Japanese anime music composer still going strong at 90

Japanese anime music composer still going strong at 90
Anime Music Composer Chumei Watanabe.
PHOTO: The Yomiuri Shimbun

Chumei Watanabe is well-known for composing theme songs and music used in animations and special effects dramas such as "Mazinger Z" and "Uchu Keiji Gavan" (Space Sheriff Gavan), and he's still going strong at the age of 90.

To celebrate Watanabe's 90th birthday on Aug. 19, a commemorative concert was held on Aug. 30 at Sakura Hall of Shibuya Cultural Center Owada in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

When he was a student at the University of Tokyo, he studied under composer Ikuma Dan and others, before making his film music debut in 1956.

Asked to compose music for the special effects TV drama "Jinzo Ningen Kikaida" (Android Kikaider) in 1972, he was at first reluctant, thinking is was just a children's drama.

However, he was admonished by the producer, who said, "It would be good as it is made for children."

Watanabe composed the drama's theme song, which is characterized by its melancholy melody and the sound of brass instruments.

The music became popular, and Watanabe has received offers to create music for animations ever since.

"Songs for animations can be made with more verve and more freely than songs for adult dramas. In addition, the response from viewers is great," Watanabe said.

He has received many letters, and some fans have even visited his home.

"I kept in mind that I would not compose childish music even if the target of the dramas was children. That's why people in their 40s and 50s still listen to my songs and sing them at karaoke. I'm really pleased," Watanabe said.

"I'd like to compose music that will thrill people until I become 100 years old," Watanabe added with a smile.

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