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Shiro Hamaguchi

Shiro Hamaguchi Date of Birth: November 19, 1969 (Fukuoka)
Education: Graduated from University of Arts in Tokyo
General Interests: Listening to Music, Animes, Arranging
Instruments Played: Piano
Place of Residence: Tokyo


This biography was written by Chris exclusively for use at Square Enix Music Online. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission, as this is a violation of copyright.

Shiro Hamaguchi, born in November 19, 1969, graduated with a music degree from the University of Arts in Tokyo before joining Victor Entertainment for a brief period between 1994 and 1996. His career really set off in 1996 when he helped to found IMAGINE, a group of composers directed by Yuji Saito that works with various companies to produce music for video games, TV series, and films. Though most commonly known as an arranger of video game music, his most prolific roles have involved composing a wide array of anime music. He received his first such role in 1997 for the anime series Violinist of Hamelin. As a result of the precendent set by its highly successful score, he went on to compose and arrange for eleven anime series, including Ehrgeiz, AWOL, Dinozaurs, One Piece, Final Fantasy: Unlimited, and Kiddy Grade, as well as the anime films Ah! My Goddess, Hitsuji no Uta, Boku no Songoku, Kureyon Shinchan Arasi Yobu, One Piece Dead End Adventure, and One Piece The Curse of the Sacred Sword. Of particular significance are his scores for Final Fantasy: Unlimited and Ah! My Goddess, since these scores are the only times he has ever collaborated with Nobuo Uematsu as a composer.

Though never a resident at Square Enix, Shiro Hamaguchi has collaborated with them on behalf of IMAGINE on many occasions. His very first role for the company was orchestrating Nobuo Uematsu's "One Winged Angel" for the release of the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack in 1997. An epic final boss theme, featuring a full chorus and a synthesized orchestra, this theme is possibly the most famous piece of video game music ever created. 'The fact that Masashi Hamauzu was part of the chorus may be, in fact, due to Shiro Hamaguchi, as the two had become good friends at the U.A.T. His next role continued his involvement in Final Fantasy VII, seeing him arrange the tracks "F.F.VII Main Theme," "Aerith's Theme," and "One Winged Angel" for full orchestra. These tracks were officially released in the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks and, though marvelous arrangements of the most popular themes from the game, the album was slightly bittersweet, since the other 16 tracks on the album didn't get the same orchestral treatment they deserved, and were identical to their versions on the Original Soundtrack.

Shiro Hamaguchi's role for the albums relating to Final Fantasy VIII was considerably bigger. He was responsible for orchestrating four themes for the Original Soundtrack, namely "Liberi Fatali" and the "Ending Theme," which provide a breathtaking introduction and conclusion to the score, "FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC," which was a vocal rendition of the sorceress' theme, and "Eyes on Me," which took the role as the game's vocal theme, sung by Faye Wong. "Eyes on Me" even won "Song of the Year (Western Music)" at the 14th Annual Japan Gold Disc Awards in 1999. This set a landmark in itself, since it was the first time video game music had won such a prestigious award. "Liberi Fatali," "Eyes on Me," and the "Ending Theme," together with nine completely original arrangements, appeared in Hamaguchi's first ever true orchestral album, entitled Final Fantasy VIII FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC, in 1999. In 2000, he released his first of three Final Fantasy Piano Collections albums, the Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collections. Though fairly traditional arrangements, the level of the score's musical refinement won the heart of many fans and is the reason why these arrangements continue to be played by many pianists today. Both albums successfully revived fans' active interests in arranged albums relating to the Final Fantasy series — between 1994 and 1999, no true Piano Collections or orchestral albums for the series had been released.

Albums relating to the next two instalments of the series involved Shiro Hamaguchi's active involvement once more. Though his role on Final Fantasy IX Original Soundtrack was a little small, his orchestration of "Melodies of Life ~ Final Fantasy," which featured vocals from Emiko Shiratori, was very successful nonetheless. His role in the Final Fantasy IX Original Soundtrack Plus, which saw Hamaguchi orchestrate all the game's FMV music, was considerably bigger. Though the music was short and abrupt, the quality of the orchestration throughout the album was impeccable. Though no official orchestral album was released for Final Fantasy IX, he created his second Piano Collections album for Square nonetheless at the start of 2001. The Final Fantasy IX Piano Collections certainly saw him on top form once more. His role on Final Fantasy X was quite small and saw him only actively involved in orchestrating certain themes for the Final Fantasy X Original Soundtrack. Here, he was responsible for arranging Nobuo Uematsu's "Ending Theme", as well as the two versions of the game's love ballad, "Suteki Da Ne," sung by Rikki. No orchestral album was released for the score and the Final Fantasy X Piano Collections album was arranged by Masashi Hamauzu.

In more recent years, Hamaguchi has continued to work on the Final Fantasy series heavily, despite working on only one new game. This contribution, his orchestration of the "FFXI Opening Theme," was considered so remarkable that it was actually voted the Best Square Theme of All Time at Square Enix Music Online last year. At the end of 2003, he worked on albums relating to Final Fantasy VII once more, releasing the Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections. Though six years overdue, it was most definitely a welcome surprise. Final Fantasy concerts have also added to his popularity, as he has almost always been the exclusive arranger of the pieces featured. One such concert, "20020220: Music from Final Fantasy," was a major a hit and had an album released dedicated to it, though some arrangements were heard in his earlier albums. The concert later provided the basis for many of Uematsu's other orchestral concerts, which included the six-city, seven-show concert series "Tour de Japon - Music from Final Fantasy," and its international successor, the "Dear Friends - Music from Final Fantasy" tour, which premiered in May 2004 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. A spin-off concert, "More Friends - Music from Final Fantasy," occurred the following year, and a professional live recording of this concert will be released in February 2006. The Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Original Soundtrack also heavily featured him, though all of his contributions were old in some way, either derived from previous albums or concerts, or premiered before the soundtrack's release.

He has also recently conducted his first two non-FF video game music projects, as well. The first, in 2003, involved orchestrating several themes for Masashi Hamauzu's UNLIMITED: SaGa Original Soundtrack, namely the "UNLIMITED: SaGa Overture," "March in C" and "FINALE," all of which proved to be magnificent items on the soundtrack. His second non-FF VGM work came a year later and saw him leave Square Enix's side to arrange for Capcom's PlayStation 2 action game Monster Hunter, which was composed by Masato Koda, Tetsuya Shibata, and Mitsuhiko Takano. Though little music was created for the game, the orchestration is renowned to be excellent. Indeed, despite being one of Square Enix's most popular collaborators, Hamaguchi has only ever collaborated as an arranger and never as a composer. This is quite a pity, since his various anime scores make it more than clear that he is a very capable composer. He and Nobuo Uematsu certainly make a splendid composing team, as Ah! My Goddess and Final Fantasy: Unlimited showed, and having the duo compose a Final Fantasy original score together would almost certainly yield supreme results. Nonetheless, Shiro Hamaguchi has definitely left his mark on the Final Fantasy series and will almost certainly continue to do in the future, though Final Fantasy XII does not look set to include him.

List of Game Projects

Note: This list only includes games that the composer has actively worked on, so those games that feature reprises of the composer's work from older titles are not included.

Key: C = Composer, A = Arranger, P = Performer, S = Sound Programmer, E = Sound Effects, M = Synthesizer Operator

Year Game Role
Sony PlayStation
1997 Final Fantasy VII A
1999 Final Fantasy VIII A
2000 Final Fantasy IX A
Sony PlayStation 2
2001 Final Fantasy X A
2002 Final Fantasy XI A
2004 Monster Hunter A
2002 Final Fantasy XI A

List of Albums

Original Scores

Arranged Albums

Other Albums


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