Okami Original Soundtrack Liner Notes
Masami Ueda - Lead Composer
Hello. I'm Masami Ueda and I was responsible for the music of Okami.
The first thing I thought when starting composing for Okami was that "it appears I should give this project a lot of serious consideration". By no means had I been unserious until that point, but merely aiming for something scary and creepy like Resident Evil or something upbeat and cool like Devil May Cry wouldn't work. I couldn't have an easy time taking materials from sampling CDs either. There was really only a limited number of the instruments which we could use for Japanese style music and, for that matter, we could count the numbers of the instruments that could play a melody on one hand, like the shinobue or shakuhachi. To express emotions like delight, anger, sorrow, and pleasure, we had to overcome many challenges in a straightforward manner.
As the direction toward Japanese-style music was determined from the start, I listened to film soundtracks and artists' CDs which featured this style. The sense of healing I wanted Okami to have wasn't present. I wasn't soothed by anything modern. I found it from CDs of children's songs available at knock-down prices instead. Since even some songs traditionally sung in Japan turned out to be from overseas, I thought it wouldn't be necessary to have Japanese melodies. A pure Japanese melody is quite beautiful, but often dark. A melody isn't Japanese anymore in a theoretical sense if arranged in the wrong way. I instead ignored anything theoretical and compromised with something that would sound Japanese-styled and soothing anyway. I gradually settled into this notion. As mentioned on the track-by-track comment section, the turning point for me was when I composed the theme for the promotional trailer for Tokyo Game Show 2004. The throes of creation peaked at this point for me.
Moving on to something else hard for me, I would have liked to have composed more tracks. Initially I was going to compose all tracks, but as the insane amount of tracks required were gradually revealed, I gave up on the idea. I subsequently invited new employee Hiroshi Yamaguchi to the project and ended up being helped by Mrs. Akari Gloves and Rei Kondo of T's music as well. Although I'm satisfied with their good offerings, I have mixed feelings about this, given I lost many of the highlights (laugh).
A healing-themed game. I know there are other games out there, but I don't think there is any that adheres to this theme more than Okami. People on the development side were also healed a lot. I had a lot of inspiration and was often driven to think "I would love to score this sequence!". Maybe due to this, the number of the tracks was inflated and finally approached 200. However, I think every track was impressively crafted. When you listen to a track, I expect you can recall the scene it accompanied.
Had the protagonist been a human not a wolf? Had the sumi-e-inspired artwork been replaced with a realistic visual style? Such a game might have been ignored and a title called Okami wouldn't have even existed. Once again, a number of small miracles led to the production of Okami. I think I was lucky for being able to become involved in this. In debt to this world setting, I composed numerous tracks that fitted the scenes. I'm grateful to all the staff members.
I'll now talk a bit about "Reset", the theme song for Okami. The other day the Okami Blog had an entry regarding the divisive opinions on how to select a theme song between me, the director, and the producer. My choice was a song of a bright and catchy atmosphere, but it would have been typical for an ending theme. It ultimately ended up being a different choice, which had a slight melancholy and afterglow. I didn't object, but I sent three requests — lyrics that could make the entire song become brilliant (it lacked lyrics at that time), incorporation of Japanese instruments if possible, and a warmer electric guitar to replace the rather digital one used in the interlude. The completed track fulfilled every condition after all. The lyrics were especially great. It had an association with the scenario that deeply moved me.
On a final note, I'm thankful for all those who played Okami to the end, all those who purchased this soundtrack, and all those staff members who developed the game. Thanks a lot. I'll continue to make games where you can sense the breath of the developers. I look forward to when I can meet you next. Bye for now.
Hiroshi Yamaguchi - Composer
Nice to meet you. I'm Hiroshi Yamaguchi and I was responsible for scoring Okami.
The first Okami footage I watched was the promotional video used in a presentation at Clover Studio. I remember how I gathered in a café with the four employees who joined the company in the same year and warmed up with a cup of coffee. We said things like "we'll be working on that great game!" or "I'm glad I moved from Kanagawa to Osaka to work!".
What let me pursue an video game music career was a newspaper article. I finally got the Super Nintendo I longed for at sixth grade towards the end of elementary school and I often purchased RPGs from used game shops in junior high school. I played video games and paid no attention to studying, so was often scolded by my mother (because of this, my grades dropped steadily during the three junior school years). What I liked about RPGs was their stories. The stories always had a message from their authors and the experiences from those games often uplifted my soul, and at other times, gave me a warm feeling.
That newspaper article was about RPGs and was written by a media commentator. It read "RPGs cultivate children's sense of justice!" or something to that effect. Although those who don't play games that much might think "Eh? Games are just there to play after all", it did sound quite plausible to me. I realized games very clearly expressed messages such as 'going easy on a friend' or 'working hard in union' that we sometimes forget but are very important in our lives. I thought games were great, since they could tell us such things naturally while playing. Of course, there are various ways to convey such a message, like films, TV, novels, comics, songs, etc. However, I think a game — where you 'let the story progress yourself' — has even more power to do so through the process of giving us experience.
I wanted to be involved in game development and convey my message through compositions so I entered this business. I wanted to compose music in a way that allows game players to keep what they feel during the game in their minds forever. I aimed for people to think "I feel like playing hard after hearing the theme of that character" or "I feel like meeting that character after hearing the music in that scene".
Amaterasu, Issun, and many other characters come together and overcome difficulties with their determined minds — a principle very important in our daily lives. It might be an exaggeration to say Okami, which had such messages, was exactly the game I wanted to create, but it did match what I wanted to do through music. When I think back, there was a series of failures, but I could safely finish the production thanks to the harsh yet kind direction of my superiors. I really thank Ueda who didn't give up on me.
I have been talking about my feeling toward Okami and game music in general. I would love to challenge game of various styles from now on, as well as another game like this.
All those who played Okami and purchased this soundtrack, thanks a lot! I'll work hard everyday while looking forward to you hearing my music in a next project and I hope you will take good care of me. Best wishes.
Liner Notes Translated by Cedille. Do not republish without written permission.