Yoko Kanno

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Yoko Kanno
Background information
Born(1964-03-19) March 19, 1964 (age 48)
Miyagi, Japan
GenresJazz, classical, orchestral, electronic, new age, blues, folk rock, electronic rock, pop, art rock
OccupationsComposer, musician, conductor, Producer
InstrumentsKeyboard, piano, accordion
Years active1986–present
LabelsVictor Entertainment (flying DOG)
Associated actsMaaya Sakamoto, Nakajima Megumi, May'n TETSU100%, The Seatbelts, Samply Red, ORIGA
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Yoko Kanno
Background information
Born(1964-03-19) March 19, 1964 (age 48)
Miyagi, Japan
GenresJazz, classical, orchestral, electronic, new age, blues, folk rock, electronic rock, pop, art rock
OccupationsComposer, musician, conductor, Producer
InstrumentsKeyboard, piano, accordion
Years active1986–present
LabelsVictor Entertainment (flying DOG)
Associated actsMaaya Sakamoto, Nakajima Megumi, May'n TETSU100%, The Seatbelts, Samply Red, ORIGA

Yoko Kanno (菅野 よう子 Kanno Yōko?, born March 19, 1964) is a composer, arranger and musician best known for her work on the soundtracks for many anime films, television series, live-action films, video games, and advertisements. She was born in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. She has written scores for famous animated works, including Macross Plus, Turn A Gundam, Cowboy Bebop, The Vision of Escaflowne, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Wolf's Rain, Sakamichi no Apollon, and is the most trusted composer by veteran and new-wave directors such as Yoshiyuki Tomino, Shinichiro Watanabe and Shoji Kawamori.[1] Kanno has also composed music for pop artists, the most notable being Maaya Sakamoto and Kyōko Koizumi. She is also a skilled keyboardist, and is the frontwoman for The Seatbelts, who perform many of Kanno's compositions on the various original soundtracks for which she is responsible.



Professional life

Some of Yoko Kanno's most famous soundtrack themes include "Kiseki no Umi" (Lodoss War), "Voices" (Macross Plus), "Tank!" (Cowboy Bebop), "Yakusoku wa Iranai" (Escaflowne), "Gravity" (Wolf's Rain), "Inner Universe" (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) and Stand Alone Complex O.S.T. In regards to making the Stand Alone Complex soundtrack she said:

I had this image of a formal and rigid 'manly' world for the original comic. So I tried to think of ways to destroy that world. The theme I had in mind was, 'be human.' It represented the sentiment of 'why don't we take it easy and be more like a human being?'—instead of being a workaholic salaried man working for his company. Or be it Tachikoma wishing to become human. I wanted to express these 'tangible fuzziness,' sort of. For the opening theme song called 'inner universe,' I had an image of digital bits and composed a score consisting of recurrent quick beats.[2]

Having composed in various genres, including blues, classical, jazz, techno, and J-pop, she was once asked if she favored a particular genre:

Ah ... I hear everyone talk about how many genres [I work in] like classical, jazz and others, but personally, I don't divide music by genre when creating. I don't create by saying, 'I must create a classical piece here,' or 'I must create a jazz piece here.' When I create music, I don't consider at all which genre I like best, but what the scene or the anime calls for, like a love [theme] or a mood. There isn't one genre I like more than the others. I find all of them satisfying and all inspire me in different ways.[3]

Since she works in the animation industry, she only receives instructions and storyboards from directors which helps her with composing. However, it is uncertain if all of her works are to be included in the finished project. She once said that this is a way she likes to work, for she does not have to deal with rules during composing.[4] In reference to this, she once stated:

In my case, the creators talk to me and ask me to do a soundtrack a year or two before the animation is finished. At that time, I think of the plot in my brain, when the characters' names—everything about the characters—has not been decided yet. This is even when the title has not be decided yet.[3]

She was the lead member of the project band called The Seatbelts, which regrouped in the year of 2004 to compose the soundtrack of the PlayStation 2 Cowboy Bebop video game, released in Japan in 2005.

She has composed for many Koei games released during the late 1980s to early 1990s and for Napple Tale, a Dreamcast game. Due to her close involvement in the Cowboy Bebop anime, the game released by Bandai also features her work.

Apart from anime and games, Kanno also composes for live-action films and television commercials. Some popular brands she has composed for are Canon, DoCoMo, Fuji Xerox, Seven-Eleven, Microsoft, Nissan, Toyota, Shiseido, Avon, and Master Card to name a few. Grand Funk Inc. is her recording studio of choice in producing for these two media. Contributions to films started in the 90s but only since 2002 has there been a trend towards the medium. Most of the latter were shown in international film festivals.

She has attended Otakon and Anime Expo in 1999, as well as Anime Expo New York in 2002. In 2010, she made a surprise appearance at Anime Expo.

Personal life

She was married to fellow composer Hajime Mizoguchi, with whom she collaborated on the soundtracks for Please Save My Earth and The Vision of Escaflowne. They divorced in 2007. In addition to Japanese, she speaks very little English and some French, but claims that her English is "poor" and she needs translation help to converse in French.[3] In regards to spirituality and religion, she said:

I'm not religious at all. But Japanese don't believe in one God, but in gods everywhere in plants and animals. That's right. In Japan, Christianity has a wonderful image. People enjoy the image of Christ and Christianity in picture books, but not as a religion.[5]

Gabriela Robin is a pseudonym that Kanno occasionally uses when she performs vocals. For a long time, the fact that Robin and Kanno were the same person was an unproven rumor. But, on July 7, 2009, Yoko Kanno performed as Gabriela Robin on stage, proving the rumor to be true.[6]

Besides music, Kanno also enjoys photography and writing. She has written a number of journals for Newtype magazine of which photos for illustrations are done by Kanno herself as well,[7] and a selection of photos taken by Kanno of her protégé and former production partner Maaya Sakamoto were featured in the special event program for Sakamoto's 2010 thirtieth birthday concert at Nippon Budokan.

In 2011, Kanno expressed her support and wishes to the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, composing a song titled "Kimi de Ite, Buji de Ite".


Solo studio albums

January 1, 1998Song to flyTrack 8 performed and all songs composed, conducted by Yoko Kanno.

(Tracks 1–7,9–11 performed by Cosmic Voices from Bulgaria, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,
Warsaw Chorus, Tulivu-Donna Cumberbatch, Franco Sansalone, Krzysztof Ciupinsky,
Steve Conte, Jadwiga Rappé & Gabriela Robin.)

May 22, 200223-Ji no OngakuAll songs composed, conducted by Yoko Kanno, ft. Maaya Sakamoto, released by JvC Victor.
Translates as "11:00 pm Music".
May 2, 2008CM YokoCompilation album of music for commercials done by Yoko Kanno over the years. All songs composed by Yoko Kanno
April 22, 2009CM Yoko 2Compilation album of music for commercials done by Yoko Kanno over the years. All songs composed and/or arranged by Yoko Kanno
May 27, 2009Space Bio ChargeYoko Kanno & The Seatbelts's album
June 8, 2011Yoko Kanno produce Cyber BicciCredit: ILA. Compilation album of previous works with Ilaria Graziano, along with new materials.

Anime works

Anime TitleYearKanno's Role(s)
Porco Rosso1992Arranger for ending theme:
"Once in a While, Talk of the Old Days"
Please Save My Earth1994Composer
(other tracks by Hajime Mizoguchi)
Macross Plus1994Composer
Memories: Magnetic Rose1996Composer
The Vision of Escaflowne1996Composer
(other tracks by Hajime Mizoguchi)
X Clamp Characters File Vol. 1–41996Composer
(one track for each album)
Clamp School Detectives1997Second ending theme
Noiseman Sound Insect1997Composer
Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight1998Composer for Opening theme
Macross Dynamite 71998Composer for "Angel Voice"
Cowboy Bebop1998Composer
Cardcaptor Sakura1998Composer for Opening 3 "Purachina"
Brain Powerd1998Composer
Turn A Gundam1999Composer
Escaflowne: The Movie2000Composer
(other tracks by Hajime Mizoguchi)
Earth Maiden Arjuna2001Composer
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door2001Composer
Pianist for The Seatbelts
RahXephon2002Composer for Opening theme for TV & OVA
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex2002Composer
Wolf's Rain2003Composer for TV & OVA
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG2004Composer
Genesis of Aquarion2005Composer
(other tracks by/in collaboration with Hogari Hisaaki)
Oban Star-Racers2006Composer for Opening and Ending theme songs
Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. Solid State Society2006Composer
Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha2007Composer
Genius Party2007Composer for "Baby Blue"
Genesis of Aquarion2007Composer
Macross Frontier2008–2011Composer
Ring of Gundam2009Composer
Aquarion Evol2012Composer
Code Geass Gaiden: Bōkoku no Akito2012Theme song composer
Sakamichi no Apollon2012Composer

Video games

Game TitleFirst ReleasedFirst System(s)Kanno's Role(s)
Romance of the Three Kingdoms1985PC-8801, Sharp X1, FM-7Composer
Nobunaga's Ambition Zenkokuban1986PC-8801, PC-9801, etc.Composer
Genghis Khan1987PC-8801, PC-9801Composer
Nobunaga's Ambition Sengoku Gunyūden1988PC-8801, PC-9801Composer
Ishin No Arashi1989PC-9801Composer
Uncharted Waters1990PC-8801, PC-9801Composer
Nobunaga's Ambition Bushō Fuunroku1990PC-9801Composer
Nobunaga's Ambition Haōden1992PC-9801Composer
Uncharted Waters 2: New Horizons1993PC-9801Composer
Nobunaga's Ambition Tenshōki1994PC-9801Composer
Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream2000DreamcastComposer
Cowboy Bebop2001PlayStationComposer
Cowboy Bebop: Tsuitou no Yakyoku2005PlayStation 2Composer
Ragnarok Online 22007MS WindowsComposer
Ragnarok Online 2: Legend of the SecondTBAMS WindowsComposer
Continent of the Ninth2011MS WindowsTheme song Composer

Movie works

Film TitleYearKanno's Role(s)
Yamato Takeru1994Composer
Boku wa benkyo ga dekinai (I Can't Study)1996Composer
Natsu jikan no otonatachi1997Composer
Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie1999Composer
Tokyo. Sora2002Composer
Mizu no onna2002Composer
03 +2003Composer
Shimotsuma monogatari (Kamikaze Girls)2004Composer
Ashurajo No Hitomi (Blood Gets in Your Eyes)2005Composer
Honey and Clover2006Composer
Elegant World (The Show Must Go On)2007Composer
Say Hello!2007Composer
Surely Someday2010Composer

TV work

TV ShowYearKanno's Role(s)
Yo ni mo Kimyou na Monogatari – Mama Shinhatsubai2001Composer
Mayonaka Betsu no Kao (The Other Side of Midnight)2002Composer
X'smap~Tora to Raion to Gojin no Otoko~2004Composer
Chichi ni Kanaderu Merodi2006Composer
Kaze ni Mai Agaru Vinyl Sheet2009Composer

Works for associated acts

BandAlbumYearKanno's Role(s)
Tetsu 100%Tokyo Taco Blues1986Composer for one track
Tetsu 100%1987Composer for four tracks
Ato3cm1987Composer for five tracks
Jack in the Box1988Composer for three tracks
Manatsu no Santa Claus1988Composer for one track
Sunao1989Composition credited to band
Samply RedPerfect Rouge1996Composition credited to band
Ah-ra ii Kimochi1996Composition credited to band
(with Riyu Konaka) Kiseki to Taitsuku1996Composition credited to band
Happy Go Lucky OST1997Composer for 8 tracks
Kemeko no Uta (Happy Go Lucky)1997Arrangement credited to band
It's for my Ego1997Composition credited to band
Perfect Rouge I, II, III2002Composition credited to band

Works for pop albums

(In Order of Starting Year of Affiliation)

ArtistAlbumYearKanno's Role(s)
Chiyono YoshinoMontage1988Composer for two tracks
Song Bird1989Composer for three tracks,
arranger for two tracks
Melanger1990Composer for one track,
performer on two tracks
Keiko NakajimaKeiko Nakajima1990Composer for all tracks
Kyoko EndoRenai1990Arranger for seven tracks
Kobitori ni Naritai1993Arranger for all tracks
Fuyu no Miwa1993Arranger for all tracks
Hashire Hashire1999Arranger for two tracks
Aki OkuiLost Melodies1994Arranger for two tracks
Straw Color1997Arranger for one track
Tsuki no Mayu2000Composer for all tracks
Hitomi MienoHajimari no Boukenshya-tachi
~Hikari no Chizu~
1995Composer for two tracks
Miki ImaiLove of my Life1995Arranger for four tracks
Thank You1996Arranger for four tracks
IMAI.MIKI from 19861998Arranger for one track
Blooming Ivory2000Arranger for one track
Yuri ShiratoriAtarashii Kutsu1995Composer for two tracks,
Lyricist for one track
Caramel Pop1995Composer and lyricist for two tracks
Kyoko KoizumiOtokonoko, Onnannoko1996Composer for eight tracks,
arranger for all tracks except 9 by Samply Red
For my Life(Single)1999Composer for two tracks
Maaya SakamotoGrapefruit1997Composer for all tracks
DIVE1998Composer for all tracks
Single Collection+ Hotchpotch1999Composer for all tracks
Lucy2001Composer for all tracks
Easy Listening2001Composer for all tracks
Single Collection+ Nikopachi2003Composer for all tracks
Shōnen Alice2003Composer for all tracks
Kazeyomi2009Composer for two tracks
You Can't Catch Me2011Composer for one track
Akino AraiSora No Mori1997Composer for five tracks
Sora No Miwa1997Composer for two tracks
Hiru No Tsuki1998Arranger for two tracks
RGB2002Composer for one track
Yasui InoueKyuu Dan1998Composer for one track
Crystal KayEternal Memories1999Composer for two tracks
Komichi no Hana1999Composer for one track
C.C.L Crystal Lover Light2000Composer for one track,
Arranger for one track
Kei KobayashiNagashime Play2003Composer for all tracks
SMAPSay What You Will2005Composer for two tracks
super.modern.artistic.performance2008Composer for one track
Yukawa ShioneYuki No Waltz2007Composer for one track
AKINO from bless4Lost in Time2007Composer for all tracks
Hajime ChitoseCassini2008Composer for one track
OrigaThe Songwreath2008Composer for one track
YOSHIKAThe World2008Composer for one track
May'nMay'n☆Street2009Composer for two tracks
Natsumi KiyouraJuuku Iro2010Composer for one track
Megumi NakajimaBe with You2012Composer for one track

Commercial music

This is a list of companies that have commissioned Kanno for commercial music.[8]

Hired vocalists


  1. ^ "Production IG Interview with Yoko Kanno for Ghost in the Shell: SAC". Productionig.com. March 20, 1966. http://www.productionig.com/contents/works_sp/47_/s08_/index.html. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Production I.G [WORK LIST[Details]]". Productionig.com. http://www.productionig.com/contents/works_sp/47_/s08_/000617.html. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Interview with Kanno Yoko". Ex.org. http://www.ex.org/4.5/16-interview_kanno1.html. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  4. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0437819/bio
  5. ^ "Interview with Kanno Yoko". Ex.org. http://www.ex.org/4.5/17-interview_kanno2.html. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ Sibayan, Mai. Who is Gabriela Robin?. A Gabriela Robin Site. 2004–2007. Accessed December 22, 2008.
  7. ^ "Pokkarishita Translation Project". Cybird.fr. May 1, 2010. http://www.cybird.fr/pokkarishita/. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Grand Funk Inc. Official Website". Grandfunk.net. http://grandfunk.net. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 

External links