Saturday, November 13, 2021

Weekly AM2 Vol. 5: Interview with Takenobu Mitsuyoshi & Shenmue Theme Ringtone | 11th Jan 2000

In this series we translate Shenmue content from Weekly AM2, the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 development team back in the day. News and information about the Shenmue series could be found regularly within these pages from the end of 1999 through to 2001 with the release of Shenmue II.

Compared to the previous rather brief edition, Vol. 5 was packed with content, including an interview with the composer of the Shenmue Theme, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, and a report about the Shenmue launch event at stores in Akihabara on December 29th. This edition also contains a good sprinkling of nostalgic technology, including mention of Digital Audio Tape and MiniDisc devices - even a Shenmue ringtone for entering by hand for cell phones of the day.



Vol.5: 2000.1.11

Hello, this is Takuan.

I hope you guys didn't experience any Year 2000 problems*. We've had a tough time here at AM2, with people who haven't once shown up late for work in the past 5 years turning up late, people's ears bleeding from excessive nose blowing, and weight gain from overeating during the New Year holidays (lol).
*[Note from Switch] The Year 2000 ("Y2K") problem was the general name for flaws in certain computer software that may have caused problems when dealing with dates beyond December 31, 1999. 

This week's contents:
  • Ringtone Service Commences!
  • Interview with Shenmue Sound Director, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi
  • Shenmue Report
  • Outtrigger Event Report [omitted from translation]

Ringtone Service Commences!

Our ringtone service launches today. The first ringtone is the Shenmue main theme.
I'm sure many of you were moved by this song when you heard it played at the Premiere event.
Input it on your cell phone* and enjoy the music of Shenmue.

*[Note from Switch] In the early 2000s, it was popular among users in Japan to create their own cell phone ringtones using the keypad to enter the musical notes, including pitch and duration. The charts below specify the exact key presses for two popular cell phone models at the time, as well as detailed note information for owners of other models.

Shenmue (Sedge Tree)

For cell phone model: P501i (NTT Docomo)

For cell phone model: N501i (NTT Docomo)

For other models:

Please refer to the instruction manual and the tables below.

Key: Duration (beats)
a=4b=2c=1d=1/2 . = dotted note
Key: Octave (three-octave range)
H: one octave above
M: standard octave
L: one octave below
Key: Pitch
Do Re Me notation

d H Re#d H Red M La#d H Doc. M So
d M Fac M Sob. M Lad H Re#d H Re
d M La#d H Doc. M Sod M Fac M So
b M La#d H Dod H Red H Re#d H Re
d M La#d H Doc. M Sod M Fac M La#
b M Sod M Fad M Soa M Faa M Re#

Hear the Recreated Melody

[Switch] I have recreated the data above using an online music player. To hear how it would have sounded back in the day, press the play button below!

Interview with Takenobu Mitsuyoshi

Following our interview with Okayasu-san last time, this time we have an interview with Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, who was in charge of the sound for Shenmue 1: Yokosuka.

Q: What kind of concept did you have for the Shenmue main theme (which is the ringtone in this issue)?

TM: Actually, this song was composed as the theme song for Shenhua. When I asked the director (Yu Suzuki) to listen to it, he said that it was more like a Shenmue theme than a Shenhua theme. So I added an instrument called the erhu [Chinese violin] to the song and made it into the main theme of Shenmue.

Q: How many songs are there in Shenmue? And out of those, what is your favorite?

TM: There are about 200 songs used in Shenmue. My favorite is the song "Dandy Old Man" from the Shenmue Juke Box CD that comes with the first limited edition. It's a cool song!

Of course, I'd like everyone to listen to this song, but also to the music that plays as Ryo is exploring. You may not notice it when you're playing, but it changes according to Ryo's motivation at the time.

Q: I heard that the Shenmue project began with the creation of a single piece of music?

TM:  In the early days of Shenmue's creation, the director asked to me first of all to create a song. He said that he wanted to expand the vision starting from the song, to create the story, and then create the whole thing.

So I went to China to carry out some background research. Inspiration came to me when I was on a domestic flight in China. While on the plane, I looked out the window and there was nothing there! Just a vast expanse of land. That's when a melody popped into my head.

I knew I had to record the melody somehow, so I sang it to the DAT [Digital Audio Tape recorder] I had brought for the research. So I sang it and recorded it by myself while on the plane (laughs). The song that I recorded is the one that's called "A New Journey" on the Shenmue Orchestra Version CD.

Q: Could you tell us about any artists who have influenced you? Also, what kind of music do you listen to these days?

TM: Some of my main influences are YMO*, Casiopea*, and others like the Star Wars music. 
*[Note from Switch] YMO (Yellow Magic Orchestra) is a Japanese electronic music band formed in Tokyo in 1978. Casiopea is a Japanese jazz fusion band formed in 1976. Among its members was Ryuichi Sakamoto, who created the Dreamcast startup sound.
Recently, I've been listening to MISIA again. I've recently started commuting to work by train, so I've been using an MD [MiniDisc] player. It was karaoke that got me listening to her again. One time I went to karaoke with some people from my company. Well, Okayasu-san was one of the people there (laughs). I heard a girl from the office singing MISIA's Tsutsumikomu you ni..., and that's when I started listening to her again.
*[Note from Switch] MISIA is a female Japanese singer and songwriter who released her debut album in 1998.
Q: What are your feelings now that Shenmue has been released? Also, from playing the game yourself, what things do you like about it?

TM: Naturally, one feeling is that I want many people to play Shenmue, but for me personally, what's stronger is the sense of fulfillment from having accomplished a big undertaking.

My favorite part of the game is the part-time forklift job (laughs). It's fun to see how quickly and efficiently you can move the crates. I like that kind of thing. Placing crates correctly inside the lines and so on.

Q: We've started a Shenmue ringtone service from this issue. Do you have any recommendation for the next ringtone song?

TM: I'd have to say that the theme song of Shenhua would be good for the next one.

Q: Finally, do you have a message for everyone?

TM: There are many songs in Shenmue, but please listen to the Tomato Convenience Store and Bob's Pizza songs in which I sing. Enjoy your Shenmue journey (laughs).

Take your time and enjoy playing Shenmue!

Takenobu Mitsuyoshi

Sound Director of "Shenmue: Chapter 1 - Yokosuka".

One of the leading figures in the game sound world, composing for a series of AM2 game hits such as Daytona USA and Virtua Fighter. With his cheerful character (as can be seen in the photo above) and passionate vocals, he has many enthusiastic fans.

Shenmue Report

Read on for my report on how much buzz Shenmue is generating in the city, along with a report on the December 29th launch event!

A scene from the launch event

Matsukaze, holding the microphone himself, talks about what makes Shenmue fun and behind-the-scenes stories about its development.

It's the long-awaited release day, and he seems to be in high spirits.

In fact, even after the events scheduled at the four stores were over, Matsukaze walked around Akihabara by himself, holding up a Shenmue banner. Fans who happened to see him were lucky!

A firm handshake with each event attendee

The Shenmue cast spoke with everyone, asking them "Where are you from?" and so on. Some fans even brought bouquets of flowers. I heard several people saying "Wow, she's so cute!" when they saw Yasu-san [Megumi Yasu, who played Nozomi]. She really is cute.

Yu Suzuki signing his autograph before opening hours

A few hours prior to the event, on the morning of the release day, I found Yu-san at the store before it opened!

He was immediately asked for autographs by people who bought Shenmue. Afterwards, Yu-san continued his tour of Akihabara, keeping an eye on the sales of Shenmue.

Yu-san being interviewed on TV

He was also interviewed by magazines and other media. He seemed relieved to see Shenmue actually lined up on the shelves. He said he had a meeting to go to afterwards, so he left early to go back to the office. As a fan, it was a shame that I couldn't see Yu-san at the event!

A store completely decked out with Shenmue!

There was also a huge Shenmue sign near JR Akihabara station, but sadly I didn't manage to get a picture of it. Did you see it?

The interior of the store was also filled with Shenmue!

In addition to the software, there were also Dreamcast units with Shenmue packaging for sale. Why not recommend one to your friends who don't yet have a Dreamcast!

On the day of the event, the sidewalks were filled with reporters and fans!

This report about the buzz of Shenmue was brought to you by Takuan.

And that's all from Software R&D Department No. 2 for this time.

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