Not Your Average Hit List

© Hayao Miyazaki for the cover drawing.

© Joe Hisaishi/ Tokuma for the music (excerpt).

© Per A.J. Andersson for the text. Written March 2004, slightly updated November 2011.

Kaze no tani no Naushika
– orijinaru saundotorakku
by Joe Hisaishi

Joe Hisaishi (also written Hisaishi Jo) is a prolific composer. His works with two of the best known of Japan's movie directors has made his music well known to audiences far beyond the shores of his home country.

— • —

The kanji signs for the family name 'Hisaishi' could also be read as "Kuishi", which happens to be close to the Japanese pronunciation of 'Quincy'. The rest of the stage name then came naturally, as this young man was a great fan of American musician-composer Quincy Jones. Quincy Jones - Kuishi Jo.

He was born as Mamoru Fujisawa on December 6th, 1950 in Nagano, Japan. During his years at the Kunitachi College of Music he developed a taste for minimalist music, and already in 1982 relased his second album - "Information". He then hadn't even finished school.

The following year, Hisaishi was recommended by a record company to create the Image Album (link to for the upcoming movie "Kaze no tani no Naushika" (Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind). Miyazaki (link to film/BD) was already a well-known figure in the Japanese film industry, and any association with such a name could be fruitful for his own career.

— • —

Hayao Miyazaki was so impressed with the Image Album that he often played it during the production. And on the strong recommendation of both the movie's director and its producer (Takahata Isao), the young Hisaishi came to make the movie soundtrack as well. Even though another famous composer already had been commissioned for the job!

The movie, based upon the finished parts of the on-going comic strip by Miyazaki himself, became a smash hit. During the decade upon its original release it was to top lots of popularity charts with Japanese animation fandom. And it paved way for both Miyazaki and Hisaishi as masters of their respective disciplines. To date all Miyazaki movies has carried the musical score of Joe Hisaishi.

Hisaishi's career was jump-started. So his sense for beautifully long and sweeping orchestral movements quickly became known for a large audience. Which grew even more in the nineties with yet another close association with a renamed movie director – this time Takeshi "Beat" Kitano. Kitano's works were with actors and often carried a lot of action material. Still, Hisaishi found himself at home also in this environment. And with success, as he was to be given the Japanese Academy Award for Best Music on no less than five separate occasion during the decade.

— • —

Now at the beginning of the 21th century, with the global trend of manga, anime and other things Japanese, the music of Joe Hisaishi is at last becoming more widely known also to Western audiences, often comparing him to the likes of John Williams. Miyazaki's movies are being distributed worldwide following deals with the Walt Disney Company. With "Spirited Away" getting away with an Oscar statuette in 2003.

Still Hisaishi's first movie score remains one of his best. There were a lot of 80s synthesised sounds in "Nausicaä" that today may seem wildly out of date, but the man's knack for cleverly combining piano and a full orchestra in the sake of beauty was up to par with few. Typically Japanese chords were found here and there, adding to the ecological feeling of this and other of Miyazaki works to come.

Following the broader recognition, in 2001 Hisaishi was to make his first musical soundtrack for a European movie. It was the French "Le Petit Poucet", with Vanessa Paradis singing the theme song. Yet another beautiful film score from one who knows how to make them. //


(Tokuma, 1984)

• Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind) (Opening)
• Ohmu no bousou (An Ohmu Stampede)
• Kaze no tani (The Valley of Wind)
• Mushimezuru-hime (The Princess Who Loves Insects)
• Kushana no shinryaku (Kushana's Invasion)
• Sentou (Battle)
• Ohmu to no kouryu (Interchange with the Ohmu)
• Fukai nite (In the Sea of Corruption)
• Pejite no Zenmetsu (Annihilation of Pejite)
• Mehve to korubetto no tatakai (A Battle between Mehve and Corvette)
• Yomigaeru Kyojin-hei (The Resurrection of the God Warrior) (EXCERPT)

• Naushika - Rekuiemu (Nausicaä - Requiem)
• "Tori no Hito" (Bird Person) (Ending)

Compositions: J Hisaishi
Production: J Hisaishi

There's a _lot_ of them... The listing at Hisaishi's official website counts no less than 78 titles (as of May 2004), including quite some film soundtracks and solo releases. Plus a fair amount of recollected and/or rearranged material.

Animation World Network

Hayao Miyazaki (formal connection)
• John Williams (style, stature, productivity)

Not Your Average Hit List 43 minutes... Alla är Ambition Consequences Door to Door The Dreaming Dzien i noc État d'urgence In the Spirit of Things Kaze no tani no Naushika Lights in the Night Martwa woda Nuit d'amour Once in a Million Open Door People Are Strange The Royal Scam Stationary Traveller Victim of Love Whore Music Up North Music Out West Music Far East Music Down South Films I Like a Lot Comic or Not On and Off TV About Me There's so much more out there ...