Yasunori Mitsuda (光田 康典, b. January 21, 1972) is a Japanese composer and musician best known for his soundtracks for various video games.
Mitsuda was born in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, and raised in Kumage. As a child, he took piano lessons, but he was more interested in sports and so never took music seriously. He also took to computers at an early age, and he taught himself to program simple songs and games. After a brief infatuation with golf, Mitsuda rediscovered music in high school, inspired by the scores of movies such as Blade Runner and by the works or composers such as Henry Mancini.
After high school, Mitsuda 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. Despite 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.
One of his instructors had worked in video games, and he showed Mitsuda an advertisement for an opening in the music department at the software developer Squaresoft. Mitsuda sent a demo which won him an interview at the game studio. Despite the "disastrous" interview (as he describes it), Mitsuda was offered a position on the company's sound team in April, 1992.
Although his official job title was "composer", Mitsuda found himself working more as a sound engineer, a person who takes compositions by other people and adapts them to the technology used in making video games. In 1995, he finally gave Squaresoft'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. Mitsuda was allowed to compose the majority of the tracks for the game under the watchful eye of veteran composer Nobuo Uematsu.
The Chrono Trigger soundtrack proved extremely popular with fans. Mitsuda worked on four more titles for Squaresoft, the last being Xenogears in 1998 (he also composed the soundtrack to Xenosaga : The Will To Power, which is believed to be set in the Xenogears universe, although released by Monolith rather than Squaresoft.) He then went freelance, though he continued to work closely with Squaresoft on projects such as the Chrono Trigger sequel, Chrono Cross. He has also released non-video-game music, such as his CD Sailing to the World.
Musical Style and Influences
Yasunori Mitsuda's music often shows strong Celtic influences. This is particularly evident in his soundtrack for Chrono Cross in songs such as "Another Termina" and "The Dream Starts" as well as in his Xenogears arranged album, Creid. Mitsuda's style is difficult to pigeonhole, however, since he is able to compose music in several different styles depending on the demands of the project. For example, the Chrono Cross track "Chronomantic" sounds Caribbean, while the song "The Great Sneff's Troupe" from that same soundtrack is East Asian in flavor.
Mitsuda has always acknowledged popular cinema as a strong influence on his work. This is particularly evident in various battle themes he has written, such as "The Brink of Death", which is used in both Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross. The main theme from Chrono Trigger is another example of Mitsuda's cinematic side.
Mitsuda's music translates surprisingly well to jazz, as well. The album The Brink of Time consists of several arrangements of his Chrono Trigger soundtrack performed by a live jazz band called Guido.
Sound Designer Credits
Mix Beat Attractions (1991)
Wolf Team Co., Ltd (1991)
Half Boiled Hero (1992)
Final Fantasy V (1992)
The Secret of Mana (1993)
Romancing SaGa 2 (1993)
Video Game Soundtracks
Chrono Trigger (1995)
Radical Dreamers (1995)
Front Mission: Gun Hazard (1996)
Tobal No. 1 (1996) (with Masashi Hamauzu, Junya Nakano, Yasuhiro Kawami, Kenji Ito, Noriko Matsueda, Ryuji Sasai, and Yoko Shimomura)
Mario Party (1998)
Bomberman 64 2 (1999)
Chrono Cross (1999)
Shadow Hearts (2001)
Legaia 2: Duel Saga (2002)
Xenogears: Creid (1998)
Street Fighter Zero 3 Drama Album (1999)
Biohazard 2 Drama Album: Sherry (1999)
Biohazard 2 Drama Album: Ada (1999)
2197 (one song) (1999)
Ten Plants (one song) (1999)
Square Vocal Collection (three songs) (2001)
Sailing to the World (2002)