Tags: interview, music
Yu-Gi-Oh! composers Elik Álvarez (left) and Freddy Sheinfeld
On Friday, Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld, two members of a team of talented composers for the many Yu-Gi-Oh! series and movies, appeared on the most recent episode of Soundtrack Alley, a podcast that celebrates the love of movie soundtracks. In a 40-minute interview, the duo speak with podcast host Randy Williams about their work in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions and other recent projects. This post includes a few highlights from the interview.
Adding a New Flavor to an Old Favorite
Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld are both composers originally from Venezuela who are now working out of Los Angeles. Their involvement in Yu-Gi-Oh! began with the first Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, Pyramid of Light, which led them to work on season 3 of the classic Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters series and, eventually, every season and spin-off since then. For Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, the pair tried to move away from the style of music seen in the TV series in an effort to make the score a little more cinematic, explained Álvarez.
“How [do you] make it more cinematic?” asked Álvarez. “Well, you just do. That’s what you do as a composer. You are able to switch gears when they need to.”
One of the things that the two composers really pressed for in The Dark Side of Dimensions was the inclusion of more choirs.
“That doesn’t mean we haven’t used choirs in the rest of the series, but not as much probably as we do in this one. We really pushed hard for that one,” Álvarez added. But the most challenging aspect of scoring wasn’t actually the composition process.
Álvarez continued: “What is difficult is to have people who oversee the music — the music producer, the producers, the writers, whoever is listening to the score — this movie is a little bit different because even people in Japan were listening to this, people in Konami, I believe. So the difficult part is to convince them, ‘Listen, let’s try to do something different.’ They are so used to listening to a certain style of music. To propose something new takes time and persuasion and things like that. But to switch gears, in my opinion, is something that comes very natural to us.”
Sheinfeld noted that the their experience with Yu-Gi-Oh! has come full circle. The pair began with Duel Monsters, which had a certain style of music. They then moved on to other series, each with their own unique sound; GX was a little more rock-oriented and 5D’s had electronic industrial elements. Now, after more than ten years, they’ve returned to the original Yu-Gi-Oh! and needed to approach it with a fresh perspective.
“We kind of came back to some of the original ideas as far as the themes that we needed to use because those are characters that everybody knows,” said Sheinfeld. “But at the same time, we wanted to do, like Elik said, something fresh, something more cinematic. And somehow, the way it worked, to sound a little bit more cinematic was actually going a little bit old school.
“It’s funny because in the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, if you listen to the music, there’s a lot of electronics going on. A lot of electronic percussion, a lot of techno stuff combined with an orchestra. But [for The Dark Side of Dimensions], we were a little bit more pure. We tried to avoid that just a little bit just to sound a little bit more modern, which is weird but it kind of worked that way. A lot of those sounds [in the original Yu-Gi-Oh!] now sound a little bit dated if we use it, so to sound fresh, we avoided it as much as we could. We were for a more traditional sound. You know, still mixing some of the modern electronic sounds that we use these days to still have that modern feel. But overall, it was a little bit more traditional orchestration approach to this film.”
Getting the Style Just Right
Both Álvarez and Sheinfeld gave a lot of credit to Mike Brady, 4K Media’s music producer, who offers them lots of freedom to compose to picture. Brady doesn’t give the composers a temp track — a sample piece of filler music that editors and producers use to set the mood of a scene.
“We just get plain animation with dialog and rough sound effects and sometimes rough dialog, and we just write music to it,” explained Álvarez. “So that’s a very, very important point I want to make. We’re pretty lucky with this because temp tracks sometimes could be a big help, sometimes they don’t. So one thing for this is we don’t get any temp tracks. He just sends us picture with dialog, and that’s it. There is no music there. So we really create from scratch.”
“I think the producer, Mike, is very good at what he does,” Sheinfeld said. “Like Elik says, he doesn’t give a temp track, but he has a very specific idea of how the show works. It took a long time to understand it but now it’s a matter of trying to understand what is important, what you need to accomplish with the music, and on the other side, what you can add to it as far as being creative. So it’s always that balance. You want to make it work and you also want to make it as cool as possible. There’s a lot of work involved. As far as making things work, it’s funny because it’s even though it’s an animation, I think the level of thought that goes behind each detail is much more deeper than a lot of the dramatic films that I’ve done in the past.”
After working on Yu-Gi-Oh! for more than ten years, Álvarez and Sheinfeld have a good feel for what the producers are looking for and what style of music works well in the anime.
“We understand the language pretty well of these types of animations,” said Álvarez. “I gotta tell you, it’s very, very complex. It’s very complex. Sometimes, on TV, you don’t really listen that much to the music. There is a lot of dialog. They don’t mix the music that loud. But it’s very complex what we do over here, and it took us quite a few years just to nail down the style and not to be afraid.”
And getting the style just right really is the key, since the music dictates so much of how characters and scenes are perceived by the viewers.
“As Freddy said, each of the characters over there, they have their own personality and we need to make sure that people can understand that,” Álvarez said. He elaborated on this point using Kaiba as an example, explaining that when composing for this character, Brady emphasized not to treat Kaiba as a bad, evil guy but also not as a good, heroic guy.
“These characters are complex. And you know, people don’t realize that,” stated Álvarez. “And again, when you see it on TV, and there is a lot of dialog going on all the time. But we’re behind that trying to make sure that people don’t perceive Kaiba as an evil guy because he’s not. So how do you make that balance?”
Teamwork, Inspirations, Future Projects, and More
Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld discussed several more topics with Randy Williams, including how they have honed their skills from working together, how they met fellow Yu-Gi-Oh! composer Joel Douek, what types of film music they enjoy, and what some of their future project include. It’s a smart and enlightening interview, so give it a listen! Be sure to listen all the way to the end because they share a few of their full-length pieces from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions and other works.
Tags: interview, movie, music
Yu-Gi-Oh! composers (left to right) Freddy Sheinfeld, Joel Douek, and Elik Álvarez in a studio. Photo from Film.Music.Media.
Today, longtime Yu-Gi-Oh! composers Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld offered some insights into their participation in writing the music for Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. In a press release coming out of their home base of Los Angeles, California, the duo offered some tidbits about their songwriting process and what they and the directors wanted to impart on the audience.
“The main themes we carried from the TV series were the Yu-Gi-Oh! transformation, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and the friendship themes,” said Sheinfeld. “We haven’t used those themes for a while, so it was a lot of fun to use them again, but with a more modern and cinematic approach.”
“We wanted the audience connecting again to those themes and at the same time we needed to adapt them to the tone of the movie and the style of the score,” Álvarez added. “Many times we also found ourselves deconstructing those themes and including them in our cues. Sometimes they were very obvious, sometime[s] they were ‘hidden’ somewhere within the orchestration.”
Álvarez and Sheinfeld have been writing music for the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime since the 2004 film Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie. In scoring Yu-Gi-Oh! DSoD, the duo were joined by fellow L.A.-based composer Matt McGuire and N.Y.-based John Angier, both of whom are also longtime composers for Yu-Gi-Oh!.
For more insights about the music composition process in the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, check out my write-up of a June 2015 live interview that Álvarez participated in, as well as a 2011 Reddit Ask-Me-Anything with Brady.
This week is the final week that Yu-Gi-Oh! DSoD is playing in theaters in the U.S. and Canada. If you haven’t already done so, visit yugiohtickets.com to find your local theater and showtimes. And if you have already seen it, why not see it again?
Tags: interview, movie
Shane Guenego (left) and Arthur “Sam” Murakami
Ah, looks like there’s more behind-the-scenes content for Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions after all! Crunchyroll has posted an exclusive interview with Shane Guenego and Arthur “Sam” Murakami, longtime Yu-Gi-Oh! producers and writers at 4K Media, who describe their excitement in getting to work on a new story that comes straight from Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi. The anime’s original voice actors — Dan Green (Yugi), Eric Stuart (Kaiba), Wayne Grayson (Joey), Greg Abbey (Tristan), Amy Birnbaum (Téa), and Ted Lewis (Bakura) — all make a brief appearance in this video. Check it out.
The number of theaters listed on yugiohtickets.com is still growing. As of this writing there are 579 theaters in the U.S. and Canada screening the movie. Have you bought your ticket yet? Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions opens today, January 27. Don’t miss it!
Tags: interview, movie
For its final behind-the-scenes look at Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, 4K Media today posted an interview featuring Dan Green, the voice of Yugi Muto. Dan offers some insights into the evolution of his character, what it feels like to return to an old friend, and what the events of this movie mean to Yugi and his future.
Have you bought your ticket for the movie yet? There are now over 500 theaters throughout the U.S. and Canada listed on yugiohtickets.com. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions opens this Friday, January 27.
Tags: interview, movie
What kind of character is Aigami and what are his goals? Actor and singer Daniel J. Edwards tells it like it is in this second behind-the-scenes interview promoting Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. Daniel also talks about what it’s like being a part of such an iconic anime series that he enjoyed years ago in middle school. And once again, there are many new clips from the movie!
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions premieres January 27 in the U.S. and Canada. Ticket sales and theater locations are available at yugiohtickets.com. The site now has over 430 theaters listed, and new locations will continue to be added up to opening day.
Tags: interview, movie
What does voice actor and musician Eric Stuart think about returning to play Seto Kaiba after all these years? Check out an interview with the man himself in this first behind-the-scenes look at Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. Eric talks about his initial impressions of the film, his connection to Seto Kaiba, and how he is portraying the character in this movie. Plus, there are lots of new clips from the movie!
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions opens January 27 in the U.S. and Canada. For theater locations and ticket sales, visit yugiohtickets.com. There are 380 theaters listed as of this writing, with over 500 total theaters planning to screen the film. New locations will be added up to the release date.
If you don’t see your local theater listed, don’t be afraid to reach out to them to ask them to play the film. Theaters want to play movies that people want to see, so hit them up on Facebook, Twitter, or even with an old-fashioned phone call and show them that there’s interest!
Tags: interview, manga
Yuya and Yuzu have left the safe haven of Yuya’s hideout after learning the whereabouts of Genesis Omega Dragon. But it was all just a trick by Sora Shiunin, who is eager to squeeze some answers out of Yuya about his mysterious past and his cryptic hacking and dueling abilities. Now, with Yuya trapped in a locked room, Shiunin has him right where he wants him.
Shiunin snaps his fingers and a bright, prismatic Action Field materializes before their eyes, completely lighting up the dark and empty lab. It’s Candy Park, a world filled with giant succulent sweets of all kinds — massive colorful lollipops jutting out of the ground, chocolate truffles drenched in ganache, decadent flans, fluffy cotton candy…
But the playful field hides some unfriendly booby traps, as Yuya soon learns. Spotting an Action Card in the sky, Yuya hops onto a large balloon floating in front of him, only for it to burst, sending him plummeting to the ground. Shiunin snickers and wastes no time snatching the Action Card for himself then Fusion summoning his first monster, Frightfur Bear. A towering, grotesque stuffed animal emerges behind Shiunin. Its body is mutilated by a pair of scissors sticking out of its severed torso. Each of its severed arms are attached to its body by the blades of a pair of scissors jammed into its shoulder and arm sockets.
Yuya goes on the offensive, setting his Pendulum scale with Enter-Mate Ballad and Enter-Mate Barracuda, a pair of beautiful boy monsters. He then Pendulum summons Handsome Liger, an equally beautiful samurai who wears traditional samurai waist and thigh protectors, but a rockin’ modern overcoat. Frightfur Bear has more attack points than Handsome Liger, but Yuya’s Pendulum monsters use their abilities to weaken the menacing stuffed animal, allowing the samurai to cut it down with his sword.
Sora Shiunin winces as his monster falls, but he is ready to retaliate. He activates Frightfur Reborn, which brings Frightfur Bear back from the graveyard. Free of the ill effects of Enter-Mate Ballad and Barracuda’s attack-weakening abilities, Frightfur Bear now attacks Handsome Liger, launching one of its scissor-stuffed arms at the samurai. Yuya knows that he can bolster Handsome Liger’s attack points with a trap card, but just as he is about to activate it…
A small piece of paper flutters down from the sky. Shiunin gasps nervously as Yuya reaches for it. It’s a photograph of Shiunin and his little sister. She is smiling and sitting upright in a hospital bed. Yuya and Yuzu glance over at Shiunin, who is now trembling, his eyes welling up with tears.
“I… can’t lose this duel…no matter what!” he exclaims. “I have a sick little sister… But Reiji Akaba took her hostage… If I don’t defeat you, he’ll kill my sister!”
Yuya and Yuzu are petrified by Shiunin’s revelation. Tears begin streaming down Shiunin’s face as he begs Yuya to let him win. Yuya relents and doesn’t activate his trap. Frightfur Bear annihilates Handsome Liger and the destructive impact sends Yuya and Yuzu tumbling backward.
In a control room at LC headquarters, Reiji Akaba, Shingo Sawatari, and Shun Kurosaki watch the action unfold. Kurosaki is outraged by Akaba’s actions, vowing to “dispense justice.” He demands LC’s president reveal the truth about what happened to Shiunin’s sister. Akaba sits stoically in his chair with his fingers steepled. He doesn’t respond.
Yuya is on his knees, contemplating what to do next, when he hears a familiar voice mocking him for being weak. But before Yuya can respond, the voice makes his presence felt, literally.
“This looks like a job for me!” the voice proclaims. Suddenly, after a twirl and flourish of Yuya’s cloak, a new figure is standing in front of Shiunin and Yuzu. It’s Yuri, the cape-wearing boy from Yuya’s mind! And this personality isn’t impressed at all with Shiunin or his sister.
“Who cares about that?!” he asserts. “You can both die for all I care!”
Sora! A moral dilemma! What an unexpected turn of events. What is Yuya supposed to do? Let Sora win? But if that happens, Yuya’s loss basically gives Reiji an open invitation to capture him. If Yugi were dueling here, he would be skillful enough to end the game in a way that doesn’t hurt either duelist. Maybe he would reduce both players’ life points to zero at the same time so that there wouldn’t be a true winner or loser, and both of them could walk away and duel again another day. Is Yuya that clever? It might not matter at this point because Yuri has taken over, and it’s pretty clear what his intentions are. And although Yuri might be cutthroat, maybe this is because he recognizes something that Yuya doesn’t — like how Sora might actually be lying.
Playboy Yuya returns in this chapter. Thank you for carrying attractive monsters that appeal to both sexes, Yuya, hahaha.
There’s a charming visual gag that appears after Enter-Mate Ballad uses its effect. When Sora’s Frightfur Bear wilts while losing attack points, it goes walleyed, trembles, and releases a sweat drop. Then its scissors momentarily transform from razor-sharp killing machines into blunt-tipped child-safe utensils. Cute.
Hey, Shingo and Shun are so funny together! They should star in their own comedy spin-off series.
Shun seems to have revealed himself to be a good person in this chapter, not just a cold, calculating duelist who plays for keeps. Reiji appears to take special notice of Shun’s words — that Shun will “dispense justice” if Reiji really did take Sora’s sister hostage. Shingo breaks up this serious moment when he realizes that Shun had kidnapped someone as well, haha.
What happened when Yuya attempted to reach the second Action Card and stepped onto the exploding balloon? Did he use his Solid Vision manipulation abilities to teleport back next to Yuzu? Whatever happened, he looked genuinely confused for a moment. Is there something going on with his body or mind that hasn’t been revealed yet?
Interview with Kazuki Takahashi at Jump Festa 2016
Last December, VIZ’s Shonen Jump crew caught up with numerous manga creators at Jump Festa — Shueisha’s annual convention for all things Jump — and asked them each for their thoughts on what Shonen Jump and manga mean to them, the things that they are really excited about this year, and more. Today’s issue contains Team Jump’s interview with Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi. Which of his characters would Takahashi like to hang out with at a New Year’s party? Does he ever dream about his characters? What video game has he been trying to get into? Find out as Team Jump picks his brain in this issue!
* * *
– Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 7: “Genesis Omega Dragon!”
– Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 9: “Fusion vs. Fusion”
The staff at Shueisha’s new Jump Ryu! series has been busy interviewing Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi and captured an adorable photo of his dog, Taro-kun, pictured above. D’awww. Taro, complete with green bandanna, is of course the inspiration behind the Yu-Gi-Oh! card Shiba-Warrior Taro released in the 2008 Anniversary Pack.
Jump Ryu! staff also tweeted a picture of a massive display case filled with Yu-Gi-Oh! merchandise at Takahashi’s workplace. Wow! How many of those Yu-Gi-Oh! goods can you pick out?
Jump Ryu! is a magazine and DVD series that profiles Jump manga creators, offering a special in-depth look at their lives and works. Kazuki Takahashi will appear in the series’ eighth volume, which hits Japanese newsstands on April 21.
Tags: interview, manga
Somewhere in the suburbs of Maiami City, a gargantuan Solid Vision bird cage takes form in an empty field. In the center of the cage rests a colossal tree-like tower, its body distressingly gnarled and full of knots. All around the tower float several small wooden islands. This is Shun Kurosaki’s Sky Tree Bird Cage Action Field. Yuya recognizes this to be the setting of a midair duel and is pumped to take on Kurosaki.
Yuzu looks up and sees Syu Zo hanging high off the ground, the back of his coat caught on a branch extending out of the tower. She rushes inside and discovers a spiral staircase lining the tower’s inner walls. She begins the exhausting climb up to reach her dad. Outside the tower, Yuya and Kurosaki begin their duel.
Yuya is already at a disadvantage. There are Action Cards floating in the sky, but after Kurosaki’s Raidraptor – Napalm Dragonius cooks Yuya’s precious little Poppo, Yuya’s deck is left without any flying monsters.
Yuto knows that Kurosaki watched Yuya’s previous duel and is waiting for Odd-Eyes Phantom Dragon. He warns Yuya to be cautious of Kurosaki’s game. Yuya won’t have any of it though.
“Giving people what they want is a Duel-tainer’s job!!” Yuya exclaims.
Yuya Pendulum Summons Odd-Eyes and is prepared to destroy Raidraptor – Napalm Dragonius, but Kurosaki saves his monster with a Trap Card. Odd-Eyes’ special ability still gets the better of Kurosaki though, bleeding his life points to a mere 100. Yuya and Yuto watch in horror as Kurosaki cries out in agony and excitingly eats it all up.
“This pain… This pain is what gets me serious!”
Whoa. Shun. This guy is hardcore. And his Action Field is awesome. The twisted and complex tree tower is almost like a reflection of his frightening personality. Hopefully Yuya will crush him quickly and more details about how Shun came to be this way will then be revealed.
It took five chapters to get to it, but the manga finally explains the Pendulum Summoning mechanic to the reader and to the characters. Considering how powerful and exceptional it is to be able to perform such a move in their world, it’s a little surprising that the characters don’t react more enthusiastically about what they are witnessing.
Yuya Sakaki! You playboy, you…
Haha, is that a very regrettably placed sound effect or what?
Yuzu is none too happy that Yuya is chilling with some voluptuous monsters. Maybe she’s even jealous of the attention that he’s paying them. Even though she has only just met him, could she have already developed a crush on him?
Interview with Kazuki Takahashi
In addition to including the latest chapter of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, this week’s issue of Weekly Shonen Jump also has a special two-page interview with Kazuki Takahashi! The creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! takes on questions from the WSJ crew about his artistic influences, interest in Egypt, and favorite games. Takahashi also answers three questions that fans on Twitter originally submitted to WSJ back when he attended San Diego Comic Con in July.
* * *
– Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 4: “The Hungry Assassin!”
– Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 6: “Feeling Alive!!”
Tags: interview, manga
Out on newsstands in Japan today, the first 2016 issue of Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine announced that Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi will be highlighted in an upcoming volume of Jump Ryu!, a new series from Shueisha that shines the spotlight on the lives of the creators of WSJ manga.
Each volume of Jump Ryu! will include a magazine and DVD that tell the behind-the-scenes stories of one creator’s debut and offer interviews, art tutorials, and original illustrations. Also included is tracing paper that will help readers reproduce the creator’s most famous scenes.
Takahashi will appear in the series’ April 21, 2016 volume. Jump Ryu! will feature 25 legends of manga, including Akira Toriyama (the creator of Dragon Ball), Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto), Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), and Tite Kubo (Bleach). The first volume will be released on January 7, 2016. New volumes will be published every first and third Thursday of each month.
News about the production of Jump Ryu! was first announced last month in Shueisha’s 49th 2015 issue of WSJ. There is no word yet on whether or not the series will see an English-language release.
Check out Shueisha’s official Jump Ryu! website (in Japanese) at jumpryu.com.