Anime, Featured, Game Music

Matron Maestras - Michiru Ōshima (spotlight)

Matron Maestras – Michiru Ōshima (spotlight)

November 12, 2014 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Matron Maestras – Michiru Ōshima (spotlight)on Twitter

The current climate of the video game world has been speckled with a fair bit of controversy over the role of women in the industry, both in-game and outside of games. No doubt, women have been involved with video games since the beginning, and one particular facet of the gaming industry that hasn’t gotten a lot of focus in regards to its diversity is video game music. Due to the fact that video game music is not as easily identifiable as being male or female-influenced, it’s sometimes very easy to go by without knowing just how much an impact female composers have had in gaming through its entire lifespan. Indeed, it in essence makes little difference what gender, race or creed a composer is, as their musical ability is what makes the games they compose for and creates their legacy with video game fans.

Thus, I decided I wanted to make a small series of spotlight features over the next couple of weeks, highlighting some of those female composers whose works are either well known or obscure, but nonetheless important to the history of gaming.

The first composer I wanted to focus on briefly doesn’t have a huge repertoire of game compositions under her belt, but the quality more than makes up for the quantity when it comes to Japanese composer Michiru Ōshima.

Born in Nagasaki, Japan in 1961, Michiru Ōshima has been involved with composing music in media since the early ’90s. Diversifying herself amongst several different types of media, her start in commercial composition was with the anime industry doing the music for several film adaptions of various Japanese light novels and manga such as The Weathering Continent (Seinen anime film). Around the same time, she became involved with the Taikou Risshiden historical simulator game series first released by Koei in 1992, composing music for the original game. A few years would pass between this first start for Ōshima in the video game industry and her next game music project, with her working on several anime titles such as Casshan: Robot Hunter, Legend of Crystania and the Queen Emeraldas OVA. Finally in 1998, Ōshima returned to video game music by being the composer on Sony Playstation’s Legend of Legaia.

Her work in the anime industry seemed to work out well with her career in the video game industry. Her contributing compositions to the anime adaption of the Arc the Lad series in 1999 saw her also become involved with arrangements for the 2000 Arc the Lad III video game. She also composed for a few live action films, including Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla It wasn’t until 2002, however, that Ōshima became more well known to audiences and players internationally with the release of Ico. Releases on the Playstation 2, Ico was the puzzle-platformer game that ended up becoming a underground hit in North America. The minimal dialogue within the game meant a greater focus was on the music to provide atmosphere, and Ōshima went to talk with composing a soundtrack that help convey the subtle wonder of the game.

“Castle in the Mist” – ICO

To this day, fans of Ico praise the environments presented in the game that helped shape their perceptions, and the music by Ōshima is no exception to that.

After Ico and several anime compositions (including parts of Full Metal Alchemist), there was a return to writing music for another Arc The Lad game, Twilight of the Spirits. Michiru Ōshima then got a chance to compose arrangements for another “Twilight” game; this time being The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess in 2006, composing orchestral arrangements to be used in the E3 trailer, as well as some written by fellow arrangers such as Mahito Yokota and Koji Kondo.

“Orchestra Piece #1” – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Since 2006, Ōshima has worked on several anime and a few Japanese movies, but has yet to be heard of in the video game industry. Regardless, she made her mark as fans of her work an attest, and deserves recognition for her accomplishments and contributions to the video game industry and gaming music as a whole.

Michiru’s Official Wesbite – http://www.michiru-oshima.net/

Discography – VGMdb

Are you a fan of Michiru Ōshima’s work? Comment and let us know what your favorite pieces are!

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