Yasunori Mitsuda - The Brink of Time

General Information[edit]

Yasunori Mitsuda retrospective released in 2015. OCR through Google was used to feed mentions of the Chrono series into DeepL.


01. premonition → chrono trigger → dreams of time

[1995, Chrono Trigger / 1999, Chrono Cross ]

I was only 21~22 years old when I made my debut work, "Chrono Trigger", and I am filled with embarrassment when I listen to it now. I am truly happy about that. It contains all the skills, soul, and feelings I had at the time.

07. kaze no longing-Piano Only

[1995, Chrono Trigger]

According to the original specifications of "Chrono Trigger," only 4 out of 8 notes were to be used for the world map music of each era, and the other 4 tracks were to be used for environmental sound effects, but it wasn't as effective as I had planned, so I ended up using only music. This is the reason why only the worldmap track has a slightly muted sound.

CHRONO CROSS ~Scars of Time~" has been performed in many concerts in Japan and abroad, and is still popular even after 16 years. As a composer, I am truly honored. This piece is written in the style of "radical trad" and may not be very familiar in Japan. Originally, it originated from Scandinavian progressive music.

21. far away in time Chrono and Marle

[1995, Chrono Trigger]

The chord progression of the opening song "Premonition" and the closing song "Far Far Away" of "Chrono Trigger" has an interesting structure.

The chord progression of the opening song "Premonition" and the closing song The bass line of "Premonition" is Dsus4, Asus2/F#, Dsus2/F, and the bass line drops from F# to F (going back in time), while "Harukanaru Toki no Kanata He" is Dsus4, Asus2/F#, and Gadd9, moving forward. Yes, the intention is to move into the future.

Kira: "For me, "CHRONO CROSS ~Scars of Time~" was Mr. Mitsuda's trump card.


Release of "Chrono Trigger" Arrangement CD, "The Brink of Time

The recognition of game music was not so high yet, and there were some difficult moments in the recording process. He often talks about his battles with musicians in interviews.


Mitsuda: The way I make music is that I always decide on a "theme" for each piece.

A "theme"?

Mitsuda: Yes. For example, orchestration, or researching new instruments to the fullest. That kind of thing. I wasn't good at playing the guitar at the time of "Chrono Cross. I liked it as a sound. I liked the sound of the guitar, but when it came to playing, I didn't know how to press the strings (laughs). So I bought a guitar and started learning. I had a theme that "Chrono Cross" should have a guitar sound. Chrono Trigger" goes through various eras, so the theme was how to combine themes to make a memorable game. For "Xenogears," the theme was to include live sound recordings and songs. Each title had its own theme.


You started out as an animator, so do you start from the visuals to construct the story?

Kato: Yes. I also scripted game events and storyboarded movies by myself.

Mitsuda Speaking of which, you wrote the storyboards for the opening movie of "Chrono Cross" (hereinafter referred to as "Cross"), didn't you?

Kato: Yes.

I drew rough sketches of the music while looking at the storyboards.

The timing of the images and music are perfectly matched, aren't they?

Mitsuda: The music came first.

So it sounds like you worked out the images in more detail to match the music.

Mitsuda: That's right. We looked at the storyboards that Kato-chan had written, and we decided on the approximate development of the music and recorded the music first. Then the movie team put together the video while looking at Kato-chan's storyboards. That's why the images and music really fit together perfectly.

Kato:I knew "Cross" would be great.

Mitsuda: It was cool, wasn't it? It was great from a work standpoint as well, wasn't it? KatoYes. Tanaka-san (Hiromichi Tanaka) did a great job with the game content and the battles. The events and music were great.

Mitsuda: The sea was great, after all. Of course, the events were great, too (laughs).

When you made "Cross," both of you were still young and in the early stages of your careers. Did it have any influence on your own work?

Kato: I have a lot of history with "Cross" (laughs). I was beaten up by users all over the place. ......

Mitsuda: You care too much, Kato-chan.

Kato Well, I don't mind the parts I don't mind. I mean, the bashing was terrible. It wasn't a matter of "do you care" or "don't care".

Yes, that's right. Especially from the fans of "Chrono Trigger" (hereinafter referred to as "Trigger"). ......

Kato: Yes. They were like, "This is not "Chrono"! Like, "This is not 'Chrono'! Cross" was a parallel world, so there were as many ways to play it as there were players who could take various characters along with them. The story has a lot of branches. The concept was to make a game that could be played in completely different ways, depending on who the player takes along and how they play. However, some players said, "I can't get all my friends unless I play four rounds," or "I have to complete the entire storyline to feel satisfied with the game. We wanted to provide a game that could be played in each person's own way. I was just trying to provide a way for people to play the game in their own way. ............

Mitsuda: That's okay, that's how passionate the fans were.

Kato That was the mindset of the players.

So, was there a time when you felt that it was hard to create games after receiving such feedback for "Cross"?

Kato: Yes. Yes, that's right.

Mitsuda: Oh! There was a time.

Kato: Everyone seems to think so, like "I have to play four rounds of the game. I think, "Why don't you just enjoy playing in your own way? I guess they want to enjoy the whole experience of the game since they paid for it. But if that's the basic premise, it's a bit of a hassle, isn't it? That's what makes the interactivity of games so interesting, isn't it? The most fun part of the game is that the outcome changes depending on the player's actions. I think it was a great idea to allow players to play freely in this way.

Mitsuda:But, no matter what you say, I think that a game that you put a lot of effort into will be called "a good game" after a while.

Kato: Yes. Games that remain will remain.

Mitsuda: That's right. I think "Cross" will remain.

KATO: On the contrary, there seem to be many young people these days who started playing "Cross" without knowing about "Trigger". There are people who started with "Cross" and are praising it highly.

Mitsuda: Ah, I see. That means they don't have "Trigger" in their hearts.

Kato: Yes. And after playing "Cross," they play "Trigger" and say, "Trigger" is interesting too. More and more people are seeing "Cross" for the first time.

Mitsuda: "Cross" is a really well-made game.

KATO: There are fans who say, "I prefer "Cross" to "Trigger". That is gratifying and makes me happy.

Mitsuda: It's a little like a lump has been lifted (laughs), isn't it?

Kato: Yes, yes. Yes, that's right... It's not that I have any deep-seated grudge against you (laughs).

I heard that you two fought a lot in "Chrono Cross" and "Chrono Trigger".

Mitsuda: Whenever I work with Kato, we always fight.

So the two of you argue with each other without restraint?

Mitsuda: Well, we had been working together at Square since we were young, so we could say anything to each other. You don't hold back when it comes to making things, do you?

Kato: Yes. People who are serious about making things don't hesitate, do they?

Mitsuda: They don't hold back (laughs). (laughs) This is not limited to Kato, but the team we were on at Square had a system in which we could say anything we wanted regardless of whether we were senior or junior. We would exchange opinions without hesitation, such as, "We want this part to look like this, so please make it like this. That's why we were able to produce good products.

Kato:There was almost no hierarchical relationship.

Mitsuda: Yes.

That's why you are called "Mitsuchan" and "Kata-chan," isn't it?

Mitsuda: Yes, that's right. We are about one year apart in age. But we don't hold back at all.

Kato: Yes. Age has nothing to do with it. It's about whether we can make something good or not. If someone makes a poor event, even if he or she is a planner, everyone will say, "This is so lame! Everyone beats them up.

Mitsuda: We all beat them up (laughs).

Kato:It is by being beaten up like that that you grow up again.

Mitsuda: "You can't find this song here! (laughs). We used to do that a lot.

Kato: That's right. We used to say whatever we wanted. But on the other hand, when they saw something good, they would say, "Wow, this is amazing! "Wow, this is amazing!

Mitsuda: Yes, and when I saw something good, I would say, "Wow, this is really cool! That's the environment that we can create together in the same place. That may be because we were in the same place, in the same environment, where we could work together. We could show them right after we made them.

Mitsuda: I think that's part of it. Also, now that I am freelance, I think that younger directors tend to be more reserved toward me. If that is the case, we cannot work out the details with each other. I often had to ask myself, "Are you sure about this? I think we shouldn't be reserved. I think you can't be reserved when developing a game. You have to be frank and direct.

When you see that someone is reserved, what techniques do you use to bring them closer to you?

Mitsuda: You have to fight, after all. That way, the other person becomes serious. And when I say fight, I don't mean a fistfight or anything like that (laughs). (laughs) So you have to talk honestly.

Mitsuda: Yes. What do you want to make? What do you want to express? What do you want to express? I will tell them straight out, "What do you want to express in this event after all? If I don't do that, I can't see the music that is really necessary for the event.

Kato: Fundamentally, clashes of opinions occur when both parties have a clear idea of what they want to do and can see everything the other is doing. If you don't know what the other person is doing and don't know what you are looking for, you can't even start a fight. All you can do is accept what comes to you and say, "Thank you. It's like, "Oh, is this what you want?" I think it's a good idea to have a group of people who can say, "I'll do it this way," and then they will fight. Each one of us says, "This is what I want! "This is what I want!" "This is what I'm looking for!" And that's why they are all saying, "That's not right, this is better! They clash with each other like, "That's not it, this is better!

Mitsuda: Yes. So we said, "If you say so, let's actually do it, and see which one is cooler! So we made both. Well, we had to make two songs for the music and two patterns for the event, so it was twice the work than usual. Then we compared them and said, "See, this one is really cool! And then we would compare them and say, "Well, this one's really cool! In the past, that was possible. That was the norm.

Kato: Yes.

Does that mean that the way of development has changed between now and the past?

Mitsuda: I think it has changed a lot. I think that is probably the reason why Japanese games are no longer interesting in the smallest details. The way of making games has changed drastically. Nowadays, we are only concerned about deadlines and budgets. In the past, we never thought about deadlines, did we? We never worried about how many days development would be extended by adding this. We would say, "This is what we want to do now, so this is what we are going to express. We didn't think about what new graphics artists had to draw or what programmers had to add, did we?

Kato: Yes. We didn't hold back at all. It was like, "I want to do this, so make this! I wanted to do this, so I made this.

Mitsuda: The events are detailed, cool, and look great in the game. That's not how games are made now, is it? They would say, "If you put that in, we won't be able to keep up with the schedule. I would say, "Oh, you really want to make that? I would say, "Oh, are you sure you want to make that?

It is true that if you want to make a good product, that is the way to do it. However, I think it would be difficult to do that in today's game development environment, even if one tries.

Mitsuda: Impossible. Absolutely impossible. It's a fight in the process of making things.

Mitsuda: Come to think of it, you know a lot about music, don't you, Kato? We used to listen to music together. It was interesting, wasn't it?

Mitsuda: What kind of music do you like?

What kind of music do you like?

We both like prog rock music. When we bought a new CD, we would go to the booth and say, "Hey, listen to this. It was really interesting.

So you also lent and borrowed.

Mitsuda: Yes. But I also wanted to buy the very good CDs, so I bought them myself. Kato-chan had a lot of ...... She taught me a lot of things, like minor trad and prog rock.

Is there a CD that Kato-san recommended to you that made you say, "I got it! Is there one CD that you were "blown away" by that Kato-san recommended to you?

Mitsuda: There are many! Really, every time I do a piece, he brings me a variety of CDs. He would say, "This time I want to create something with this kind of worldview.

Kato: The one that had the biggest impact on me, and probably also on Mitsui-chan, was the Scandinavian radical trad. At that time, radical trad bands that were doing extreme rock and other weird and outlandish things were just coming out. Well, generally speaking, it didn't enter the Japanese market. That genre itself was not introduced to the Japanese public.

Mitsuda: I don't think anyone knew about it.

Was that incorporated into the essence of "Chrono Cross"?

Mitsuda: Yes, it is completely reflected in "Chrono Cross. It has that slightly exotic sound.

Mitsuda: Yes, including the Mediterranean sound. The radical trad. The last boss and normal battles are also in a very odd time signature. I exchanged many ideas with Kato-Chattei. I wanted to use this kind of sound.

Kato: Yes. This is interesting, so we decided to go in this direction.

Mitsuda: It was interesting, really. Well, Kato-chan is the most fussy music planner. I've never seen anyone who knows more about music than Kato-chan. Mr. Taka (Mr. Tetsuya Takahashi) of Monolith Soft also knows a lot about music, but he is more of a movie soundtrack or pop music type, or major music type. But Kata-chan is a super fanatic, and he comes up with stuff that no one knows about. And it was all cool (laughs). It made me realize that there is such a world of music.

Kato: Yes. CDs that ordinary people don't know about, CDs that are independently produced in the fringes of the world.

Mitsuda: You bring that kind of thing with you. Where do you get them? (laughs).

Kato: There are specialty stores and maniac shops. I used to go to those places to get them. I would listen to CDs that were not available in Japan, and I would say, "Well, I really like this minor sound" (laughs). (Laughs.) Basically, I like minor music. (Laughs) Basically, I like minor music, no matter what genre it is. I don't find the major sellers and bestsellers interesting at all.

Then, was "Radical Dreamers -The Unstolen Jewel-", the ending song of "Chrono Cross", accepted easily? That one is more of a pop song, though.

Kato: Yes, that one was not at all. If it has a crying melody, I usually forgive it.

Mitsuda: I forgive you (laughs). You're forgiven! (laughs) No, but it was in a major key, but the melody was crying. It was a unique song. Come to think of it, the opening song "CHRONO CROSS ~Time Scar~" is also a radical track, if you ask me. It starts out with a beautiful melody and then suddenly becomes intense. If we went completely traditional, people who don't know such things would reject it, so we kept the Japanese and pops tastes, but made it more extreme. I remember how difficult it was to find the right balance.

Is there a genre of music that you would like to play, even though it probably won't be popular with the general public?

Mitsuda: I would like to try Vulcan-type music for games. Chrono Cross" has a little bit of traditional Balkan music, but I would like to play more indigenous Balkan music. Of course, I would like to play more indigenous Balkan music, including Bulgarian voices. I would also like to try some superb progressive music.

From: Interviews
From: Merchandise