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Koichi Sugiyama – The End of an Era?

The past few years have been musically controversial for the Dragon Quest series. The MIDI music of the original version of Dragon Quest XI, which many players found to be anachronistic, was widely criticized. Offshoots of the series such as Dragon Quest Heroes and Dragon Quest Builders also focus on one thing: nostalgia. You won’t find any new pieces here.

Dragon Quest XI also consists largely of arrangements of older titles. In itself this is not unusual for the series, but the mass is very noticeable here. The number of new pieces with about 30 titles is not noticeably less than in other Dragon Quest games. In relation to the scope of the game, this is a rather small number.

There is a reason for this, of course, and it has been known for years: Koichi Sugiyama, the main composer of the series, is approaching 90. Accordingly, it was foreseeable that a generation change would have to take place at some point.

Music: Yuki Hayashi – no mention of Sugiyama (source: https://dq-dai.com/cast/)

Fresh wind for Dragon Quest?

The revelations of the anime and the three games for Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai suggest that the time has come. The catchy main theme of the series is missing and a new composer is mentioned in all four trailers: Yuki Hayashi.

Yuki Hayashi is no stranger to Japan. With his soundtracks for anime series like Haikyu !!, My Hero Academia and the latest Pokémon series, he has long been one of the big names. His music can also be heard regularly in Japanese TV dramas. With a few minor exceptions, one could hardly hear Hayashi in video games.

How will it go on?

Koichi Sugiyama is in an unusual negotiating position as a composer. He owns the copyright on all of the compositions he made for the Dragon Quest series. This applies to very few of his colleagues. We don’t know the exact terms of the contract and I don’t think we should assume that the iconic title tune will be completely missing from now on.

But it seems that Square Enix wants to finally implement the generation change that has been put off for so long. We can’t wait to see how Yuki Hayashi does as a composer for the announced games and the anime series – and whether he might stay with the Dragon Quest franchise beyond that.

Images: Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai, Square Enix, Toei Animation

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