You Love Yoko Kanno…Even If You Don’t Know It
One of the greatest things about anime that a Deadly Diva doesn’t get from American cartoons anymore is the opening and ending music. Don’t worry, I’m not here to remind you of the beauty of BoA’s “Every Heart” from Inuyasha. I’m also not here to argue whether L’Arc~En~Ciel’s “Ready, Steady, Go” from Full Metal Alchemist is better than nobodyknows+ “Hero’s Come Back” from Naruto… even though it is. Argue with someone else, I’m busy writing.
So, what this Deadly Diva is here to do is revel in the musical brilliance that is Yoko Kanno.
Who is Yoko Kanno, you ask? Let me tell you. For over 25 years, Yoko Kanno has been responsible for some of the most memorable songs in anime. She (yes she) composes for multiple genres including blues, classical, jazz, techno, and J-pop. And you can feel every note and every single word, even if you don’t speak the language. You don’t believe me? No worries. I anticipated this and brought all the receipts.
Cowboy Bebop – The music is this series is so good that it is the unseen character that makes everything happen. Most people recognize Tank!. However, this Deadly Diva is all about “The Real Folk Blues” – performed by Seatbelts, featuring vocals by Mai Yamane. Composed by Yoko Kanno, with lyrics by Yuho Iwasato.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Along Complex –Origa’s haunting vocals on “Inner Universe,” composed by Yoko Kanno, with lyrics by Origa and Shanti Snyder, seared the opening theme to GITS:SAC, into all of our psyches.
Macross Plus – “Voices,” performed by Akino Arai and composed by Yoko Kanno, with lyrics by Wakako Kaku, was the only Japanese language song on the show’s soundtrack. It’s often overlooked because it’s not flashy but its beauty is in its simplicity.
Vision of Escaflowne – “Yakusoku wa Iranai,” performed by Maaya Sakamoto and composed by Yoko Kanno, with lyrics by Yuho Iwasato, distinctly feels like the mid-90s, capturing the nostalgia of that era.
Wolf’s Rain – Even if you never quite figured out the ending to Wolf’s Rain, you knew how beautiful “Gravity,” performed by Maaya Sakamoto and composed by Yoko Kanno, with lyrics by Troy, was.
Zankyō no Terror (Terror in Resonance) – Since Shinichiro Watanabe, director of Cowboy Bebop, was at the helm for Zankyō no Terror, it makes sense that he would tap Bebop’s composer for the soundtrack. This opening them was performed by Yuuki Ozaki and composed and arranged by Yoko Kanno, with lyrics by Yuuki Ozaki.
Did a Deadly Diva miss your favorite Yoko Kanno piece? It’s likely I have because how can a sane person try to whittle down a musical career that spans decade into a scant few video clips? If there is a song that you think deserves our adoration, let us know in the comments!