Exclusive Interview with One Piece Composer Kohei Tanaka


To add to the excitement of the One Piece Music Symphony earlier this month, MCM Buzz were granted an exclusive interview with composer Kōhei Tanaka. Kōhei has worked on numerous anime, films and video games, but is most known for his work on One Piece.

Q: Please introduce yourself, and tell us what you do?

Kōhei: My name is Kōhei Tanaka. I’m a composer. I focus predominantly on games and animation. Of those One Piece is probably the most famous. I’ve done stuff including Dragon Ball, and things like that. There’s too many to mention. I’ve done over 10,000 so far, so that’s a lot of songs.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

Kōhei: That’s quite difficult to answer (laughs).  The thing that makes me happiest is, you know after having written a song, once you present it to fans, you know everybody is very happy to receive them, and everybody loves them so much. That’s what make me happy.

Q: Who are some of your inspirations inside of music, and outside of music?

Kōhei: If you talk about inspiration, there’s obviously lots of different sources, but predominantly when I’m sat in front of the piano everything comes to me in my head. Especially when I’m with an orchestra, I see the score fully formed in my head. So all it really is, is me writing it down on a page.

Q: Much of your work is done in anime. Why did you choose to go down that path?

Kōhei: Long story, I’ll make a summary for you (laughs). In Japan, there wasn’t really any specialists who focused solely on anime in my field, so by focusing in one area I thought that would be the best way of getting fans, and making my fans happy. Also I like anime.

Q: Did you think that the music you made for One Piece would be as big as it became?

Kōhei: At first, the manga came first and at that point I thought, ‘This comic is going to do well, it’s going to be a hit’. However, with the anime, at first it was going to be a one year contract. I didn’t realise that it would go on for fifteen, sixteen years. It was a bit of a surprise.

Q: Which have been some of your favourite pieces from One Piece to compose?

Kōhei: It’s quite hard to say from my own songs which was the best, which was the most fun to write, because to a certain extent they all are. Although the first one I wrote was ‘We Are’, so I’ll probably say that one.

Q: Which have been most well received in Japan and abroad?

Kōhei: Of the 10,000 songs I’ve written possibly ‘We Are’ is the most well received and most known. After that ‘We Go’ is really well known. Then everywhere I go in the world another song that is very well received is ‘Binks no sake’.

Q: Do you have a favourite One Piece character, and arc?

Kōhei: That’s difficult to say as well (laughs). Contractual things make it quite difficult for me to say, so I’d rather not say.

Q: If you could compose the music for any game, television show or film, what would you choose?

Kōhei: I like old songs from Disney, but I wouldn’t want to put my songs to old anime or film because they’ve already existed. I just don’t think they would fit. So I would prefer a new anime, or a new idea.

Q: You’ve also worked on Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, how was it working on that?

Kōhei: It was an honour to do it, and it was very enjoyable. I love it. You love it?

Q: What are your plans in the future?

Kōhei: This is the eighth country that I’ve visited on this live tour, and because One Piece is world famous, to be able to do this work has been very enjoyable. I’ve been to America, the Middle East, Asia etc. So I’ll continue this for a bit, but thereafter I will write new songs, for new anime that will come out.

Q: What do you want people that have come to the symphony to take away from the experience?

Kōhei: For everyone to enjoy the concert, but also if I could get everyone to sing together in Japanese I’ll be very happy.


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