Mitsuda in 2007
|Born||January 21, 1972|
Tokuyama, Yamaguchi, Japan
Yasunori Mitsuda (光田 康典, Mitsuda Yasunori, born January 21, 1972) is a Japanese composer, musician, and sound producer. He is best known for his work in video games, primarily for the Chrono, Xeno, Shadow Hearts, and Inazuma Eleven franchises, among various others. Mitsuda began composing music for his own games in high school, later attending the Junior College of Music in Tokyo. As part of his college course, he was granted an intern position at the game development studio Wolf Team. Upon graduation in 1992, he joined Square after seeing a magazine advertisement in an office he was visiting with his professor.
Despite his job title as a composer, Mitsuda worked as a sound effects designer for two years. In 1994, after threatening to quit to Square's vice president, Hironobu Sakaguchi, he was assigned to write the soundtrack to Chrono Trigger. After the game's success, he went on to compose several others for Square, including Xenogears and Chrono Cross. In 1998, Mitsuda left Square to work as a freelance composer, founding his own music production studio in 2001, Procyon Studio, as well as his own record label, Sleigh Bells. Although Mitsuda continues to compose for video games, he began to expand and produce music for other media in the 2010s, including for anime series, films, television specials, and independent albums.
Mitsuda was born in Tokuyama, Japan, on January 21, 1972, and was raised in the Kumage District of Yamaguchi Prefecture. He took piano lessons beginning at the age of five, but was more interested in sports at the time and did not take music seriously, quitting by the age of six. For a while, he wanted to become a professional golfer. While in high school, Mitsuda rediscovered music, inspired by Vangelis' Blade Runner and Henry Mancini's The Pink Panther film scores. After watching Railman, he decided to become a music composer. He became interested in PCs after his father bought him one, which was a rare item at the time. He started to program computer games and compose music for them, as well as take more technically oriented classes.
After high school, Mitsuda decided to leave town and become independent. With encouragement from his father and sister, he moved to Tokyo and enrolled in the Junior College of Music. Despite the school's low prestige, Mitsuda received solid instruction from his professors, most of them practicing musicians who would take Mitsuda to gigs with them to help carry and set up equipment. At the cost of being used for free physical labor, Mitsuda got a first-hand view of the Japanese music world and valuable training both in and out of the classroom. As part of his college course, he was granted an intern position at the game development studio Wolf Team, studying under composer and musician Motoi Sakuraba, whom Mitsuda would work with together on game projects decades later.
During this work experience, with his school term ending, Mitsuda saw an advertisement for a sound producer at Square in a copy of Famitsu magazine at a game company he was visiting. With no clear plans as to what he wanted to do after school, he applied for the position. Mitsuda sent a demo which won him an interview at the game studio. Despite the self-described "disastrous" interview with composer Nobuo Uematsu and sound programmer Minoru Akao, in which he claimed to only want the job as a "stepping stone" in his career and admitted that he had never played many of Square's biggest games, such as the Final Fantasy series, Mitsuda was offered a position on the company's sound team in April 1992.
Although his official job title was as a composer, Mitsuda found himself working more as a sound engineer. Over the next two years, he created sound effects for Hanjuku Hero, Final Fantasy V, The 7th Saga, Secret of Mana, and Romancing SaGa 2. In 1994, realizing that he would never get a chance to move up to a real composition duty without some drastic action and feeling concerned about his low pay, he gave Square's vice president, Hironobu Sakaguchi, an ultimatum: let him compose, or he would quit. Sakaguchi assigned the young musician to the team working on Chrono Trigger, telling him that "after you finish it, maybe your salary will go up". Mitsuda was assigned as the sole composer for the game, in the end creating 54 tracks for the final release. Mitsuda drove himself to work hard on the score, frequently working until he passed out, and would awake with ideas for songs such as the ending theme for the game. He worked himself so hard that he developed stomach ulcers and had to be hospitalized, which led Uematsu to finish the remaining tracks for him.
Chrono Trigger proved a great success, and the soundtrack proved popular with fans. Mitsuda claims that it is his "landmark" title, which "matured" him. He attributes its success with fans to his use of folk and jazz styling, rather than the "semi-orchestral" style popular in game music at the time. Following Chrono Trigger, Mitsuda composed the soundtrack for Front Mission: Gun Hazard, again with Uematsu. According to Uematsu, Mitsuda again worked so much that he eventually defecated blood out of stress and physical problems. Mitsuda worked on three more titles for Square: Tobal No. 1 and Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Hōseki both in 1996, and Xenogears in 1998, which featured the first ballad in a Square game, the Celtic ending theme "Small Two of Pieces" sung by Joanne Hogg. Mitsuda also during this period produced albums of arranged music of his original scores, creating acid jazz remixes in Chrono Trigger Arranged Version: The Brink of Time and a Celtic arrangement album of Xenogears music, Creid. In July 1998, following up on what he had said in his original interview with the company, Mitsuda left Square to work as a freelance composer, the first of several of Square's composers to do so.
Following his leaving, Mitsuda has only worked on one more original game with Square, composing for 1999's Chrono Cross, the sequel to Chrono Trigger. He has worked on over a dozen games since then, including the spiritual sequel to Xenogears, Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht, and major games such as Shadow Hearts and Luminous Arc. In addition to video games, Mitsuda has composed music for the anime Inazuma Eleven and for the independent album Kirite. On November 22, 2001, Mitsuda formed Procyon Studio as a company to produce his music, along with a record label, Sleigh Bells. The company consisted of only Mitsuda as composer along with a few sound producers for several years, but has since expanded to include six employees. Mitsuda and Procyon Studio have also produced more arranged albums, such as Sailing to the World and 2009's Colours of Light, a compilation album of vocal pieces Mitsuda has composed. The studio was also involved in co-designing the KORG DS-10 synthesizer program for the Nintendo DS, and its successor for the Nintendo 3DS, KORG M01D. Mitsuda claims that, for the projects Procyon had been working on in the late 2000s, he was focusing more on working as a music producer for a team of artists rather than just as a composer. Despite that, Mitsuda continued to compose for several notable games in the 2010s, such as the Inazuma Eleven series, Soul Sacrifice, and Valkyria Revolution, with the latter marking his first fully solo game soundtrack in eight years. Around the same time, Mitsuda also began to compose for non-video game media, including several NHK-produced television shows, as well as anime series such as Black Butler and adaptions of Inazuma Eleven. In addition to serving as the lead composer for 2017's Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Mitsuda also was in charge of the game's audio budget, musician booking, schedule management, and music sheet proofreading, for which he claimed was the largest project he ever worked on. He also composed for its expansion pack, Torna – The Golden Country.
Musical style and influences
Mitsuda claims to compose by "just fool[ing] around on my keyboard" and letting the melodies come to him. He also sometimes comes up with songs while asleep, including the ending theme to Chrono Trigger and "Bonds of Sea and Fire" from Xenogears, though his main inspiration is visual items, "paintings or other things". His music is frequently minimalistic, and he has cited Minimalism as an influence. His final battle themes for Chrono Trigger and Xenogears are based on only a few chords each, with the latter containing only two. Mitsuda has listened to a great number of musical genres throughout his life, which he learned from his father, and is especially inspired by jazz music. He is also inspired by Celtic music, and has created two albums of music in that style. His soundtrack for Chrono Trigger also shows the influence of Asian music, including the sounds of Japanese shakuhachi flutes, Indian tabla drums and the sitar. He has cited Maurice Ravel, J.S. Bach, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Claude Debussy, Robert Schumann, Antonín Dvořák, and Gustav Holst as his favorite Classical composers, claiming that his modern influences are too numerous to name as he listens to so much music.
Mitsuda names his favorite works as the soundtracks to the Chrono series, Xenogears, Xenosaga Episode I, and the original album Kirite, though he also says that all of his soundtracks are "representational works", as they represent who he was as a composer when he made them. His favorite pieces overall are "The Girl Who Closed Her Heart" and "Pain" from Xenosaga Episode I and pieces from Kirite. When he starts to compose a soundtrack, he first takes one month to gather information and artwork about the game world and scenario, so that his music will fit in with the game. He also finds it easier to be inspired if he has a visual representation. Mitsuda claims that he does not save his best work for more popular games, as he tries to compose each piece to correspond to how it is going to be used in a specific game. He also tries to compose good pieces even for games he feels do not live up to them, so that they will be a redeeming point about the game for the players. The majority of his video game soundtracks are for role-playing games, but he likes projects that are different from what he has done before and is interested in working in other genres.
I think [game music] is something that should last with the player. It's interesting because it can't just be some random music, but something that can make its way into the player's heart. In that sense, this not only applies to game music, but I feel very strongly about composing songs that will leave a lasting impression...What I must not forget is that it must be entertaining to those who are listening. I don't think there's much else to it, to be honest. I don't do anything too audacious, so as long as the listeners like it, or feel that it's a really great song, then I've done my job.— Yasunori Mitsuda, 2008 interview
Mitsuda's music from Chrono Trigger was first performed live by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra in 1996 at the Orchestral Game Concert in Tokyo, Japan, and released on an accompanying album. The first symphonic performance of his music outside Japan took place in 2005 at the Symphonic Game Music Concert in Leipzig, Germany when music from Chrono Cross was presented. Mitsuda has arranged versions of music from Trigger and Cross for Play! A Video Game Symphony video game music concerts in 2006. Music from the two games has also been performed in other video game concert tours such as the Video Games Live concert series and in concerts by the Eminence Orchestra. Music written by Yasunori Mitsuda for Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross made up one fourth of the music of the Symphonic Fantasies concerts in September 2009 which were produced by the creators of the Symphonic Game Music Concert series and conducted by Arnie Roth. "Scars of Time" from Chrono Cross was played at the Fantasy Comes Alive concert in Singapore on April 30, 2010.
Mitsuda's music for Xenogears has also sparked fan-made albums; an officially licensed tribute album titled Xenogears Light: An Arranged Album, was published in limited quantities by the fan group OneUp Studios in 2005. The album features 20 tracks arranged from the Xenogears score and performed with acoustic instruments, such as piano, flute, guitar and violin. Another, unofficial album of remixes titled Humans + Gears was produced as a digital album by OverClocked Remix on October 19, 2009, consisting of 33 tracks. Selections of remixes of Mitsuda's work also appear on Japanese remix albums, called Dōjin, and on English remixing websites such as OverClocked Remix. Music from the Chrono Trigger soundtrack has been arranged for the piano and published as sheet music by DOREMI Music Publishing. Sheet music for Chrono Cross tracks arranged for both solo guitar and guitar duets has been released by Procyon Studio.
For the 20th anniversary of Chrono Trigger in 2015, Mitsuda, along with his performing group Millennial Fair, performed songs from the game at the Tokyo Globe in Tokyo, Japan on July 25 and 26. The event, titled "The Brink of Time", included Mitsuda performing on the piano, guitar, and Irish bouzouki. During the event, Mitsuda also announced that the long requested Chrono series arrangement album, entitled To Far Away Times: Chrono Trigger & Chrono Cross Arrangement Album, would be released by Square Enix Music on October 14, 2015.
Mitsuda's music has been heavily remixed by fans, sparking several albums. These include the officially licensed Time & Space – A Tribute to Yasunori Mitsuda, released by OneUp Studios on October 7, 2001, and containing 18 remixes, with a second version of the album released on June 17, 2003. Another popular album release was Chrono Symphonic, an unofficial download-only album release by the remix website OverClocked ReMix on January 3, 2006, containing 25 remixes. A related popular album release was Radical Dreamers: Thieves of Fate, an unofficial download-only album release by the OverClocked ReMix on January 5, 2008, containing 15 remixes of the soundtrack to Radical Dreamers.
- Chrono Trigger (1995) – with Nobuo Uematsu and Noriko Matsueda
- Radical Dreamers (1996)
- Front Mission: Gun Hazard (1996) – with Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, and Junya Nakano
- Tobal No. 1 (1996) – with many others
- Xenogears (1998)
- Mario Party (1998)
- Chrono Cross (1999)
- Bomberman 64: The Second Attack (1999) – with many others
- Tsugunai: Atonement (2001)
- Shadow Hearts (2001) – with Yoshitaka Hirota
- Legaia 2: Duel Saga (2001) – with Hitoshi Sakimoto and Michiru Oshima
- Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht (2002)
- The Seventh Seal: The Resurrection of the Dark Lord (2002)
- Shadow Hearts: Covenant (2004) – with Yoshitaka Hirota, Kenji Ito, and Tomoko Kobayashi
- Graffiti Kingdom (2004)
- 10,000 Bullets (2005) – with Miki Higashino
- Tantei Kibukawa Ryosuke Jiken Dan (2005) – with Takanari Ishiyama and Kazumi Mitome
- Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner (2006) – with many others
- Deep Labyrinth (2006)
- Luminous Arc (2007) – with Kazumi Mitome, Akari Kaida, and Shota Kageyama
- Soukou Kihei Armodyne (2007)
- Soma Bringer (2008)
- Inazuma Eleven (2008)
- Sands of Destruction (2008) – with Shunsuke Tsuchiya and Kazumi Mitome
- Arc Rise Fantasia (2009) – with Shunsuke Tsuchiya and Yuki Harada
- Lime Odyssey (2009) – with Dong-Hyuc Shin, Jun-Su Park, and Sa-Yin Jeong
- bQLSI Star Laser (2009) – (Main fanfare only)
- Inazuma Eleven 2 (2009)
- Xenoblade Chronicles (2010) – (Ending theme only, "Beyond the Sky")
- Inazuma Eleven 3 (2010) – with Natsumi Kameoka
- Inazuma Eleven Strikers (2011) – with Natsumi Kameoka
- Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming (2011) – with many others
- pop'n music 20 fantasia (2011) – (One track only, "Tradria")
- Inazuma Eleven Strikers 2012 Xtreme (2011) – with Natsumi Kameoka
- Tokyo Yamanote Boys: Dark Cherry Disc (2011) (Opening theme only, "Overture")
- Kid Icarus: Uprising (2012) – (Three tracks only, "Opening", "Chapter 1: The Return of Palutena", and "Boss Battle 1")
- Black Wolves Saga: Bloody Nightmare (2012) – (Main theme only, "Dear Despair")
- Inazuma Eleven GO 2: Chrono Stone (2012) – with Natsumi Kameoka
- Inazuma Eleven GO Strikers 2013 (2012) – with Natsumi Kameoka
- Soul Sacrifice (2013) – with Wataru Hokoyama
- Soukyuu no Sky Galleon (2013) – (Main theme only)
- DoDoDo! Dragon (2013) – with Shunsuke Tsuchiya and Maki Kirioka
- Ken ga Kimi (2013) – (Ending theme only, "Forever, and One")
- Inazuma Eleven GO 3: Galaxy (2013)
- Soul Sacrifice Delta (2014) – with Wataru Hokoyama
- Terra Battle (2014) – (One track only)
- Ten to Daichi Megami no Mahou (2014) – (Main theme only)
- Chunithm: Seelisch Tact (2015) – (One track only, "Alma")
- Stella Glow (2015) – with Shunsuke Tsuchiya
- Seventh Rebirth (2016)
- Valkyria Revolution (2017)
- Another Eden (2017) – with Shunsuke Tsuchiya and Mariam Abounnasr
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017) – with ACE, Kenji Hiramatsu, and Manami Kiyota
- Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ignis (2017) – with Tadayoshi Makino and Yoko Shimomura
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country (2018) – with ACE, Kenji Hiramatsu, and Manami Kiyota
- Revolve8 (2018) – with Shunsuke Tsuchiya and Mariam Abounnasr
- Inazuma Eleven: Heroes' Great Road (2020)
- Edge of Eternity (2020) – with Cedric Menendez
- Mega Man Legends 2 (2000) ("It's OK to Cry", "The Place Where Wishes Come True")
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008) ("Vs. Marx", "World Map (Pikmin 2)")
- Hundred Years' War: Euro Historia (2013) – with Shunsuke Tsuchiya, Maki Kirioka and Natsumi Kameoka
- Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U (2014) ("Forest/Nature Area", "Mii Channel")
- Sound design (Sound effects and programming)
- Hanjuku Hero: Aa, Sekaiyo Hanjukunare...! (1992)
- Final Fantasy V (1992)
- The 7th Saga (1993)
- Secret of Mana (1993)
- Romancing SaGa 2 (1993)
- Korg M01 (2010)
- Sound production (Supervisor/director/producer)
- Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (2002) – sound director
- Fist Groove (2005) – sound producer
- Fist Groove 2 (2006) – sound producer
- Minna de Puzzleloop (2008) – sound producer
- Luminous Arc 2 (2008) – sound producer and mixer
- Infinite Loop: Kojjou ga Miseta Yume (2008) – sound producer
- Magnetica Twist (2009) – sound producer
- Luminous Arc 3 (2009) – sound producer
- Thexder Neo (2009) – sound director
- KORG M01 (2010) – product manager
- Tokyo Yamanote Boys (2011) – sound producer
- Treasure Report: Kikai Jikake no Isan (2011) – sound producer
- Wizardry Online (2011) – sound producer
- Black Wolves Saga: Last Hope (2012) – sound producer
- Ken ga Kimi (2013) – sound producer
- KORG M01D (2013) – product manager
- Handy Harp (2013) – planner and producer
- Pugyuru (2004)
- Inazuma Eleven (2008)
- Inazuma Eleven: Saikyō Gundan Ōga Shūrai (2010)
- Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stone (2012) – with Shiho Terada and Natsumi Kameoka
- Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi (2012) – with Maki Kirioka
- Inazuma Eleven GO vs. Danbōru Senki W (2012) – with Natsumi Kameoka and Rei Kondoh
- Inazuma Eleven GO Galaxy (2013) – with Natsumi Kameoka
- Inazuma Eleven: Chou Jigen Dream Match (2014)
- Black Butler: Book of Circus (2014)
- Black Butler: Book of Murder (2014)
- Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic (2017)
- Inazuma Eleven: Ares (2018)
- Inazuma Eleven: Orion no Kokuin (2018)
- Chrono Trigger Arranged Version: The Brink of Time (1995)
- Creid (1998)
- Street Fighter Zero 3 Drama Album (1999) – with Yoshitaka Hirota
- Iizuka Mayumi no MEGA-TON Smile (1999) – with Yoshitaka Hirota
- Biohazard 2 Drama Album: Chiisana Toubousha Sherry (1999) – with Yoshitaka Hirota
- Biohazard 2 Drama Album: Ikiteita Onna Spy Ada (1999) – with Yoshitaka Hirota
- 2197 (1999) – with many others
- Ten Plants 2 Childrens Songs (1999) – with many others
- Hopeful Weeds (2000)
- Square Vocal Collection (2001) – with many others
- Hopeful Weeds original sound vol. 002 (2001)
- Hopeful Weeds original sound vol. 003 (2002)
- Sailing to the World (2002)
- Hopeful Weeds original sound vol. 004 (2003)
- Hopeful Weeds original sound vol. 005 (2004)
- Hopeful Weeds original sound vol. 006 (2004)
- Kirite (2005)
- Specter (2005)
- Colours of Light (2009)
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Voice Actor Single 7 (2010)
- Play for Japan: The Album (2011) – with many others
- NHK-FM Radio Drama "Sabaku no Utahime" (2011)
- INNOCENCE / lasah (2013)
- Kakumeiteki Broadway Shugisha Doumei / Sumire Uesaka (2014) – with many others
- NHK Special "Uchuu Nama Chuukei Suisei Bakuhatsu Taiyoukei no Nazo" (2014)
- NHK Drama "Ride, Ride, Ride" (2014)
- Kaji Yuki no Hitorigoto (2015) – (Opening theme)
- HALLELUJAH / lasah (2018)
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