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Utility » PC Trackers (S3M / XM / IT / ...)Take Me There by flag Elwood (Jussi-Matti Salmela)
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Artist Info

Noriyuki Asakura

Location: flag
Date Of Birth : 11 Feb. 1954

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Noriyuki Asakura is the lead composer 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 boy, when he aspired to be cool. 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 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.

He made an entrance into the animation industry on 1989’s Time Travel Tondekeman and 1991’s Shakotan Boogie. He developed an insight into complementing music with visuals as an instrumental composer for these projects. In addition, he was responsible for their theme songs. In 1993, Asakura achieved his breakthrough in the games industry when he was asked by a former anime collaborator to score the PlayStation launch project, 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. He maintained a similar approach on the sequel, combining orchestral, rock, jazz, and vocal elements, sometimes into single tracks.

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 an encompassing sound extending beyond the stereotypes of Japanese imperial court music. He was first able to reflect his unique aesthetic when he was asked to create music for the television series Rurouni Kenshin that would resound above other animation soundtracks of the day. He represented the protagonist and setting of the series with traditional Japanese instruments and tonalities, evoking the spirit of Jidaigeki movies. However, he uniquely fused these stylings 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. 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 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. 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 stand-alone listens, 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 unusual 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 quirky ending theme of Siren and the promotional theme songs for Monster Hunster, Vampire Rain, and Tenchu: Fatal Shadows.

In 2004, Asakura made a return to animation on two new series. He took a relatively straightforward approach on Ragnarok the Animation, creating a range of mostly orchestral compositions to depict different moods. On the baseball series Major, he focused more on conveying the feelings of high school characters with upbeat rock tracks and intimate chamber pieces. Between his ongoing work on this series, Asakura has produced several new game scores. On Acquire’s Kamiwaza, Asakura 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 and Tenchu: Shadow Assassins (aka Tenchu 4); in both cases, he carefully retaining the image of the original games while offering some new elements. Remaining the leading composer of Asian-styled game music, Asakura’s latest score is Blade Chronicle: Samurai Online, which featured his trademark stylings in the context of an MMORPG.

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Last Updated: 2 Oct. 2012
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Songs Connected To This Artist

Song Title Artist Song Length Status Avg. Vote Queue Last Played
Console » PlayStation 2 (PS2)Samurai Western - First Stage flag Noriyuki Asakura 3:41 Active 4.0 Log in to queue 2022-05-28
OST » Official Soundtrack (CD / Digital)Tenchu - Demon Castle Have video flag Noriyuki Asakura 4:48 Active 4.3 Log in to queue 2022-05-13
OST » Official Soundtrack (CD / Digital)Tenchu - Faraway Have video flag Noriyuki Asakura 5:07 Active 4.8 Log in to queue 2022-06-02
OST » Official Soundtrack (CD / Digital)Tenchu - Invasion of the Foreign Pirates flag Noriyuki Asakura 5:10 Active 4.0 Log in to queue 2022-04-12
OST » Official Soundtrack (CD / Digital)Tenchu - Opening Theme flag Noriyuki Asakura 2:48 Active 4.4 Log in to queue 2022-04-14
OST » Official Soundtrack (CD / Digital)Tenchu - Punish The Evil Merchant flag Noriyuki Asakura 5:01 Active 4.3 l Locked 2022-06-15
OST » Official Soundtrack (CD / Digital)Tenchu - The Heretic Manji Stone of Worship flag Noriyuki Asakura 5:24 Active 4.5 Log in to queue 2021-07-24