Anime NYC 2021
My Hero Academia Composer Yuki Hayashi
by Lynzee Loveridge,
At 41 years old, composer and musician Yuki Hayashi has created songs from everything ranging from live-action television dramas, video games, and popular anime series. His discography includes hit anime like Precure to Haikyu!! and follows a particularly unique trajectory. Hayashi made his American convention debut at Anime NYC and made some time to discuss his work with Anime News Network.
What would you consider to be a distinctive element of your compositions? Are there instruments you find yourself returning to again and again?
There isn't a particular instrument that I return to often, and as to why specifically, I want to do the best for each particular production. If I choose one instrument and tie myself to it, it limits my ability of what I can do. Instead, I find that my musical style is that I very, very much want to pick music that would compliment the production the most.
You've worked on everything from magical girl shows, shonen action shows, and horror. How do you adapt your sound for different genres?
A large part of it is reliant on the director. Whatever the director wants is what we have to go off of. There are some restrictions on what I can do when I'm composing for different genres, but a lot of it is based on what the director envisions for the project. As a composer, I feel my job is that I have to match to the genre of that specific anime of course, but it's almost like the opposite of what you'd expect. Instead of trying to do, let's say jazz, in the end it's making something that becomes jazz.
Can you tell us about adjusting your focus from athletics to music? Did gymnastics introduce you to composing?
When I first started in gymnastics I specialized in "men's rhythmic gymnastics," which isn't really an international sport and is considered somewhat unique to Japan. When I first started doing that, I was in charge of finding the background music that compliments the gymnastic routines. That was sort of my start, but as I was starting to do composition, my style and approach was a little different than most composers. Rather than thinking of creating music, I think of myself and my job as finding something that enhances the work the most. It's not strictly a musical approach, it's more of a visual approach. In that sense, things might be a little bit different compared to a typical composer.
From my experience of matching the music to a gymnast's routine at young age and then forward in music, that approach seemed to happen naturally.
Can you talk about your interest in traditional Japanese instruments? How do you keep their use modern?
I do have an interest in traditional instruments, however most of their use in my compositions is not for projects that require a very traditional Japanese mentality. The works I'm trying to create for are not very traditionally Japanese. It's more like something funny will happen and then we'll include a koto for that moment. It's kind of interesting because I have that kind of freedom, you know someone isn't looking for something historically accurate, I can do something more creative, liking adding a koto to a rock band.
How did your study under a DJ influence your sound?
[In English Hideo Kobayashi is a very famous Japanese dance music producer.] The short answer is yes, Hideo Kobayashi had a huge impact on me, mainly because I learned all of the basics from him. Actually, Kobayashi did something similar with gymnastics so we kind of connected that way. When I was in high school and college, a lot of times when I'd listen to the music accompaniment for gymnastic routines and I'd create, say, a rock version of it, then Kobayashi would come over and do it in a different arrangement, like symphonic rock. It broadened my mind and I'd think, "wow, just a different arrangement can change music this much!"
After that, when I graduated from college, I decided to study under him and asked to become a disciple. Even now, Kobayashi is basically where I got everything from.
Is there a composition in the My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising film you're particularly proud of?
The one I want audiences to listen to is during the climax of the film, the track is titled "Might*U Plus Ultra." The reason why is not only because major climax of the entire movie, but the director and the sound producer decided to save that song specifically for the movie and keep it separate from the TV series. Originally when I was thinking of this big moment, I thought it should be heavy rock, but when they put the music to it it was more symphonic, grand, and epic. So I went back, I added more symphonic elements. I "Plus Ultra-ed" the track to make it even better!
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