Category Archives: Music

Theme Songs Of Tokusatsu And Anime Shows

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‘Thunderbirds Complete Visual Guidebook’ published in 1980 that I have

When looking back at the theme songs of tokusatsu and anime TV shows I enjoyed as a kid, I realize extra consideration seems to have been given to making the songs easier for children to sing with child-friendly melodies and lyrics including the choice of words.

When looking at today’s tokusatsu and anime shows, however, it comes as a surprise for me to find their songs completely unrelated to the contents of the shows even with no hero’s name sung in the songs.

 

The melodies sound sort of ostentatious for me featuring loud rock music while I’m not saying rock music is bad (as I love it) but that makes me wonder if they are liked by children.

While this seems to be a means to try to sell the theme songs even apart from the shows, I feel like I miss the old style of theme songs I was familiar with as a child.

When I was a kid, theme songs were an inseparable and integral part of the shows in which they were sung at the beginning of each episode and, depending on the show, at the end as well.

 

Funnily enough, the SFX and animation shows imported from abroad back then had their Japanese theme songs somehow.

It was not until my adulthood that I learnt, for example, the UK SFX TV series Thunderbirds doesn’t originally have its theme song while its Japanese theme song was sung at the beginning of each episode and it is widely known as the Thunderbirds theme song among Japanese even now.

The Japanese people involved in producing the Japanese version of the show dared to mix the Japanese vocals with Barry Gray’s original instrumental music of the Thunderbirds theme.

I love the audaciousness the people exhibited at that time.


Kunio Miyauchi’s Music

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Ultra Q (Episode 13, ‘Garadama’)

As to The Return of Ultraman, while I love the theme song composed by Koichi Sugiyama and background music by Toru Fuyuki, it was a bit shame for me that quite a few Ultraseven music pieces were found to be used in the show.

As long as music could affect the whole impression of the universe of a story, I would rather they had applied more of original music to The Return of Ultraman instead of using the music from Ultraseven.

While The Return of Ultraman also had a lot of fascinating music on the whole, I find it a little regrettable.

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Ultraman

Besides the Ultraseven music, I love the Ultraman music composed by Kunio Miyauchi as well.

Whereas Fuyuki’s Ulraseven music has an orchestral classical style, Miyauchi’s Ultraman music sounds like jazz played by a combo band.

I believe that helped to make the universe of each product more distinctive as the two products were initially not connected in terms of the universes of the stories.

I like the straightforwardness of the Ultraman music with an optimistically carefree feel including the theme song with a buoyant rhythm although I don’t know how many times we sang the song along with the show or to ourselves as a kid.

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Kaiju Booska

Miyauchi created music of Ultra Q and Kaiju Booska as well, these works don’t make me feel odd as Ultra Q and Ultraman had the same or connected settings of the universe.

With much of the Ultra Q music used in Booska, it is strange that the music is found quite assimilated into the Booska universe without a feeling of oddness somehow…

Incidentally, the first melody phrase heard to be sung at the beginning of the theme song of The Return of Ultraman was a tribute to the equivalent of the Ultraman theme song.


Uncompromising Attitude To Dreams For Children

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Hajime Tsuburaya (center) presumably at the Tokyo Art Center (Bisen)

To give children dreams was Eiji Tsuburaya’s concept in creating the Ultra Series.

It is noteworthy that his first son, Hajime Tsuburaya, requested Toru Fuyuki to compose the theme song for Ultraseven that would let children to learn the attraction of harmony.

This story impressed me so much when I heard about it as an adult as I found how much they had thought of us kids back then.

I think their attitudes to try to give children the best of everything deserve admiration, and I feel extremely happy that I grew up in the days people involved in producing the Ultra Series tried to deal with us kids seriously apart from mere merchandising.

 

That makes me remember the moment I heard Tohl Narita said to his wife when the Tsuburaya Productions asked him to join the crew members that designing kaijus for children was going to be the toughest job because it’s for children.

These things tell us they never did their job halfheartedly even if the series were mainly for children.

My perception was that it was not until the emergence of the anime ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ in 1974 that elaborate music had been applied to tokusatsu (SFX) or anime TV shows.

When I watch Ultraseven again, however, it makes me aware that the show has already featured a great amount of music I find extremely attractive even now.

The Ultraseven music makes us realize what an important role music could play in affecting the impression of the show in itself.


Impressive Music Played In The Final Episode Of Ultraseven

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It’s also unforgettable for me that the Ultraseven music composed by Toru Fuyuki greatly helped to make the final episode of the show extremely dramatic.

I especially love the music played for the scenes in which Anne came to look for Dan who hid himself and asked him nicely why he ran away as if tying to share his suffering.

And the music which can be heard in the scenes of Dan changing into Ultraseven to save Amagi captured by Alien Ghose  after revealing himself to be Ultraseven to Anne shaking her hands off while she tried to stop him was another great piece.

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It is well known that Robert Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, Opus 54 was impressively used in the final episode of Ultraseven (I bought the record as one of the Ultraseven music when I was a high school student).

If my memory serves me right, Kazuho Mitsuta who directed the two-parted ending episode said somewhere that he was initially going to use Rakhmaninov Piano Concerto.

As he found the music was totally different from the one he anticipated and that he remembered the music wrongly when he listened to the record Fuyuki brought to him, Mitsuta picked the Schumann Piano Concerto among the records brought by Fuyuki.

The Schumann Piano Concerto was used for the scenes in which Dan revealed himself as Ultraseven to Anne and the final battle scenes between Ultraseven and Pandon including the scenes of the Magmarizer set to be fully loaded with explosives storming into Alien Ghose’s underground base.

It truly matched the fight scenes and the ones of Ultraseven flying up to the sky in the end to leave Earth after fighting through his final battle.

While I think Fuyuki’s music was not to be outdone by the Schumann Piano Concerto in the episode, at any rate, these pieces of music made the final episode of Ultraseven absolutely dramatic and impressive to the extent that it goes down in history.

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Unforgettable Theme Song Of Ultraseven

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It is said that the beginning chorus of the Ultraseven theme song was applied by Toru Fuyuki at Hajime Tsuburaya’s request to create a song to let children learn the attractiveness of harmony.

While the lyrics were written by Hajime Tsuburaya under the pseudonym of Kyoichi Azuma, he did the same for Ultraman as well, Fuyuki says he had a hard time to compose the theme song as the lyrics were rather short and applied the chorus repeating the phrases ‘Seven, Seven, Seven…’ to prolong the song.

The adopted theme song also has two versions distinctively, the one with the introduction featuring the timpani at the very beginning and the one without it while the former can be heard at the beginning of each episode; the latter on the records.

 

Fuyuki says he managed to apply to Ultraseven the background music featuring the same theme as the theme song since he got to compose all the music of the show.

It is certain that none of the background music composed by Fuyuki and used in The Return of Ultraman had the same theme as its theme song composed by Koichi Sugiyama.

At any rate, while I absolutely love these pieces of music created by Toru Fuyuki and featured in Ultraseven, I vividly remember we rushed to the TV sets when we started hearing the theme song of Ultraman and Ultraseven played on TV almost reflexively.

Especially, I can’t forget the excitement I felt while watching the opening credits of Ultraseven even now, and I still get excited with it!

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Two Versions Of The Ultraseven Theme Song

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Episode 4

It is well known that Ultraseven has two versions of its theme song composed by Toru Fuyuki.

He says he was asked by Hajime Tsuburaya, director, Eiji Tsuburaya’s first son, to compose three different songs for the theme song so that they could finally choose one out of them  through discussion with the TBS people.

Fuyuki says the English song ‘ULTRASEVEN’ (in which the phrases ‘one, two, three, four…’ were sung) was one of the songs he submitted while it was not supposed to be picked as the theme song.

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Episode 7

And he composed the other two as well: (Part 1) the theme song that can be heard at the beginning of each episode; (Part 2) the uptempo song with the same lyrics.

I’ve heard that they chose the version Part 1 by letting children listen to the two ahead of the broadcast to see which one would be liked among them.

The version Part 2 can be heard in the show as a piece of background music as Kazuho Mitsuta, director, liked it and used the instrumental version of the rejected theme song.

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Episode 36

That is the music with the horn featured which is played in the scenes of Ultraseven fighting with the giant form of Alien Goddra in Episode 4 after he chased the alien disguised as Dan and changed into his giant version.

While the instrumental version of the theme song Part 2 was also used in Episode 7 featuring Alien Quraso, the midair docking scenes of Ultra Hawk 1, and Episode 36, battle scenes with Alien Pega, I find the music with a buoyant rhythm extremely great.

As I do love it, it’s truly a shame that it was not used so much in the show.


Music Of Ultraseven By Toru Fuyuki 2

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The Return of Ultraman

At any rate, I have a personal impression that sounds were cherished in the Fanatasy SFX Series (Ultra Q, Ultraman and Ultraseven) on the whole including music and sound effects, at least they were so impressive to me.

Toru Fuyuki was also involved in creating music for The Return of Ultraman except its theme song (it was composed by Koichi Sugiyama and sung by Jiro Dan, actor for Hideki Go) I love this song as well) afterwards.

And the music used in the show and known as ‘wandaba’ in Japan was also composed by Fuyuki and gained popularity.

I feel like I read somewhere he wrote the ‘wandaba’ at the request to make something like ‘ULTRASEVEN’ including the phrases ‘one, two, three, four…’

 

As to the music for Ultraseven, Fuyuki says in a book interview that, as he had to do the job within limited time and budget, he thought they should spend the budget for two seasons at one time rather than creating impoverished music with the budget for one season.

He recollects he was writing the scores in the room next to the studio on the first recording day so that they could record as many pieces of music as possible while composing additional music other than originally planned even with a score copyist standing by there for the orchestral parts.

While I’m going to talk more about Fuyuki’s Ultraseven music in the next post, as one of my readers, RT, kindly bothered to create the CD list of the Ultraseven music, I hope it will help those who are interested!


Music Of Ultraseven By Toru Fuyuki 1

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Ultraseven, Episode 8

One of my readers kindly shared with us the English song of Ultraseven uploaded on YouTube which was used as a piece of background music in the series.

While I’m not sure if the English lyrics make sense or sound idiomatic to native speakers of the language, I’ve found the song sounds very much nice since my childhood.

As a child, of course I didn’t understand English at all then, every time I heard the song played in the show, that made me so excited even without knowing what was being sung.

 

Whereas I do like the music used in Ultra Q and Ultraman, I find the one used in Ultraseven truly fascinating and definitely love it.

The music of the former two was composed by Kunio Miyauchi (1932-2006), and the latter by Toru Fuyuki (1935-).

While I like the rhythmical music created by Miyauchi, I feel like the classical style of music like Baroque music reminiscent of Mozart composed by Fuyuki is so magnificent and truly fit in well with the universe of Ultraseven.

 

Akio Jissoji is a director who is also known for his broad knowledge of art including music, and Fuyuki’s music was impressively used in the episodes directed by him such as Episode 8 ‘The Targeted Town’ and Episode 45 ‘The Boy Who Cried Flying Saucer’ (‘Flying Saucers Are Here’ in the Japanese subtitle. The title apparently from The Boy Who Cried Wolf makes me feel somewhat odd).

I really love the lyrical pieces of music used in these episodes.

Funnily enough, in Episode 45, it was depicted that the annoying noises Gen-san made while he was hammering on the scrap metal crackled even the beautiful background music.

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Ultraseven, Episode 45