Sad news rocks the world of anime today. Legendary Japanese composer Shunsuke Kikuchi has passed away at age 89. The Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (known as JASRAC) announced today that Kikuchi passed away on April 24 while undergoing treatment for aspiration pneumonia. He had retired from composing music in 2017 due to a disclosed illness.
Shunsuke Kikuchi was born in 1931 in Hirosaki City, Aomori prefecture to a family that ran a wholesale fish shop. Falling in love with movies at a young age, Kikuchi attended Nihon College of Art. After he graduated, he studied under award winning film composer Chuji Kinoshita, with the aim of following in his footsteps and becoming a film composer. His first theatrical work debuted in the 1961 film The Eighth Enemy. From then on, Kikuchi worked closely with Toei Animation, composing music for several anime series including the original Kamen Rider series, Tiger Mask series, Uchu Patrol Hopper and Getter Robo. Shunsuke Kikuchi will be best remembered for his work on the Dragon Ball series, having composed music for the anime all the way through to Dragon Ball GT. His work is still used in Dragon Ball media today. Some of his track were restored for Dragon Ball Z Kai following a scandal with the then-new composer.
Kikuchi’s tracks were so influential on early Japanese dramas, especially period and martial arts films, and TV series, that two of his tracks, ‘Champion of Death’, the theme song to the 1975 film of the same name, and ‘Urami Bushi’, a composition he wrote for the 1972 film Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion, were used in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films.
Thank you Shunsuke Kikuchi for gracing us with your amazing talent and changing the world of anime music forever. May your inspiration carry on and inspire future music artists.