour, and many Tales series games, including Hearts, Graces, Xillia, Xillia 2, Zestiria, and Berseria.[5] He has also contributed to other well known games such as the Dark Souls series, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and Phantasy Star Nova.[6][5] In 2014, he was selected to provide musical arrangements for Brawl's successor, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.[7] For this title, Sakuraba arranged "Theme from Area 6 / Missile Slipstream" from Star Fox 64 and Star Fox Command, "Battle! (Team Flare)" from Pokémon X and Y, and "The valedictory elegy" from Baten Kaitos Origins.

In addition to all this, Sakuraba has continued to create solo albums, such as "Forest of glass", "What's up?", and "Passage", as well as lending his arrangement and performance abilities for many doujin styled arrange albums.[5]

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: Till the End of Time, Star Ocean: The Second Story, Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 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, Sakuraba and his band joined up with the Earthbound Papas at Club Citta in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, led by former Final Fantasy series Nobuo Uematsu, to perform at Fantasy Rock Fest 2011. The event featured video game music performances, along with new progressive rock pieces from both bands. The first six tracks that Sakuraba and his band played 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.

On June 6, 2015, Sakuraba performed at the Tales of Festival at the Yokohama Arena, being the first time he performed tracks from the Tales series at a live event.[8] A selection of Sakuraba's music from the Dark Souls and Tales series was performed live at the Salle Pleyel concert hall in Paris in February 2017.[9] The event, known as "Orchestral Memories", featured a guest appearance by Sakuraba.[9]

Musical style[edit]

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 towards expanding his style even further, becoming an accomplished symphonist and a versatile arranger.[10]


Video games
Year Title Role Co-worker(s)
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 (Reused) Masaaki Uno
Sol-Feace Composition/arrangement
Span of Dream Music support
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 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 (Sega Genesis) Composition/arrangement
Road Avenger Composition/arrangement
Apros Composition/arrangement Ryota Furuya
1993 Neugier: Umi to Kaze no Kodō Sound effects Shinji Tamura and Ryota Furuya
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 and Ryota Furuya
Zan III: Tenun Ware ni Ari Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Ace wo Nerae! Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Revenge of the Ninja Sound effects Shinji Tamura
Yougekitai: Jashin Koumaroku Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Ryota Furuya
1994 Hiouden: Mamono-tachi to no Chikai Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Ryota Furuya
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
Hiouden II' HD Composition/arrangement Ryota Furuya
Sankyo Fever! Fever! Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
The Grail Hunter Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Ryota Furuya
1995 Kyoraku Sanyo Toyomaru Parlor Parlor! Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Tokyo Twilight Busters Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Ryota Furuya
Kyoraku Sanyo Toyomaru Daiichi Maruhon Parlor Parlor! 2 Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura
Beyond the Beyond Composition/arrangement
Tales of Phantasia Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Ryota Furuya
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
Everybody's 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 (7 tracks)
The Idolmaster Live For You! Composition/arrangement
Star Ocean: Second Evolution Composition/arrangement
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 Arrangement (2 tracks)
Tales of Hearts Composition/arrangement Shinji Tamura and Hiroshi Tamura
2009 Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2 Composition/arrangement with various others
Star Ocean: The Last Hope Composition/arrangement
Half-Minute Hero Composition/arrangement with various others
Tales of VS. Composition/arrangement with 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
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 with various others
Otomedius Excellent Composition/arrangement
(3 tracks)
with various others
Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming Composition/arrangement with 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")
Mario Tennis Open Composition/arrangement
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor Composition/arrangement
("Main Theme")
Samurai Empire Composition/arrangement
Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition Composition/arrangement
Bravely Default Performance (Keyboards) with various others
Tales of Xillia 2 Composition/arrangement
2013 Valkyrie Crusade Composition/arrangement
Tales of Hearts R Composition/arrangement Kazuhiro Nakamura
Gitadora Composition/arrangement
("Crazy blooms")
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
Gitadora OverDrive Composition/arrangement
("Quarrel and Harmony")
Date A Live: Ars Install Composition/arrangement
("Ending Theme")
Mirror War: Reincarnation of Holiness Composition/arrangement Maki Kirioka and Manabu Namiki
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Arrangement (3 tracks)
Skylock: Kamigami to Unmei no Itsutsuko Composition/arrangement
Phantasy Star Nova Composition/arrangement
2015 Tales of Zestiria Composition/arrangement Go Shiina
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin Composition/arrangement Yuka Kitamura
God Chronicle Composition/arrangement
Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash Composition/arrangement
Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky Composition/arrangement
2016 Dark Souls III Composition/arrangement Yuka Kitamura
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness Composition/arrangement
Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin Composition/arrangement
Valkyrie Connect Composition/arrangement
Tales of Berseria Composition/arrangement
Star Ocean: Anamnesis[11] Composition/arrangement
2017 Mario Sports Superstars Composition/arrangement
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom Composition/arrangement Yuzo Koshiro, Michiru Yamane, Keiki Kobayashi,
Takeshi Yanagawa, and Haruka Shimotsuki
Year Title Role Co-worker(s)
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
2016 Tales of Zestiria the X Composition/arrangement Go Shiina
Year Title Role Co-worker(s)
2001 Blue Remains Composition/arrangement Yuko Fukushima
Saiyuki: Requiem Composition/arrangement
2007 Diatom 4 Composition/arrangement
2014 Tales of Zestiria: Doushi no Yoake Composition/arrangement Go Shiina
Year Title Role Co-worker(s)
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
(2 tracks)
with various others
Pazzo Fanfano di Musica Composition/arrangement
with various others
1990 Kings' Boards Composition/arrangement
("Drama Composition")
with various others
1991 Gikyokuonsou Composition/arrangement
1996 @MIDI's summer Composition/arrangement
with various others
1998 Le Meilleur Du Rock Progressif Japonais Composition/arrangement
("Tides Of History")
with various others
@MIDI's dance Composition/arrangement
("planetarium ~more "D" mix~")
with various others
Star Ocean: The Second Story Arrange Album Arrangement
1999 @MIDI's battle Composition/arrangement
with various others
2000 Valkyrie Profile Arrange Album Arrangement
@MIDI's freedom Composition/arrangement
(4 tracks)
with various others
2001 Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children Game Music Arrange Tracks Arrangement Tomoyuki Hamada
2003 Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Arrange Album Arrangement
Motoi Sakuraba Live Concert Star Ocean & Valkyrie Profile Arrangement/performance
2004 Famicom 20th Anniversary Arrange Sound Tracks Arrangement
("Super Mario Bros.")
with various others
Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange Arrangement
(2 tracks)
with various others
Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Premium Arrange Arrangement
("The whole new world")
with various others
2006 FM Sound Module Maniax Composition/arrangement
with various others
Rogue Galaxy Premium Arrange Arrangement
("Valkog's Theme")
with various others
Kiri no Mukou ni Tsunagaru Sekai / Haruka Shimotsuki + Revo Performance
with various others
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria Arrange Album Arrangement
Motoi Sakuraba Live 2006 -Valkyrie Profile 2- Arrangement/performance
2008 Forest of glass Composition/arrangement
Red Stone Original Soundtrack Arrangement
("Legend of Red Stone (Arr. version)")
Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard Super Arrange Version Arrangement
("Battlefield - Scatter About")
with various others
Tales of Series Battle Arrange Tracks Arrangement
Tales of Series Piano Arrange Tracks Arrangement
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume Arrange Album Arrangement
Message Composition/arrangement
("image ~imagery~")
with various others
2009 Star Ocean: The Last Hope Arrange Soundtrack Arrangement
DoDonPachi DaiOuJou Arrange Album Arrangement
("Yellow Stream (Last Boss)")
with various others
Mushihimesama Double Arrange Album Arrangement
("Shinju Forest Rebel Army?")
with various others
2010 Dariusburst Remix Wonder World Arrangement
("The Battle is Now in Progress")
with various others
2011 Akumajo Dracula Tribute Vol.1 Arrangement
with various others
After all... Composition/arrangement
GeOnDan Super Rare Trax: The Land of Rising Sun Composition/arrangement
with various others
Tales of Series Battle Arrange Tracks 2 Arrangement
2012 Ragnarok Online BGM Arrange Collection Arrangement
("Erebos' Prelude")
with various others
2013 What's up? Composition/arrangement
Valhalla Knights 3 Arrange Soundtrack Arrangement
Passage Composition/arrangement
Game Music Prayer Composition/arrangement
("Megrim Ver.2")
with various others
Ragnarok Online Elemental Tunes Arrangement
with various others
2014 Game Music Prayer II Composition/arrangement
("Hikari wo Sagashite")
with various others
Monster Hunter 10th Anniversary Compilation Album Arrangement
("Intercepting the Great Gong")
with various others
X'mas Collections music from Bravely Default Arrangement
("Horizon of Light and Shadow / X'mas Edit")
with various others
2015 GUILTY7 Composition/arrangement
Fantasy Rock Overture Composition/arrangement
("Pensiero Illogico")
with various others


  1. ^ a b c d Chris, Greening. "Motoi Sakuraba Profile". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Person, Chris. "From Dark Souls to Valkyrie Profile: The Motoi Sakuraba Mixtape". Kotaku. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  3. ^ Urrea, Sebastian. "Composer Analysis: Motoi Sakuraba Composer Analysis: Motoi Sakuraba". Original Sound Version. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d Kotowski, Don. "Motoi Sakuraba Interview: Diverse New Projects". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved March 11, 2016. 
  6. ^ Tong, Sophia. "Sound Byte: Meet the Composer of Dark Souls". GameSpot. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  7. ^ "Musicians who worked on new arrangements for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U versions". Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Tales of Festivle 2015 Cast". Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Osborn, Alex. "Dark Souls to Be Featured in Bandai Namco's Orchestral Concert in Europe". IGN. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  10. ^ Greening, Chris. "Motoi Sakuraba Profile". Game Music Online. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Romano, Sal (October 18, 2016). "Star Ocean: Anamnesis has four-player multiplayer battles". Gematsu. Retrieved October 23, 2016. 

External links[edit]