INU-OH Composer Otomo Yoshihide on Using Classical Instruments for Modern Music


INTERVIEW: INU-OH Composer Otomo Yoshihide on Using Classical Instruments for Modern Music

INU-OH, the new surreal and musically inspired animated film from Masaaki Yuasa, mixes a historical setting with sometimes modern music. After speaking with singer and lead voiceover actor Avu-chan, United States was able to speak with the film’s composer, Otomo Yoshihide. Yoshihide talked about using classical instruments, working with Yuasa, and what he would like Western fans to know about him.


Otaku USA: How did you blend old and modern music styles to INU-OH?

Otomo Yoshihide: For this project, I used classical instruments, but I think I mainly created contemporary music. I was originally going to include a little more classic stuff, but the director had a classic rock opera in mind, so eventually I went in that direction.

You have participated in various projects. For film titles in particular, how do you approach the musical writing for each project you work on?

It’s about listening carefully to what the director wants to do.

What was it like working with director Masaaki Yuasa?

Director Masaaki Yuasa and I are pretty shy people, so at first we felt like we couldn’t get a good consensus on things, like we didn’t have a common language. At first, I also didn’t understand why there was break dancing incorporated into more classical ballet-type dances given the time period of the film. It wasn’t until I realized that it wasn’t necessarily about recreating something from that classic period, but rather bringing the larger story to life in the director’s head, that I think the things finally fell into place for me.

INU-OH is a tribute to the power of music and the arts. How has music helped you in your life?

I think the power of art is a very modern idea. What seems important to me is to express that combining words, stories, songs and dances, before being linked by words like “art” or “music”, always appears to people like a mass of noise. I think the director wanted to express the dynamic range of these things, and how that mass of noise is always something those in power will hate… And I think what I do can be like that too.

Is there anything else you would like Western fans to know about you?

I hope fans can forget all the stereotypes about what Japanese classics “should be” and watch instead. INU-OH like a modern story. I think it will allow us to see the era of INU-OH in a new light. And I hope you’ll forget that I made the music when you watch the movie, and enjoy the movie itself instead.

Photo credit: Peter Gannuchkine

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Danica Davidson is the bestselling author manga art for beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus her suite, Manga art for everyoneand the first manga chalk book of its kind Manga Art Chalk, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out his other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.

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