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The Star Onions :: History

Overview History Members Discography Concerts

Note: This history was written exclusively for Square Enix Music Online by Chris. The act of using it without advance written permission is regarded as a copyright infringement. It was last updated on December 21, 2007.

The Star Onions are a group of musician that perform arrangements of music from the Final Fantasy XI franchise. They were introduced on Final Fantasy XI Chains of Promathia Special Night on September 11, 2004 to play a 30 minute concert between video presentations about the expansion. Pianist Kumi Tanioka, co-composer of the main game of the franchise, led the event and endeared with her warm announcements during the event. She was joined by bassist Naoshi Mizuta, the lead composer of the franchise though timid on stage, pianist Hidenori Iwasaki, a young synthesizer operator and a friend of Tanioka's, and guitarist Tsuyoshi Sekito, already an accomplished live performer through his work with The Black Mages. Six arrangements were performed altogether — "Prelude", "Gustaberg", "Ronfaure", "The Federation of Windhurst", "The Sanctuary of Zi'tah", and "Ru'Lude Gardens" — in a light acoustic style that stayed quite close to the originals. The audience were enthusiastic throughout the concert, reminiscing about their many experiences in the world of Vana'diel with the solid performances. While the concert was too brief to produce a viable album release, the recording of "Gustaberg" was a bonus track on November 2004's Final Fantasy XI Chains of Promathia Original Soundtrack, exposing The Star Onions to the rest of the series' fanbase.

The Star Onions reunited the subsequent year to produce their first studio album, Final Fantasy XI - Music from the Other Side of Vana'diel. The production was led by Naoshi Mizuta, who created an overriding jazz theme with arrangements of "Metalworks", "Rolanberry Fields", "Kazham", and "Selbina". The album also included soothing solo piano renditions of "Vana'diel March" and "Tavnazian Safehold" performed by Kumi Tanioka. It was topped off by a trio of less conventional arrangements — a synthpop version of "The Sanctuary of Zi'Tah", techno mix of "Awakening", and a vocal rendition of "The Duchy of Jeuno" — created courtesy of Monster Hunter and Wild Arms composer Masato Kouda, Mizuta's friend from Capcom. Three guest musicians — saxophonist Osamu Koike, drummer Hiroki Murakami, and vocalist Aundrea Hopkins — assisted Mizuta, Tanioka, and Sekito to perform the album. As most arrangements featured synthesized elements, few performers were needed per arrangement and Iwasaki was not required at all. The album's reception was very mixed. Many felt the album reflected the colour, diversity, and emotions of Vana'diel and appreciated the melodic focus throughout. Criticism centred upon the album lacking cohesion and the synth use in certain pieces. The album nevertheless sold well in its niche market and generated considerable publicity following months of advertising.

Since the album's release, The Star Onions have focused on live concert performances. On August 27, 2005, the band capped off Tokyo's two day FFXI Fan Festival with a 30 minute concert that also premiered "Distant Worlds". Joining Mizuta, Sekito, and Tanioka were keyboardist Masato Kouda, whose equipment suffered some technical hitches during the event, drummer Michael-Christopher Koji Fox, translator of Final Fantasy XI, and guest percussionist Arata Hanyuda, another member of The Black Mages. The performance was largely well-received and fans particularly enjoyed the new arrangements of "Awakening" and "Yuhtunga Jungle". The majority of the concert featured in Famitsu's DVD Book for the event. The Star Onions made their Western debut with a similar line-up in November 3, 2006 to conclude the California's FFXI Fan Festival to glowing reviews. They surfaced again in 2007 with a synth-pop arrangement of "Ru'Lude Gardens" featured as a bonus track on the Final Fantasy XI Original Soundtrack Premium Box's unreleased tracks, which didn't include their first album. On Final Fantasy XI Wings of the Goddess in Osaka, the band premiered four new arrangements and Iwasaki joined them once again. Only Tanioka and Mizuta appeared at FFXI Fan Festival 2007, replaced by rock cover band The Smash Bros. Given the amount of new material The Star Onions has created recently, there's a strong possibility a second album is in the works to the excitement of their growing fanbase.