About Hiroki Kikuta
Hiroki Kikuta is a video game composer best known in the West for his composition of music for Secret of Mana and Soul Calibur V.
He’s been composing music for video games for 27 years and is still going strong!
In recent years he’s moved away from in-house composing for large companies to freelance work for indie games.
He loves working on indie games. I’ll go over this later but I received and summary of his main points and they boiled down to wanting creative freedom.
Hiroki Kikuta at Anime Expo
One indie game in particular is why he was at Anime Expo.
Indivisible is an up-and-coming game by Lab Zero Games, who are best known for Skullgirls. Indivisible was successfully funded on Kickstarter and is still in production. But they showed of this SUPER shiny teaser for the opening of the game, animated by Studio Trigger:
Kikuta-san was brought over by Lab Zero Games to talk about his involvement in the project. He had a number of panels and signings.
I went to the Lab Zero Games panel the day before my interpreting session with him. And I really regret not knowing about the game when it was Kickstarting. It’s an impressive game that Kikuta-san and the whole team seem excited to work on.
Interpreting for the Indie Games Music Panel and Interpreting
The panel I interpreted for was organized by Scarlet Moon Records with Kikuta-san focusing on his recent work in indie games.
Before the convention I talked with Jayson to get some materials in advance for the panel. This included a rough of the slides and some information written by Kikuta-san that he wanted to cover.
I also watched past interviews with Kikuta-san, read all about him and watched Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound. (Beep is really good if you’re interested in how games are made.)
Note: If you think interpreters just rock up and interpret you’re sorely mistaken. Researching the subject matter and vocabulary in advance is very important for a good interpretation.
This is why a good interpreter might cost a lot per hour/day. (In-house interpreters already know the subject matter very well, so they work a little different from freelance.)
Interpreting The Panel
There were 3 panelists and myself: Jayson Producer from Scarlet Moon Records, Dale North Composer for Scarlet Moon Records and Kikuta-san.
I was simultaneously interpreting the English speaker’s English into Japanese. Then consecutively interpreting Kikuta-san’s Japanese into English.
Jayson lead the discussion going over who Scarlet Moon Records were and how they were all involved. Then they introduced a game Kikuta-san had worked on, played a track from the game, then Kikuta-san talked about it.
I mentioned Kikuta-san had prepared some things but before the panel I asked him to speak from the heart. This meant the entire talk was natural off-script.
The end of the panel also has a Q&A.
This was my second official interpreting job and I was very excited!
To be honest I was very nervous until I attended some other panels where the interpreters didn’t take notes and missed out information. Then I realized I wasn’t as bad as I had feared and knew I could do this!
So when the panel took place I wasn’t nervous at all.
I messed up in two parts that was frustrating but I kept calm and clarified information with Kikuta-san. I’d rather look like an idiot than guess and get it wrong.
Also during the Q&A Kikuta-san got really excited and began to talk very quickly. I had to ask him to repeat answers and then slow down.
I think I need to work on my listening more. Specifically accents and speaking quickly.
I also need to work on simultaneous interpreting with people naturally. I’ve noticed that English speakers will try to react to my simultaneous interpreting. And Japanese people will give “yes” and “grunts” to show they’re listening to me. But I’m not used to either so both make it difficult to concentrate.
That was my second time interpreting in front of a live audience. It was great fun! I really enjoy interpreting and hope to attend more conventions in the future.
Kikuta-san, Jayson and Dale were all incredibly kind people. (And Kikuta-san has the cutest smile!) I hope I get another chance to work with them in the future.