Originally posted on 3 February 2016
Source: page 163

Ryu Encyclopaedia

Ryu ga Gotoku Series BGM Best 10

During 10 years of working on the Ryu ga Gotoku series, Mr. Shoji has worked on an overwhelming number of songs. Here, he has selected 10 of his favourites out of his own songs. He has also disclosed his reasons for choosing them, so pay close attention!

1 Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin! last battle BGM 6 Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan! battle BGM
Bosatsu For Will
This is the BGM for Ishin's final boss. Similarly to the player, the enemy has multiple battle styles, so I prepared multiple variations on the music, also, to make him feel like he had something in common with the player character. As a result, it became this epic with a length of more than eight minutes, and it's a huge song for me, too. I'm fond of it myself because of the emotional guitar melody teamed up with a live shakuhachi, and how exquisite it is... but actually, this is the only song that was completed without Nagoshi giving it the 100% OK. The reason for this is that we simply didn't have any time in our schedule to be altering it. There's never been a time during the series when we've had any wiggle room in our schedules, but I think you can guess exactly how tight of a schedule we were making Ishin on. That said, you could say that if I had done a better job, I could have represented 100% of what Nagoshi wanted. Like Tokugawa Ieyasu's "demon portrait"※, it's also a big form of self-admonition on my part, so I ranked it as #1.

※A portrait (also known as the "scowling portrait") that was commissioned by Tokugawa Ieyasu after being defeated at Mikatagahara, supposedly in an act of self-admonition for getting carried away and losing many soldiers, to remind him not to fall into the same trap again and to have more self-restraint in future.
This is Marume's battle BGM from Kenzan. Orihara, the planner I mentioned earlier, also shows up regarding this song. At the start of development, he said to me, "I'd like a song like Shaolin Soccer!" and this is the song that I came up with. I remember buying the DVD, which was all the rage at the time, and laughing my head off as I watched it for research. I guess you'd say it uses a Chinese orchestra - the use of instruments and sound quality is different from that of a western orchestra, so it took some trial and error to show its characteristic analogue strength and excitement. It seems to have been the most successful embodiment of the sultriness of Ryu ga Gotoku in this well-received first period drama entry in the series, and it was one of the most popular songs to feature in Kenzan.
2 Ryu ga Gotoku 3 battle BGM 7 Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin! battle BGM
Clay Doll On The Cradle Shinkyuu Gengakki Sensou
(War of Old and New Stringed Instruments)
The way of expressing "sultriness" that was born from this song, a combination of up-tempo electric guitar and lyrical piano, took hold in the later series as one of the icons of Ryu ga Gotoku-ness. In that sense, it's a hugely important song in the series. I also ranked the song highly because of its unique history. This song actually took a number of retakes that rivals Receive You, and however many times I presented it it was rejected every time; even after more than three weeks had passed, there was still absolutely no sign of the song taking shape. This depressing situation continued until one day, not realising that a mistake in setting up the sequencer had caused the synthesiser to turn into a piano, I bashed away at the keys, and in that moment the idea's outline took hold. After that I worked on it in one sitting and it took less than a day before it was complete; the finished version passed its presentation on the first go. I've never worked on a song before that seems so much like it was "born" rather than "created", and it's unforgettable for me. This is the special BGM that plays for joke fights. I began learning the shamisen to make songs for Ishin, but I got so addicted to it that even after the ending of the project I continued to study it; one of the reasons for this is that, despite being a stringed instrument like a guitar, the way you think about them is completely different. Perhaps because the concept for the song came from my desire to write a song that created a coexistence between the two instruments by my playing them, this is a song where I enjoy playing both parts. Maybe because of this, the staff have told me that, "It's amazing how much it feels like you're making fun of someone!" and it's fresh in my memory how I remember being troubled by something that could be taken as either a diss or praise. I rarely ever play my own songs, but I enjoy this song so much that sometimes I will play it. I think you'll understand what I mean if you try playing it on your guitar or shamisen. And, if you're playing it on guitar, then please make sure you use ESP's RGG guitar!
3 Ryu ga Gotoku main theme 8 Ryu ga Gotoku 5 mini game BGM
Receive You Boxcelios Forever
This is Ryu ga Gotoku 1's theme song, the song that took the most retakes, the longest time until completion and has been rearranged the most times in the series - a song that's number one in many ways. Based on the concept of "oriental coolness", Nagoshi and myself had meetings about it many times, creating it and then breaking it back down, and the song was a lot of hard work. I still remember how many different people worked with me on it, such as proposals for how to put together the voices of the vocalist, Makotch, and the female chorus amongst other things. The song was always made with the intention of becoming a symbol of the game, but looking back on it now after 10 years have passed, this really does feel like a song that has continued to be symbolic of the series. I think that the ways in which it's number one that I mentioned earlier tell the tale of this. Of course, back when I was making the song, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that such a huge artist would do an arrangement of the song. If I had a time machine, I'd want to tell this to the me who was about to break under a flurry of retakes. The original song is from Boxcelios, a mini game in Ryu ga Gotoku 3, which was transformed into BGM for Gunrhein, a mini game I was in charge of for Ryu ga Gotoku 5. You may think that its refreshing and catchy melody is a rarity for me, but this is actually the song that best shows off my habits and tastes. Listening to it again now, the bass phrases resemble the BGM for a racing game I worked on in the past, the modulation and the way it resembles the ending BGM for a game I worked on before shows my origins all over. I've been working as a composer for 20 years now, but in terms of ranking my favourite songs out of my own career, this would rank in the top five. Someday I'd like to make my DJing debut and blast this really loudly.
4 Ryu ga Gotoku 4 insert song 9 Ryu ga Gotoku 0 menu screen BGM
For Faith Pandora's Place
The theme and image songs up until this point had been mainly energetic and up-tempo, but this song, which I made for the trailer to be released at Tokyo Game Show, was based on the concepts "mid-tempo", "more rock-ish" and "something you can listen to". At first we had it sung by a variety of people, but having a good singer sing it would always thin out its rockishness, so I ended up singing it. This is because it's more "rock" if it's being sung in almost a yell by someone who doesn't have a particularly good voice. Vocal correction software was already doing the rounds by this point, but I left the vocals alone to bring out the rawness of the yelling. Even still, there were no plans to put the song into the game, but when we approached the closing stages of development we ended up adding effects to the install screen. At first I just non-committally had "My Hero" (track 41 on the Ryu ga Gotoku 4 soundtrack) play, but Orihara, a planner, came to me and complained, "I feel like I'm being brainwashed - use a serious song," (laughs). That's how For Faith ended up seeing the light of day. As a result, people at the company who wouldn't normally praise me praised the song, and there were also lots of enquiries from overseas - I still have such fresh memories of the unexpected reaction. The response was reflected in the download count, too, and it's the most downloaded out of all of my songs. Though we had until this point always had ambient music as the title screen BGM, we had no dedicated BGM for the menu screens that came afterwards until this game. We never did all that much with the menu screen itself, only really going as far as to add a picture, so we never added music either. But we started doing something with the screen from around the time of Ishin, so this game was when we decided to add a special song. It may have increased the load for me on future games once more, but I think it serves its function as an introduction/entry point to the game well. This was also the first time I attempted to do sound mixing, so I put it into my ranking. If you play Ryu ga Gotoku 0 with a surround sound set-up, things like the percussion seeming to come from behind you will let you allow its unique atmosphere.
5 Ryu ga Gotoku ending theme 10 Ryu ga Gotoku 2 champagne tower BGM
Amazing Grace ~Quartet Arrange~ Adam's Champagne Call
Nagoshi told me at quite an early stage, "The game opens with a vocal song, so I'd like it to end the same way," and he had told me that, despite looking for a tie-up artist, he had been unable to find one. Thinking about it now, there's no way that anyone would agree to an unknown and unproven game, is there? It fully reminds me just how understanding Don Quijote were to agree to a tie-up for the first game. So, when I was wondering what on earth I was meant to do, I heard that the rights to Amazing Grace were about to expire. Assisted by the expectations that it would fit a game that was supposed to be set at Christmas time, I ended up doing an arrangement and recording it. The most important part of all, the vocalist, was the late Eri Kawai, who stood out amidst the samples we gathered for the clarity of her voice. This might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I felt like when the player had beaten the game and heard her beautiful voice, praised as the voice of an angel, it would wash away all of the deeds that they had done during the game. Thinking that it was the least we could do as a tribute, we used the original recording for Kiwami. I wrote this in the liner notes of the soundtrack for the first Ryu ga Gotoku, too, but I performed as the main MC. This unheard-of job - recording the shouts of the team's planning staff and designers - is something I still remember, 10 years on. The staff's cooperation resulted in this incredible impact, and received rave reviews along with snickers and sneers. Since then, I have been begged to do it by colleagues when we go out for drinks or wrap parties, but my part was recorded over and over taking into account the composition of the staff's calls, so it's not something I can reproduce without practise. I've even been asked by someone to do it as entertainment at their wedding... but, needless to say, I politely refused.