|Victor Entertainment||Record Label||1994 - 1996||Manager|
|Imagine||Music Production||1996 -||Composer, Arranger|
|Creative Intelligence Arts||Music Production||2010 - 2011||Composer, Arranger|
Shiro Hamaguchi is an anime composer also known for his arrangements and orchestrations of various Final Fantasy works. Born on November 19, 1969 in Fukuoka, Hamaguchi learned to perform and compose music from a young. He went on to receive classical training in composition and orchestration at the prestigious Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. The artist was initially contracted as a department project manager at the record label Victor Entertainment between 1994 and 1996. Thereafter he was recruited the reputable anime and video game music production company Imagine, joining fellow classically-trained musicians such as Hayato Matsuo, Kohei Tanaka, and Ko Otani. His first role was the anime series Violinist of Hamelin, where he arranged Tanaka’s works to dramatic effect. He was also selected as the arranger for the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks by Nobuo Uematsu. While the majority of the album was a best selection, it featured powerful orchestral renditions of "Aerith’s Theme", "Main Theme", and "One Winged Angel", which have emerged as iconic items in Final Fantasy’s concert performances. The artist subsequently wrote the on the science-fiction series Ehrgeiz and, in his first solo work, AWOL.
Firmly established as a member of Imagine, Shiro Hamaguchi was assigned to increasingly more prominent projects. In 1998, he deepened his relationship with Kohei Tanaka by scoring the hit pirate-based series One Grade, later returning to score two of its movies. These soundtracks boasted a swashbuckling tone with their rich melodies and grandiose orchestrations. The artist also took arrangement roles for the Card Captor Sakura and Sakura Wars series. The success of his Final Fantasy VII arrangements inspired Uematsu to hire him for a major role on 1999’s Final Fantasy VIII. Hamaguchi was responsible for orchestrating four themes for the Original Soundtrack, including the breathtaking choral opening theme "Liberi Fatali", the critically acclaimed 14 minute ending suite, and the award-winning theme song "Eyes on Me", performed by Faye Wong. These themes and nine new arrangements were packaged on to the orchestral album Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec, another critical success. The subsequent year, he demonstrated another facet to his musicality by beautifully arranging a selection of pieces from the soundtrack for the series’ first Piano Collections album in five years. The success of "Eyes on Me" also convinced Kenji Ito to select Hamaguchi as the arranger of Chocobo Racing’s theme song.
Hamaguchi’s workload significantly increased in 2000. He had solo roles scoring the Megumi no Daigo movie and Dinozaurs television series, both of which reflected his maturity and experience as a cinematic composer. In addition, he had a recurring role on Crayon Shin-Chan series, contributing to four of its movie adaptations. The artist also inevitable returned to work on Final Fantasy IX’s production, providing rousing, intimate orchestrations for the game’s FMV music and the classically-oriented theme song "Melodies of Life ~ Final Fantasy", featuring vocalist Emiko Shiratori. The artist also dedicated his second Piano Collections album to the game, excellently reconciling melodic focus with pianistic refinement and creativity. Having cultivated a strong relationship with Nobuo Uematsu through such scores, Hamaguchi invited him to make guest contributions on his two subsequent anime projects. One was the animated movie Ah! My Goddess, which featured a lavish, beautiful score recorded with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. The other was the animated series based on the Final Fantasy franchise, 2001’s Final Fantasy: Unlimited, where Hamaguchi drove the narrative forward with numerous memorable character themes. The soundtrack releases for both titles were commercially and critically successful.
Hamaguchi took smaller roles on subsequent Final Fantasy titles, orchestrating the ending theme and theme song for Final Fantasy X, as well as the four-tiered opening theme for Final Fantasy XI. During their production, Hamaguchi instead focused on producing the arrangements for 20020220 - Music from Final Fantasy, the first orchestral concert dedicated to the Final Fantasy series since 1989. The concert mixed his older arrangements with fresh ones like "Vamo’ Alla Flamenco", "Theme of Love", "Tina", "Dear Friends", "Final Fantasy", and an eight minute medley dedicated to Final Fantasy I - III. Despite performance problems on the day, these arrangements and the concert as a whole was gloriously received by the packed audience. The event set precedent for many future concerts across the world. Also continuing to work on anime productions, Hamaguchi reflected his versatility once again with two wildly differing scores, the horror-flavoured Lament of the Lamb and the enthusiastic Kiddy Grade; while his focused continued to be on the background music, Hamaguchi also took responsibility for composing several vocal themes for the latter. He also maintained recurring roles in the Crayon Shin-Chan, Sakura Wars, and One Piece series, working closely with his colleagues at Imagine, between making a brief appearance on the Pokémon animated series.
Hamaguchi concluded his relationship with Square Enix and Nobuo Uematsu with several major projects in 2003. The artist surprised listeners by recording the long-overdue Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections at Victor Studio Tokyo. He was also closely involved with the six-city, seven-show concert tour Tour de Japon - Music from Final Fantasy, offering brand new arrangements of "Opening ~ Bombing Mission", "To Zanarkand", "Ronfaure", "You’re Not Alone", and "Opera ’Mario and Draco’". The tour also featured his cinematic orchestration of "Cloud Smiles" from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, though he had no further direct involvement in the film. A myriad of Hamaguchi’s orchestral arrangements have since headlined the highly successful American tour Dear Friends and the ongoing worldwide tour Distant Worlds. His arrangements have also been performed at Video Games Live, PLAY! A Video Game Symphony, and A Night in Fantasia. In wider roles, Hamaguchi has also orchestrated three themes for Unlimited SaGa, arranged the iconic main theme for Monster Hunter, and contributed to the Third Symphonic Game Music Concert. Also continuing to work on anime productions, he created the soundtrack for the television series Ah! My Goddess, building on the concepts of the original movie.
In order to increase his opportunities as an anime composer, Shiro Hamaguchi decided to further his studies. In the academic year starting 2005, he engaged in a one year jazz composition course at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, in order to expand his stylistic capabilities. Due to his unavailability, his professional relationship with Square Enix and Nobuo Uematsu was terminated. The artist marked his return to Imagine by scoring the second season and two specials dedicated to Ah! My Goddess, as well the upbeat sports-flavoured soundtrack for Big Windup! and the second Tamagotchi movie. Under the lead of Kohei Tanaka, he also maintained his long-running role on the One Piece series by co-composing the film adaptations released annually between 2007 and 2009. More productive than ever, Hamaguchi also established his involvement in new franchises by co-composing the two series of Studio Gonzo’s Rosario + Vampire and the first three series of Studio Comet’s Jewelpet. In a further highlight, Hamaguchi marked his theatrical movie debut with the biopic 26 Years Later alongside three fellow members of his company. The arranger was also proud to commemorate the iconic scores of others on The String Concert of Haruha Suzumiya, A Night in Fantasia 2009, and the studio album Promise.
Hamaguchi has continued to take guest roles on video game projects. The artist orchestrated the defining themes for Monster Hunter 3, supported the choral arrangement of El Shaddai, and commemorated Lost Odyssey on the piano album Benyamin Nuss Plays Uematsu. Also continuing to be active in video game concerts, he has produced defining arrangements for the Fifth Symphonic Game Music Concert (Settlers II), A Night in Fantasia 2009 (SoulCalibur series), and Symphonic Legends (Star Fox series), in each case combining grand orchestrations with a sense of classical finesse. His orchestrations also continue to be performed across the world at Video Games Live, Distant Worlds, and the Monster Hunter Orchestra Concerts Back in the relam of anime, Hamaguchi has recently revisited the dramas of high school life with scores for Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow and Tari Tari, both of which boasted plenty of melodic, emotional themes recorded with chamber ensembles. In other roles, he has scored the critically acclaimed film The Princess and the Pilot, returned to the latest One Piece movie, and lent his services to the animated short Kizuna Ichigeki, produced as part of Japan’s Young Animator Training Project. For the current anime season, Hamaguchi was responsible for light-hearted series Problem Children are Coming from Another World, Aren’t They?
- Various Game & Album Credits
- Liner Notes Translations
- Official Profile (Japanese)
© Biography by Chris Greening (September 2007). Last updated on January 20, 2013. Do not republish without formal permission.