Game Music, Miscellaneous

Matron Maestras – Satoe Terashima (Spotlight)

April 13, 2018 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Matron Maestras – Satoe Terashima (Spotlight)on Twitter

When we started the Matron Maestras articles back a few years ago, I had made it a bit of a challenge of mine to track down a particular composer who I knew very little about outside a particular game series. Satoe Terashima’s legacy in game composing is somewhat of a mystery, and while I could not track down any leads as to what she might have done beyond her days with Konami (or even any photos of her), I nonetheless felt that her body of work was enough to still warrant her a spotlight on the series.

You could call her a “Lost Matron Maestra”. Hopefully this will help her work be a little less lost to the vast annals of game music history.

Composer Name: Satoe Terashima


Birthplace/Hometown: Japan


Games Composed For: Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Life Force (arranger), The Goonies


So little can be gleaned about Terashima-san’s personal or musical history by just searching the internet. Back in the days of the NES, Konami had a strict policy regarding their music composers, in that only aliases or even no credit at all could be given in a game due to the fear composers might be poached by other companies. The catch-all “Konami Kukeiha Club” was used to group all the composers (several dozen over Konami’s tenure) together, making it difficult to determine who to credit with what game music, unless someone left the company and broke the silence. Unfortunately, Terashima-san was not one of those individuals. I even tried reaching out to Konami to try and dig up any information about her time with them, but that went about as well as you’d expect in today’s Konami age. Thus, the musical life story of this lady composer can only be pieced together with what little can be dredged up online.

What we do know is that she was born in Japan and was probably best known (if still lesser-known) for her work within the Castlevania series. The infamous credits of the first Castlevania (Akumajou Dracula) game list “James Banana” as the music composer, whom through interviews with fellow lady composer Kinuyo Yamashita we know was the pseudonym shared by herself and Terashima. On the podcast The Legacy Music Hour, Yamashita explains that she and Terashima never worked collaboratively and simply worked on their individual tracks, and credits Terashima-san with composing “Vampire Killer” (Stage 1), “Stalker” (Stage 2), “Out of Time” (Stage 6) and “Voyager” (Ending). This makes Terashima the composer of the most iconic piece of music within the Castlevania series, with “Vampire Killer” being one of (if not the) most arranged and re-used tracks within the rest of the franchise as well as the tune fans think of most when asked about the music of the series.

“Vampire Killer” – Castlevania


We also know that Terashima was involved in working on the Castlevania sequel, Simon’s Quest, as well. While the NES version of the game had no credits, the Famicom version did and credits “Terashima” with the role of “Excellence”. While Kenichi Matsubara is often given credit for the composition of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fuiin), these credits lend legitimacy as to Terashima’s role in the creation of the soundtrack as well. It also raises the question as to if Terashima might have also worked with Mastubara on the arcade Castlevania title, Haunted Castle, which released the same year in Japan as Dracula II: Noroi no Fuiin and shared another classic Castlevania tune, “Bloody Tears”. Furthermore the rare credits I’ve come across for the game’s music do credit a “T” along with Matsubara as composing. This truly is all speculation on my part but it would further solidify Terashima’s legacy within the franchise, truly making her an un-sung hero in the Castlevania series.

Although Terashima’s work is mostly remembered best within the Castlevania series, she also worked on other titles. She was the primary composer for the Famicom release of the movie-based game The Goonies, as well as being credited as an arranger on the game’s sequel, The Goonies II. She also was an arranger for most of the Konami game Lifeforce.

Although hers might be a short resume, Satoe Terashima left her mark on the video game audio world with her contributions to the music of the Castlevania series and beyond. Even though the chore of getting full music credits out of early Konami games is still difficult even to this day, at least we can give Terashima-san a bit of spotlight for her works.

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