The Composer of Kingdom Hearts Has Never Stopped Reinventing Herself

The first time I encountered Yoko Shimomura was in 2017 at a crowded concert hall in downtown Tokyo. It was the opening night of the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra’s first world tour, and all around me, jittery Square Enix fans clutched their newly purchased tour-exclusive merchandise and prepared to collectively cry along to “Dearly Beloved.” Partway through the show, Tetsuya Nomura stepped out onto the stage wearing an outfit as flamboyant as a character from one of his games (complete with tattered shorts, a black sports jacket, and swooshed hair), standing triumphantly on the stage like the rock star he obviously is. But when Yoko Shimomura—the one actually responsible for composing all the music we were there to hear that night—finally emerged onstage, she appeared as mild-mannered and modest as a high school piano teacher, even as fans welcomed her with rapturous applause.

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Her humility is colossal, and yet she clearly knows how important her work is.

“Personally, I don’t put classical music on a high pedestal myself,” she says. “I think all music genres are created equal. Music is meant to touch people’s hearts, so if there is a piece of music that does just that, then I think it should be considered wonderful music that is neither above nor below anything else. Hundreds of years from now, game music might be revered the way classical music is today.”

It’s so nice to discover such a genuine, simple passion behind the music. Shimomura’s art has had such a huge impact on me, it makes me feel kinda sentimental to read about the likable, inspiring person behind it. I’m not a musician, but her outlook is the one I wanna carry into my own work.

Thanks a lot for writing this.


Thank you for this wonderful article about one of my most favorite composers! The few tracks she made for Xenoblade Chronicles are so good!