Otakon 2010: Yura, Kikuta and Shihori Panel

The Eminence Symphony Orchestra is known for their performances of music from anime and video games. Founder and director Yura Hiroaki has worked on the music in Diablo III, The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk and the recent movie, The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi. The composer Kikuta Hiroki is known for his music in Secret of Mana series and went on to compose for many vdieogames. Shihori is part of the pop group, “Shihori and Asuka” and collaborated with Yoko Kanno on the song “Universal Bunny” from the Macross Frontier movie. She also created and sang the song, ‘Shakles of Night’ for this year’s Otakon animation from Production I.G.

Due to my delay, I was only able to be present for half of the panel.

Q: From everything that you have composed, which is your favorite track and which is the hardest to compose?
Kikuta: My favorite would have to be from Secret of Mana and I’m sorry I don’t have the English title for that. *plays music from the laptop* The reason I’m must fond of this, because it’s the very first piece I composed for Nintendo. And so for me, Secret of Maan of Mana was a game that involved the spirit of adventure and this is the piece that incorporates everything into it. At the same time, this was for Nintendo 64.

Q: 10 years ago, I took 2 years of Japanese in highschool so, this is the perfect time to use some of it. My apologies…. Watashi wa anta no ongaku ga daisuki desu. I don’t have a question, but I represent a website called ‘Overclocked Remix’ and it’s made up of fans of video game music and your music is very present on our website. I have remixed from Secret of Mana and on behalf of the site, I would like to present a cd of all our remixes of your music and also a shirt.
Kikuta: Thank you very much. I always listen to cd remixes and I brought something for you guys too. This is the soundtrack of Secret of Mana 3. There are are some illustrations inside. This is not the regular cd that is sold on the market. This saids ‘Not for Sale’. *audience laughs and applauds as they present the gift*

Q: Kikuta-san, concerning the ‘Lost Files’ project and concerning the ‘Island of Lost Souls’ tracks, can you elaborate on the origin of this?
Kikuta: This piece was not something that I composed on the spot. This piece was something that I had made back in my Square days. Back than, they were thinking of making a fighting game. But for whatever reasons, the project was scrapped. It was an idea that I had from back than that resurrected for this. There was a version of that piece with Yura playing the violin that is only available here for purchase at Otakon. I would be very happy if you could make a purchase. *audience laughs*

Q: What is it like working with Mizuki Nana over the years?
Shihori: Mizuki Nana is a very energetic type of person and she has been making various records in the voice acting industry. Even though she has been very successful, she hasn’t decide to quit yet. She is striving for a higher achievement still. And it’s that kind of energy that inspires me to be close to. My very first involvement with Mizuki Nana was as one of the chorus singers.

Q: Which of Mizuki-san’s song do you like and why?
Shihori: In the same single [Secret Ambition] was ‘Heart Shaped Chant’ and I was instantly charmed by the song and lyrics of this piece.

Q: I was not fortunate enough to be a musician professionally, so I was just wondering, if music did not work out for you, what kind of occupations would you have done? Or before you became a musician?
Kikuta: I would become a potter.
Yura: I think it would have to be sports. I used to play badminton.
Shihori: Actress. [in English.]

After the Q&A, Yura talked about the various games that they worked on including Valkyria Chronicles and proceeded to show some pictures of the studios as well as the orchestra members and staff, naming them and explaining the context of the photos. Yura also hinted at working on a new project with Shinkai Makoto that is ‘really big’. He asked audience members to guess, but stated that he wouldn’t tell us what it is, just that it [the announcement?] may come out soon.

When the panel ended, they announced that they will have cds for sell and an autograph session (for only a short while) at the back of the room. Of course, I jumped at the chance. I bought the ‘Promise’ album and had it signed by Yura. All three of them signed a picture postcard of themsleves which they provided.