Well, it’s that time of year again (can you believe this is the sixth year OSV has done this?). To commemorate Square Enix’s presence at San Diego Comic Con, we’ve scheduled a chat with promotions manager Akio Shiraishi to talk about recent happenings and touch on what’s in store for fans in the future. Read the interviews from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 if you dare!
This time talk about the remaster versions of the Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI soundtracks, what the plans are for vinyl and the SQ series, what’s with the recent use of the Blu-ray format for music, whether we’ll see anymore FFXI music, and I pitch them on an idea for a new NieR CD.
All of this and more, after the jump!
OSV: Regarding the Final Fantasy IV/V/VI Remaster Version albums, while IV was greatly in need of a new version featuring two loops, what will the other two collections feature to sweeten the deal, and why weren’t the unreleased/bonus tracks from the FFIV Minimum Album, FFV+1 single, and FFVI Special Tracks albums included? Finally, what happened to the “Original Sound Version” album titling? Why not “Remaster Sound Version?”
Akio Shiraishi: First of all, and this may probably be the easiest to recognize, the initial run will come with a special sleeve cover with Yoshitaka Amano’s illustration on the cover. In the past FFIV through FFVI albums, they had Mr. Amano’s illustrations in the insert booklet, but never as the front of box. I think we were able to produce something that collectors would want to keep on display.
In terms of the sound, we have remastered all of the tracks, and so you may be in for a bit of a surprise if you are expecting this to be “exactly the same sound as the Super Nintendo version,” but we have implemented the best of what our current technology can offer. As for the mastering process, we went to the renowned Bernie Grundman Mastering Studio. I believe these albums would bring you the best sound quality that we can possibly bring at this moment.
The album concept for this set was “to create a recording of in-game music,” and so songs from the FFIV Minimum Album or FFV+1 albums, which were not included in the original games, are not part of the track list.
Various CDs produced by Square Enix Music have a unified “Original Soundtrack” nomenclature, and not “Original Sound Version,” so these albums just followed suit. Also, our intention was to make it clear to the consumers through its name that these are different from CDs that were released in the past.
OSV: Final Fantasy XIV finally received a soundtrack release in a digital form, and will also get a physical Blu-ray album soon. Do you have thoughts regarding the music being retooled for what’s essentially a brand new game? Any chance we’ll see a Piano Collections album coming soon?
Shiraishi: The world of the game is taking the form of “a realm reborn,” and so I think it’s only natural that the music is given new life. I believe game music should be adapted accordingly to each world, and so if the game had been given new life but the music is the same, I think players would get a sense of disconnect when they play the game. (They may think that the world was reborn, but the music was not.)
With regard to a Piano Collections album, I think it would allow for a better range of making an arranged version of songs from the game if the audience has had a chance to become familiarized with them, and so we don’t have plans to release one in the immediate future. However, I believe we will be considering it at some point in time.
OSV: The Final Fantasy Orchestra Album was absolutely fantastic. Any chance we’ll see more like this, perhaps for other Square Enix franchises? Would you like to comment on the Blu-ray format being used for this and the FFXIV album given the how costly the format is for customers in Japan?
Shiraishi: Thank you very much. We don’t have plans to release past works in the Blu-ray format, but I think we will have more room to consider using that format for future releases.
As you have mentioned, I can’t deny that the Blu-ray format is relatively costly, but if you think about it, for example, in terms of FFXIV, we would record 104 songs at a total of 376 minutes, which would come out to 6 or 7 CDs and a cost of 6,000 to 7,000 yen ($60 to $70). On top of that, you would have to consider the hassle of switching between the CDs, which may end up making the consumer hesitate on purchasing the product.
Now, because of the capacity of the Blu-ray disc, we are able to include video contents as well. And the large capacity allows for high levels of sound quality that makes CDs pale in comparison. Since one disc can record over 6 hours of music and also include video content, that’s why we decided to use the Blu-ray format.
It is true that it’s a challenge, but our company has always created our games by taking on a challenge, then ended up as a success. And so, with going with the Blu-ray format, we would like to take on that challenge with the same spirit.
OSV: Would you like to comment on what might be next from Square Enix vinyls or the SQ series? Perhaps SQ Chips 3?
Shiraishi: In terms of vinyl records, I’m trying to see if we can do something in the vein of a commemorative item. There is a plan in the works, but I’m afraid that’s all I can say at this point…
For the SQ series, we’re planning to release an arrangement CD that focuses on one artist who had participated in the previous SQ series. Recording is still well into the future, but we’re working on it so that we can have it ready for everyone by either the end of this year of the beginning of next year. If you have any feedback on what arrangements you’d like to hear, please let us know on our Facebook page or our Twitter. Your input just might lead to a new CD.
OSV: FFXI: Seekers of Adoulin was fantastic. Is this the last FFXI CD we’ll see, and can you tell us a bit about the band, Nanaa Mihgo’s, who will have a live album coming soon? Is this the replacement for Star Onions given that some of the band members have moved on?
Shiraishi: FFXI is still ongoing, and Adoulin is still expanding. So there may be additional songs to accompany that. I personally think there might be more FFXI music on the way.
The Nanaa Mihgo’s is comprised of a violinist, a pianist, and bassist, and the concept of this band is “to get people to have fun by listening.” They originally got together during the 2012 Vanacon event, but since they were received very well by the audience attending the event, they continued their activity, and managed to release a CD.
Since their concept is much different from the Star Onions, they are not a “replacement” per se, but I believe they will have more opportunities to perform, such as at future FFXI events.
OSV: You mentioned last year that after Piano Collections NieR, you believed that was enough homage to that particular soundtrack. What about Symphonic Suite NieR similar in style to Drammatica or Myth?
Shiraishi: Considering there are no plans for a new installment of the NieR game, plus it’s been over 3 years since the launch of the original title, I think it’s difficult to produce a new CD at this point. Although, when I hear songs played at the PRESS START orchestra concert, I can’t help but to think I would love to hear other songs done in this manner… (laughs)
OSV: On the topic of NieR, any chance we’ll see Square Enix publish the OST for Drakengard 3? We’re looking forward to more by Keiichi Okabe and MoNACA.
Shiraishi: At this point, I don’t have any information to provide, but I’m hoping to reveal information when the time comes. I’m very happy to hear that Western users are looking forward to Drakengard 3.
OSV: As always, thank you for your time!
Shiraishi: Thank you!Tags: Akio Shiraishi, Final Fantasy, Interviews, SQ, Square Enix