While looking to Netflix’s new live-action adaptation of Shinichiro watanabe‘s Cowboy Bebop, fans will notice that a lot is different, but what is definitely the same is the soundtrack from none other than Yoko Kanno. While his most famous work among English-speaking anime fans is undoubtedly the funky and dynamic sounds of Be-bop, Yoko Kanno’s music has defined decades of performances. It’s no surprise that she manages to create so much – she has spent her entire life around music, composing her own music and winning competitions in her second year. But with so much under her belt, there’s probably a show or two she’s had a role in that you haven’t seen yet, so let’s break down some of the best among her mountains of material.
It might surprise some that Kanno actually wants to be not a composer but a novelist as he grows up; Although her career trajectory clearly did not end as she had planned, her dreams definitely influenced her style. An easy-to-see spot that is in the soundtrack of the anime that cemented its place in the industry, the directorial debut of Shinichiro Watanabe Macross More. In the Macross franchise, originally created by the director Shoji Kawamori, music plays an important role not only in the tone of the show, but even in the story, with each entry revolving around pop stars who changed the world amid the great wars. In Macross More, the character of Sharon Apple literally mesmerizes people with her music, and to get it right, Kanno has put all her efforts into creating a hard-hitting electro that convinces us of Sharon’s abilities, channeling her dreams of creating stories to use music. music to bring your character to life. The rest of the music was thought of in the same way; Kanno’s music is like the kind of sounds people from Macross‘would tune in to the future, making his alien world feel alive in a way he wouldn’t be without his touch.
This desire to create music that brings characters and the world to life is also the driving force behind her work on Shoji Kawamori’s future mecha. Aquarius franchise. In Aquarius, people save the world by co-piloting robots in pairs, connecting with each other through the power of love and understanding rather than brute force. The conflict the characters face is a recurring conflict that repeats itself every 10,000 years, with the chosen saviors of the world being unique from their predecessors, but the cyclical nature of the conflict represents humanity’s eternal ability to overcome in coming together. Kanno’s music here achieves that theme by using timeless strings for the soundtrack along with some incredibly catchy pop songs to tie it all together. The original show’s first opening theme song, “Genesis of Aquarion,” in particular, is so triumphant and universal that it never fails to satisfy when the show has to truly sell an emotional moment.
Along with Shoji Kawamori, she also composed the soundtrack for one of the very first of the now dominant isekai genre, Visions of Escaflowne, with her then husband Hajime mizoguchi and the then teenager who would become one of Kanno’s most famous collaborators, Maya sakamoto. Music in Escaflowne is perhaps Kanno in his most awe-inspiring form, creating pieces that seem quick and epic to capture the series’ gigantic fantasy world. This would pay off particularly well for Sakamoto, who has since become a successful singer with several studio albums and more to come, with much of her music being composed by none other than Yoko Kanno herself.
Getting into the character world isn’t just figurative when it comes to Kanno. Searching for the authentic feeling of jazz and blues that would eventually become soundtracks like those of Cowboy Bebop Where Children on the track, she took a trip across America, sleeping on buses between stops. It certainly paid off; Cowboy Bebop is so iconic in large part because of how Kanno’s soundtrack nails the kind of retro-futurism the series makes at the heart of its identity, bringing emotional brass to its cathartic scenes and horns to direct its many pieces. action. During this time, Children on the track uses the same kind of melodies in their more natural habitat, following jazz loving kids in the 1940s through the most tumultuous part of their lives with dynamic beats and spicy riffs.
The same applies to Kenji kamiyamathe television series of Ghost in the Shell: Self-contained complex, Kanno found inspiration in the very essence of the series. The question of what defines a human being is central to Ghost in the shell and its main character Motoko Kusanagi. Inspired by Kusanagi’s struggle – and the cute patrolling robots “Tachikoma” in the show – Kanno’s music explores this theme by mixing techno with natural sounds to convey the question of what “human being” means. Later, Kanno will travel to Iceland to record the cold and alienating post-rock music that makes up the identity of Watanabe’s edgy thriller. Terror in resonance. It’s an intense, haunting soundtrack in a way Kanno rarely chooses to be, and it proves that she hasn’t lost her willingness to explore new places and avenues to find the perfect sound for one. project.
Sadly, Kanno hasn’t composed for an anime since. Terror in resonance, but that doesn’t mean she stopped working. You can explore more of his work in movies like 2015 our little sister, an emotional film with sparse dialogue, motivated in large part by Kanno’s radical score. She went on to act as a producer for prolific singer Maaya Sakamoto, composing music for her throughout her discography. She even became a part of the story herself, directing the song “Ray of Water” for the enthronement of the current Japanese Emperor Naruhito, ushering in the Reiwa era. And, of course, there are still plenty of other shows and video games she’s worked on over the decades to explore, each with their own unique charm evidenced by Kanno’s incredible ability to create entire worlds to from music alone.
The adaptation, starring John Cho, premieres in November.
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