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, studying under composer Motoi Sakuraba. 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 compose the soundtrack to Chrono Trigger. After the game's success and the music's acclaim, he went on to compose several other games for Square, including Xenogears. 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 throughout the 2010s, such as anime series, films, television specials, and independent albums.
Mitsuda in 2007
|Born||January 21, 1972|
Tokuyama, Yamaguchi, Japan
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 titles 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.
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 on two "discs". 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 over 2 "discs". 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.
Another Eden: The Cat Beyond Time and Space is a free-to-play role-playing video game developed by Wright Flyer Studios and published by GREE, Inc. The game features the collaboration of writer Masato Kato and composer Yasunori Mitsuda from Xenogears and the Chrono series of role-playing games. Another Eden involves time travel elements, where players explore different points in time. It was self-published and released for Android and iOS in Japan in April 2017, and worldwide in January 2019. A port for the Nintendo Switch is also planned.Colours of Light
Colours of Light is the compilation album of vocal pieces by Yasunori Mitsuda. It was released on August 26, 2009 in Japan by Sleigh Bells. The album is composed of 14 remastered songs from games and soundtracks that he has composed, and one piece from an album of original songs by game music composers.Creid
Creid (Irish pronunciation: [kɾʲɛdʲ], meaning "Believe") is the arranged soundtrack to Square's role-playing video game Xenogears. It was written by the game's composer Yasunori Mitsuda and performed by a musical ensemble dubbed Millennial Fair. It was released on April 22, 1998 in Japan by DigiCube, and re-released by Square Enix on June 29, 2005. Comprising ten tracks arranged from the Xenogears Original Soundtrack, the album is mostly done in Irish or Celtic music style, with minor influences of Japanese rock according to Mitsuda. Artists from Japan and Ireland were recruited for the project. Four of the five vocal tracks on the album were written by Junko Kudo and sung by Tetsuko Honma, while the title track "Creid" was written by Mitsuda and performed by Eimear Quinn.
The album was well received by critics, who praised both the originality of the concept as well as the execution and track selection. The work on the album inspired Mitsuda to bring Tomohiko Kira, the album's guitarist, back to have him perform in Chrono Cross; this would eventually result in the latter game's ending song "Radical Dreamers ~ Jewel which Cannot be Stolen ~".Deep Labyrinth
Deep Labyrinth (ディープラビリンス, Dīpu Rabirinsu) is a 3D role-playing video game developed by Interactive Brains for mobile phone devices and the Nintendo DS handheld game system. Key contributors for this game include writer Masato Kato and composer Yasunori Mitsuda.Graffiti Kingdom
Graffiti Kingdom is an action role-playing video game developed by Taito Corporation for the PlayStation 2 console in 2004, and is the sequel to Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color. The game's soundtrack was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, better known for his work on Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, and Xenogears.Inazuma Eleven Ares
Inazuma Eleven Ares is an upcoming role-playing video game developed and published by Level-5, planned for release for Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4 in 2019. An anime based on the series began airing in April 2018.
Inamori Asuto from Inakuni Raimon, Haizaki Ryouhei from Seishou Gakuen, and Nosaka Yuuma from Outei Tsukinomiya.Inazuma Eleven GO Strikers 2013
Inazuma Eleven GO Strikers 2013 (イナズマイレブンGOストライカーズ 2013, Inazuma Irebun GO Sutoraikāzu 2013) is a role-playing video game and sports video game for the Wii developed and published by Level-5. It was released in Japan on December 20, 2012.Inazuma Eleven Strikers
Inazuma Eleven Strikers (イナズマイレブン ストライカーズ, Inazuma Irebun Strikers) is a role-playing and sports video game for the Wii developed and published by Level-5. It was released on July 16, 2011 in Japan, and was released on September 28, 2012 in Europe.Inazuma Eleven Strikers 2012 Xtreme
Inazuma Eleven Strikers 2012 Xtreme (イナズマイレブン ストライカーズ 2012 エクストリーム, Inazuma Irebun Strikers 2012 Ekusutorīmu) is a role-playing video game and sports video game for the Wii developed and published by Level-5. It was released on December 22, 2011 in Japan.Kirite
Kirite (キ リ テ), officially typeset kiЯitɘ (see album art), is a 2005 album composed by Yasunori Mitsuda based on The Five Seasons of Kirite, a story by Masato Kato. Unlike their other previous major collaborations like Chrono Trigger, Xenogears and Chrono Cross, Kirite was never developed and published as a video game, but published as musical album bundled with Masato Kato's story text in Japanese and a collection of artistic nature photographs. The music of Kirite incorporates Celtic music, jazz and ambient noise influences.Music of Chrono Cross
The Chrono series is a video game franchise developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). It began in 1995 with the time travel role-playing video game Chrono Trigger, which spawned two continuations, Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross. The music of Chrono Cross was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, the main composer of Chrono Trigger and Radical Dreamers. Chrono Cross has sparked a soundtrack album, released in 1999 by DigiCube and re-released in 2005 by Square Enix, and a greatest hits mini-album, published in 2000 by Square along with the North American release of the game. Radical Dreamers, the music of which heavily inspired the soundtrack of Chrono Cross, has not sparked any albums, though some songs from its soundtrack were reused in Chrono Cross. An album of arrangements of Chrono Cross songs was first announced by Mitsuda in 2005, and later intended to be released to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the game in 2009; its release date was pushed back several times since then. In 2015, Mitsuda released an album of arranged music from Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross entitled To Far Away Times to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of Chrono Trigger.
The original soundtrack album has been hailed as an excellent video game music album, while the Chrono Cross Music Selection mini-album has garnered little attention. Songs from the soundtrack have been played at various orchestral concerts, such as the personal arrangements by Mitsuda for the Play! A Video Game Symphony concert series. Chrono Cross music has also been extensively remixed by fans, and such remixes have been included in both official and unofficial albums.Tobal No. 1
Tobal No. 1 (トバル ナンバーワン, Tobaru Nanbā Wan) is a fighting video game for the PlayStation developed by DreamFactory and published by Square in 1996. The game was DreamFactory's first release, as well as Square's first release on the CD-based console.Tobal No. 1 marks Square's first incursion into the fighting game genre, although an adventure-like quest mode is part of the game. The game's mechanics were designed with the aid of fighter game designer Seiichi Ishii, while all the characters were designed by Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame. The sequel, Tobal 2, was never released in North America and Europe.
Packaged with both the North American and Japanese version of the game was a sampler disc featuring a pre-release demo of Final Fantasy VII and video previews of Final Fantasy Tactics, Bushido Blade, and SaGa Frontier.Xenogears Original Soundtrack
The Xenogears Original Soundtrack is the official soundtrack to Square's role-playing video game Xenogears. It was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda and contains 44 tracks, including a Bulgarian choral song and two pieces performed by the Irish singer Joanne Hogg. Though the game was released in both Japan and North America, the album was published in Japan exclusively as a 2-CD set on March 1, 1998.
The soundtrack was composed with strong traditional and Irish music influences, while the lyrics for the vocal tracks were written by the game's director Tetsuya Takahashi and its scenario writer Masato Kato. The soundtrack reached #55 in Japan and was generally well received by critics, though some disagreed on whether the album can be fully appreciated by non-players.
Two arranged versions of the soundtrack, Creid (1998) and Myth: The Xenogears Orchestral Album (2011), were also released by Mitsuda. A remastered version of the original album, Xenogears Original Soundtrack Revival Disc -the first and the last- (2018), was released by Square Enix along with a pair of concerts. The composer, along with Joanne Hogg, reprised their roles for the soundtrack to Xenogears's spiritual prequel Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht in 2002. Tribute albums were also produced by fans.