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Matron Maestras – Azusa Chiba (Spotlight)

April 20, 2018 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Matron Maestras – Azusa Chiba (Spotlight)on Twitter

This article is another entry into the Matron Maestras series, a collection of articles which focus on women composers in the vgm industry.

Today I’ll be talking about Azusa Chiba, one of the composers working for Hitoshi’s Sakimoto’s Basiscape – where her works are scattered across her colleagues – she tends to focus on orchestrating and arranging material for Basiscape. She’s also plays the piano, where she did some piano arrangements for Sakimoto’s work in Valkyria Chronicles and Dragon’s Crown. She has had plenty of time to shine in works like Muramasa: The Demon Blade, and Oh! Samurai Girls.

Composer Name: Azusa Chiba


Birthplace/Hometown: Saitama, Japan


Games Composed For: FINAL FANTASY XII: The Zodiac Age, Dragon’s Crown Pro, Lord of Vermillion II (arranger), Muramasa: The Demon Blade

Website Profile: Basiscape


Composer Azusa Chiba joined Basiscape in 2006. Her recent works include orchestrating the original soundtracks with her co-workers, Yoshimi Kudo and Kazuki Higashihara, for FINAL FANTASY XII and Dragon’s Crown, for their remasters: FINAL FANTASY XII: The Zodiac Age and Dragon’s Crown Pro respectively. On the FINAL FANTASY XII: The Zodiac Age Original Soundtrack, she also provided a piano arrangement of the Barheim Passage’s theme. It’s very nice to listen to it in a  different way.

You might be thinking, “She’s just an arranger?”. Well, she’s a composer too. She tends to create mellower, more melodic tracks – as seen in Muramasa‘s “Mutual Love”; her best work on that album being “Deep Mountain” – which is uniquely Japanese.

The album that sealed the deal for me on her being on of the best women vgm composers I know, is Oh! Samurai Girls. There’s a multitude of jazz and laid back tracks on there, it’s one of my favorite video game soundtracks, period.

In Oh! Samurai Girls, Chiba shows many sides of her talent: the striking, fast paced “Fight with Swords” (later evolved into “Adversity Break”), the laid back “Ordinary and Special” to the intimate “This is Warmth!”. The whole album grew on me very fast, and I found myself listening to it often, in awe of how much detail and care she put into her work. Yoshimi Kudo also contributed his talent to that album also, with many rock-based and Japanese inspired tracks.

This album can be previewed on iTunes, if you’re curious.

So, in terms of where she is in the VGM, industry, well she isn’t well known – if at all. There’s a few reasons for this: firstly, Basiscape has and always will be credited as a larger entity, rather than the sum of it’s parts. If you look at their main releases on iTunes (for example, let’s look at Oboromuramasa on iTunes), it’s all credited as “Hitoshi Sakimoto & Basiscape”.
For the digital releases, there seems to be no composer breakdown – but I believe on the physical copies of the soundtracks there is.

Second, Chiba has always worked with other people – due to this, she hasn’t had time to shine solo. When you look at Basiscape works, mostly all of the employees have been pitching in to help. In my opinion, I believe this works very well. But it’s hard to remember somebody’s name in a sea of others, where all their quality of work is equal; nobody stands out among them!
It’s easier for a random person playing the game, which may happen to like the music, say: “Hitoshi Sakimoto (or Basiscape) did that” rather than “There are some pieces I like from [composer], compared to [composer].”

I may be rambling on to some, but the point that I’m getting at – is that Chiba is diluted along with other talent at Basiscape, as such, it’s hard for her to stand out and make her mark for something that she’ll be known for doing really well in. For example, Yoko Shimomura’s work on the Kingdom Hearts series.

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