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Kinuyo Yamashita (山下 絹代, Yamashita Kinuyo) is a Japanese video game music composer and sound producer. Her best known soundtrack is Konami's Castlevania, which was also her debut work. She was credited under the pseudonym James Banana for her work on the Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game. This pseudonym was a pun of the name James Bernard, the film composer of the 1958 film Dracula.
Yamashita entered the video game industry in 1986 joining Konami’s sound team and was tasked to create most of the soundtrack to the original Castlevania as her first job. While she did not compose “Vampire Killer”, the series’ most enduring theme, she did come up with several of the more memorable pieces of that game, including “Wicked Child” and “Heart of Fire”. She continued to work at Konami for another two years, contributing to Japan-only releases like Parodius, King Kong 2, Esper Dream and Arumana no Kiseki, among others. She left Konami in 1988 to become freelance, although most of her commissions were with Natsume, who hired her to compose titles such as Power Blade (Power Blazer in Japan) and its sequel, Pocky & Rocky 2, Natsume Championship Wrestling, and several Medarot (Medabots) titles. She also got a couple opportunities to work with Capcom on Mega Man X3 and Mega Man: The Wily Wars. More recently, she appeared in several Video Games Live! concerts performing songs from Castlevania, and worked on Konami’s Wii game Walk it Out, adding a Castlevania remix to its track list.
Castlevania was composed by two women, actually: Yamashita and Satoe Terashima. The quoted interview I shared earlier breaks down who did what: Terashima handled "Vampire Killer", "Stalker", “Out of Time” and “Voyager”, and Yamashita did the rest.I didn't know she did Heart of Fire - that's my favorite tune from the first Castlevania. What I found online didn't credit her so I didn't have it as one of my nominations.
Brent: At Konami, you were given the alias "James Banana." Do you know why Konami picked that name for you?
Kinuyo Yamashita: No, I don't know why they chose the name James Banana.