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Manabu Namiki :: 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.

Born on September 13, 1971 in Funabashi, electronic game music composer and Basiscape employee Manabu Namiki is famous for his work on Arcade shooters. Despite never being interested in music during his childhood, he obessively played Arcade games as a youngster and grew to love their bouncy sounds. While at junior high school, he was influenced by the boom of 1980s Western mainstream music in Japan and especially enjoyed the hits of Tangerine Dream and Metallica. With music now a passion, he started composing for the first time after purchasing an analogue synthesizer and personal computer; he soon showed a flair for creating guitar-based hard rock compositions and, to the delight of his friends, pieces resembling old-school game music. After graduating high school, Namiki was first given the opportunity to work on a game after being encouraged to seek work with the developer Taito. Despite having no experience of graphic design previously, he was asked to work on 1991's Rezon on a part-time basis.

With his love for music and interest in games firmly established, Namiki decided to combine his abilities in each area by trying to compose video game scores. Soon enough, he was contracted by Banpresto to score Super Space Fortress Macross for the Arcade with several others. He showed he could handle independent productions by creating the entirety of the score and sound effects library for the Game Boy's America Oudan Ultra Quiz 4 in 1993. He subsequently received his first taste of resident employment when he sent a tape of his music to NMK, who were creating games he enjoyed to play at the time. Obviously impressed, the company entrusted him to create the music and sound effects for several of their major titles — Thunder Dragon 2, Bomb Jack Twin, Quiz Panicuru Fantasy, and Zed Blade. In 1995, Namiki had a brief collaboration with Jaleco on the Arcade's P-47 Aces and Desert War (aka Wangan Sensou). During these projects he became an expert at Arcade sound synthesis while developing his characteristic dense electronic style and expanding his musical versatility.

Employed by Eighting / Raizing from 1995, Battle Garegga was Namiki's breakthrough in terms of mainstream recognition. Renowned especially for its diverse stage themes, the landmark score was astonishingly popular and regarded by Namiki himself to be his finest innovation. Eight years later, the music was featured in original and arranged form in a DVD-CD box set. In subsequent composing projects, Armed Police Batrider, Beastorizer, Bloody Roar 2, and Shinshuku Taisen: It's a Noni!, Namiki engaged in notable collaborations with major names such as Hitoshi Sakimoto, Masaharu Iwata, and Kenichi Koyano, all of whom were influential to his career. Most of these games also received ports for the PlayStation or Saturn, often with assistance from Namiki in the fields of sound porting, arranging past work, and offering additional compositions. In other roles, he created sound effects for 1996's Terra Diver (aka Soukyuugurentai) and 1998's Go-Jin Senki and programmed the scores for 1999's Oh! Bakyuuun and 2000's Great Mahou Daisakusen.

After scoring Brave Blade, Namiki left Eighting / Raizing in spring 2000 to become a freelancer. During the subsequent two years, he scored DokiDoki Sasete!! for the Game Boy Advance and established a relationship with Broccoli on the WonderSwan Color's Digital Monsters: D Project and Game Boy Advance's Digi Charat: Digi Communication. Though Namiki enjoyed composing in a lighter style and exploring the hardware of these consoles console's hardware, none of these projects received popular attention or album releases. Eager to work on more high-profile titles, he became a founding member of the game music production company Basiscape with Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata since October 4, 2002. Though Namiki has been a self-sustainable composer at the company since its conception, his reputation and prominence in the industry has nevertheless increased. Having maintained his independence with Basiscape employment, Namiki subsequently enjoyed scoring the doujin game Bike Banditz for the PC and continued to assist Broccoli with two titles.

Aware that his speciality was scoring Arcade shooters, Namiki scored Cave's DoDonPachi Dai-Ou-Jou in 2002. The score invigorated gamers with its rapid electronic beats and bouncy melodies, resulting in him becoming Cave's composer of choice in their subsequent projects. He didn't disappoint with his colourful culturally inspired score to Ketsui - Cutting the Bonds of Hell and the lightly characterised accompaniment to Mushihimesama. Manabu Namiki's music remained synonymous with action-packed compositions for Arcade shooters and could be heard in arcade venues across Japan. His scores were also enjoyed on a stand-alone level, appearing on several best-selling soundtrack releases, multi-arranger remix CDs, and two shooting compilation albums. They also received technologically commanded console and mobile ports. Largely due to the success of his Cave works, Namiki became a popular choice for numerous collaborative arranged albums, performed at the Japan Chiptune Tour 2004, and DJed with a Dai-Ou-Jou melody at Extra: Hyper Game Music Event.

Namiki is also famous for his contributions to fighting games especially by Eighting / Raizing. Since 2005, he and Mitsuhiro Kaneda have been consistent composers for the PSP's Japan-only BLEACH Heat the Soul series. Here he is known for blending hard rock music with oriental influences in a way that complements the dynamism of the gameplay and the distinctive style of the visuals. In multi-composer efforts, Namiki was also a contributor to the mostly rock-oriented scores to Fullmetal Alchemist: Dream Carnival, Zoids: Full Metal Crash, Digimon Savers: Another Mission, Jikuu Bouken Zentrix, Battle Stadium D.O.N., Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi, and Fate: Unlimited Codes. On these projects, Namiki also often directed his fellow Basiscape employees in order to achieve high quality and coherent overall scores. Given this experience, he was chosen as the sound analyst for six instalments of the Sega Ages 2500 series — a project dedicated to bringing Sega's classics to the PlayStation 2 — and worked as a sound manager on Twinbee Portable, Konami Arcade Collection, and Namco Museum DS.

For Cave, Namiki recently emphasised oriental influences on Mushihimesama Futari, combined a trance style with his own eccentricities on ESPGaluda II, and fused a gothic influence with electronica and rock to fit the Halloween theme. More unusually, he adopted a largely orchestral palette with compositions and classic arrangements on Metal Slug 6, took a novel approach to the Tetris series for Sega Ages 2500, and produced a surprisingly light score for Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2. He has also had guest roles creating a small number of orchestral compositions for the RPGs Fantasy Earth: Zero, Odin Sphere, and Opoona and producing a shooter tribute for beatmania IIDX 13 DistorteD. His major upcoming project is DoDonPachi Dai Fukkatsu, the fourth instalment of Cave's DoDonPachi series, though he will balance this role with further contributions to the Sega Ages 2500 series, Basiscape RPGs, and arranged albums. With his abilities to complement in-game context, produce exceptional sound quality, and create enjoyable stand-alone music, Namiki has become one of the most prominent and loved shooter and fighter composers in the industry.