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The Disambiguation of Kenji Yamamoto

The Disambiguation of Kenji Yamamoto

August 9, 2008 | | 7 Comments Share thison Facebook The Disambiguation of Kenji Yamamotoon Twitter

Thanks to a certain user-friendly information database that has changed the face of the Internet, the world has been introduced to one of the coolest words ever to grace the English language: disambiguation. Seriously, don’t you wish you had known that word much earlier in life? It would have made explaining certain things so much easier.

But there’s one thing it may not so readily help us with: the m(a/e)n, the mystery, the Kenji Yamamoto. After the jump, learn more about the man/men who composed the music for Metroid and Dragon Ball Z.

Well, actually, Wikipedia is helpful here. Because apparently, the only two “Kenji Yamamoto”s of note are both video game composers! It would be as if there were only two famous “John Williams” people in the world, and they both did film score.

One Yamamoto did the Metroid series (and a number of other Nintendo games), and the other Yamamoto did music for Dragon Ball Z … video games. Not the anime, just the games. Those among us who actually read Japanese can see that there is a difference in their names, though not phonetically. The kanji for Kenji is different. The DBZ Kenji is spelled out as “健司” and the Nintendo Kenji is “健誌” … yeah. Different names (it’s the “Ji” that’s different). But to the untrained eye (and the Romaji-only reader), it may as well be the same guy. In VGM circles, for many years, we poor Gaijin thought he may well be the same guy. This article’s here to let you know the difference.

The “Nintendo” Kenji Yamamoto has had a lot more exposure in the West, mostly because of the solid lineup of games Yamamoto has composed for. But Yamamoto’s music is truly, truly excellent. Anyone who has played Metroid Prime knows that “Phendrana Drifts” is one of the best ambient pieces written in the entire Metroid series. In fact, this Yamamoto did a lengthy interview with “Music4Games Staff” (known to a few of us as “Jayson Napolitano”) regarding Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Good, good stuff.

The DBZ Yamamoto is less well-known, perhaps because some of the earlier DBZ games did not come to America. It took some time before Dragon Ball Z‘s popularity moved from one side of the pacific or the other. I’ve reviewed one of his earliest albums on RPGFan, though most people agree his work on the “Budokai” series trumps it by quite a bit.

Two men, two different styles, one name. May the Yamamoto legacy live on!

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