Composer Watanabe Chuumei (real name Watanabe Michiaki) died on June 23, 2022 at the age of 96. At first, the name didn’t ring a bell for me, but I initially saw the news thanks to a tweet from Obari Masami of all people, and it began to click.
Watanabe was actually responsible for the music in Mazinger Z, helping to set the template for all future giant robot anime. The original singer, Mizuki Ichiro, reminisced and posted photos together. Watanabe also did the music for Dangaioh (an Obari series), including the unforgettable opening, “Cross Fight,” which features a duet of Mizuki and Horie Mitsuko. Another series with songs by that titanic combo is Godannar (one of my favorite anime), of course also composed by Watanabe. The Godannar soundtrack includes callbacks to Space Sheriff Gavan, whose opening is by Kushida Akira (who also sang for Godannar). Watanabe has a prolific career in tokusatsu, and among his songs are one of my all-time karaoke go-to’s: the Toei Spider-Man.
The above chain of thoughts is a little convoluted, but that’s how my brain was processing the info as I realized just what an impact Watanabe’s music has had on me both directly and indirectly. He was the man who made the songs for some of my favorite shows, but also for the shows that inspired my favorite shows. His style is exactly the energy that makes me feel good when I sing myself (however poorly). And his work manages to sound both classic and timeless. It could be dropped into any era, and while it wouldn’t necessarily sound like it all fits perfectly, the emotional impact would shine through.