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Shiro Hamaguchi :: Biography

Overview Biography Discography Game Projects Interviews

Note: This biography 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 August 27, 2008.

Shiro Hamaguchi, born in November 19, 1969, is an anime composer also known for his arrangements and orchestrations of various Final Fantasy works. After graduating with a music degree from the eminent Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, he was contracted as a department project manager at Victor Entertainment between 1994 and 1996. In 1996, he joined the reputable anime and video game music production company Imagine, where he worked alongside other classically trained musicians such as Hayato Matsuo, Kohei Tanaka, and Ko Otani. His first role was the anime series Violinist of Hamelin, where he arranged Tanaka's works to dramatic effect. His music impressed so much that he was selected as the arranger for the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks by Nobuo Uematsu. While the majority of the album was a best selection, it featured powerful orchestral renditions of "Aerith's Theme", "Main Theme", and "One Winged Angel" that have become iconic through their use in Final Fantasy concerts. Subsequently, he had composing roles on the science-fiction series Ehrgeiz, incidentally unrelated to the Square fighting game, and AWOL, his first solo work.

Firmly established as a member of Imagine, Shiro Hamaguchi was assigned to increasingly more prominent projects. In 1998, he deepened his relationship with Kohei Tanaka by scoring the hit pirate-based series One Grade, later returning to score two of its movies. He also had arrangement roles for the Card Captor Sakura and Sakura Wars series. The success of his Final Fantasy VII arrangements inspired Uematsu to hire him for a major role on 1999's Final Fantasy VIII. Hamaguchi was responsible for orchestrating four themes for the Original Soundtrack, including the breathtaking orchestra and chorus opening theme "Liberi Fatali", the critically acclaimed 14 minute ending theme, and Faye Wong's award-winning theme song "Eyes on Me". These themes and nine new arrangements appeared in the game's orchestral album 'Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec', another massive success. The subsequent year, he demonstrated another facet to his musicality by beautifully arranging a selection of pieces from the soundtrack for the series' first Piano Collections album in five years. The success of "Eyes on Me" also convinced Kenji Ito to use Hamaguchi as the arranger for his Chocobo Racing theme song.

Hamaguchi's workload significantly increased in 2000. He had solo roles scoring the Megumi no Daigo movie and Dinozaurs TV series, as well as a recurring secondary role on the Crayon Shin-Chan movies (for which his music has appeared in Exciting Battle at the Hot Spring, The Adult Empire Strikes Back, The Battle of the Warring States, and Glorious Grilled Meat Road). He also took an active role in Final Fantasy IX's production, providing rousing orchestrations for the game's FMV music, featured in Final Fantasy Original Soundtrack Plus, and the arrangement of the classically-oriented "Melodies of Life ~ Final Fantasy", featuring vocalist Emiko Shiratori. His workload prohibited him for creating an orchestral arranged album, but he nevertheless dedicated his second Piano Collections album to the game, excellently reconciling melodic focus with pianistic refinement and creativity. During its production, Hamaguchi also invited an eager Nobuo Uematsu to create a few tracks on the animated movie Ah! My Goodess. The pair complemented each other so well that they decided to team up once again on 2001's Final Fantasy: Unlimited series, where Hamaguchi provided several masterpiece compositions.

Hamaguchi's role on Final Fantasy X was limited to orchestrating the "Ending Theme" and the two versions of the oriental flavoured ballad "Suteki da ne". No orchestral album was released for the score and the Final Fantasy X Piano Collections album was arranged by Masashi Hamauzu. During its production, he instead focused on producing the arrangements for 20020220 - Music from Final Fantasy, the first orchestral concert dedicated to the Final Fantasy series since 1989. The concert mixed his older arrangements with fresh ones like "Vamo' Alla Flamenco", "Theme of Love", "Tina", "Dear Friends", "Final Fantasy", and an eight minute medley dedicated to Final Fantasy I - III. While the performance by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra featured many errors, the live event and its subsequent CD release was a popular success and set precedent for many future concerts. Also in 2002, Hamaguchi scored Lament of the Lamb and Kiddy Grade, two contrasting animes where his versatility shone once again. His contribution to Final Fantasy XI was limited to the well-received four component opening theme. He also orchestrated three themes for Unlimited SaGa on behalf of his university friend Masashi Hamauzu.

Between recurring roles in Crayon Shin-Chan, Sakura Wars, and One Piece, Hamaguchi shocked fans at the end of 2003 by producing the long overdue Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections. He also worked on new arrangements of "Opening ~ Bombing Mission", "To Zanarkand", "Ronfaure", "You're Not Alone", and "Opera 'Mario and Draco'" featured in the six-city seven-show series Tour de Japon - Music from Final Fantasy in spring 2004. The project also included his arrangement of "Cloud Smiles" from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, though the film otherwise featured his old orchestral and piano arrangements. A myriad of Hamaguchi's orchestral arrangements featured in Tour de Japon's American successor Dear Friends - Music from Final Fantasy, which debuted in May 2004 in Los Angeles. His music has also been reused in More Friends - Music from Final Fantasy, a one-off extension of Dear Friends that occurred at Los Angeles and received an album release, Voices - Music from Final Fantasy, a Japan-only concert that featured various vocal performances viewable to international audiences through its DVD release, and PLAY! A Video Game Symphony, a worldwide concert tour that featured "Liberi Fatali," "Aerith's Theme," and "One Winged Angel" as prominent setpieces.

In order to further his opportunities as an anime composer, Shiro Hamaguchi decided to further his studies. First, however, he composed Ah! My Goddess for TV, arranged several pieces for Monster Hunter, and made a special contribution to the Third Symphonic Game Music Concert. In the academic year starting 2005, he engaged in a one year jazz composition course at the Berklee College of Music in Boston to expand his stylistic capabilities. He returned to Imagine to participate in the production of the movie Anata wo Wasurenai with three other company composers. He has since scored Ah! My Goddess: Fighting Wings, Ookiku Furikabutte, Rosario + Vampire, and, most recently, One Piece - The Movie. Due to his studies and anime commitments, he has been notably absent from Square Enix's latest Final Fantasy scores and Nobuo Uematsu's Mistwalker projects. However, he has made a recent contribution to game music by arranging the Ingo Nugel's score for Settlers II - The Next Generation for performance at the Fifth Symphonic Game Music Concert and his music currently headlines the first Final Fantasy world tour, Distant Worlds - Music from Final Fantasy. Shiro Hamaguchi has certainly left his mark on game music while creating dynamic and beautiful soundtracks to numerous anime films and series.