Brave Wave: Bridging the Gap Between Japan’s Video Game Music Composers and the World

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Music has always been an integral part of video games. Without music, the games we have played and loved would not have been nearly as great or memorable. Music is what makes an action scene more tense, a sad scene more heart breaking, and a horror scene more terrifying.

Some famous video game music composers now even have their own fan bases. Just look at names like Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, Miki Higashino, and Yoko Shimomura. Fans clamor to hear more from these composers, be it in the form of video game soundtracks, original works, or even remixes.

One fan, however, had a bigger desire than just more video game soundtracks from his favorite composers.

Alexander Aniel, CEO and the business-half of Brave Wave, is an American-Filipino who has been living in Japan for several years. At our interview, conducted during Aniel’s trip to Jakarta to speak with game industry professionals there, he said that he had first met his Kuwaiti partner and creative-half Mohammad Taher online.

At that time, Taher, a video game music enthusiast, was working alone on an endeavor called Koopa Soundworks. He contacted Aniel, who worked in the localization division of a Japanese game company, to ask for his help in translating emails in Japanese. The translations increased to a point where Aniel thought that his service could become a great business with huge potential.

Aniel then asked Taher if he wanted to take these works to a more professional level. Taher agreed, their creative efforts giving birth to a video game music label based in Japan called Brave Wave Productions.

Brave Wave works to facilitate the relationship between Japanese composers and game developers from outside Japan. According to Aniel, there are a lot of non-Japanese developers who are interested in working with Japanese composers, but who often find the language barrier an immovable obstacle.

To date, Brave Wave’s most notable contribution to bridging this gap is when they helped composer Manami Matsumae to contribute music to a Kickstarter game called Heart Forth, Alicia. Hopefully we can see more of such collaborations in the future, with Brave Wave actively leading the way.

In every album released by Brave Wave, Taher works as the creative director, while Aniel helps with the marketing, business, and other things. Brave Wave always use a certain theme for every album. Their first album, World 1–2, has a remix theme, and includes remixed tracks from famous video games. The remixes also come in various genres, from chiptunes, piano rearrangement, and even post-rock.

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Their latest album, In Flux, has quite an ambitious theme. In line with their “east meets west” effort, Aniel and Taher have put together a compilation of tracks from Chipzel of Super Hexagon, Eirik Suhrke of Ridiculous Fishing and Spelunky, Jim Guthrie, of Indie Game: The Movie soundtrack fame, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery. Representing the east are composers Manami Matsumae of the original Megaman soundtrack and its spiritual successor Mighty No.9, Keiji Yamagashi, who worked on the music of Ninja Gaiden, and the legendary Akira Yamaoka, who worked on Silent Hill.

Brave Wave also has a story-driven album in the works. Code name “Project Light”, this album is about a star system that is in danger, and a humanoid robot that is tasked to find the solution to this problem. Considering how involved the humanoid robot is with the album, it’s not surprising to that the composers working on Project Light are also the ones that have previously worked on several games from the Megaman series. Brave Wave has also confirmed that Project Light will involve the music composer behind the games Legend of Mana and Kingdom Hearts, Yoko Shimomura.

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Concept art for Project Light

Aniel already has a lot of plans to introduce Brave Wave to more people, while trying to make video game music more popular than ever at the same time. Aniel intends to make Brave Wave’s albums available digitally, and to also set up a series of tours to live houses all over Japan. A lot of Japanese music culture is affected by live houses, and Aniel plans to bank on this.

What Brave Wave has been doing to liven up video game music is amazing, and we’re certainly looking forward to see more from them. You can get in touch with Brave Wave via its official store.

Originally published at on May 19, 2014.

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