Noriyuki Asakura

Noriyuki Asakura. Click to zoom.
Noriyuki Asakura
Also known as 朝倉紀行 (あさくらのりゆき) / 浅倉紀幸
Date of Birth 11 February 1954 • 69 years
Place of Birth Japan
Site n-asakura.com
Total Games 4
First Work MY STORM / Risa Youki • 1989
Last Work SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE DIGITAL SOUNDTRACK • 2019
Total Soundtracks 30
Most Popuplar Tenchu Soundtrack

History

Organisation Type Tenure Role
Mega-Alpha Music Production 2003 - President, Founder, Artist

 

Biography

Noriyuki Asakura is the leadcomposer of music production studio Mega-Alpha, best known for his pan-Asian scores for the Tenchu, Way of the Samurai, and Rurouni Kenshin franchises. Born on February 11, 1954 in Itabashi, Tokyo, Asakura became interested in composing and performing music as a teenager. While he initially wrote music to impress his peers, it grew to become his primary passion. From his mid-20s, he was active in rock bands as a vocalist. He debuted professionally in 1982 when he performed the theme song for the television series Keiji Yoroshiku with GANG. These experiences encouraged him to learn music theory and gain classical training at Nihon University in order to enter the industry as a composer. He subsequently started producing music for a range of artists, first on Yuichi Ikusawa’s “Sorrowful Dance”, before having more high-profile collaborations with Yuma Nakamura, Hikaru Nishida, Kaoru Koiruimaki, and CoCo on various singles, dramas, and commercials. It wasn’t until later in his career that he recognised the appeal of Asian musical aesthetic.

Entering the animation industry with 1987’s Junk Boy,Asakura subsequently scored the Time Travel Tondekeman series and the four films dedicated to Shakotan Boogie. The artist developed an insight into complementing music with visuals as an instrumental composer for these projects. In addition, he was responsible for their theme songs. After penning many of the theme songs for Tanjou: Debut, Asakura achieved his breakthrough in the games industry when he was asked by a former anime collaborator to score the PlayStation launch project, 1994’s Crime Crackers. He was initially tentative about the project, given the unannounced console was entering a competitive market, but was encouraged by Sony’s willingness to exuberantly fund the soundtrack production in order to maintain their reputation for creating high quality music. Facilitated by the streaming capacity of the PlayStation, he recorded the stylistically diverse soundtrack with various instrumentalists and vocalists to achieve a cinema quality. Asakura maintained a similar approach on the sequel, combining orchestral, rock, jazz, and vocal elements, sometimes into single tracks. The series’ theme songs, performed by Yuko Anai and Junko Iwao, were also released on stand-alone singles.

Between scoring the Crime Crackers titles, Asakura developed his defining pan-Asian sound. His world travels to places such as China, Turkey, and Malaysia developed his appreciation for Asian music and inspired the development of a sound encompassing the continent; he wanted to extend beyond the stereotypes of Japanese imperial court music in favour of rich original fusions. He was first able to reflect his unique aesthetic when he was asked to create music for the television series Rurouni Kenshin. Resounding above other animation soundtracks of the day, the soundtrack represented the protagonist and setting of the series with traditional Japanese instruments and tonalities, evoking the spirit of Jidaigeki movies; these stylings were uniquely hybridised with electric guitar passages, contemporary breakbeats, and wider Asian influences to create a more progressive timbre. Four well-received soundtracks were released for the series’ three arcs over two years, along with several theme song compilations. Asakura also scored Sony Computer Entertainment’s two video game spinoffs for the series, one a fighter, the other an RPG, in a similar style.

Between these works, Asakura developed the score of Tenchu: Stealth Assassins in 1998. He was assigned to the project after impressing Acquire producer Masami Yamamoto with an emotional vocal composition – written in Hausa by his wife and recorded with his unit add’ua – inspired by his world experiences. Asakura built the pan-Asian background music for the title from these foundations, but made a number of innovations to represent the stealth gameplay; he represented the complexities and possibilities of each scene by introducing significant variations in style and mood, through both subtle evolutions and sudden shifts, into encompassing five minute archs. The final soundtrack was gloriously received and widely praised for its artistry. He elaborated on these foundations on the sequel soundtracks. At the request of their developers, he placed more focus on dramatic cinematic underscoring and Japanese-styled writings on Tenchu 2, and considered the masculinity and persistence of the protagonist Rikimaru throughout his vast score for Tenchu 3. While neither score were as effective on a stand-alone basis, they provided an immersive complement to the game.

Following his work on the Tenchu scores, Asakura explored reunited with developer Acquire to score Way of the Samurai in 2002. The composer once again focused on Asian and contemporary fusions, though he injected a more wild and abrasive quality to the soundtrack, given the focus on action rather than stealth gameplay. He elaborated on these foundations with a more expansive yet cohesive approach to the sequel soundtrack and thereafter integrated spaghetti western elements into his music for the spinoff Samurai Western. In a string of more surprising roles, Asakura represented the intensity of motorcycle racing with gritty rock fusions on Riding Spirits, captured the crime noir feel of Deka Voice with moody jazz stylings, and accompanied the crossover title Capcom Fighting Evolution with a mixture of modern and retro contemporary elements. Asakura’s talents as a vocal composer were also requested for the ending themes of the first two Sirentitles and the promotional theme songs for Monster Hunster, Vampire Rain, andTenchu: Fatal Shadows. The artist has also created the trailer music for the animations Cross Climb, Kawaii KO, and Robotech.

On January 14, 2003, Asakura established the music production company Mega-Alpha to expand his prominence in the video game and animation fields. The company includes an international team of associate composers, performers, and engineers that are devoted to developing the Pan-Asian sound. Coinciding with the company’s establishment, Asakura made a return to animation on two new series in 2004. He took a relatively straightforward approach on Ragnarok the Animation, creating a range of mostly orchestral compositions to depict different moods. On the three seasons of the baseball animation Major, he focused more on conveying the feelings of high school characters with upbeat rock tracks and intimate chamber piecesBetween his ongoing work on this series, Asakura produced several new game scores. On Acquire’s Kamiwaza, he represented the stealth tactics of a Japanese thief by blending his characteristic Asian stylings with numerous dark ambient pieces and abrasive action themes. In 2008, he returned to the sequels Way of the Samurai 3 andTenchu: Shadow Assassins (aka Tenchu 4), in both cases recording the scores with the help of the instrumentalists and engineers of Mega-Alpha.

In recent years, Kamikura has worked on several major animated and live action movies. He sensitively portrayed the sad, touching stories of Letters from Ikuko, about the relationship of two cancer sufferers, and Junod, centred on the recovery of Hiroshima. He also produced the scores for the murder mystery series Akuto: Juhanzai Sosahan and the manga-based The Woman of Steel on behalf of TV Asahi during 2011. The same year, he wrote the music for high-profile Japanese feature film An Assassin, blending his pan-Asian aesthetic with thrilling and romantic moments. Also continuing to be the leading composer of Asian-styled game music, Asakura’s latest scores are Blade Chronicle: Samurai Online, which featured his trademark stylings in the context of an MMORPG, as well as the emotional sequel Way of the Samurai 4 and the pachislot spinoff Tenchu: Deadly Blow. Bringing his career round full circle, the artist was delighted to return to the Rurouni Kenshin series for two new animated movies released in 2012; the soundtrack release blended mature arrangements of his classic themes for the series with original compositions befitting the new scenarios.

References:

- Various Game & Album Credits
- Official Site (Japanese)
- Company Site (Japanese)
- Interview with RocketBaby (English, June 2000, Archived)
- Interview with Gamasutra (English, February 2009)

©Biography by Chris Greening (September 2010). Last updated on March 10, 2013. Do not republish without formal permission.



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2008


WiiTenchu: Shadow Assassins : музыка

2004


XboxTenchu: Return from Darkness : Music (alpha), Produced (alpha), Keyboards, ProTools & LogicAudio Programming (alpha), Mixed & Engineered by, All Songs Composed & Produced by (alpha)

2003


PS2Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven : Music, Produced, Keyboards, ProTools & LogicAudio Programming, Mixed & Engineered by, All Songs Composed & Produced by

1998


PSXTenchu: Stealth Assassins : аранжировка, музыка



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