Thanks to my readers for showing enormouse patience and as promised, the first of two interviews held at the Tokyo Game Show from the booth that Creative Intelligence Arts (CIA) had there. Another big thank you to JD’s Art Editor, Stephanie, for hosting the interviews while she was there!
During the interview, Hiroki Kikuta (@HiroakiYura) spoke through Hiroaki Yura (@Hiroki_Kikuta) acting as his translator hence why Kikuta san’s answers will be in 3rd person.
Stephanie: Ok, I’d just like to thank both of you today for doing this because I know you’re very busy. And if I could just start with Yura, with the Soul Calibur, you’ve recently been appointed the Musical Supervisor for the game, we just wanted to know what type of direction did you want to take the music in?
Hiroaki Yura: Ok, um, basically the same team was used to create Soul Calibur 1 to 4 and Soul Edge as well lead by Mr Junichi Nakatsuru but since he wanted to make it a bit different, it was (set) 17 years after Soul Calibur 4 and this game is much loved by the West, what we wanted to do is to give a little more Western flair but with Japanese tastes. So you know how they do modern Japanese food, it’s like that with music. What we’re trying to do is, trying to make a Japanese version, Japanese food but with modern Western taste.
S: Like a fusion?
HY: Yeah fusion exactly. And hence I had several composers from japan and the United States get together and create this music because I thought everybody would benefit from their talents.
S: That’s fantastic, so are you surprised about how the gaming public has adopted music as so mainstream. They’re all listening to it now, you see a lot people putting it onto their iphones?
HY: Well not really because we do a pretty damn good job! I’m actually quite glad that they do because I do think video game music should be respected and it deserves its respect as we do because these composers and performers they train so much to get it out there.
S: And especially as you were saying you’re trying really hard to create music that appeals to both Western and Japanese audiences.
HY: That’s correct or whatever music that appeals to humans.
S: Yes, exactly! Ok, if I could ask Kikuta san a few questions? So you composed the Secret of Mana, which a lot people loved the game, loved the soundtrack and they still talk about it today. It created a lot of fond memories.
(At this point, Hiroaki calls over to Larry from CIA to grab young SC V composer, Tomoki).
HY: Sorry, he’s another composer of ours, he’s only 18, he used to be from Australia and he’s working on SC V. We’ll finish Kikuta san first.
S: So when you were composing the score for SoM, did you know or did you think to yourself that this is going to be remembered years after the game had been released?
Hiroki Kikuta: He didn’t plan it for it to be heard for so long after the game was released but he felt, you know, he put in a lot of effort as, ah, tried his best to make sure that his music is heard as long as possible.
S: How important is it for you to reach out to your fans and communicate with them not just through your music but also just connecting via any other media?
HK: So he thinks it’s very very important that he reaches out to the fans and everything. Because it’s all part of a cycle where he puts something out and maybe it might take 15 years later but it will finally come back to him and that’s energy he needs to make new work happen.
S: That’s very interesting. I like that idea that you’re actually using your fans enthusiasm for your work and just in general what you’re doing to inspire you to create new music.
HK: He’s really happy about that and the fans that are listening are happy too.
S: So if we could just talk about Eminence for a little bit, I have to ask, a lot of people are asking in Melbourne, is there any plans for Eminence to be visiting Melbourne soon?
HY: Well I think this is probably the best answer that I’ll have, ah, is I can’t say anything at this stage. And it’s definitely not a no and I can’t say if it’s a yes but it’s something in between.
HY: Let’s just say something may happen next year. Early next year.
S: Ok, fantastic. With Eminence you’ve worked with Blizzard and you worked with a few large companies recording music so do you think that you’ll continue doing more major work with other companies and Eminence?
HY: Yes, I think as a Music Supervisor my time is not 100% diverted to Eminence but a lot of people do ask for our services, for Eminence’s services, so I think we will still continue to work with these companies.
S: That’s great. That’s fantastic. So again for Kikuta san, you used to be a manga illustrator, is this something you still do as a hobby or are you more devoted to your music now?
HK: He doesn’t draw as much but being able to direct pictures, manga or art, he actually used that skill to enhance his competition because it is very important for him, for people like myself as well, to understand what kind of music to write to what kind of picture.
S: So you use visuals to influence your music as well and do you find that being an artist and being able to draw also helps you build the music flow with the images?
HY: Yeah, that’s what he said.
S: So which composition of work are you most proud of and why?
HY: In what kind of way? Video games or…?
S: Video games.
HY: The thing that he made, right?
HK: (proceeds to play “The Little Sprite” from Secret of Mana off his phone)
S: And why would this one be your favourite? Why is this your number one choice?
HK: It’s because it’s very fantasy like and he’s very into cute, fantasy like creatures and also the marimba is really out there. He really likes the marimba.
S: Ok, that’s very cool, I like that. So lastly, do you have any messages for your fans in Australia, both of you?
HK: He really really likes Australia, it’s a great country and the food is great so he wants to come back again.
S: Yes, you should!
HY: Yeah, um, me too!
S: That’s fantastic! Thank you so much you guys, I know it’s only a short interview, you’re very very busy today. I know you’ve got announcements later, Soul Calibur?
HY: Yeah, in about half an hour. If you like you can talk to Tomoki, he’s bilingual so he can speak English. He did all the cinematics for SC V.
(Yura then proceeds to call Tomoki over)
Yura: I’ll leave you.
Head on over to Part 2 of this exclusive as Stephanie interviews Tomoki, the composer bringing the cinematic world of Soul Calibur V to life.