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Manami Matsumae: Japanese composer for various video games

Matsumae worked on the popular video game franchise 'Mega Man' (Supplied)
Matsumae worked on the popular video game franchise 'Mega Man' (Supplied)
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23 Jan 2024 11:01:54 GMT9
23 Jan 2024 11:01:54 GMT9

Amin Abbas

DUBAI: Manami Matsumae is a famous Japanese video game composer known for her work on various Capcom games such as Mega Man (known as Rockman in Japan), Dynasty Wars, Mercs, and Magic Sword. 

Exclusively to Arab News Japan, Matsumae shared her inspiration for video games, saying, “When I was in college, the Nintendo Famicom started coming out. That’s when I started playing Super Mario Bros., which was popular at the time, and that’s when I became interested. After that, I played many different games, but my favorite was the Fire Emblem series.”

The composer is also one of the founding members of the Japanese-based record label. She said her musical inspiration is her father. “My father was my inspiration for the world of music, as he used to play acoustic guitar for me when I was little,” she said. “When I suddenly played that song on the organ, he was surprised and sent me to piano class.”


“After that, I continued playing the piano, went to university, got a job at Capcom, became a freelancer, and was able to spend more than 35 years in the music world. If my father hadn’t played guitar, I wouldn’t be a composer today, and I wouldn’t be leading a different life,” she added. 

Her first project was for the mahjong video game ‘Ide Yosuke Meijin no Jissen Mahjong,’ and it was the first time she composed for a video game. “It was an experimental music piece, and it was a test for me to be entrusted with making a single game,” she shared. “When I passed the test, I was assigned to work on Megaman on Famicom back in 1987.”

Matsumae shared that she was assigned the role in August of 1987, and the release date for the game was December, so she had to write all the music within 4 months. This is now one of her notable and successful works. 

Following the success of Mega Man, Matsumae was assigned to work on the sequel. “A different person (Takashi Tateishi) was composing the music for Mega Man 2, but the planning staff was thinking of a production that would connect the ending of Mega Man 1 and the opening of Mega Man 2, so I gave them the ending song from Mega Man 1,” she reflected. 

“I had it arranged. Also, I wrote the melody in the middle of Air Man’s song. For that reason, I was credited in the end credits, but I was hardly involved in the game,” Matsumae added.

Later, she worked on the 10th installment of the game. “We decided to have all the composers from the past games come together to create it,” she said.

“When I looked at the screen, I liked the Nitro Man stage and made some songs, but it’s been a while since I’ve composed three notes, and it’s been a while since I’ve used chiptune, so I ended up scrapping two songs. The third and final song I created had a sense of speed. I was relieved that it was well received,” she added.

About her reaction and feeling of being part of the Mega Man video game series that has become one of the most famous video game franchises around the world, Matsumae said, “When I created the music for Mega Man, I had no idea that the series would last this long. However, I think the tide has changed since Mega Man 2 became a huge hit.”

“I’ve also heard that among the fans, I’m referred to as ‘Mega Man’s mother.’ I think this is something that will continue into the future, and I am proud to be a part of it,” she added.


Another iconic game Matsumae made music for is Final Fight. “At first, there was a different person (Yoshihiro Sakaguchi) in charge of the songs, but due to various circumstances, the songs had to be completely rewritten,” she told Arab News Japan about the game. “I was in charge of another piece at the time, but the deadline was one month, so I stopped working on the other piece and composed it”. 

“The opening and stage 1 songs were completed in one day, which was on time for delivery. However, we realized that there wasn’t enough time to compose the main stage one after another, so the project became a project in which all of Capcom Sound participated,” she said.

Furthermore, Matsumae also worked on the Dynasty Wars video game music. The 1989 game is based on a manga titled Tenchi wo Kurau by Hiroshi Motomiya. The game was released for arcades. 

“I think it was my first work after moving to the arcade division,” Matsumae shared. “It’s a game based on the romance of the Three Kingdoms, and the background has a Chinese feel. A tone that uses the characteristic Chinese Kokyu would not suit the action, so instead of using a soft tone, we used a Chinese scale.”

The composer also worked on the video game adaptation of the 1979 manga 88 Area, known as U.N. Squadron worldwide. “The planning staff (asked) to create an uplifting song similar to ‘Top Gun,’” she said. “So I borrowed ‘Top Gun’ from the video library and watched it many times at home. I composed the song with a melancholy melody based on my own imagination of the loneliness inside the cockpit

The artist also created music for the horse-riding simulation game Derby Stallion. It was her first job after quitting Capcom, getting married, and moving to Tokyo to become a freelancer. “Unlike action or shooting games, I created atmospheric music that doesn’t get in the way of thinking. However, I tried to make the melody easy to remember.” 

Additionally, Matsumae is not only composing music for the video game Shovel Knight, but her production label is also providing arrangements and songs for the game. 

“I always try to create songs that suit each game,” the artist said, reflecting on her impressive career. ” I think it’s not fun for players to listen to music that doesn’t fit the game at all. I think I will continue to create music that suits the player’s perspective.” 

About her best and most memorable moments during her time at Capcom, Matsumae said, “The comfort trip that the entire company goes on once a year was very impressive. They took me to many places, such as Hida Takayama, Tokyo Disneyland, and Ise Shima. I remember having a great time talking with people in the department that I had never met before.”


Matsumae visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2014, as well as Kuwait and Jeddah in 2018. Reflecting on her Middle East visits, she said, “There are beautiful mosques that you won’t find in Japan, spicy food, and modern buildings that contrast with the old townscape.”

She shared that her trip to Saudi Arabia was really special. “There were places where I had to wear a hijab and abaya, which was a valuable experience.” 

“Then, I performed at an event in that form, and it was very impressive to see the women watching me perform up close. I don’t know about it now, but we’re still in a society where there are very few women at the forefront, so when you hear my performance, there’s something that sticks in your mind, or something that women can do. I hope this will be an opportunity for you to do something like this,” she added.

For those who are considering a career in musical composition for video games, Matsumae recommends listening to all kinds of genres. “That way, you can create a song by selecting music from your head that suits the situation,” she said. 

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