Masaru Yokoyama, composer

Composer’s Corner: Masaru Yokoyama

Happy Birthday to the new king of romantic anime OST, Masaru Yokoyama. Best-known for his heart-wrenching scores to Your Lie in April and Love & Logic, the modern pianist-composer has amassed an invigorating body of work worthy of today’s spotlight. Check-out our top 5 tracks from his discography:

Watashi no Uso (Your Lie in April, 2014)


Perhaps is most-defining work, Masaru’s score to the deeply moving Your Lie in April is equal parts delicate and (emotionally) heavy-handed. The piano-based forlorn theme captures the essence of the beautiful tale about 2 virtuosi who discover love, loss, and frienship through the power of music. We dare you not to cry!
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Suite of the Seven Stars (Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, 2015)


What Yokoyama calls his “classical” music, this piece from the epic Gundam series embodies the self-superiority and European aesthestic of the ruling “Seven Stars” family clans. But, the entire OST pays homage to the western-style film/battle music heavily associated with the Gundam series and is a bit of a departure from what we usually hear from Yokoyama.
Read an interview with Yokoyama by Kakaku.com (Japanese only)
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AGAIN & AGAIN (Plastic Memories, 2015)


Plastic Memories is truly tragic – and a perfect fit for our birthday boy! Yokoyama wrote the music for Melody Chubak’s soft English ballad with lyrics by Luna Goami. Solo piano is, of course, the composer’s forté – expertly expressingly the sorrowful romance with step-wise melodies, slight pauses, and an undulating tempo. Most certainly an OST to be remembered.
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Kaze no you ni… kumo no you ni (Arakawa Under the Bridge, 2010)


Yokoyama’s first anime song is “comfortable” – not a word you’d associate with the source material in Arakawa. The J-POP-influenced, and often comedic, score is light and airy with some promising melodies. You could tell he was going to go far in his career. Perhaps the only drawback is the usage of obvious electronic string sounds, but that could link to the premused “other-worldly-ness” of the titular character and her gang of misfits. Yokoyama’s hiring was a natural progression considering his work on the hilarious talk show/drama Ijin no kuru heya.
Available at AmazonCDJAPAN.CO.JP

For the Quest (Fate/Apocrypha, 2017)


This year, Yokoyama joined the forces of fate, expanding his repertoire to score for a music large “fantasy” symphony orchestra. Brass and woodwinds dominate the score, but strings often have Celtic melodies reminiscient of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan of Fate/zero and Unlimited Blade Works, you’ll definitely be inspired by his newest epic OST!

Happy Birthday, Masaru-san!

Celebrating 25 Years of Sailor Moon

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sailor Moon, we returned to Los Angeles and reunited members of the DiC music team for a special live concert starring Jennifer Cihi, Annelle K. Gregory, and Sandy Howell.

Photos by BLC3Music Services

Held at the stellar Aratani Theatre at the Japanese American Cultural Community Center, the symphonic-pop concert featured songs from the 90s anime, DiC dub, live-action TV show, Sailor Moon Crystal, and musicals performed by a trim 15-piece ensemble of strings, winds, percussion.

A special meet-and-greet session was held pre-concert with select songwriters and singers from the 1995 DiC English-language dub – composer Michael Benghiat (“My Only Love”), composer John Miyagi Author (“The Power of Love”), singer-songwriter Lois Blaisch (“Rainy Day Man”), singer Jennifer Cihi (“It’s A New Day”), and singer-songwriter Sandy Howell (“Oh Starry Night”). It has been more than 20 years since these fine musicians had seen each other, so the reunion was at times nostalgic, informative, playful, and comedic. Thank you to these wonderful guests for joining us and creating memorable songs for our favorite show!

(Highlights from the panel discussion will be available for viewing on the SeraSymphony youtube page.

Music performed at the concert included “Maboroshi no Ginzuishou~SILVER CRYSTAL,” “La Soldier,” “Kirari Sailor Dream!,” first-ever live performance of “Oh Starry Night” with Sandy Howell, “My Only Love” with Jennifer Cihi, “Sailor Star Song,” and “Uranus and Neptune” featuring Annelle K. Gregory, among others.

SERASYMPHONY II: Half Moon is now available for digital download

View more images on our Flickr Page
View more info, visit the SeraSymphony Official Website

Takayuki Negishi, composer

Best Music from Takayuki Negishi

It’s his birthday! Composer and synthesizer operator Takayuki Negishi is comfortable working with magical girls, action-adventure boys, and card games all around! Best known for his Cardcaptor Sakura and Cardfight!! Vanguard OSTs, Negishi’s combination of pop styles, jazz chords, and classical orchestration have created memorable musical moments in anime history! Check-out our top 5 tracks from his discography:

“Sakura Theme II” (Cardcaptor Sakura, 1998)


We LOVE this pop-disco theme for the ever-so-energetic Sakura. Equal parts beautiful and inspiring, the uptempo rhythm section backs the sweet string melody as the titular character learns to control her newfound powers. Hope Negishi returns for the new anime!

“Power of Psyqualia” (Cardfight!! Vanguard, 2011)


Final Turn! You know when this them begins, you’re in deep doo-doo. The powerful pulsating opening rhythm opens up the gates of Hell to unleash the demonic strength of the blaring horns and high intensity strings. Perhaps the best moments in Cardfight history!

“Aoyama-kun daisuki!” (Tokyo Mew Mew, 2002)


At 2:00, Ichigo’s young love theme is rich and dynamic, passing through several moments of lush string harmonies, cello and viola riffs, and unexpected by inspiring chord changes. Negishi borrows the “gentle ending” affect from his work on Cardcaptor Sakura.

Shukusei no monotachi (Tokyo Majin, 2007)


Negishi’s re-working of Vivaldi’s “Winter” with added harpsichord solo and Aeolian orchestra break creates the hellish atmosphere for Animax’s supernaturally super-powered teen action-drama. And what a great budget to have live instruments interpreting the classically sinister score!

“Which will win? Lupin vs. The General” (Lupin III: Dead or Alive, 1996)


Right at home in the famous Lupin universe, Negishi’s jazz training shines through in this high 70’s battle/chase music paying homage to Yuji Ohno. Listen to his masterful juggling of harmonized saxophone passages, sweeping strings, and full band powerful octaves!

Happy Birthday, Takayuki!

Michiru Oshima

Top 5 Music from Michiru Oshima

So many great composers celebrate their birthday’s this week, and we’re starting off with one of our favorites Michiru Oshima. Best known to the anime community for her soundtrack to the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime, Oshima’s classical sensibilities and carefully-crafted melodies can be heard in commercials, theater, TV dramas, films, and video games.

Check-out our top 5 tracks from her discography:

“Chariot’s Theme” (Little Witch Academia, 2013)


Powerful, magical, and “flashy” perfectly sum up the character Chariot and her miraculous theme music. Majestic brass lines and soaring strings fit so well in this new magical girl tale!

“Nostalgia” (Blast of Tempest, 2012)


Oshima’s melancholy OST to this overlooked gem reminds us a little of FMA; but, the classical references within this cue in particular really keep us interested and hungry for more.

“Watashi” no Theme (Tatami Galaxy, 2010)


Oshima certainly knows her way around a violin (she wrote for international soloist Hilary Hahn)! Her jazzy theme for solo violin and orchestra is both heartwarming, mournful, playful, and mature – we love how quick she develops the melody from start to finish.

Sailor Venus ni Make Up (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, 2003)


In a style complementary to Takanori Arisawa’s, Oshima’s OST for the live-action version of Sailor Moon is deep, fun, and exciting. Her “Sailor Venus” theme is that old Hollywood sound – classic pop groove played by orchestral instruments. C’est Magnifique!

Братья “Brothers” (Fullmetal Alchemist, 2003)


You probably already know this one! The image song from the classic anime is a beautiful summation of the story and the feelings of the two main characters. You’ll cry, you’ll smile, but mostly you’ll cry.

Happy Birthday, Michiru!

(Photo Credit: Michael A. Mariant)

Credit: Michael A. Mariant

5 Favorite Songs of Stephen Schwartz

Today is mega-successful composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz’s. The New York native is best known for his musical theatre works, the Wicked composer has had a part in creating fantastic music for animation.

Here are our favorite tracks (in no particular order):

“Deliver Us” (The Prince of Egypt, 1998)


The very theatrical opening to DreamWorks animated classic is as powerful as it sounds. Even if you’re not religious, you’ll enjoy Schwartz’s blend of Israeli folk style with modern musical theatre writing of the time.

“Colors of the Wind” (Pochahontas, 1995)


“Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?” – ‘Nuff said. Schwartz has an unbelievably delicate touch with his lyrics in Disney’s mature cartoon from the 90s renaissance.

That’s How You Know (Enchanted, 2007)


Simplicity is very effective in this clever tune from Disney’s self-aware “princess fairy tale.” Schwartz with composer Alan Menken poke fun at their own works within the genre and the combination is “enchanting!”

God Help the Outcasts (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1996)


Esmeralda’s somber and haunting tune in one of Disney’s darkest features still brings us to tears. The lyrics smartly question the power of prayer from the viewpoint of a nonbeliever – love it!

Defying Gravity (Wicked, 2003)


Quite possibly his most popular tune! The amazing Act I closer to the very popular musical lives up to its namesake. If you were part of the MT crowd, you know this was the “Let it Go” of its day.

Happy Birthday, Stephen!

(Photo Credit: Michael A. Mariant)

iTSO with Lotus Juice and Taku Iwasaki

Sharing the Stage with Anime Music Stars

After a great start to Season III, we end 2016 on a high-note – paying tribute one of the most talented and prolific composer of music for shōnen anime, Taku Iwasaki, at Littlefield NYC in Brooklyn. And this time we were joined by the composer himself and the fantastic rapper Lotus Juice!

Photos by SKot Photography

At our first composer’s concert, a trimmed down 10-piece iTSO invaded the unassuming Brooklyn music venue for a night of video-gaming and action-packed music. It was our first time collaborating with DJ LUNATiC who kept the crowd dancing to some of Iwasaki’s trance and hip-hop hits from Jormungand, C – Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility, and Heaven’s Memo Pad.

iTSO performed some of Iwasaki’s music from hit action series Akame ga Kill, Bungō Stray Dogs, Magic Kaito 1412, Kekkaishi, Noragami, and R.O.D. (Read or Die). Our special guest Lotus Juice joined us on stage for “Bahasa Palus” from Katanagatari, “Reverse the Destiny” from Persona -trinity soul-, “Psychedelic Souljam” from Soul Eater, and OVERDRIVE from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. This was our first collab with an anime industry fellow and Lotus certainly delivered with his signature flow, high-energy, and amazing stage presence! So many guest came just to see his first appearance in a New York venue.

But an even bigger surprise was the appearance of the composer himself! Iwasaki joined us for a pre-show Q&A session and performed 3 pieces on stage as an encore, including “Quiet Life” from Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal with our ensemble as backing musicians. Lotus and Iwasaki performed “Portrait of Love,” an original by Lotus that we helped arrange for the evening!

We hope to present more of these composer concerts with the input and talent of the composers themselves in the future. Thank you all for coming and though our shōnen tributes for this season are over, don’t miss our upcoming magical shōjo concerts in NYC and San José!

View more images on our Flickr Page.
View more tribute videos on our Videos Page.

Rapper Lotus Juice

Rapper Lotus Juice to Perform at SOULJAM Concert

We are VERY excited to announce our first special guest of our 2016-17 Season: anime and video game rapper extraordinarie Lotus Juice!

A frequent collaborator with Persona composer Shōji Meguro, Lotus Juice has been a staple in the Japanese anime hip-hop community since 2006. He has performed at various conventions and concerts including Otakon 2016, AOD 2016, and Animethon in Alberta, Canada. You have probably heard his sick rhymes in Black Butler, Soul Eater, and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, but he has a great collection of original music and demos you should check out!

In this very special appearance, Lotus Juice will be joining our live band on stage for SOULJAM: A Tribute to Taku Iwasaki on Friday, Nov. 18th in Brooklyn, NY. Expect to hear his popular Iwasaki collaborations such as “Bahasa Palsu” and “OVERDRIVE.”

From 9/1 to 9/30, we’re holding a contest for a free VIP reservation to November’s concert that includes a pre-show meet-and-greet and autograph session with Lotus Juice. To enter:

  • Follow us on Twitter @iconiquestra
  • Tweet @ iconiquestra with your favorite Iwasaki/Lotus track title followed by #iTSOuljam

Winners must be 21 years of age or older by November 18, 2016, provide their own transportation to and from the concert, and provide a contact email and name to reserve their seat. Tickets cannot be transferred to others or exchanged for other concerts and have no cash value.

We’ll select 2 winners at random on October 1st at 12pm.

Buy Tickets ($15/General, $25/VIP). Standing room only