The music of the live-action Cowboy bebop film is composed by Yoko Kanno
For more than two decades, the famous music composer Yoko kanno he was a force of nature in the anime industry. She gained attention as an anime soundtrack composer in 1994 with the futuristic music of Macross Plus, and it was immediately evident that she was a world-class artist, with a unique and creative vision. From that point on and with a few exceptions, Kanno churned out one or two anime soundtracks a year. During this period of prolific production, she became the go-to composer for the likes of Shoji kawamori e Shinichiro Watanabe, with bouts of work for science fiction legends such as Katsuhiro Otomo e Yoshiyuki Tomino. Filmmakers began to rely on his innate abilities to give nuances to the fictional worlds they were creating. But in 2014, after finishing some of his most interesting works still in progress Terror in resonance, her XNUMX-year career as an anime composer has come to an end. Aside from the strange OP e insert song, Kanno continued his main work outside the sphere of anime.
But it seems that we will once again see a lot of animated films with the soundtracks of the beloved musician, in fact last June Netflix announced that Yoko Kanno will write the soundtrack for the upcoming live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop. And so, while waiting for another jazz adventure across the solar system, let's catch up with what Kanno has been doing since 2014.
the most notable work of 2015 by Yoko kanno is his score for the Japanese Academy Award-winning film Our Little Sister. Based on the manga by Akimi Yoshida Umimachi Diary and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, the film takes place over four seasons and follows the story of three sisters who adopted their half-sister after their father's death.
Music is used sparsely in the film, which relies heavily on dialogue. Kanno's ideas mainly highlight important scenes and transitions, acting in counterpoint to the film's tension. This soundtrack also sees Kanno delving into the sounds of contemporary film soundtracks. While this is a stylistic departure from some of his other works, the results are much more familiar. Each track is a delicate and complicated beauty that bursts with emotion while at the same time maintaining its freshness, mirroring the reserved inner feelings of the four sisters as they face the difficulties of family dynamics. The soundtrack includes songs driven mainly by Kanno's piano piano and the enchanting textures of the Kōichirō Muroya strings section. This small ensemble creates an intimate sound that feels at home with the smaller cast and coastal community of Kamakura, the film's signature backdrop.
2015 also saw members of the Japanese music industry come together to celebrate Yoko kanno e Maaya Sakamotomusic with the release of REQUEST. The tribute album contains covers of Sakamoto's music, almost all songs written by Kanno. While the third cover of Negicco Cardcaptor Sakura OP is really nostalgic, the cover of The Band Apart by Escaflowne's vision OP is particularly impressive. Theirs was the progressive of the 2000s J-rock the style is surprisingly suited to the harmonic and rhythmic complexity of the song and they succeed as custodians of the song that started Kanno and Sakamoto's musical relationship many years ago.
Kanno's love of orchestral music dates back to her early experiences with music as a child. Among the greatest of his orchestral works can be seen in 2017 NHK historical drama Naotora: The Lady Warlord, which tells the story of daimyō Ii Naotora during the Sengoku period in Japan. This soundtrack pairs Kanno with Chinese pianist Lang Lang, a piano prodigy with rock star status in the classical world. The opening theme - as portrayed by NHK Symphony Orchestra and led by director Paavo Järvi - oscillates between fantastic, extravagant and strong, perfectly encapsulating the titular character. It is a clear example of how refined Kanno's skills as an orchestrator are and what she is capable of accomplishing with a huge ensemble.
2018 saw Kanno receive an invitation to enroll in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She was joined by Makoto Shinkai e Mamoru Hosoda by the way, in a move that many would have claimed was long overdue for Japanese artists. These calls have led to political changes within the Academy aimed at diversifying its membership following the backlash in 2016 over the lack of diversity among its candidates.
2019 was a great year for Yoko kanno, indeed. On November 9, he conducted “Ray of Water” at the celebration of the enthronement of Emperor Reiwa, which he composed with texts by screenwriter Yoshikazu Okada especially for the occasion. The title was named in part due to Emperor Naruhito's experience on the subject of water, having published a book on the subject that same year.
It was not the first time that Kanno composed music for his country. In 2012, he released a benefit song called "Flowers Bloom" which was composed for NHK Great East Japan Earthquake Project. The song is well known to the Japanese public and is also mentioned in music textbooks for schoolchildren.
Last year was a particularly busy year for Kanno. She was one of the recipients of the 15th Watanabe Shin Award, which recognizes producers who have made significant contributions to the entertainment industry. She also lent her skills as a composer to the play “Silk Road: Thieves and Jewels” by the famous all-female company Takarazuka Revue. But probably his most notable feat was the Session Starducks youtube website.
Session Starducks is an online project of SEATBELTS, the band Kanno (the namesake "Captain Duckling") put together to record the soundtrack of Cowboy Bebop . For the project, the band performed live renditions of their hits from Bebop. Each member of the band recorded their parts at home while self-isolating, while it seemed like they were having a blast. Kanno also opened auditions so fans could collaborate with them. Most recently, they organized a live concert: the Online Tanabata Festival, which was funded through crowdfunding through the sale of T-shirts. While time will only tell if the project continues, it's great to see these musicians come together, make amazing music and find ways to support their art despite the heavy toll the pandemic has taken on artists.
So what can we expect from Kanno's involvement with the upcoming live action series of Cowboy Bebop ? Other than his involvement, nothing has been announced. Considering their importance and association with the Bebop brand, it is assumed that SEATBELTS will resume their role as leading session musicians. With any luck, we might see some re-recordings and perhaps rearrangements of old classics like "Tank!" and "The True Folk Blues". But the real question on many fans' minds is whether such a reunion will produce new material. Kanno was only 32 when he produced the show original soundtrack, one of the most famous anime soundtracks in history. What would a 54-year industry veteran with years of experience produce today? In an interview with the music critic Akihiro Tomita, Kanno said of his motivation behind the "Tank!" composition, “I wanted to play brass music that shook your soul, made your blood boil and made you lose it”. If that's the kind of passion he's bringing to the new soundtrack, it's safe to say we're in good hands.
Disclosure: The author of this article was a featured musician in one of the Session Starducks videos.