With a franchise which has amassed over 680 anime episodes, 775 manga chapters and 12 films, One Piece has clearly cemented its place in the anime hall of fame, and shows no signs of slowing down. Whilst it’s taken a while for One Piece content to fully get distributed within the United Kingdom, 2012 saw the release of the Pirate Warriors video game franchise, and in 2013 we began receiving licensed boxsets. However, something special came to us in the form of music; One Piece Music Symphony at Cadogan Hall.
On Saturday 7th February 2015, Cadogan Hall in London opened its doors for many One Piece fans to enjoy much of the music from the anime. The lobby was swamped with many fans grinning from ear-to-ear, as they eagerly discussed their favourite characters and arcs. There were many fans in cosplay, emulating some of their favourite characters such as Monkey D.Garp and Sabo. Leaflets were being handed out for a raffle, in which names would be drawn during the show to win some One Piece DVD’s. At the lobby were three key sections, one for fans to purchase programmes for the show, one for fans to purchase drinks and snacks, and the most important for fans to purchase merchandise such as shirts, and CD’s.
Before the show started there was a lot of chatter, but as soon as the orchestra was ready, the hall fell deeply silent. The orchestra was conducted by Jean Thorel and included the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. The show was presented by Kōhei Tanaka (One Piece series composer), with the help of his translator Alex. The orchestra was split into two main sections, which essentially were focusing on One Piece before and after the time skip. They had a fifteen minute intermission between them. The track list was as follows:
1 – Kaizoku-o ni narunda
2- Hamaguchi’s Medley
3- Fuyu ni saku kiseki no sakura
4- Yurusenai Yatsu to wa tatakae!
5- Katayoku no taka
6- Ihen ni kizuku
7- Ogon To Oden ~ We Are! Piano Version ~ TV BGM-M50
8- Unan to ghanzho
9- Dainagan kibaku!
10- Inochigake no last battle
11- Binks no sake
12- We Are!
13- Nusumareta Going Merry Go
14- Iza, okanjima e!
15- Ore ga kiru
16- Z o osotta higeki
18- Soshite shinsekai e
19- Yabo no tame no kakugo
20- Hirake! Otasuke box
21- Karakuri-jo o bukkowasu!
22- Aokiji kaku katakiri
23- Nakama no shirushi da!!
24- Hangeki no noroshi
25- We Go!
The show began with the piece ‘Kaizoku-o ni narunda’, which for many One Piece fans (such as myself) had us swimming in an ocean of nostalgia, flowing back to the inception of the series. The collaboration of the visual anime scenes in conjunction with the songs had me thoroughly invested and grinning. Looking around the crowd, as the orchestra steadily went through the pieces, the applause passionately grew. Throughout the songs we’d have the occasional breather when Kōhei Tanaka would come on stage. He was full of humor, and joy as he would mention forgetting to introduce himself way later into the show. He had a way of comforting the crowd, and etching them into the performance.
Whilst listening to the songs fly by with pieces such as ‘Hamaguchi’s Medley’, and ‘Ogon To Oden ~ We Are! Piano Version ~ TV BGM-M50’, there were four songs in particular that I did want to hear – ‘Binks no sake’, ‘We Are’, ‘We Go!’ and ‘Ocean Guide from Film Z’. My wishes were answered when prior to the intermission Tanaka-San himself came out on the piano and began playing and singing ‘Binks no sake’, which you could tell the crowd were excited for. He encouraged the audience to participate, but we were either reluctant or embarrassed to sing along (with the most memorable part being a bellow of ‘yohohoho’). The use of this piece, with the anime visuals truly was emotional due to the back story this song covered.
After the fifteen minute intermission, a raffle occurred in which some of those in the audience won some One Piece DVD’s courtesy of MangaUK. After the intermission the crowd seemed much more livelier than before. Their applause for each and every song was rapturous. We had fan favourites such as ‘We Are!’ and ‘Luffy’ play. With the intended last song being ‘We Go!’ which the whole crowd were singing to. After this performance the audience stood up whistling, clapping and in adoration of the whole performance. Some fans were in tears in sheer admiration for One Piece. However Tanaka-San wanted to return their adoration and did multiple encores, including songs such as my favoured ‘Ocean Guide’ from One Piece: Film Z, as well as an orchestral version of ‘We Are!’ which the whole crowd sung along to while standing up.
During the show Tanaka-san was full of enjoyment, energy and laughter. Emulating cartoon characters, as well as jokingly saying that some of the audience who weren’t caught up with the anime may be spoiled with some of the scenes. What completed the night was Tanaka-san’s repeated encores, constantly teasing the audience that the show was over. At one point during the encores, Tanaka-San took over the composer role from Thorel. It was an experience that was completely different.
Whilst all of the great songs were played, there were some missed opportunities, including a legendary scene with Roronoa Zoro in the Thriller Bark arc. However the performance was thoroughly pleasing, a new way to experience music, and hopefully one which inspires other series to follow in suite.