Asakura in NYC
Noriyuki Asakura

Date of Birth: February, 11
Place of Birth:
Tokyo, Japan
Nihon University
Favorite Food:
Japanese, Sushi
Favorite Drink:
Compari, Sake
Favorite Movies:
5th Element, La Femme Nakita
Favorite Video game:
Role playing games, Poporocrois
Movies, games

Web address:

Game Credits: Crime Crackers(PSX), Crime Crackers 2(PSX), Rurouni Kenshin RPG(PSX), Ruroni Kenshin Fighting Game(PSX), Tenchu(PSX) and Tenchu 2(PSX)

Animation Credits: Rurouni Kenshin(TV series)

Gear (partial list):

Guitars- Ovation Celebrity, Fender Mustang, Jerry Jones Sitar, Gibson Les Paul Special, Fender Telecaster, Synthesizer Driver/Roland GK-2A, V.Guitar System/Roland VG-8, The Ultimate guitar Direct Box/ POD LINE6 Winds, Wind Midi Controller/Yamaha WX5, Virtual Acoustic Tone Generator/Yamaha VL70-m, Condenser Mic/CAD Equitek E-200, Dynamic Mic/Shure SM58, Dynamic Open Air Headphones, Sennheiser HD565 Ovation Master Recorder, Dual Digital Audio Tape Deck/Tascam DA-302 CD&CD-ROM, Sampling CD & CD-ROM Library.

Keyboards- Yamaha DX7, MO Player/Olympus 230MO TURBO BLACK, Sampler/Kurzweil K2VX, Ensoniq Fizmo, Korg T2EX, Macintosh PowerBook2400c/180, Sequencer /Steinberg CUBASE VST4.0, MD Deck/SONY MDS-PC1

Rocketbaby: When did you first become interested in music?

Noriyuki Asakura: When I was a young boy. I wanna be cool. (laughter)

RB: You wanted to be cool?

NA: (more laughter)

RB: When did you start writing music?

NA: It is funny (continues laughing) I am an only child and when I was twelve years old I wrote a song about having no brothers or sisters. (laughter)

RB: Can you sing a few bars?

NA: (Big laughter)

RB: Are you a formally trained musician?

NA: No. I was in a local rock bands. I debut with my band when I was twenty-five or twenty-six. After being in a band and debuting professionally, when I was about 30 I became the pupil of a music master. I learned music theory and that is when I became a composer/songwriter.

Crime CrackersCrime Crackers

RB: Crime Crackers for the Playstation was the first game you composed for?

NA: Yes...yes...yes.

RB: How did you get the job for Crime Crackers?

NA: A person by the name of Mr. Nagasaki from Sony Computer Entertainment, this is before any one knew what Playstation was, nobody knew how big it was going to be. Mr. Nagasaki and I used to work together and he said Sony is making this new game machine and they need music for the first game on the platform. He came to see me in the studio with the second Playstation machine ever built. I didn't know how it would turn out, but just knowing Mr. Nagasaki, by doing movie soundtracks with him put me in to the spirit. Because you recall Playstation came out of the blue against Nintendo, which had all of the market(in Japan), and since Sony has Sony Music, the computer people did not want to put out an inferior product, especially the music. Music is a very important part of this platform and game. The music quality was very import to them, which is another reason why I was sold on the project.

RB: You also did Crime Crackers 2. What did you do differently?

NA: From a timing factor I was working on the Rurouni Kenshin TV series and the Rurouni Kenshin games(RPG and fighting games) at the same time. For Crime Crackers 2 I tried to stay with the same themes as the first games, but I also wanted to keep the sound different from Rorouni Kenshin.

RB: How was the music stored?

NA: Crime Crackers was both SPU (PS/X sound processor unit) and XA (directly output from CD-Rom), 50/50. It depends on how much space the game uses on the disc. The Rurouni Kenshin fighting game did not use a lot of space so it was SPU. From a musicians standpoint, XA is much more fun.

Rurouni Kenshin logo

RB: How did you get the jobs for the Rurouni Kenshin TV series and games?

NA: How I got the Rurouni Kenshin jobs, first came the TV show and because it was popular they decided to make two games, an RPG and a fighting game, which they obviously asked me to do the music as well. In TV animation and the gaming area, up until about five years ago used to have a lot of cheap sounding music, but Mr. Shirakawa at the Rurouni Kenshin company wanted the vocals to stand out more, the songs to stand out more. So instead of using a composer who was used to the cheap stuff, he hired me to do the TV show, which was a gradual transition to the games.

RB: Do you have any specific memory of working on the Rurouni Kenshin soundtracks?

NA: The Rurouni Kenshin TV show ran for about a year and a half. I worked on it for about 2 years, which 4 soundtrack albums were released for the show. During the production of the 4 Rurouni Kenshin soundtrack, the Tenchu 1 job was on top of my head. I thought I would die of not having enough work and deadlines. (laughter)

RK groupKenshin

RB: Which are your favorite Rurouni Kenshin soundtracks?

NA: I like CDs1 and 4.

RB: What inspires your music?

NA: The vision and what I want to achieve with my music is to introduce not just traditional Japanese music, but a Pan-Asian sound. It is not just Chinese, Japanese, or all the way to Turkey. Islamic Turkey is considered Asia on a grand scale. Obviously drawing from influences of all these territories, I would like to introduce the world to the new sounds of Asia. As inspiration I actually go to these countries...I just came back from Turkey where I got inspiration. I also watch alot of films to get inspiration for my music, but behind that view of trying to use and get inspired by Asia as a whole I do things that draw me to it. On this trip to Turkey, as I was getting off the plane I realized how Japan, although it seems very Asian, is bombarded with western influences, in music and media. In going to places like Islamic Turkey I would hear different musical chords and harmonic minors. It hit home in a big way just how everything is different musically and culturally and how westernized Japan has become. Because Japan is inundated with so much western influence, sometimes something that is lacking from a musical standpoint is something that is different in music, and by using Islamic melodies and Islamic harmonic chords and also obviously putting it together with my Japaneseness into the music is something I think that is totally different and really hits the soul. And like the main title of this(picks up Tenchu 1 soundtrack), because I wanted it to be different but also with emotion... I think pure emotion has to come from outside of your every day life. I didn't want the lyrics to be Japanese or English. My wife, Sumie Ayusawa, brought an idea to the table of using the Hausa language. The language for Tenchu 1 & 2's opening theme are Hausa language.

Tenchu 2 logo

RB: How did you choose the Hausa language?

NA: We thought about and talked about it a long time. It was necessary to have a mysterious yet nice sound. One day, my Wife found Hausa language. The Hausa language is very romantic & mysterious and has a good sound. The Hausa language is used during the pilgrimage from West Africa to Mecca. My wife worked very hard to study the Hausa language as there are only to dictionaries of Hausa in Japan. It took her along time to write the lyrics when she could not speak the language.

RB: Who are your musical influences?

NA: (laughter) I can't really think, because on this music(holds up Tenchu 1 CD) who inspired me, It's not a specific artist, but my travels. I am a vocalist (sings male vocals on opening themes of Tenchu 1 & 2) so I love artists like Otis Redding and Daryl Hall. In Japan song writing and soundtracks are totally different, But I am lucky to do both.

RB: What are the differences between the music for Tenchu 1 and 2?

NA: Tenchu 2 has more of a Japanese sound to it. I personally don't like when a piece of music sounds like it came from a specific place. Because of the nature of the game the producers wanted more Japanese elements.

Tecncu 2Tenchu 2

RB: What are your strengths and weaknesses as a composer?

NA: I feel my strengths, as I said before, are what I want to achieve with my music and the Pan-Asian sound. Not a sound that is related to one country or culture. Some people mix Japanese elements or Islamic elements but not a lot use the whole Pan-Asian spectrum, and that's what I want to keep doing. I also feel my music fits certain things, I guess this could be called a strength or a weakness, certain genres, obviously like Tenchu or something like Luc Besson's Fifth Element, futuristic. But there also many genres and films that my music does not fit. So that is I guess a weakness, but from a vision standpoint that is what I want to keep on doing.

RB: Tell us about your work with Vocalists?

NA: Any specific ones?

RB: Ritsuko Kurosawa, COCO, Babe ETC.

NA: It is totally different between a sound track project and a vocalist project. When doing a sound track you are working with a number of musicians, and from a musical standpoint you are all at the same level. Working with a vocalist, especially a female vocalist, there needs to be a lot more nurturing of the artist. The atmosphere is almost nurturing them to grow for the song and so it is sometimes more nerve-wracking than doing soundtracks.

RB: Do you choose the vocalists you produce or do they come to you?

NA: Its both ways. A lot of them already have recording contracts and the record companies contact me. But, the newer ones who don't have a contract that want to get somewhere seek me out. When that happens I look at their future potential as an artist.

RB: Do you have a favorite singer?

NA: MMM.... Hikaru Nishida as an overall talent.

RB: Any advice for would be composers and producers?

NA: Believing in your talent and believing in the love of your music is what I live by. I have been in bands, have been in the spotlight, have been dropped from a label and at sometimes been homeless. (laughs) I went through all of that, and now I live the life of a composer for music and TV. What supported me through the hard times was, as I said, believing in myself and my love for the music. Thats what I would tell anyone. It is a hard career with a lot of competition.

Asakura 1999

RB: How does your wife influence your music?

NA: Since she writes the words and lyrics I get inspired from her knowledge of literature. I get inspired musically by what she writes. My wife is a big influence on my work.

RB: Any closing remarks?

NA: I don't know what the future will bring, some of it good, some of it bad, I don't know, but basically my philosophy is that I want to leave the world some of the melodies in my head. That is my vision of myself. I want to keep going as long as I can.

Rocketbaby would like to thank Mr. Asakura and his wife for their time. Special thanks to Archie Meguro for interpreting, Mayumi Emori and Akira Sudo.





What's New


      JOIN OUR

      Anime, Music,
      Games, Art,
      Reviews, News

      Back Issues

      Other Links

      FOR YET