Soundtracks for Fullmetal Alchemist, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos have become available outside of Japan for the first time thanks to Milan Records. You can check out the playlists here, and in the meantime, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood composer Akira Senju answered Otaku USA’s questions on his interest in music, whether the original FMA soundtrack influenced him, and how he approaches each new project.
How did you get interested in music for a career?
When I was in junior high school, I knew I wanted to do something in the world of music – classical, jazz, pop, soundtrack – I wanted to be in an environment where I could be passionate about all kinds of music. At that time, I saw a straight path to my future, and I never changed my mind. I went forward without hesitation. I enjoyed the effort to make my dreams come true, my calling, so to speak.
Did you let the soundtrack for Fullmetal Alchemist have some influence on you, or did you want to start over fresh with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood?
I have not listened to any of the previous works as I wanted to approach this without any preconceived notions. Since music expresses unseen emotions, like the blood that flows through the work, I carefully read the original story and created a spirit for the work from scratch.
How do you put emotions like anger, sorrow, courage and bravery into your music? Which particular songs express these different emotions most respectively?
I synthesize all of my musical techniques, fundamentals and vocabulary to bring out my own life experiences and emotions of anger, sorrow, courage and bravery. The songs that express these different emotions are “Beyond the Walls,” ”Mount Briggs -Overture,” “Violoncello’s Lament,” “Sorrowful Stone,” “To Be King,” “Amestris Military March,” to name a few.
How do you approach writing music for each project you work on?
If there is an original work, I will of course start by reading it. From there, discussion with the creators, producers and staff with whom I collaborate is very important. In particular, I make an effort to understand the Sound Director because we are one and the same. As far as my relationship with a Director is concerned, I discuss with him for as much time as I have, even getting his personal preferences.
Is there anything you would like Western fans of Fullmetal Alchemist to know about the series’ music and you?
For me, this work is more than 10 years old, but I have tried to give the work a sound that will not get old no matter how many years pass. It is definitely a masterpiece, and has a spirit that is both common to mankind and therefore timeless. I hope you will discover the world of Fullmetal Alchemist through this music, and I hope to perform a Fullmetal Alchemist concert one day.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin. She is also the author of its upcoming sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.