Yasuaki Fujita’s career as a composer started with a baby… and man in a blue helmet. As an in-house composer for Capcom, Bun Bun spent most of his career crafting sound effects for numerous titles and overseeing various sound production teams as production manager. His legacy, however, lies in the composition of one single theme. Let’s explore the career of Yasuaki Fujita, another composer who should be on your radar. Let’s see why!
Yasuaki Fujita (Aliases: Bun Bun, First Circle)
Born: strangely unknown (I searched across the internet and couldn’t find it- his Blood Type is O, though, in case you were wondering)
Main Instrument(s): piano
Years Active: 1989-present
Official Website: http://www.hcn.zaq.ne.jp/first_circle/
As hinted, Bun Bun did not start as a game composer. He was hired as a sound effects coordinator by Capcom in 1989. His first project was to be Rockman/Mega Man 3, assisting his wife (composer Harumi Fujita) on the sound team.
Having just completed the soundtrack for Gargoyle’s Quest, Harumi Fujita was a rising star at Capcom. Her works included sound effects/music for Ghosts ‘n Goblins (1985), Strider (1989), and Chip’n Dale: Rescue Rangers (1990). Capcom had enough confidence in her compositions to select her to compose music for the Rockman/Mega Man series, Capcom’s flagship franchise.
As luck would have it (and this is how real life gets in the way sometimes), Harumi Fujita began composing Mega Man 3 while pregnant. You might say she had a “Bun Bun in the oven”. (Yeah, a bad joke, so what?) She managed to get through 2 full tracks and half of one track before having her child and taking maternity leave. She entrusted the rest of the music for Mega Man 3 to her husband, Yasuaki. So as I said, Bun Bun’s career as a composer starts with a baby and a man in a blue helmet.
Harumi Fujita had completed the following Mega Man 3 tracks before leaving:
She had also completed about half of the Staff Roll track from the game. Bun Bun would complete the Staff Roll and provide the rest of the tracks for the game. What Bun Bun creates is one of the most memorable Mega Man soundtracks. Here’s some of my favorites from Mega Man 3, composed by Bun Bun:
As for style using the 2a03, Bun Bun does not utilize the DPCM at all. There’s no sampled sounds here. He utilizes a lot of different duty cycle modulation to create different timbres across the music. Bun Bun also likes his triangle bass to be in the higher octaves, in many cases an octave above the pulse waves. He uses very staccato white noise to create his drum lines.
In my opinion (and the opinion of many others), Bun Bun’s most memorable track from Mega Man 3 and his short career is “Theme of Blues” or as we know it here “Theme of Proto Man” (An aside, in the Japanese version, Proto Man is known as Blues). Take a listen:
This simple whistle melody is what puts Bun Bun on the map. This track comes during a time where there was very little interaction between sound teams and main programmers. Games were being churned out by companies and many composers didn’t even have a chance to see the finished product before composing. In some instances, composers NEVER saw the ANY of the production and just provided the music (see: Follin, Tim). At Capcom and with the Mega Man series, the game concept was treated as art and was under strict supervision from Mega Man creator, Keiji Inafune. The vision of the actual game had to match at all levels.
So naturally, this theme defines Mega Man 3 as a game and takes into account the events of the ending very well. To see this music in actual context, see here. It’s definitely worth checking out. (For the complete Mega Man 3 OST, please check the playlist here.)
After this milestone, Bun Bun stayed on at Capcom. He was put in charge of sound production for Mega Man 4 (he is credited as the composer for this game but he did not compose a single track for the game). He continued to compose soundtracks for a couple Capcom games, including The Little Mermaid, Darkwing Duck, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Here’s some tracks from those games:
As you can see, a lot of this sounds very… Mega Man 3. I find all of it to be underwhelming, especially since a lot of this music is concurrent with Tim Follin, Uematsu, Ito, Iwadare, Masa, and other big names. Darkwing Duck marks his last solo NES project in 1992.
He, as a part of Alph Lyra (Capcom’s own in-house band made up of game composers), goes on to compose music for Breath of Fire. Breath of Fire was created by Capcom. It is NOT a Squaresoft game. Squaresoft helped published the game in the US.
It is not certain how much of this music he actually composed as Alpha Lyra did have Yoko Shimomura on staff as well as Bun Bun’s wife and 4 other able bodied composers. Bun Bun is listed as the lead composer for the project, though. Here’s some music from the game:
I’m reasonably sure the first track has Bun Bun’s fingerprints on it. I mean, listen to that bass. It’s such a Mega Man 3 bassline. As for the rest of the game, I’ll always remember this game for not being as good as Final Fantasy IV in terms of plot and format. And even though there’s some really good tracks in the game, I’ve always been underwhelmed by the music.
Bun Bun’s last official soundtrack was Final Fight 2 under the alias “First Circle”. Here’s one (underwhelming) track:
After Final Fight 2, “First Circle” returned to sound programming and enjoyed a long career helping port video game sounds over to other systems (mobile, PSP, others).
After sitting out from composition for more than 15 years, he was called in 2010 for a project.
Yasuaki Fujita was invited back to compose some tracks for the retro-downloadable game, Megaman 10. The above is a stage theme written by him and it’s classic Bun Bun in his element. He was also given the honor of composing the boss theme for the game:
This is where Bun Bun belongs, writing music for 8bit consoles. Unfortunately, this era is over. It’s nice to hear that he still has the ability to make some awesome tracks, though.
So what’s Fujita’s legacy? He’s clearly overshadowed by the bigger names in composition. Perhaps it makes sense to label his career as a composer a “one-hit wonder”, as really nothing he’s done since Mega Man 3 has been truly “great”. Maybe the fact he was starting a family and his life was changing so much in 1990 really inspired the music he wrote. Proto Man’s theme is an example of an emotional, elegant, and exquisite 2a03 track. Could he have been thinking of his wife and newborn? Maybe… perhaps someone will have to ask him that in an interview.
At any rate, I hope you enjoyed this small write up on Yasuaki “Bun Bun/First Circle” Fujita. Got a favorite track, memory, or a correction to report? Leave a comment. : )
Thanks for reading!