Sound Byte: Meet the Composer - Takeharu Ishimoto

We go behind the scenes with the Final Fantasy Type-0 composer.

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Action role-playing game Final Fantasy Type-0 has been doing well in the sales charts since its release in Japan this October, and part of that success could very well be attributed to the game's original soundtrack, which mixes orchestra with some impressive guitar work.

Composer Takeharu Ishimoto was at the helm of the game's soundtrack, known for his work on the Nintendo DS RPG The World Ends With You and the PSP RPG Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. GameSpot had a few words with the composer about his tenure in the company.

GameSpot: Tell us how you got started in music and in your role at Square Enix.

Takeharu Ishimoto: I got started thanks to the influence of my older brother. When I applied for a position at Square Enix, I went through the standard interview procedure and started by working part time.

I was originally a synthesizer programmer, but that was not very engaging. At the time, there were a number of competitions being held, and I participated in all of them. I was rejected for the first three projects, but there was no way I was going to give up, and I succeeded the fourth time around. That project became Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII for mobile platforms.

The music's theme for Final Fantasy Type-0 is war, life, and death.
The music's theme for Final Fantasy Type-0 is war, life, and death.

GS: Tell us about your experience with The World Ends With You and the Dissidia series. What was your inspiration for the hip-hop and industrial sounds of the RPG?

TI: When I was shown the TWEWY demo during its early stages, I included a song that I had been playing around with, and as it got good reviews, I added many songs with vocal components. In this line of work, it makes me happy to see people enjoying themselves, and this genre is my specialty.

For the Dissidia series, it's easier to start from scratch than to arrange existing music even though the majority of tracks for the game were from past FF titles.

GS: Let's move on to something recent: Final Fantasy Type-0's OST. How did you go about deciding the concept behind its score?

TI: I asked for Tabata's and Nomura's opinions regarding concept and genre. In general with Square Enix, the signature tune we use when our company announces a game at a show decides the genre. The overall music themes for the game are war, life, and death.

GS: What was the biggest challenge in doing Final Fantasy Type-0's soundtrack?

TI: I tend to bore pretty easily when it comes to making things, so I always attempt to try something new for each title. If I find myself bored when listening to what I create, then others will be bored as well, so for FF Type-0, I wanted to fuse the chorus and the orchestra. It always ends up being just like one song, so for this game I tried a bunch of arrangements to increase the number.

GS: Was there a major difference in composing music for FF Type-0 when compared to Crisis Core FF VII?

TI: Both games have bleak stories, so I composed both OSTs with a heavy, dark feel. However, there are fewer rock songs in FF Type-0 than in CC FF VII because I wanted to promote a sense of immersion.

GS: What is the standout track players should listen out for when playing the game?

TI: Both "Warera kitareri" (“We Have Arrived”) and "Shizuka na gekito" (“A Quiet Struggle”) are vivid songs that give me goose bumps when listening to them.

GS: Based on some of the more powerful tracks on The World Ends With You, Crisis Core FF7, and FF Type-0, you love using the acoustic guitar a lot. Can we safely assume that the guitar is your primary instrument when composing? Or do you have other favored instruments?

TI: My primary instrument is the guitar, but in The World Ends With You, the main instrument is the keyboard. I am a person of many moods, so I change the instruments based on how I feel.

Ishimoto also did the soundtrack for the DS RPG The World Ends With You.
Ishimoto also did the soundtrack for the DS RPG The World Ends With You.

GS: Hypothetically, if you were told to compose for a non-Final Fantasy title, which other game franchise do you wish to compose for?

TI: My passion for composing music will remain unchanged whether or not I am working on a Final Fantasy title. I just want to be recognized for music that I can be satisfied with, so I will gladly work on any project that needs me. As long as I can be of use to the company, anything goes.

Due to Square Enix's policy, we cannot put up the usual Sound Cloud music streams on the article. However, do check out the music of Final Fantasy Type-0 and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII here and here in respective order.

Want to make a request for OSTs of upcoming titles? Hit up our email at soundbyte@gamespot.com. Also, do check out our Twitter feed for our awesome video game music of the day recommendations.

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