Manami Matsumae Interview

The following interview was between TigerChainsaw and legendary video game composer, Manami Matsumae. Her career spans over 30 years with credits for the Mega Man Series, Final Fight, U.N. Squadron, Shovel Knight, and over 50 other video games. This specific interview is dedicated to her work on the original Mega Man in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System where she most notably came up with the “Game Start” jingle.

Special thanks to Alex, Matsumae’s agent who helped set up this interview and interpreted for both TigerChainsaw and Manami Matsumae.

Manami Matsumae in her profile picture for Brave Wave Productions.

TigerChainsaw – “How did you first get involved in composing music and sound effects for Capcom? What led you to them?”

Manami Matsumae – “I was attending a school for arts and I remember during my senior year I saw a job ad for a company called Capcom that was looking for people to join their sound teams. I applied for the job and was hired for it.”

TC – “What were the Capcom offices like back in 1987? What was the work environment and how did you fit in?”

MM – “Back at that time, Capcom’s headquarters were separated into two buildings. One was for the main development teams and the other was for the sound team. The year I joined Capcom happened to be a year where the number of employees increased dramatically, so they needed a separate area for the sound team. In terms of the office environment, all the employees got along with each other very well. It was a very lively kind of environment.”

TC – “What was your initial reaction to hearing about Mega Man and what was the process for you to get assigned to working on the sounds and music of the game?”

MM – “When I first saw the planning documents for Mega Man I realized that it was quite different from anything that Capcom had made up until that point. Mega Man was an action-oriented game with a robotic or mechanical protagonist. Even music in Capcom games up to that point was much more classical focused so I realized that for the soundtrack of Mega Man, I had to go with something more rock-oriented.”

Matsumae drew inspiration for her composing based on the robotic looks of Mega Man.

TC – “What’s your creative process for composing? Do you have a specific routine?”

MM – “When I compose music I look at the character, I look at its animations and the background visuals of the game and compose my songs around that.”

TC – “How long did it take for you to finish your work for Mega Man, did you struggle at all, or was it a smooth process for you and the others who worked on the game?”

MM – “The hardest part about working on Mega Man was the fact that I joined the project pretty late in development. I joined Mega Man around the month of August and they told me that they had a deadline for the game of December of that year. That’s when they wanted to release the game so that would be only four months. That was the toughest element in making sure all the tracks and the sound effects were done in that period.”

TC – “When the game was finished and published, what were your expectations for it? Did you ever imagine that over 30 years later the franchise would still be going strong and create millions of fans around the world?”

MM – “When the original Mega Man came out in Japan it didn’t actually sell that well but the team decided they wanted to make a sequel anyway. The sequel, Mega Man 2 was released the following year and that one actually sold well. That allowed for the Mega Man franchise to continue after that point. For me personally, it’s an honor to be involved in the Mega Man franchise and I’m really happy that the Mega Man series has lasted for more than 30 years at this point.”

TC – “What’s a memory you’ll never forget during your time when working on Mega Man? It could be a funny memory or just something you’re very fond of.”

MM – “I was put on the Mega Man project not long after I joined the company. When I think about the time of Mega Man’s development I remember having to learn how to use a P.C. which was actually a fun task. I remember having long days in the office and staying until 11:30 PM contributing to the project in different ways. That’s what I think of when I remember the development of Mega Man.”

TC – “Aside from composing music to video games, do you enjoy playing them too? If so, what series of games do you enjoy?”

MM – “Yeah, I do play games outside of work. I’d say my favorite would be the Fire Emblem series.”

TC – “Since helping compose for Mega Man, you’ve had quite a career with composing music for other games. You’ve been featured in books about female creators in the video game industry and I’m curious out of all the games you’ve worked on what’s been your favorite and why?”

MM – “That’s such a hard question to answer because having worked on all of those games it’s hard for me to say what I liked or what’s my favorite because I like all of them very much.”

TC – “You are still working in the video game industry, are you working on any future or current titles?”

MM – “The latest game that I worked on actually just came out on March 18th (2021). It was a Korean video game and there’s a Nintendo Switch port for it called Dark Water: Slime Invader and I worked on the music for that title.”

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