Anime Trending had the incredible opportunity to interview music composer Yasuharu Takanashi and his involvement in NARUTO and BORUTO: NEXT GENERATIONS. The complete soundtrack collection for NARUTO, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, and BORUTO: NEXT GENERATIONS are now available from Milan Records.
When you were approached to compose for NARUTO, did you ever expect the series to grow as big as it did? How did you feel when you realized people all over the world listened and loved your music?
In the beginning, I didn’t really think that. Gradually, I came to realize that people were enjoying the Series as well as my music through the media. For example, when I discovered people covering my songs on YouTube and such, I was really touched. “What? People from overseas are playing my songs!” I was really happy.
Out of your many years of composing for the NARUTO series, which piece is your personal favorite and why?
It’s very difficult for me to choose the best (laughs).
As for sentimental songs, “Sadness and Sorrow” was the first ballad I wrote for NARUTO when it was first released, so it left a very strong impression on me.
(As for uplifting songs,) there are so many that it’s hard to decide (laughs).
What have been your favorite instruments to work with when composing for NARUTO?
The one I use the most often is the organ (Hammond organ). There are a lot of ensembles in the music, such as orchestral ensembles with Japanese musical instruments, but the organ is the most solid foundation, so I use it most often when I am looking for that band sound.
The best part of using Japanese instruments is that I tried to incorporate Japanese instruments into the rock sound in “Musashi”. Musicians and bands overseas were taking pride in using their own traditional music and instruments, so we wanted to create a new sound using traditional Japanese instruments and music, because we are Japanese. We wanted to create a new sound using traditional Japanese instruments and music because we are Japanese. And from there, it just kind of evolved and blossomed to the sound of “Yaiba” in NARUTO.
As a member of the Musashi Project, you worked with composer Toshiro Masuda on the production of NARUTO. What was it like working with Toshiro Masuda during the first season of NARUTO? What have you learned by working with each other?
Mr. Masuda and “Musashi” were clearly divided into different sections, and Mr. Masuda was very good at writing daily life songs.”Musashi” was in charge of battle songs and other intense songs, and Masuda-san was in charge of other songs.
Which piece are you proudest about and why do you feel that way?
This is a difficult one (laughs) because I can’t really narrow it down. The one I like the most is the music from NARUTO! I put a lot of love into each song, so I like them all. If anyone listening thinks, “I love this song!” I don’t think there is a number one or number two for me. The song that my fans like the most is the song that I am most proud of.
NARUTO is famous for its character-focused music – Senya, what many considered to be Itachi’s theme, is an example. How do you approach composing music centered on specific characters?
The first thing that happens is that the director and the sound director order me to write a theme song for this character. Then I read the original story and try to make a song that fits the image of the character.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations has already received praise for its soundtrack. How is the music different in Boruto compared to NARUTO? How did you want to distinguish the music between the two series?
To tell you the truth, I’ve been using less Japanese instruments since Boruto. In NARUTO, there was an overall muddy or rustic feeling, but in Boruto, we decided to make it more modern and stylish. However, as the story progressed and Naruto and Sasuke became active again, we decided to return to the nuances of the early sound… well, rather than returning to it, we decided to revive it, and the story that is currently playing in the anime has the sound of those days.
Ultimately, how did you hope the audience would feel when listening to your music?
I think that the way to enjoy music is different for each person, so just the fact that someone is listening to and enjoying the music I’ve made is all that matters to me, and how you feel is up to you. It’s okay! That’s what makes me the happiest.
Which track of the soundtrack was your first composed piece for the series and how did you feel when you had finished your first piece?
Actually, it was “Sadness and Sorrow.” This was actually the first song I wrote for the NARUTO series, and at that time, the members of the Musashi Project split up to work on it. I thought it was a good song (laugh).
As an anecdote, around the second half of the story of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, I really wanted to perform this song again. So I asked the directors if we could re-record “Sadness and Sorrow” one more time! And it did happen.
How has the NARUTO series affected your career?
It has changed my life more than my career! Thanks to NARUTO, I have formed bonds with people from many countries. The word “bond” is often used in this work, and this has connected me with everyone, and the music has strengthened that bond.
Any final comments to fans as they get the chance to listen to your music?
In fact, I’ve been waiting for this music to be released!
I’ve been getting a lot of messages on my social media from people in various countries asking “When will the soundtrack be available? so I really want to deliver it to them as soon as possible.
When I heard that the music distribution was going to start, I was so happy that I wanted to tell everyone about it as soon as possible, and as a musician, it makes me the happiest when people can enjoy the music even more.
Now, please enjoy yourselves to the fullest! And I’ll see you in person next time♪.
高梨 康治 / Yasuharu TAKANASHI