"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Prolific Shiro Sagisu Picks Up the Baton!


Recent portrait of GODZILLA RESURGENCE composer, Shiro Sagisu.

The selection of well-known arranger, composer, and music producer, Shiro Sagisu, to create the soundtrack for Toho's upcoming GODZILLA RESURGENCE, written and directed by mavericks Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, may well be the least shocking aspect of this highly-debated film. Because Sagisu has a deep connection with the Big G, which goes back before he was born.

Director Shinji Higuchi (left) with Composer Shiro Sagisu. ©Gainax

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Godzilla fans outside of Japan are either completely unfamiliar with Sagisu, or only know the composer from his scores for Anno's on-going NEON GENESIS EVANGELION series and movies or Shinji Higuchi's recent pair of live action ATTACK ON TITAN films. But, Sagisu's life has been filled with kaiju — more than anyone may have ever guessed.

Sagisu's first single from his debut album, "Eyes", released in 1978.

His father was a close friend and comrade of the master of Japanese visual effects, Eiji Tsuburaya: Tomio Sagisu (who also created manga under the pen-name Shoji Ushio). A member of Tsuburaya's effects crew, the elder Sagisu worked on numerous films at Toho (largely uncredited), until he founded his own company in the early 1960s, known as P-Productions.

"Summer-colored Diary" (1983) arranged by Sagisu for Chiemi Hori.

The elder Sagisu's company produced visual effects and animation for a number of movie studios and television networks, and pioneered their own productions, such as AMBASSADOR MAGMA (shown in the US as THE SPACE GIANTS), SPECTREMAN, LION MARU, DENJIN ZABOGA, to name a few. Today, in addition to being a composer, the young Sagisu is the President of his father's company.

Sagisu has arranged for contemporary artists such as May'n (2011).

Born on August 8, 1957, Sagisu cut his teeth working for his father's company, and was soon put in charge of directing, writing, music and sound effects for live "monster shows" to promote the P-Productions brands in the mid-1970s. He also collaborated with his father in the production of a pilot film, which was never picked up, for a proposed sci-fi film/series entitled SILVER JAGUAR in 1980.

Shiro Sagisu's Original Soundtrack for MEGAZONE 23 (1985).

The young Sagisu broke out on his own varied and wide-ranging music career in 1978, including his own instrumental releases, composing and arranging songs for some of the more successful Idol Singers, starting in the early 1980s, as well as more popular vocalists, with nearly a hundred successful collaborations over the years. Sagisu has also racked up scores of soundtracks for films and television shows.

First Soundtrack to NADIA, THE SECRET OF THE BLUE WATER (1990).

Some of his more notable television themes and scores include GOOD LAUGHS, MY FRIEND (1982-14), SAKICHI, THE FALLING STAR (1984), KIMAGURE ORANGE ROAD (1986-87), NADIA: THE SECRET OF THE BLUE WATER (1990-91), MACROSS II: LOVERS AGAIN (1992), NEON GENESIS EVANGELION (1995-96), HIS AND HER CIRCUMSTANCES (1998), BLEACH (2004-12), and MAGI: THE LABYRINTH OF MAGIC (2012-14).

Third volume in the Original Soundtrack series for BLEACH (2006).

Sagisu's feature credits are Noboru Ishiguro's MEGAZONE 23 (1985-89), Kunihiko Yuyama's LEDA: FANTASTIC ADVENTURE OF YOHKO (1985), Yoshiyuki Tomino's GARZEY'S WING (1996), Kim Sung-su's MUSA (2001), Kazuaki Kiriya's CASSHERN (2004), Jo-Dong Oh's THE RESTLESS (2006), Noriyuki Abe's BLEACH (2006-10), and Toshiyuki Kubooka's BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC (2012-14).

Poster for the South Korean fantasy film, THE RESTLESS (2006).

With more than 37 years of experience with mountains of credits to his name — and as a fan of his earlier soundtracks (such as NADIA, EVA and CASSHERN), it will be interesting to see what Sagisu will bring to the kaiju eiga canon with his music for GODZILLA RESURGENCE, which opens nationwide in Japan on July 29, 2016.

Here are my previous reports on GODZILLA RESURGENCE:
December 10, 2015: The "Godzilla Resurgence" English Poster!
December 9, 2015: Japanese Press Reveals Shin Godzilla's Size
December 9, 2015: Scoop! Teaser for "Godzilla Resurgence"
December 9, 2015: Here's Your Big G in "Godzilla Resurgence"!
November 12, 2015: "Shin Godzilla" Promo Reel Screens at AFM!"
September 22, 2015: Toho Announces Three Principal Cast Members!
September 6, 2015: Shooting Begins on Toho's "Godzilla 2016"!
August 1, 2015: Did These Men Design Toho's New Big G?
April 1, 2015: The Directors of "Godzilla 2016" Speak!
March 31, 2015: "Evangelion" Creator Helms New "Godzilla"!
December 7, 2014: The "Japanese Godzilla" Will Rise Again!

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