Anime Trending had the exciting opportunity to interview Takahiro Obata, the soundtrack composer for The Promised Neverland. Obata was the recipient of the “Best Soundtrack” award at the 6th Anime Trending Awards, and he returned to compose the second season’s soundtrack, which is now available digitally. The composer discussed his favorite tracks, the excitement of winning an award, and more in this interview.
Thank you for your time! It’s great to talk to you formally. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Takahiro Obata, the composer of the music for The Promised Neverland. Thank you for your support.
What was your initial reaction when you were asked to work on The Promised Neverland soundtrack? Were you familiar with the manga before working on the anime?
I was originally a fan of the manga so I was very excited. It was the first time in my life that I was in charge of anime music, and I never thought that I would be able to work on such a popular title, so I was very happy. I can’t thank Director Kobe enough for liking my music and pushing me to do it.
While working on The Promised Neverland soundtrack, what was your experience working with the music director and anime staff?
I was able to participate in the dubbing process for the first time, and I was happy to see how my songs were used in the scenes. I was honored to meet the staff and voice actors, whom I don’t usually have the chance to meet.
“Isabelle’s Lullaby” is one of the most memorable pieces from The Promised Neverland season 1. What was the creative process behind making this song?
The director told me that he wanted to add a trick to the song from the first episode. He said he wanted a song that would be familiar to the audience and that they could hum along to. We decided to incorporate it into the main theme, which was already completed, and create a melody that would be balanced within it. I also wanted a melody that would balance out the main theme that was already completed, and that would allow Sarah Álainn’s voice to shine through, so the song had a wide range. After that, I made it into an independent song as “Isabella’s Song”. I was very happy that the fans of the anime from all over the world liked it.
The Promised Neverland anime made a huge splash in the community. Along with its intense story, it was praised and won Best Soundtrack during the 6th Anime Trending Awards. What were your initial thoughts when you found out?
When I was contacted by my friend Kevin Penkin (the previous award winner), I had no idea that I would receive such an award for the first piece I ever worked on in my life. I had been working on this piece with the intention of giving up on being an accompaniment composer if it didn’t do well, so my joy was tremendous
Out of the character motifs in The Promised Neverland (63194, 81194, 22194), which ones were your favorite? Did you incorporate any of these motifs in the rest of the series’ soundtrack?
I like them all so much that it’s hard to choose, but if I had to, I’d say Emma. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been moved to tears by the kindness she shows in always thinking of everyone without regard for her own danger.
There are many songs that incorporate characterization. There are many songs that incorporate character traits, but the easiest one to understand is “Norman” which expresses the character always thinking about many things at the same time with the way the phrases overlap, one after another, in the song.
Throughout The Promised Neverland, the children are always weaker than the demons. How do you focus on capturing that feeling of vulnerability throughout the soundtrack?
First of all, the entire main theme is based on the world of “Yakusoku no Neverland” (The Promised Neverland). I composed the melody for each scene by looking at the manga and the script, and trying to figure out whose feelings were being expressed. I think the fragility and vulnerability of the children naturally came out in the song.
With The Promised Neverland Season 2 soundtrack scheduled for late February 2021, what should fans keep an eye out or pay attention to in the songs?
I hope you will enjoy the music along with the anime and manga, because I think the music is packed with The Promised Neverland world view.
Having worked on Season 1 of the soundtrack under your belt, were there any new challenges or different approaches with Season 2’s soundtrack?
In season 1, I mainly added my own sound to the music of the characters and the worldview. But, in season 2, the world view is broader, with demons appearing after the prison break, so I differentiated myself by using Arab folk instruments!
You’ve previously worked on soundtracks for various live-action shows. What was it like going between anime and live-action soundtracks? Were there any differences in your creative process and approach?
It’s the same with creating music for stories and videos. However, since the worldviews of dramas and anime are different in scale, it is very interesting to create music that fits the work! In dramas, you experience everyday life, but in anime, the scale is much larger, so there is more to the range of sounds used.
Throughout your career, you’ve specialized in jazz and incorporating elements of it into the music. What do you find appealing in jazz compared to other musical elements (classical, rock, baroque, etc.)?
I think jazz has a lot of improvisational elements when compared to other genres. It is important to make detailed decisions when creating music, but I think that the music can become more attractive if the performers play freely without making any decisions, and I think that is the appeal of jazz.
Any final comments to readers and listeners from across the world?
I was able to create a masterpiece through this wonderful work. I would like to continue making music that will please you all, so please give me your support!