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Masayoshi Soken :: 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 April 5, 2008.

Born on January 10, 1975, the outward eccentricity of Square Enix sound editor and composer Masayoshi Soken shrouds hidden talent. He started off his career by composing for two obscure sports games developed by Square in 2002. He was the solo composer of the basketball sim Nichibeikan Pro Baseball: Final League and collaborated with synthesizer operator Takeharu Ishimoto on World Fantastista, a soccer game released soon after. Given both games received little attention in Japan and were not released overseas, the nature of Soken's contributions can only be speculated about. Subsequently, he contributed the duet "Endless Love, Endless Road - Yuna & Tidus" for the tribute album feel / Go Dream. He was credited as Masayoshi Kikuchi here; it's believed that Kikuchi is Masayoshi's true last name, but he favours adopting pseudonyms to add to his quirky persona and distinguish himself from the Jet Set Radio director. Soken only came into the public eye in 2005 when he performed at Square Enix Party 2005 and was confirmed as a Square Enix resident sound editor. Likely downgraded to the role of sound editor in 2003 during the company's reshuffle, his only known editing roles are for the 2005's Drakengard 2 (aka Drag-on Dragoon 2 love red, ambivalence black) and Front Mission 5 ~Scars of the War~.

Soken solely composed and arranged the score to 2006's Mario Hoops 3-on-3, a basketball game developed by Square Enix and published by Nintendo for the DS featuring Mario and Final Fantasy characters alike. The score, though brief, maintains a light and fun character while being musically mature and stylistically diverse. Another major work featuring Soken was 2007's flop Dawn of Mana (aka Seiken Densetsu 4) with Kenji Ito and Tsuyoshi Sekito for the PlayStation 2. He dominated Disc Four of the score by contributing engaging arrangements of past Seiken Densetsu series in slow and fast versions. His contributions captured the light and whimsical feel of the series and often had a rock emphasis that many fans found appealing; this was especially so given Soken himself performed the electric guitar for his arrangements in high-octane style. Among the classics arranged were "The Darkness Nova", "Don't Hunt the Fairy", "Meridian Child", and "Irwin in Reflection". He also contributed some minor compositions to the score such as the march, rush, and hurry music as a five fanfares. In 2007, Soken also scored the Internet Explorer game Elebest developed by Square Enix subsidiary Taito. His co-composer was Hanjuku Hero 4's Ai Yamashita. Despite his outward eccentricity, Soken is clearly competent at creating original and fitting compositions.

Aside from these major projects, Soken has contributed to Square Enix's advertisements. The Front Mission 5 ~Scars of the War~ Original Soundtrack featured "Blue Stream," Soken's only original composition on the soundtrack, written in the style of a cheesy sports commercial. Led by The Poors, a choir of out-of-tune hooligans, this repetitive, cheesy, but hilarious composition has both endeared and inspired hatred, especially given it was a major contrast to Hidenori Iwasaki's mature contributions. He also exposed himself half-naked to the world while beaten up by two robots in a Square Enix Commercial featuring his extaordinarily commercialised music. The product being advertised were Enix's pencils Batoenman, which appear in about a second of the clip. The relationship between the commercial and the product is very vague, though loathers of Soken's music and sadists in general will likely find it highly enjoyable to watch, despite the apparent immorality of schadenfreude. Soken was also responsible for the fanfare for Square Enix Music TV, a monthly video feature where Udatsu Tanaka and Lucy Tsukamoto discuss new album releases and interview Square Enix's composers. For iTunes' Square Enix Music Official Bootleg, Soken offered "Dog Street", an abstract rock composition that integrated vocals from The Bouncer's "Forevermore", and "Languid Afternoon", a French-inspired piece where he adopted the name 'Sorubonnu Soken'.