DJ Highlights

Video Game Composer Quick Looks: Tetsuya Shibata

DJ Blazkowicz again, and its time once again for a look at the talent at work on the music of video gaming. Today’s entry is on Tetsuya Shibata, a Japanese composer often associated with the Publisher Capcom, and creator of over 20 musical scores. Tetsuya Shibata has worked on Resident Evil, Darkstalkers, and my personal favorite, (apply echo sound effect) Devil May Cry.

As is tradition here in this newly established bi-monthly series, let’s slow down for a second and take a look at our composer’s work before we go any further. Note that Shibata himself claims to concentrate on variety in his video game original soundtracks, so if one puts you off consider giving another a try!

Here we have examples of some fast paced yet also laid back grooves, some vaunting orchestral tracks, and of course, the glorious rock edge of Devils Never Cry. Shibata covers a wide variety of styles, but his musical interests generally trend towards Jazz, Rock, and Classical. Shibata has been vocal in the past about variety in soundtracks, expressing a desire for other composers to push themselves to produce a broader soundscape for the medium.

Born in Osaka, Japan, Shibata credits his mother, herself a singer and music teacher, for giving him his start in composition. In his youth, Shibata listened to wealth of classical music, transitioning into Brit Pop in middle school, hard rock in high school, and finally jazz in his college years. Shibata exited college with a desire to compose, and friends and family directed him towards the video game industry, specifically Capcom’s Sound Management Section in 1997. The new composer proceeded to work on the Monster Hunter series, before proceeding to the hardest project of his career, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, in which he took over all sound production. Here Shibata chose to replace electronic tracks with vocal ones, in the belief that the extra time and texture would allow the songs to stand out among their contemporaries. During interviews towards the tail end of his career as a video game soundtrack composer, Shibata looked forward to a future where video game music would surpass that of film, becoming a work of greater skill and complexity.

Eventually, Shibata felt stifled by the video game industry, and expressed a desire to pursue music composition in a range of mediums beyond gaming, such as film and television. The composer created Unique Note, a music company that has since worked on musicals and television shows, but also did work for the genre bending role-playing game Half-Minute Hero, and soundtracks for the PSP game Fullmetal Alchemist: Senka wo Takuseshi Mono. He continues to work at Unique Note to this day. That’s it for Tetsuya Shibata and by extension, this entry of Quick Looks! Next up we’ll be studying up on the composer for Silent Hill, Akira Yamaoka. Until then, try not to get lost in the fog, and stay away from any abandoned cities, alright?