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Making the music for the hit game Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines!
Harnessing university experience to become a professional composer

Konosuke Kihara

Ore no shikabane wo koeteyuke (hereafter, “Oreshika”) was a hit roleplaying game for the PlayStation® home game console in 1999. In July of this year, the long-awaited sequel, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines, was released. Konosuke Kihara, who graduated from the School of Political Science and Economics in September, was in charge of the music for the game. Kihara is a professional composer who also has experience with game music creation and arrangement.

“My mother composed music for the previous game so I could get this work for its sequel.” Kihara’s mother is the composer Ryoko Kihara. And it was Ryoko who provided Konosuke with special musical education from the time he was a child.

From junior high school, Kihara looked to enter a university with a musical composition department, and he studied musical theory topics such as harmonics. Kihara would harness what he learned in later years as a composer. For university, he entered not a musical college but rather Waseda University. The reason, says Kihara, is that he believed that knowledge of subjects such as literature, society, and politics was essential to giving depth to his pieces.

At Waseda, Kihara pursued not only a full course of studies but a rich array of extracurricular activities as well. In his first year, he joined a jazz dance club, an interest he awakened to in high school. Concurrent with this, in his second year, he launched the musical troupe PUZZLE together with friends. The musicals PUZZLE created through the efforts of over 100 students experienced great success, including people standing to watch the shows at the approximately 1,200 seat capacity Setagaya Ward Resident Hall.

Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines was released in Japan on April 13, 2014. Both Konosuke Kihara and his mother Ryoko appeared at an event where people involved in the game discussed what went on behind the scenes during the its creation.

Once the troupe’s activities had settled down somewhat, the discussion which would serve as a foothold towards Kihara becoming a composer dropped into his lap. It was a request to arrange the music for the PSP edition of the original Oreshika. Kihara accomplished this first professional job with aplomb, giving him confidence.

Two years later, a request to create the music for Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines arrived. The job was for over 70 songs, almost all the music that would appear in the game. Kihara decided to dedicate all his time outside of classes to making the music for the game.

The materials Kihara was given as part of the job were an outline of the game scenario and the characters, as well as several images and illustrations of scenes. From these Kihara had to think up the music needed for each scene. Kihara worked by choosing the instruments for the music after coming up with an idea for a song and mixing it together on computer. It was unexpectedly hard work. Finishing each part took up all of his energy.

Needless to say, the difficulties did not end there. “Depending on the song, I had live music recorded, such as with shakuhachi or shamisen. To do this, I’d have to go back and forth with professional musicians and give them the right direction during recording. Sometimes recording for nine hours straight, it was a strain all the way.”

Kihara worked for 10 months. Finally, he finished all of the songs. Kihara incorporated little touches everywhere, such as using key phrases from the main theme song’s lyrics of the original Oreshika. The evaluation of his music by the players was also high. This response made Kihara feel that there was something only he could create, and after graduating, he made up his mind to work as a freelance composer.

His sense and taste, so important to music creation, was also cultivated through many hours spent with friends. The interests of Waseda students are vast. Because Kihara continually felt this throughout his time as a student, he wishes to convey this same feeling to his juniors at Waseda.

“When you feel puzzled about what do to in your future, I want you to believe that you have as many possibilities as you feel puzzled. I believe you should expand your interests to the fullest and then choose the course you would like to follow.”

Kihara recording music for Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines

Cream Panda, a band formed during Kihara’s fourth year at Waseda. Cream Panda gives independent live performances several times per year.

A shot of Kihara participating in a scene with the Oasis student dance club

(Offered By:WASEDA WEEKLY)

Konosuke Kihara
Graduate, School of Political Science and Economics

Originally from Tokyo, Konosuke Kihara graduated from Tokyo Metropolitan Kokusai High School. Beginning with piano at the age of 4, Kihara studied classical music. In addition to the jazz dance club Oasis, in university he engaged in a wide variety of expressive activities, such as the musical troupe PUZZLE and the pop band Cream Panda.