Yoko vs. Yoko – Great Composers All Out Attack (Part 1)

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Yoko Kanno’s Folksy Hat Takes On

yoko_shimomura

Yoko Shimomura’s Improbably Large Lips In This 15 Part Series I Like To Call:

Yoko Vs Yoko: Great Composers All Out Attack

Yoko Kanno and Yoko Shimomura 2 of the unsung heroes of music in Japanese entertainment.  Okay maybe not so much the former whom everyone has pretty much heard of, but certainly the latter.  Yes, you’re probably saying “I’ve heard of Yoko Kanno, but who the hell is Yoko Shimomura?”  Well, have you ever played Front Mission?  Super Mario RPG?  Street Fighter II?  Well you’ve heard her music then.

The two Yoko’s…..I’d like to share with you some of my favourite pieces of their music, from a number of different categories, that they’ve given us over the years and to talk about why it is that I think the former deserves much (though perhaps not all) of the accolades that she gets (even if I rag on her a lot lately) while the latter deserves far more than the share she’s currently getting as a Square Enix collaborator.  I’m going to do this as a series, one category per night (hopefully), partially so that I guarantee myself something to do over the holidays and also because it’s an unmitigated pain in the ass to make and upload more than a couple of videos to Youtube at a time. 

Tonight is the first night that I get down to why it is that I don’t actually hate Yoko Kanno like some might think (not that I’ve given anyone much reason to believe otherwise lately) and why I think Yoko Shimomura has been unjustly overlooked in favour of the equally as talented, yet somewhat overexposed in terms of name dropping juggernaut that is Nobuo Uematsu.  And what better category to start with other than what I like to call “establishing” type music.  So without further ado, Yoko x Yoko, hajime!

Establishing:

Nothing is more important for getting you into a game, movie or TV show than some good establishing music to set the mood, and both Yoko’s I think have made a good career out of doing this:

Kanno’s Korner: 

Turn A Gundam ~ Gwen Lineford’s Limousine

You need to establish that Amerian culture has reverted to pre-civil war times and you need to do this rather quickly within the confines of the first episode, aside from showing it visually, how do you convey it through music?  The answer is the song Gwen Lineford’s Limousine, which is one of the few examples of folk music that you ever find in an anime.  Though Kanno seems fond of it somehow.

Shimomura’s Side:

Front Mission ~ A Minefield

Different goal, but no less effective, Shimomura has a pre-title sequence to help find the music that will establish Front Mission’s cyber-punk future and themes of science and bio-technology gone wrong and being used as a tool of war, and her answer was “A Minefield”.  Couldn’t ask for a much better way to establish the robotics oriented future of Front Mission and the coming shitstorm that is the game then the cold metallic and mysterious sounds of this tune as your wondering what all of that seemingly unrelated stuff your seeing on the screen means.  I don’t know about you, but by the time the title screen came up seemingly asking me to press start I was like “Fuckin eh! Show me what you’ve got Front Mission, my curiousity is piqued!”

By the way, if you’re one of those people who are dying for real robot action and haven’t seen Turn A Gundam or played Front Mission then I just have one thing to say to you…..WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!  GET OUT THERE AND EXPERIENCE THEM NOW!  Turn A is unlicenced and can be found on Bittorent almost anywhere, and Front Mission is on DS in North America for bargain bin prices.  Both are a steal, and plus you get some of the best music of the 90’s courtesy of Yoko x2.  Well I’m done for tonight, I’ll be back tomorrow with the category of “Battle” music.

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9 Responses to “Yoko vs. Yoko – Great Composers All Out Attack (Part 1)”


  1. 1 lelangir December 15, 2008 at 5:19 am

    culex’s theme PWNS.

  2. 2 lelangir December 15, 2008 at 5:22 am

    Ouch, I didn’t know that was actually an Uematsu piece…

  3. 3 Kaioshin Sama December 15, 2008 at 5:43 am

    That one was the boss music from Final Fantasy IV.

  4. 4 Aabo0 December 15, 2008 at 6:43 am

    YO! It’s been a while Kiaoshin, but I’m back! 😀
    I had some…. stuff todo lately and I missed your fine blog and on point criticism so imagine my surprise when I came on this page and ‘lo and behold!!! ITS SNOWING!!!!! 😄 Nicely done! I also stumbled on a rather interesting article that has rather too…
    I’d like to say that, after the Kingdom Hearts series, I’m a Shimomura slave!

  5. 5 ghostlightning December 15, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Front Mission is wonderful. I played the sequel I think, the one which had a Philippine arc and detonated a WMD which would’ve blasted where I lived at the time LOL.

    I’ve yet to enjoy the Turn A piece because I haven’t reached that part of the series yet I think. I’ve been a Kanno fan since Macross Plus.

    Shimomura’s unsung alright. I didn’t know it was her stuff i’ve been enjoying all this time. Thanks for correcting this inequity.

  6. 6 Kaioshin Sama December 15, 2008 at 8:48 am

    @Aabo0: Same here, lots of stuff, but now I’m back with some ideas for what to write about besides Tytania. I figure I’ve got the next 3 days in a row off so I might as well use them to catch up on the ol’ night job.

    @ghostlightning: Most people’s first experience was with Front Mission 3 it seems, being the first to come out in North America and all, but I got my start with the first one actually. To my knowledge Shimomura didn’t actually do the music for the rest of the series, just the first game.

    By the way, that song from Turn A is played in the very first episode right around the time everyone hopes into…Gwen’s Limousine for a drive to Bostonia castle. Still remember it for the part where Kihel is holding onto her mid-19th century oversized hat while they are going all of 40 KPH down a dusty dirt road.

  7. 7 Will of the Wisp December 15, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Another point that would strengthen Yoko Shimomura’s case is her work in the (lesser known, but magical) PSX game Legend of Mana — Her LoM OST was beautiful from the welish intro song to the last fading note, and entirely appropriate for the situation they were used for.

  8. 8 mel December 16, 2008 at 2:19 am

    I was going to mention Legend of Mana too, which I love dearly, but Will of the Wisp beat me to it. Shimomura created a wondeful OST that fits the enchanting world perfectly.
    I thought her work on Kingdom Hearts would make her a bit more famous though. I never played them but those games are popular.

  9. 9 Zack December 16, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Seems I was beaten to mentioning Legend of Mana ahaha. Yoko Shimomura’s also doing the music for Final Fantasy Versus XIII which makes me even more excited for its release. Definitely enjoy her works.

    My personal favorite composer is Yasunori Mitsuda though. I fell in love with the Xenogears OST and Chrono Cross OST.


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