|SEGA (Sonic Team / Wavemaster)||Game Developer||1995 -||Composer|
Fumie Kumatani is a long-term composer at Sega known for her supporting roles on the Sonic and Phantasy Star series. Born on December 13, 1972 in Tottori, Kumatani started playing the piano from the age of just three, after begging her mother to give her lessons. Having developed a love for music, she started to compose while growing up and pursued music further at junior college. After graduating, she joined Sega in 1995. Soon enough, she reflected her individuality by offering immersive fusions of electronic and acoustic forces with several tracks on NiGHTS into Dreams. She subsequently contributed to Neon Genesis Evangelion Digital Card Library, Burning Rangers, and Let’s Make a Pro Baseball Team.
In 1999, Kumatani had a major role on the soundtrack for the Dreamcast’s Sonic Adventure. She matched the stylish image of the game with a number of upbeat techno and jazz stage themes, while also contributing some intimate event cues and world music experiments. She was also involved in two of the title’s vocal themes, composing Amy’s “My Sweet Passion” in a girly J-Pop style and writing lyrics for Big’s “Lazy Days”. She offered fewer compositions on Sonic Adventure 2, but focused on creating a more powerful sound. In particular, she enhanced the atmosphere of the Dark Side with a range of deep electronic fusions. She also returned as a vocal composer on Rouge’s “Fly in the Freedom” and Tails’ “Believe in Myself”, capturing the personality of the characters while offering some artistic innovations.
Between her roles on the Sonic Adventure titles, Fumie Kumatani also took a major role on 2000’s Phantasy Star Online alongside Hideaki Kobayashi. She created an eerie backdrop to some of the game’s settings with immersive minimalistic music and ambient sound effects, while enhancing emotions at the end of the game by producing the semi-operatic “Can Still See the Light” with vocalist Loren. Following this critical success, Kumatani returned on the four episodic adaptations of the game for other platforms, offering major contrasts in mood between the instalments and increasingly ambitious fusions. She later served as a composer and sound designer of Phantasy Star Universe and its expansion, offering a spectacular diverse range of background music on the title and a jazz-based vocal theme “For Brighter Day”.
Between her roles on Phantasy Star’s online outings, Kumatani was involved in a wide range of other productions. On the ninja action games Shinobi and Nightshade, the composer blended traditional Japanese instruments with electronic beats and other contemporary elements. The resultant scores brought a new level of realism and drama to the reimagined series. In other roles, she captured the feeling of racing in to Sonic Riders, placing an even greater focus on pulsating beats and imaginative soundscapes. At the request of their sound directors, she has also made a range of guest contributions on Astro Boy, Sonic Advance 3, NiGHTS: Journey into Dreams,and Sonic and the Black Knight.
In recent years, Kumatani has focused on creating the music of Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic Unleashed. On both projects, she retained the modern image of Sonic with cutting-edge techno stylings, while portraying his globe-trotting experiences with world music experiments. More recently, she offered curious twists on her characteristic fusion styles on Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, contributed to the score for Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, and conceived the ending theme for Phantasy Star Zero, “Important Thing”. Fumatani’s latest credit is Sonic Colors, where she co-wrote the dazzling orchestral main theme and a range of cutscene music. She also showed her flair for writing theme songs once more on the original album Girls Make the World Go Round. Having been absent from the latest Sonic and Phantasy Star scores, it iss unknown whether Fumie Kumatani remains at SEGA.
© Biography by Chris Greening (September 2010). Last updated on December 30, 2012. Do not republish without formal permission.
Various Game & Album Credits
Official Profile (Japanese, Archived)
Interview with RocketBaby (English, July 2001, Archived)