Koichi Sugiyama, the composer behind the memorable and life-changing music of Dragon Quest, has died.
News of Sugiyama’s death was posted on the official game website, where it states that the Dragon Quest composer died on September 30th from septic shock. His funeral and farewell ceremony was held, with only close friends and family members in attendance.
Sugiyama’s music for Dragon Quest was nothing short of masterful. He composed over 500 different musical pieces for the game series since 1986. Roto’s Theme, a song dedicated to a popular character within the series, was even played during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In spite of his renown, Sugiyama was a controversial figure due to his views of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as his denial of certain war-time atrocities that occurred in Japan during World War 2. For example, in 2007 he wrote a letter directly “opposing United States House of Representatives House Resolution 121 in 2007.” This resolution was the US asking the Japanese government to women who became “sexual slaves” during the war.
In 2018 a 2015 interview with Liberal Democratic Party member Mio Sugita showed her and Sugiyama making careless and homophobic assumptions about LGBTQ+ people within Japan reappeared online. In the interview, Sugiyama is seen to be laughing and dismissing the case of LGBTQ+ suicide and education.
After the Anime News Network asked Square Enix for their comments about this incident, the publisher replied “the views of an individual do not reflect the views nor efforts of the company. SQUARE ENIX employs a global multicultural staff of various beliefs, sexual orientations and gender identities. As a matter of policy we do not condone discrimination or harassment of any kind and we respect the diversity of sexuality and gender identity of everyone around the world.”
Sugiyama later clarified his stance in 2019 by saying that “LGBT couples have existed throughout human history and he supports the use of governments to occasionally help them”.
The Square Enix statement asked that fans of Sugiyama and his work withhold from sending any gifts or signs of condolences and instead wait until the planned ‘farewell party’ at a later date.